Ever wondered why many new music concerts are so poorly attended? Maybe it’s because the music has no fans.

Discussions about the small audiences new music concerts attract have been a constant in my life since I entered university as a 16-year-old composition student. Just the other night someone explained to me that audiences are small for “this kind of thing” because, and I quote, “Australia is so backward”. I may have rolled my eyes. The simple and most likely reason of all possible reasons a new concert might attract a microscopic audience is this one – the music has no fans.

Live events are built on a fan base. This holds true for a pub band as much as it does for a purveyor of experimental sound art. Any performer needs to build an audience if they want to have an audience. There’s a proud aesthetic of writing with no thought of connecting with listeners, but seriously, someone who composes with no consideration of their audience can’t reasonably be surprised (or disappointed) when they don’t have one.

I once programmed cabaret at a then-new Sydney jazz venue, and performers would occasionally tell me an hour before going on, “I...

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