Making Young Audiences ‘Smile’

The young audience is prided across many platforms as the secret to success. Television channels want to secure the 15-39 demographic. Exhibitions are including offerings dedicated to the work of young and edgy artists. Opera, Classical Music and Theatre are all looking at their shows to target these audiences. But live bands have already worked out how to engage this demographic – and Sheppard’s Melbourne album launch last night was testament to this.


From the audience’s perspective, the night involved taking photos of the band, dancing and grooving to some of their favourite songs, singing along whether audience participation was required or not, shouting to friends ‘I love this song’ and spiking beach balls through the air among the audience. All these components added to the electric atmosphere of the venue and they are the key to ensuring that young audiences have a great time (in addition to some great rocking music, of course!).

Why? Because they match the one thing that these audiences are looking for . . . to gain a new experience by interacting with the live performance.

As I wrote about earlier in the week, most (if not all) of the music is available before the audience rock up to the show. They can also watch videos of the band or artist performing online. So there has to be an incentive to turn up and watch them live.

In this case, the audience left the venue last night buzzing due to the ability to be included in the performance. This took many forms throughout the night from responding to questions posed by Sheppard, providing an extra level of percussive impact by clapping along and the compulsory crowd participation in Let Me Down Easy. The beach balls also added another level of interaction as the audience physically interacted with the performance in addition to showing off their dancing moves.

Young audiences can be elusive. And they don’t operate on the ‘build it and they will come’ philosophy. It takes an understanding of what they are looking for to give them an experience they will never forget. And from the look of the audience in that room last night, this concert gave them exactly that and it had taken them from loving the music to super fans of Sheppard judging from the number of people lining up to get their autographs and a picture. There is very little doubt that these audience members won’t be back when they next return to Melbourne!

If you want to attract and keep a younger audience look no further than this incredibly popular band for inspiration!