Who picks the music they play at concerts when the band isn't playing?
July 18, 2008 7:59 AM   Subscribe

Who picks the music played at a concert when a band is not on stage and why do they pick the songs they do?

I've always wondered who picks the music played at concerts when a band is not on stage, such as the period between opening act(s) and headliners and while people are filing in/out.

Are the choices made by the headliner (or someone associated with the headlining band/performer), the record label, the house, or the person running the soundboard? Is there any rhyme or reason behind the selections such as a label wanting to promote a certain artist, or the band trying to give exposure to artists they like, respect, etc.? For those who have gotten to do this, are there any "rules" you've followed to help manage the crowd's energy level, enthusiasm, etc. ?

I've been to some shows where it seems that a lot of care has been given to the music played during these interstitial periods and it really enhances the experience by either acting as a "pallet cleanser" between acts or continuing to build a certain energy level or vibe.

While at some shows it seems like someone just plugged in an iPod, set it to shuffle and walked away.
posted by cptspalding to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
At the type of shows I attend/play (small to medium sized indie shows), it's the sound guy. If there is a pretty big band playing, they often bring their own sound guy, and in that case may have some input as to what gets played. Other times it's just the guy who works at the venue and he'll put on whatever he feels like.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:08 AM on July 18, 2008

Ludwig_van's pretty much said what I would have said, so I'll just add the data point that at multi-day festivals, the interval music is very often other bands that are playing other nights, or the festival compilation or similar.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:10 AM on July 18, 2008

It depends. Some bands have carefully crafted 'opener' playlists, and it's in their rider that it gets played. Some venues just pop the jukebox on, or like you thought, someone's iPod. A larger/more popular/better drawing band is going to probably get more say in this than the guys playing tuesday night at the corner pub, and corporate sponsored arena/stadium tours are going to be way more structured than a mid-level club tour without all the crazy label support.

Many of the larger venues are now owned by or partnered with big promotion houses (ticketmaster, livenation, etc) and probably have a lineup of coming shows they want to promote to what they feel are similar crowds.

Heck, one of the big venues when I was in school had a deal with a couple local radio stations, that's what got piped in before shows and such.

I just don't think there's a set rulebook, but yes, some places take more care than others.

and I think you meant palate claenser, just fyi
posted by pupdog at 8:14 AM on July 18, 2008

and I think you meant palate claenser, just fyi

Argh! I knew I had spelled that wrong and meant to go back and fix that before I posted it. I usually use soap and water to clean my palettes, not music.
posted by cptspalding at 8:34 AM on July 18, 2008

At the type of shows I attend/play (small to medium sized indie shows), it's the sound guy.

Ditto. Usually at the shows I go to, the sound guy will pick music that's somewhat in the same vein as the bands playing, or at least it seems that way to me. At one show I went to, I stood by the sound table, and saw the sound guy's iPod connected to the PA, so that's exactly what was playing between acts. Other times, I've noticed that the bands playing went in increasing alphabetical order, which seemed suspicious to me.

Sometimes on big nights, the venue I go to most often will have an actual DJ playing records during breaks, but they still seem to "go" with the style of the bands playing. Like, I saw Swervedriver a while ago and the DJ was playing Spacemen 3. Stuff like that.
posted by LionIndex at 8:41 AM on July 18, 2008

Since the answer's basically been covered, some trivia: during U2's Pop Mart tour, they would play M's "Pop Musik" right before the band came on stage. So it does seem like the bigger bands (or at least U2) determine what plays before their set.
posted by chrominance at 9:41 AM on July 18, 2008

I'm a sound guy and I use my ipod.
I have a few playlists, based on the venues/genres I work for, that have about 400 songs each, and I'll let the pod shuffle through the list. Sometimes during the first band I'll fine-tune it using the on-the-go playlist to remove bands that don't fit or are playing that night or something.
I'll also play pretty much anything that any of the bands want played.
posted by gally99 at 9:42 AM on July 18, 2008

My roommate books bands for a pretty small rock club. Between sets and acts she gives the sound guy CDs to play.
posted by xbonesgt at 9:45 AM on July 18, 2008

more trivia: for the past 20+ years Louis Armstrong's "What a wonderful world" is used by Jethro Tull as exit music.
posted by Gungho at 11:32 AM on July 18, 2008

Way back in the day, Talking Heads provided their own PA music, and included the novelty song Psycho Chicken.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:35 AM on July 18, 2008

On several occasions recently, I've seen shows by the same artist. Every time the pre-show music was the same: Beatles, circa Rubber Soul and Revolver. Presumable he, or someone who works for him, picked the same music for every show.
posted by dseaton at 3:23 PM on July 18, 2008

Back in the day of Bill Graham, an instrumental version of Greensleeves was *always* played at the end of concerts, as Graham thought it calmed people down (or would get them to leave the venue quickly!)
posted by jasper411 at 4:27 PM on July 18, 2008

« Older Good looking denim hemming?   |   Just the write place, DC Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.