Using techniques developed mainly in subjective well-being and “happiness” studies, the purpose of this paper is to discuss the applicability of these and related methods for understanding and evaluating the emotional responses experienced within the live music event environment.
The concept of “experience” is debated and set within the context of music events designed to create a specific type of emotional experience for the attendees. The main tools for researching experiences over a time period are considered focusing on the “experience sampling method” (ESM) (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997) and the “day reconstruction method” (Kahneman et al., 2004). These methods are critiqued in terms of their usefulness and practicality as research tools in the study of audience emotions.
A revised method was then developed and a small-scale trial undertaken at a live music event, the results of which are presented and discussed. A conceptual model illustrating the interconnectedness of experience is introduced as an example of the application of the data gathered through this method to theory development. The paper concludes by reflecting on both the methodological appropriateness and practicality of ESMs as a way of gathering valuable data on the emotions engendered by events.
An obstacle yet to be overcome is using this data to predict attitudinal and behavioural change related to arts marketing goals. However, studies in other areas have clearly shown that emotional response is a significant indicator of future behaviour suggesting that the potential is there.
The trialled method provides a useful starting point for better understanding the complexity of emotional effects triggered at live music events.
The paper concludes that an adaptation of these methods has the potential to provide much needed rich and credible data on the feelings and emotional reactions triggered by different elements of a live event.
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