12 Ways To Make Your Audience Take Notice Of You

© 2009 Vinny Ribas

Most of us have had the unfortunate experience of playing for a room full of people who seem to be completely ignoring us. If you were hired to play dinner or background music, that would be perfectly acceptable and even encouraged. However, in any other situation, we might start thinking that ‘this crowd doesn’t appreciate good music’, or ‘I must be doing something wrong’. The truth is that most likely neither of those scenarios are accurate. You may have just hit a club or an off night when people just feel like talking. If they’re not leaving, you’re not ‘displeasing’ them. Of course, if you’re playing a traditionally packed dance room and you can’t seem to get anyone on their feet, you may have a challenge.

 Here are some simple ideas for getting audience attention.[private_member] 

  1. Confidently set the tone for the night or the new set with the first song. Honestly expect your audience to love what you do, and chances are, they will respond accordingly.
  2. Ask for requests. This can be a great ice breaker (especially if you’re versatile to fill most popular requests).
  3. Play favorites – songs that most audiences love to dance to.
  4. Play a popular song with a very unusual treatment. For example, take a fast song and sing it as a ballad. It is a great way to people’s curiosity and start listening.
  5. Play songs that people most people know and love to sing along with. For example, older audiences love nostalgic songs from the 40s. 50’s and 60’s.
  6. Play popular but seldom-heard songs. If the audience doesn’t often hear the song on the radio, they will stop talking to reminisce.
  7. Sincerely compliment someone on his or her taste in clothing or beautiful smile. Be appropriate, of course. They will feel guilty ignoring you.
  8. Try to talk to some of the audience during your break. Ask them what kind of music they are in the mood for. Be careful not to break a couple’s ‘moment’
  9. Ask the help what songs that venue’s audience usually likes to dance to, and play them.
  10. Tell a story or a joke. Better yet, sing a funny song. All of these can be great icebreakers.
  11. Take a survey. For example, ask how many people are sports fans or fans of a certain artist. Have a reason for asking (playing an appropriate song after the survey). You can also make the survey funny.
  12. Do something unusual. Maybe you start playing a unique instrument, or generate a different tone on your instrument.

 Never get visually discouraged and never underestimate an audience. Often it just takes one person to start dancing or singing along to break the advice. I’ve seen rooms go from solemn to rocking just by playing a trigger song. In my day, ‘Old Time Rock ‘n Roll’ by Bob Seger would getting any crowd moving. But I’ve also had nights where I thought no one was listening, and then at the break or at the end of the night people started commenting on specific things I said or songs I played. It turned out that they really were listening all along! [/private_member]

About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.