The Right and Wrong Ways to Interact With People at Your Shows

Posted by Amy Sciarretto on Apr 27, 2016 07:00 AM
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Touring is a developing artist's lifeblood. It's how you attract new fans. It's how a musician can satisfy and interact with existing supporters. This is not about fraternizing or becoming BFFs with fans. It's about the communication that needs to be carefully fostered, and there are many right and wrong ways to interact with fans. Let's assess several scenarios and hypothetical reactions.

Scenario: fans are texting and using their phones to take photos during a performance

Reaction: You angrily tell the attendees to put their phones down and pay attention to what is happening right in front of their faces and on the stage, a la David Draiman of Disturbed.

Assessment: Draiman fronts a multi-platinum band and has a lot of fans to entertain at his shows. If fans on phones are distracting him and fellow concertgoers, then he has earned the right to say it, since his main interest is satisfying the majority of fans. But you are not David Draiman. The best response is to say something firm but polite, like, "Guys, ditch the phones. Let's live in the moment."

However, you cannot afford to alienate fans, upset them, or cause them to have an issue with you. Don't yell at them. Don't try and confiscate the phone and don't dispatch security to do that dirty work, since you could end up with a theft accusation on your hands. Your best bet is to just let your fans film and take photos. Be glad that they care enough to capture the moment or that they may be texting a friend who isn't there, allowing them to "share" in the show. Sure, it's possible that the fan could be texting and BSing, but you can't control that. So don't try.

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Scenario: Fans are moshing and dancing too hard and it's getting dangerous, or they're ruining the experience for others

Reaction: You call them out on it. You stop performing and point security to the direction of the miscreants who are getting rough, violent, or possibly hurting other showgoers.

Assessment: That is the exact right way to do it. You have to look out for the safety of everyone who paid money to see a show. Do not scream insults or rude comments from the stage. Stop playing, have security handle it, and then return to the performance. Yes, you may have some pissed off fans who may have to be escorted out. But one bad apple can ruin the show and cause lawsuits.

[Do Your Live Shows Get Rowdy? How to Protect Yourself, Your Fans, and Avoid a Lawsuit]

Scenario: A fan approaches you at the merch table and wants an autograph or a selfie with you

Reaction: You oblige and take a few pics together.

Assessment: That is always the right reaction. Sure, you may get to a point where you can sell VIP packages that include meet-and-greets and signed items. But don't get into a habit of turning away the fan that likely had to muster up the courage to approach you, or who may not be able to afford any sort of ticket upgrade.

But whether you have VIP packages or not, be real when someone approaches you. It may make someone's entire night, if not their life. It's easy and didn't really cost you anything. And you just made a fan for life.

Scenario: A fan approaches you while you're onstage

Reaction: You flip them the bird or flat out ignore them. Or you get physical.

Assessment: That's wrong. You have to consider your own safety, as well as the safety of your bandmates, your crew, and the rest of your fans. Instead of taking matters into your own hands, have venue security address it right away. Stop performing and clear the stage if possible. Chances are, the person who somehow committed a security breach is harmless. But you never, ever know.

Scenario: A fan approaches you by the bus after the show and wants to tell you how much your music means to them

Reaction: You tell them you are busy and walk away because you have a hook-up waiting for you.

Assessment: That is beyond wrong. Do not blow off fans for the hedonistic pleasures of being in a band. I see it happen all too often. It takes a few minutes to exchange a bro hug, to take a pic and smile, to exchange a few pleasantries, and to continue with your evening. The likelihood that the fan will tell you how much your music means to them is worth making someone else wait. Remember, the music and the fans (not the groupies) is why you do this.


Next up: The 4 Easiest Ways to Show Your Fans You Care


Amy Sciarretto has 20 years of print and online bylines, from Kerrang to to Revolver to Bustle, covering music, beauty, and fashion. After 12 years doing radio and publicity at Roadrunner Records, she now fronts Atom Splitter PR, her own boutique PR firm, which has over 30 clients. She also is active in animal charity and rescue.

Topics: Performing, Honing Your Craft, Musician Life


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