Do you know your audience?
If you want to sell anything, be it products or services, one of the basic rules of marketing is to ‘know your audience’. It is a blatantly obvious principle, but so many plug away without really knowing who they are targeting. As a rule of thumb: a blunderbuss fired at random, will generally hit bugger-all of any use.
Many years ago, I had a friend who could identify concerts from the sound of the crowd. (That was the sort of fun I was having in the eighties). It was more a case of having listened to the records so many times it was like learning the lyrics to a song, but given about a second of cheering and screaming, he could tell you if it were Cheap Trick at The Budokan, Kiss in Detroit or Deep Purple in Japan. Essentially, every audience is unique to the performance.
Each audience also looks very different. It is fair to say that by studying the sartorial elegance (or lack thereof) of those assembled at a venue, one could get a fair idea of what was about to be performed. For example: a Rush audience has a high percentage of long grey hair and t-shirts dating back through much of the forty year lifespan of the band; a Who concert is populated by parkas and union jack suits; and a Kiss show is made up of twenty thousand people in the same makeup as the guys on the stage. A Michael Bublé concert is somewhat different, but still very identifiable. It is fair to say that I have never seen so many pairs of white linen trousers in one place. There was more white fabric billowing in the entrance queue than there was forming the roof of The O2 Arena.
Despite every audience being totally unique in looks, sound and individual preferences, they have one thing in common. They all identify totally with the artist in question. Each member of the crowd is a part of the army or family and every one feels as if they are a vital part of the show. However, many of the clan act as if they just aren’t interested?
This is a phenomenon that I first encountered when watching Sting in Cardiff. I say watching. It was difficult to pay attention because of all the distractions. Not only was there a constant background buzz of conversation, but also an endless procession of people wandering around and coming back with trays of drinks. At the time I thought it was a Welsh thing, but I must apologise. It was nothing to do with nationality, it just happened to be the first time I had encountered mass attention deficit disorder. It turns out that despite paying the price of a family holiday for a ticket and travelling for hours to get to see their favourite act, modern man (and woman) is incapable of going for a couple of hours without having a drink or shutting-the-fuck-up. I once heard someone come back from the bar midway through an expensive concert and complain that they had paid a lot of money to see the band and the service was too slow. Sometimes, judging by the number of people making their way out of the arena during a performance, you would think someone was giving away free beer or money.
But, this is not restricted to big, loud, arena shows. I recently attended a small event that was based on one person talking on stage. Even this was blighted by the same attitude, although, as a change from hairy-arsed rockers swigging endless pints of expensive pissy lager, the perpetrators this time were women, white wine and whispering. In some ways, this is even ruder, because at least at a Who concert, you know the band can’t hear you jabbering because they are all deaf from the loud music anyway.
Target your audience and make a sale.
Knowing your audience is vital, just don’t expect all of them to always be paying attention.
You can target middle-aged women in white linen trousers from here to next Christmas, but if you are selling Kiss rather than Michael Bublé, they will never listen.
With a targeted audience, you might not entertain everyone with every song you sing, but at least they will buy the ticket.