329/365 - empty house.

Hey Musicians, Does Crowd Size Matter?

I’ve been covering the local, extended local scene for over a year and have reviewed tons of local, regional, national and international bands. I love a great show as much as the next person and I’ve seen good-great bands play with full houses to crowds ranging from half-full to 10-15 people. I’ve always wondered from a musicians POV when they get up on stage, does the number of people they see have an emotional/mental/psychological effect on the way they perform and play.

Obviously a full house of rowdy, loud fans would give any band a reason to give it their all but if a musician can count the number of people up front or milling around the place on both hands and feet is their attitude affected? Do they ever have a mental conversation saying, well there’s only this many people here so I’m only going to put this much effort and energy into it.

I’ve read about bands saying it doesn’t matter if there are 100 people or 10 they play every show like its Madison Square Garden. Granted some bands just stand there and play regardless of crowd size and that might be their style.

Also does the financial concern triggered by crowd size make bands think of besides whatever the house is paying, will there be any merchandise money made? I almost always try and tell bands I’m coming to review them which ‘might’ make them give a little extra effort and I will admit if a band seems bored or lifeless/going through the motions on stage it makes my job a little harder.

The argument of as long as the crowds into the show, that’s what matters can be made whether it’s five people up front going crazy or everyone there, but if I were in a band going on stage and saw 10-15 people vs. a full floor it would affect me. So, does size really matter?

Guest Post: Mike Ritchie is a freelance music journalist from Dayton, Ohio. Since August 2012 he’s written CD/concert reviews and covered charity fundraisers for DaytonMostMetro.com, and his new site Coveringthescene.com. He covers the Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati area and elsewhere.

photo by: B Rosen

  • http://planetcorey.com/music Corey Koehler

    Somebody on Reddit mentioned to always play smaller clubs to keep the energy high with less people. We’ve gotten some good word of mouth from small yet energy filled shows.

    As far as those nights when there is just a small crowd, it is smart to try as hard as you can to put on a good show no matter what. Many times I try to use the lack of attendance to fuel my performance. They are typically the hard core music fans and I want to make sure the the few that are there walk away impressed enough to spread the word and possibly make the people who weren’t present, wish they were.

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  • Sam Haycroft

    I find in I am Duckeye that our energy is at its cracking best when we are a couple of shows into a tour with people with love, regardless of how many are there, we are there together for good times.