How to treat your local musician – 5 tips
Concerts are a blast. Whether you’re hearing and discovering a band for the first time, or seeing your favorite artist since you were 12 years old perform the same songs you sing in the shower, it’s always a good time. Everyone knows (and most people honor) the generic rules for concerts. You shut up for slow songs, sing along with the loud ones and you know exactly when you’re supposed to clap, cheer and every teenage girl’s favorite, the woohoo!
But I’ve noticed something that needs correcting. When at a bar, coffee shop, lounge, small venue, or other show where live music is being played, most people seem to not know how to act or how to treat the musician. I would like to propose a set of guidelines to help you out, as both an occasional performer and as an attendee of many of these types of shows.
1. Mind your requests
We hate hearing you yell, “Freebird!” I was going to save this one for last, but it needs to absolutely be the first thing you read. It’s not a bad song (according to some), but we just don’t need to hear requests for every single song you grew up loving and probably don’t know or want to play even if we do. If you do this, expect the entire place to think you’re a jerk, and if the musician is clever, you should expect heckling (or worse) back from the stage. Others to avoid: Sweet Caroline, Brown Eyed Girl and anything by Journey.
2. Please clap
No one is claiming to be the best thing you’ve heard since your older brother introduced you to the Licensed to Ill CD in 3rd grade. But we still like to feel appreciated. If you’re not deep into a conversation with the best friend you haven’t seen in 15 years, then you can half-heartedly applaud the artist. This doesn’t have to be after every song, but if you were even partly listening, I recommend it. Side note for guys, if you’re on a date, and don’t clap, don’t expect another date.
3. Sing along
I don’t know a single artist who doesn’t want you to sing along while they play. If it’s a cover song, or even an original that you’ve heard before and remember the lyrics, feel free (and now encouraged) to sing along with the artist. There is a great assurance to what you’re doing when the audience is engaged, and what better way to show this than to sing along.
Dancing is also great engagement. Many artists love if you start dancing when they’re playing, provided there is room for it. It’s another verification that you’re engaged to the music. If there isn’t a dance floor, or if you’re just embarrassed by your two left feet, even a sway at the table or play some hand drums on the table to make the artist smile.
This is a little subjective and venue specific, but if there is a tip jar/open case, a little monetary acknowledgement is greatly appreciated. Most artists are playing for nothing, little, or a bar tab. Throwing in a dollar bill is just a nice way of thanking the artist for the past two hours you’ve spent listening to their music.
Maybe you don’t agree, but I think this a pretty good start to how every artist (especially small time) likes to be treated and something to think about the next time you see a musician playing at your favorite hangout. Are there any other tips you’d recommend? Leave any other comments or recommendations below!