I don’t know how I found it. I don’t live in Dallas. I never have. I don’t make a habit of reading Dallas newspapers, news outlets or blogs. Yet, somehow I had this article stored in my favorites — a March 2011 Dallas Observer article “Why Do We Still Bother With Encores”.
I was looking for something else in my favorites. I just saw the title and couldn’t shake it. This must have been the reason I stored this article back whenever it was that I read it. Why do we bother with encores still?
Anyone that’s been to a concert recently probably knows how the modern day encore goes. Band leaves for a few minutes. People applaud. Band comes back. Right? Well, that’s how it’s supposed to go.
But it’s no small secret that bands plan for their encores these days. What was once supposed to be a treat for an especially raucous and rowdy crowd has become a concert standard. Not playing an encore, at this point, would be blasphemous.
The Dallas Observer article (by Pete Freedman) points out that bands even write an encore into their setlist now. It’s not that they know they’ll play an encore, they know what they’ll play in an encore. It doesn’t seem as though the crowd has much control anymore.
I’m torn in this regard. My favorite band is known for playing multiple encores. Almost half of their show is billed as “encore” and they most certainly build them into their sets (though they are also known for extending these shows and adding songs on the fly). I love that they play 3 hour shows. I respect their respecting of the encore tradition. But I wouldn’t mind cheering louder, angrier and longer if it meant that it could translate to an extra minute on McCready’s ‘Ledbetter’ solo.
What Freedman asks is why we still bother with the traditional encore structure. He doesn’t have a problem with bands playing longer. I don’t think anyone does. But it does beg the question of why we’ve sequestered ourselves in an unnecessary tradition (provided of course that you account for the band taking a short break to rest, but we’ll just ignore that small detail for now).
And I think this is an applicable point to make in a larger context. Contexts, in fact. And I’m going to choose the context of entrepreneurialism.
Two points here: tradition and crowd response.
The tradition of the encore is simple. Bands play longer if they play well (to be determined by their audience). Yet, bands have moved this ideology to “let’s play longer because we can”. Or maybe they’ve moved it so far as to play a shorter set, only to fit in an encore into their allotted time; thus pre-emptively accounting for a successful set.
The larger question, then, is whether one should adhere to traditions if that tradition is to be sullied as such. If your set’s great, play the whole time (barring, again, that break time). Don’t take a few minutes off because “that’s how it’s done”. Don’t need it. Not in this day and age, not with other entrepreneurs who will find a way to fill those few minutes and beat you at the same game.
In the realm of traditions, remember that just because something is, doesn’t mean it is right.
The very best of entrepreneurs is such because he or she breaks tradition. Creates new ones. Realizes what is unnecessary and gets rid of it.
The worst part, of course, about this broken tradition is it takes away the crowd’s ability to control the music they hear. It used to be that the elevated yells of the audience would keep a band a-rockin’. No longer. Verbal democracy stripped.
And, yes, I know it’s a “show”. Audience members paid for a performance. They get what they paid for. I’ve heard all that before. I still like my way better. Hell, I’d be for sound censors that when dropped below a certain level turns the bands amp off. Unless you’re at a Fiona Apple show, crowd noise should be a part of the electrical equation.
For business starters, goers and doers, though, this means something more. Your crowd (audience) should be heard. They need to be. Your business will be serving them. To go on without their permission (or, even better, their enthusiasm) is damning to your ability to provide a great product or service. Simply put, your entrepreneurial encore (continuing your business) should be based on crowd noise (feedback).
I’d like to bring back to the idea of the encore as motivation for a good band (or good business) to keep playing. Not built in, but added on. And those with a dead silent room after they’ve played their set? Well, there’s always Monday open-mic night, right?