Listening Etiquette

Performing publicly assumes openness to audiences deriving meaning from your music.  Performers have to know that different listeners attach different meaning to every facet of music making; diversity is inevitable.

Performers are generally tolerant when audiences don’t derive meaning from the actual music; it’s usually brushed off as a matter of taste.  But we often forget that diversity is also inevitable when it comes to perceiving the act of performing itself.

Applaud here, don’t applaud there, be silent, don’t shift in your seat, give standing ovations, yell “bravo,” leave fives bucks in the tip jar, turn off your cell phone and don’t crinkle that candy wrapper!  I once saw an artist performing at a noisy establishment yell out at the top of his lungs: “SHUT THE FUCK UP!!”

What’s common with all of these is that listeners are expected to perceive and respond to the performance in a certain way.  They’re all futile attempts at unifying audience members and performers.

Side Note: They also seem to neglect the sociality of live performances.  Here are two interesting reads (here and here).


Everyone responds (or doesn’t respond!) differently to live music.  If you’re frustrated with noisy crowds, start thinking of alternatives.  You will always lose that battle so try not making yourself vulnerable in the first place.  If you want more control over how audience members experience your music, then take initiative; start a movement and build a community!

Most importantly though, If you expect unified audiences, stay at home!

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