Audience Etiquette Music-lovers source new bands, live music venues and subscribe to mailing lists of their favourite artists and bands to find out when and where they are playing next. There is a massive appreciation by musicians for true fans. Musicians are thrilled and touched the music they perform creates a fan frenzy – that’s when they know they are doing something right and it encourages them further. However there are those types of audiences that just do not react or respond – a lot of the time this has to do with their culture or the type of the environment where the live music is set-up, or even that the artist or band are not that good. Regardless of all of these reasons audiences need to be polite and respectful to performers at all times. There are many studies on how performers need to own the stage and grab the attention of the audience – but sometimes it is up to the audience to participate and show some adoration. Western cultures have choice to enjoy what they want, when they want. However some audiences’ reaction to performance are a reflection on their culture and education. They are taught to not clap, dance, sing-along or cheer ‘bravo!’ – no expression at all. The Islamic religion forbids Muslim men and women to play or listen to any music that is entertaining, even instrumental. As people move countries, cultures mix and become diverse; modifications occur. Restricted cultures are starting to explore more and bring these new discoveries home – sometimes with severe consequences like death from non-acceptance of incorporating additions into their traditional old- age religion. During the Nazi Holocaust Jews were not allowed to be involved in any cultural activity from music, art, literature to film. In Cambodia in 1975 all cultural history was burnt and musicians were killed to eradicate music, books, art and film. Cultures who were affected by leaders who tried to eliminate music and even nations involved with music eventually rebelled, escaped and continued to perform and support cultural works. So now think about all the westerners out there worldwide with free reign, that have that choice and have had music around them their whole life – they have no excuse other than to show appreciation to musicians. They have been educated to clap, taught to give a standing ovation when deemed necessary and know when to be still and watch attentively until the performance in done. Regardless if the band is playing their first gig in a run-down pub or at the peak of their career in Central Park Stadium – Ladies and Gentlemen put your hands together and make some noise! The audience needs to understand that performers or bands are employed for their skill – it is each Musician Jobs, their right to be on stage – they earned it. What they do is NOT going to be replaced by someone who thinks they can sing or play drums. In no way it is tolerable to ask if you can sing a song, or say that your friend is the best singer in the world. It is definitely unacceptable to walk onto the stage at any point, do not throw drinks or any items towards the stage for fun (you could kill someone if the drinks reach any live plugs!) and an even bigger No-No to touch the musicians’ music equipment from microphone to guitar to drumsticks – just forget it. A good wireless microphone costs at least £850 and that’s without discussing the hygiene issues at hand when you slobber into it, so do not contemplate any form of over-stepping the mark, as the security will gladly remove you and the musicians will send you a bill for damages. The stage is a platform, a space dedicated to the musicians. Unless they reach out to you, you do not reach out to them – that is audience etiquette to be polite and accept what is given. Do not ever assume that any musician is disposable to you – they are not. If you have no idea what the boundaries are anymore due to alcohol and drugs or whatever made you lose control – go home, because you will spoil the performance for everyone else. There should be a big sign at the front of the stage, which says: ‘respect musicians and live music – just watch, enjoy and clap loudly’ or ‘nuisances not allowed’. These kinds of people and acts vex musicians; it’s bad mannered. Do not be surprised when the musicians lash out in protection of themselves and their expensive equipment. How would you like a client coming into your workplace, saying they can do your job better, then empty the rubbish bin onto your computer or on you?! You wouldn’t like it at all. Know your boundaries, a stage is the workspace for musicians and backstage technicians ONLY. At no point is it appropriate for the audience to try and communicate to the musicians on stage whilst they are playing. If you would like a request to be played, write it on a piece of paper and hand it to the backstage technicians or staff to give to the band – and if your song is not played, well do not take this personally. The band is not your personal jukebox and hired by management to play certain songs (whether original or covers). It is quite astonishing how movie houses, theatres and concert halls now announce: “Ladies and Gentlemen, please turn off you mobile phones as the show is about to begin.” SMS, Twitter, Facebook and email are addictive but surely there is a time to switch off from the world and enjoy life without interruption with our loved ones. In the late 1990’s most people didn’t have a mobile phone and our grandparents had no idea how to send a text message and life was grand. Half the problem nowadays is that technology has created anti-social communication environment face-to- face – how many times do you go to dinner with friends and at least two of you are sending text messages not catching up with everyone else. Now imagine sitting at a concert watching a live performance whilst the lead male or female singer accepts a call in the middle of their song. What?! Yes, you as the audience know that will not happen. However you do that to the performer when they are singing to you, performing for you – whilst you put your head down to send a message to someone else instead or even worse accept a call. It’s unacceptable and plain rude – put your phone away. If however if you call someone, say listen to this and put your phone in the air and show appreciation – that is acceptable as sharing is caring. But do remember to then end the call promptly and continue to pay homage to the musicians on stage. Playing music for musicians or singing a song is exposure for an artist. It takes concentration, hard work, talent, expertise and courage to stand in the spotlight and bare his or her soul through music. It is your job as the audience is to give them your full attention by watching and listening intently, to clap appropriately and participate with enthusiasm when asked by the performer. The stage is only for the musicians and technicians to perform to you. It is for you. Have fun, let loose, take photos and film them (if permitted) and forget about your phone for once. Put you hands together, wave them in the air like you just don’t care and appreciate the art of music.
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