Knowing that you can be heard and understood from the stage opens some doors to conversations with the audience. I find that I do that more with the L1® than ever did in the past. But that is not the subject today.
Today I want to consider the conversations we can have with the audience that start before we arrive, and continue long after everyone goes home. I am not sure what the audience is thinking, so I thought I would ask them.
To explore that I recently posted these questions on LinkedIn a business-oriented social networking site with some 24 million registered users*.
Do you attend performances of live music?
I was really encouraged to have received 7 answers almost immediately.
See what people had to say.
The question will remain open for another week. Let's see what turns up.
Questions for you.
I work in a tourist/local area. I try to get there a little early to see who is there and say hello to the locals. I try to spot some tourist and talk to them. When I start I try to include the tourist into the inside jokes with the locals. I also ask where they are from etc.etc. As far as information I get back from them it varies. I know that if they are from Ohio the state song is Hang On Sloopy, if from Tennessee I play Rocky Top and so on. With tourist I just want them to remember they had a good time and when they leave they feel like a local. That is not always easy. Some people should never leave home. Where I work is very informal so it is easy for me to have a conversation from the stage with the crowd. I want people to feel comfortable. If they are at ease and feel this is like home they respond better to my music. It becomes more personal and that is the magic moment for me. I don’t know if this what you are asking ST but it is my answer. It’s a good topic. Have some coffee, talk among yourselves.
I'm probably better off NOT talking to my audience.
Got a great compliment last month. Two girls in the crowd had seen our drummer the prior night with his other band. Their lead vocalist was part of a world touring act in the seventies and eighties.
One girl said to Joe during the break: "that guy last night was a great singer but this guy is on a whole 'nuther level!"
She was starstruck (danged if I know why) when she approached me to strike up a conversation. When she walked away five minutes later she said to her friend: "he's just a regular guy!"
Damn! Blew my cover again!
When I first started playing the road back, wayyyy back in the 70s I worked for a show band called the Joey Hollingsworth Show. Joey always encouraged us...well no...He demanded that we make friends during our breaks. He did not ever want to see us sitting together between sets. His theory was that from the beginning of the gig till it was over you were entertaining. The band was the host, the pub was your home and the patrons were your guests. We went from table to table meeting people. They were to be the center of attention. You did not talk about the band unless asked. You found out about their interests, their favorite song and if we didn't know it, we did the next time we played there and if they showed up we dedicated it to them without being asked. You made them your friends.
That band and any other band Joey had was very successful. They worked 52 weeks a year and some great gigs.
This philosophy is something I have carried with me since the 70s .It's allot of work at first but over the years it becomes easier and is something I enjoy doing almost as much as playing. When introduced to the audience by some of the bands in the area they say. “On drums everybody’s favorite drummer Little Ricky Patenaude” and that isn’t because I’m a good drummer it’s because Joey taught me how to make friends out of audiences. I am still in touch with some of these people since the 70s and they are truly good friends.
At my house gig '89 to '99 the manager had me do the same thing - talk to the tables on every break. It does get easier the more you do it, & it does pay off.
At my house gig I am close to the door so saying hello, or thanks for coming tonight, as people come an go makes a difference. Just a nod and a smile to someone as you are singing will make a person feel more welcome and let's not forget eye contact. Tom and Rick are right in that it does get easier as time goes by. Even when we take a break we are still on the job. Poeple want to know the band. They want that personal contact and sometimes we can make ourselves un-approachable without knowing it. A life long fan and friend can be made by a little conversation and this can lead to other jobs or connections that further your carrer.
I do talk to folks before I start, and after I finish a gig. I seldom take breaks (3 hr gigs)but I do a lot of talking directly to individuals from the stage.
I often go into my first song before saying much over the mic. Then I'll do an introduction, "Welcome to yadayada, my name is ..., tonight we'll be doing ..." and so on. Talking and toasts are usually a big part of my show, and I find it's easier after I've done a few songs.(Who thought I was going to say drinks?)
I agree with you-all 100%. You have to maintain some type of contact and interest factor. Especially if it a regular gig, they are coming back for a reason.
Here in The Villages, if your playing one of the Gazebo's, you better pet a few of the dogs and remember their names. Luckily I haven't been nipped at yet.
By all means these people here want contact and attention.
Give em what they want and they dance, have a good time and request your group for return engagements.
I also agree 1000%!! In my 40 years on stage I always "talk" to the room. The worst that can happen is that you learn how to "read" a room. Failure to do this and your really missing making a lot of people happy and making friends and of course "future work. The only advertising I do is my business card. I always ask are there any birthdays in the house tonight or anniversary's or is anyone celebrating any special occasion. I also only play tunes that are danceable. My show is for them not for me. That's how you work in this business.
Thanks Billy-Joel for the Autograbber tip! It works! Now you have to teach me how to "use" Audacity that I downloaded. Thanks again!
Most of my gigs are solo acoustic things, so connecting with the audience can be awkward at times. I don't normally get a lot of applause to feed off of as a lot of the venues are bar / restaurant type places where I am not the main focus of the patrons. Thankfully, I get a lot of thumbs up, and "you were great" type comments from people after the gig. Normally I try to find one person to "bounce off of" in the crowd (there's usually one). I like to use humor as a way to connect with people. I find that when people see that you don't take yourself too seriously, they tend to connect more.
During last years NFL playoffs, I announced to the audience that I was trying end my songs at the moment the Giants scored (and the place went NUTS) so that it would sound like I was really awesome. A bunch of people who had been ignoring me cracked up, and I had an immediate rapport with them. Hey ... whatever works!
Once again, so much great advice from active musicians. The crowd is your lifeline for present and future work and without them you would play to an empty but likely not for long. Talking to the crowd is one reason i do not use backing tracks (except for my electric drummer). I can hold a single measure while talking to a patron and not have to worry about being in sinc with the track. This interaction puts you in perspective with the crowd and not on a higher level and the people appreciate that greatly. The L1 system allows me to do that in a way never before possible with conventional sytems and for that and the absolute clarity of the system, once again I say "WAY TO GO BOSE" nuf said.
John, I know what you mean about audiences in some places acting disinterested. But what I've learned over time is that you are (usually) reaching people. I've finished gigs and said to myself, "Guess nobody really heard me", only to have people approach me and talk about how much they enjoyed my performance. In some environments, people are reluctant to applaud. That can make one wonder if their performance is up to par or not. I just try to become more 'in the moment' and try to remember that I'm there for them, not me.
I don't easily chat but I'm trying to get better at it. I think that ignoring people was Miles Davis thing and I never liked it when he turned his back to me while performing. It's a thin line between genius and arrogance.
Last week I finished a set at an outside gathering and I received a few compliments. But the one that made my day was when one of the waitresses, a woman near sixty I'd guess, walked up and said, "Can I tell you, my girlfriends and I were blown away by you today." I thanked her and I told her that when the staff likes me, I know I'm hitting it.This message has been edited. Last edited by: captbanjo,
yeah, I do talk between sets, when I have sets. And I like to be accessible both between services at church, before, and after-
Set up and tear down with the Bose is pretty stress free so UNLIKE the mad rush of more complicated systems, I don't feel intruded on if someone wants to talk about the music, the equipment, or - whatever - while I'm coiling cables and zipping bags.
< edited to reduce my tread-killer rambeling >This message has been edited. Last edited by: Michael Nunley,
Were I to ever talk to the audience, it would probably come out something like this:
This has been great.
From the lead post...
Do you know what your audience wants, and if so, how do you know?
Do you reach out to them in any way before the show? After the show?
In other areas of life I have thought of relationships with clients as an arc of conversation that starts someplace before you meet them and carries on long after the job is done. I am looking at ways to do that with music audiences.
Rick (starvin007) gave us this...
I've been doing this lately, milling with the customers during breaks, making a point of learning the names of the regulars, greeting them by name or talking to from the stage if they arrive between songs.
This is a huge stretch outside my personal comfort zone. I used to leave this to the other guys in the band but my role has changed lately, so if anyone is going to do it, it's going to be me.
During those conversations I try to find out what brought them into the venue this particular time, and more generally, why they go to places where there is live music. I haven't got a lot to report on this, but I'm still asking the questions.
So for those of you who are actively conversing with your audiences, (and thanks to all who have replied so far),
I am 53 now and started playing out for paid performances when I was 15.
Fortunately; from the very beginning, I forced myself to walk around to every table and visit during my breaks. It was a little intimidating at first; walking up to a table of total strangers and starting a conversation.
I learned quickly about how it forged a connection that was in many cases; long-term. I asked what I determined to be a magic question that most of us musician types do not want to talk about. "Well; how does it sound over here at your table?" "Is the volume ok; too loud or too soft?" "Does anyone have any special requests?".
If anyone had a special request that we knew; we performed it. If we did not know it; we learned it and made sure that we could put a name with the request. The next time that the patron showed up at a gig; they were always delighted that we thought enough of them to learn "their" favorite song.
About the volume issue; I discovered that most of the time, our volume was either too low or just right. Occasionally; when it was too loud, we responded appropriately, as well. The main point that I want to pass on is that we were rewarded with a high level of regard just because we inquired (asked about the volume level).
To this day; I still perform about 30 dates a year. I've never used a booking agent, except for one gig, when an agent contacted me.
So much for tooting my own horn!
I grew up being the silent kid that didnt say anything to anyone, had 2 friends all during school.
grew up became an alcoholic and found that it is truly the social lubricant however it doesnt go well with guitar playing and singing.
so I havent drank in around 6 years.
I find it hard to communicate with drunks when I'm sober.
I play a lot of clubs, and can identify with the fellow above that posted as being background music, since I am a primarily an original artist that plays solo it's tough to find some common ground during a gig.
This is one thing I have had trouble with my whole life because I am an opinionated person and my opinion on things are way different than most people, I am passionate about my beliefs and find it extremely hard to be fake.
So I can go several gigs without talking to anyone unless they approach me first.....I know that's the wrong way to do things if I want to advance financially but I kind of would rather it be that way so that I can find out who the genuine folks are that really like what I am doing....i find those folks usually come to me with questions at which point I am more than happy to talk with them.
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