Productivity is often defined as the ratio of a volume measure of output to a volume measure of input. In other words, if a business purchases a quantity of paint, brushes and canvases for $X amount of dollars to produce a work of art to sell for $Y amount of dollars, then the difference (or relationship) between X and Y is productivity.

Links between music and increased productivity in the workplace have been observed for some time (Blood & Ferriss, 1993; Huang & Shih, 2011; Newman Jr, Hunt, & Rhodes, 1966). Music is often used as a mood manipulator by advertisers and retailers (North et al., 1999), and people frequently use music for ‘emotional self-regulation’ (DeNora, 2000). Active engagement with music has been shown to increase positive perceptions of self, which in turn leads to greater motivation, manifesting in turn in enhanced self-perceptions of ability, self-efficacy and aspirations (Hallam, 2005, 2010).

An important question overlooked by the productivity literature is, “How does act of engaging with an activity (for example, live music) change and/or enhance a consumer’s productivity?” In other words, if I attend a concert to satisfy what are essentially my leisure (or well-being) needs; to what extent is that satisfaction observable in my work performance? Does my employer receive a consequent productivity bonus?

Although not quantified in existing literature, a productivity premium associated with live music is intuitive and observable. As noted above, survey respondents routinely linked their live music consumption with a greater sense optimism and inspiration as well as improved and self-efficacy. These might reasonably translate into greater motivation and effectiveness at work. With no previous studies to assist in this regard, we applied an iteration of the contingent valuation method (CVM).

Live music consumers were surveyed about the relationship between their attendance and immediately subsequent work performance. Respondents were asked, “To what extent do you think your live music interest impacts—positively or negatively—on your work performance?” As a follow up, they were asked to quantify this impact (in percentage terms).

A total of 81.2 per cent of respondents felt that live music consumption had an average 11.6 per cent positive impact on their productivity; whereas 3.3 per cent felt that it had an average 3.9 per cent negative impact. Although previous studies have suggested that the productivity impact of attendance at live events can last over 12.3 working hours (or one-and-a-half working days) (Muller et al., 2014), we have conservatively assumed that the productivity multiplier for live music attendance is one working day.

Productivity premium = ŵ x mp x v x r
ŵ = median hourly wage
mp = productivity multiplier
v = number of live music attendances
r = discount rate

Thus the extent to which attendance live music making in Australia improved the productivity of individuals in 2014 (a benefit enjoyed by their employers) is estimated to be 884.3 million dollars.

This is the sum of positive impacts of 1.3 billion dollars and negative impacts of 436.3 million dollars. The negative impacts are noted here as a dis-benefit—rather than a cost—as they are not an input into live music making, but a negative outcome.

There is much need for additional research in this regard. For example, the conservative assumption is made that consumers only receive an increase in productivity from live music making in Australia through attendance at gigs; however, it is also likely that those who don’t attend events but take advantage of the live music culture may also experience productivity benefits. Further empirical research into the effects of live music on productivity would thus be well received.