I’ve always liked traveling. That’s how my parents would get me to fall asleep when I was a kid, and I made a job out of it when I toured with SBQ. One thing I really like about traveling is meeting people from completely outside my sphere. You can meet the most varied and interesting people at airports and train stations.
On my flight to Indianapolis for DCI Championships I had the fortune of sitting next to a young woman who worked for a computer software company as a User Experience Designer. These are the people who take the software and make the layout, design, and procedure manageable (and, they hope, enjoyable) for the End User. Just about every bit of software you come in contact with—from conference call software like Skype to the checkout procedure at Amazon.com—has had a “UsEx Designer” involved.
As musicians (especially in the classical realm), we forget about that end user. We think of ourselves as the user … but really we’re the software. The end user is our audience, and they want to feel like we’ve thought about them.
Here are a few tips to make sure your users have a great experience:
• Smile! You wouldn’t believe how much difference this makes. Smiling is part of your non-verbal communication with the audience that makes them like and trust you. It’s good business practice!
• Know where you’re going and go there. Too often people walk out on stage without purpose or enthusiasm. There are so many chances for the audience to negatively judge you before you even play your first note. Walk quickly, make eye contact, SMILE, and show the audience you are excited to be there. Again, it’s the non-verbal communication that is really important.
• Talk. In this day and age our audience expects an interactive experience, even at the concert hall. A little bit of congeniality and personality goes a long way.
• Initiate the audience; they want to feel like they understand what is going on. Give them the information and basic knowledge to understand what they’re listening to. History and anecdotes are key.
• Be thankful. The people who show up could be other places doing other things, but they chose to come to your concert. During the concert, thank them for coming. Talk with them after the show and thank them again. Your chances of having an audience member come to another concert is significantly higher if you make him or her feel special and appreciated.
What ways can you think of to improve the user experience for your concerts?