8 Essential Tips for Managing an Unresponsive Crowd

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No matter how much time and effort you spend making sure that your performances are always the best they can be, unfortunately, no amount of preparation can guarantee that your audience will also be on top form.

You might dream of entertaining vast stadiums packed with roaring fans, but it’s inevitable that at some point in your career you’ll be confronted with an awkward crowd.

Below, we have covered some tips and tricks to help you make the best of every gig and deal with an unresponsive crowd:

#1 Don’t take it personally

Music is incredibly subjective: people have totally different tastes and preferences, so it’s impossible to expect everyone to love your work. Just because some people don’t appreciate your personal style doesn’t make you’re a poor musician.

You’ll find dealing with an unresponsive crowd much easier once you realise that it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to like your songs, and that someone disliking your work doesn’t mean they dislike you.

Also, your quality as a performer or as a person isn’t dictated by the opinion of one individual, so aim to resist taking unenthusiastic responses to heart.

#2 Leave your ego off-stage

When you’re onstage your job is to perform, and that means putting on a great show regardless of how you might be feeling on the inside.

Becoming obviously frustrated or upset in front of an already difficult crowd will only make matters worse. The audience will feed off your energy, so it’s vital that you can maintain a positive, enthusiastic performance, rather than dragging down the mood by exposing your own anxieties.

Keep your composure at all times and give every audience your best performance — even if you don’t think they deserve it! After all, you never know who might be hidden in the crowd: you can’t afford to put on a lack-lustre show when there might be important potential contacts in the room.

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#3 Learn from every experience

It’s a good idea to experiment with different performance techniques to keep your gigs fresh and exciting. But, it’s to be expected that not every experiment will necessarily receive the intended response.

Making mistakes and learning from them is a big part of refining your stage-craft. So, don’t panic if one performance doesn’t go as you’d hoped, just treat it as a learning experience and try something different in the future.

#4 Don’t be tempted to give up

Following on from the last tip: every gig presents an invaluable opportunity to refine your stage-craft and spread your music to new fans. Therefore, don’t let one poor crowd-response put you off taking opportunities to perform in the future.

Record sales and online streaming will only get you so far, if you want to truly connect with your fans and take your career to the next level then you need to throw yourself in to the live scene, and keep going until you’ve mastered the art of entertaining a crowd.

#5 Connect with individuals in the crowd

Even in a situation where it feels like the majority of the crowd are giving you a poor response, there will almost certainly be individuals in the audience who really are enjoying your performance with enthusiasm.

Try to reach out and connect with these responsive audience members by smiling and making eye-contact, rather than being bogged-down by the general mood.

Not only will focusing your attention on positive reactions boost your confidence, it will make the individuals you connect with feel special, and more connected with your music.

#6 Consider the venue

If people have paid for a ticket to see a specific artist perform, it’s likely that they’re going to give the music one hundred percent of their attention and enthusiasm. Whereas, if you’ve got a gig at a hotel or restaurant function, or are part of a large line-up at a festival, understand that you’re performance isn’t intended to be the showcase of the event.

In such cases you’re music is being used to create a certain atmosphere; the crowd is probably enjoying the affect, but might be too focused on the main attraction — such as their meal or their friends, to express their appreciation.

So, before you panic that you’re music doesn’t seem to be evoking much of a response, consider the context of the performance.

#7 Don’t make premature assumptions about the audience

Once you’re up on stage, and already nervous, it’s easy to panic at the first sign of the crowd turning sour, but be careful before you jump to any conclusions.

There are many different ways people can express appreciation for a song which don’t involve jumping up and down or singing at the top of their lungs. Maybe the person stood at the back with their eyes closed isn’t bored by your performance, but is simply taking a private moment to appreciate the emotional significance of the lyrics.

So, while you’re performing, get your anxieties in check and give the crowd the benefit of the doubt: just because they’re not reacting in the way you might hope or expect, doesn’t mean they’re not enjoying the show in their own way.

#8 Concentrate on the performance

It sounds much easier said than done, but the best way to guarantee that you can always give your best performance — regardless of the crowd’s mood — is to focus all your attention to putting on a great show, rather than obsessing over how the audience is behaving.

You can’t be distracted or brought-down by a poor crowd if you’re completely focused on the music. And, if you’re giving the performance one hundred percent, the crowd will find it very difficult not to be lifted by your enthusiasm and energy.

…In closing

At some point in your career it’s inevitable that you’ll be faced with the challenge of entertaining and unresponsive crowd, but this needn’t be cause for panic. If you find yourself in this situation keep your composure, remember the tips listed above and do your songs justice but putting on the best show you can.

Have you performed for some tough crowds? What are your tactics? Let us know in the comments below.