You Don’t Pick Your Audience. Your Audience Picks You

You make a thing to share with the world, and you put it out there. Once, for a season, over the course of a career, you ply your trade and make your art and people consume it. But you don’t get to choose the people who choose you.

I saw the indefatigable college band Guster play the Ravinia Pavilion last night, an outdoor venue on Chicago’s North Shore which draws an older, wealthier crowd, maybe half of which picnics on the lawn beyond the pavilion where they can’t even see the stage (that’s where I was).  It’s not the sort of venue Guster has played a lot over their two decade history, and the scene was clearly jarring for the lead singer, Ryan Miller.

He passive-aggressively chided the audience for not standing. He threatened to send his bandmate into the audience in search of chablis. He bantered with a member of the audience about the martini he was drinking. Then he summarily announced, “Let’s hear it for the one percent!” My wife had the best response: “Dude, this is your audience now. Deal with it.”

We think our audience is a reflection of ourselves, and we fear that if our work appeals mostly to people who are too old, too boring, too (insert pejorative here) then that must mean so are we. But beware. The march to irrelevance starts as a search for a cooler audience.


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