On his blog, The Sensory Deprivation Bank, Rich Pulvino raises an interesting question regarding the current value of the ‘encore’. He argues that the encore is becoming entirely too routine; the point has been reached where fans do not respond to a band in a manner deserving of an encore (i.e. they don’t cheer loud or long enough) and the encore performance, itself, has become expected and stale.
Nowadays, at every concert (that I can recall…woah, dude!) the band tramps back out on-stage to play an encore. Some encores are rushed…for example, Giant Panda ripping through ‘Missing You More’ in under three minutes to beat a midnight city noise ordinance. Some encores are predictable “fan favorites”…for instance, Lynyrd Skynyrd (what was left of them in 2003) playing ‘Free Bird’. And some are, at least to me, redundant and unnecessary…like how O.A.R. used to play ‘I Feel Home’ for an encore at every show.
So why do artists always perform an encore? Artists must feel that the encore can provide some value to the fan, a value that the band can, in turn, capitalize off of or monetize in some way. Otherwise, come out…play your set…and hope every gets home safely.
Instead of simply rehashing the same-old, compulsory encore performance, I feel that bands should take advantage of the concept of, and fan expectations for, an encore, and use it to ‘Connect with Fans’ and give them a ‘Reason to Buy’. [Full Disclaimer: I am borrowing extensively here from Techdirt’s Michael Masnick. He has given several talks and written many blog posts about these terms, and the concepts of ‘Connect with Fans’ (CwF) and ‘Reason to Buy’ (RtB) are his creation...check out their own experiment, here]
As the older music industry business models continue to fade away, or die off completely, upstart bands have to rely on newer models in order to make a living in the music industry. ‘Connect with Fans’ refers to a band’s interaction with the fanbase on a real, personal level. An actual two-way interaction between the band and the fans, in combination with any compelling ‘Reason to Buy’ the music, poster, tee-shirts, etc., will likely become the new business model for the music industry.
Using the encore as a mechanism to CwF and give them a RtB seems like it could function as a natural progression of this business model...
One terrific example is the band moe. [Disclaimer 2: moe. kicks ass!] When they released their latest album, ‘Sticks and Stones’, the band ran a promotional, limited time pre-order offer. What was different about this offer, was that each purchaser would also receive a “ticket” that would allow the fan to join the band on-stage for the encore, singing the chorus of the song ‘Raise a Glass’ (this last track on the new album).
With this offer, the band could CwF in unique way, giving them a compelling RtB, all through an innovative use of the encore. The offer not only generated interest in the ‘Sticks and Stones’ album, and the song ‘Raise a Glass’, but it also prompted fans to go out and buy a ticket to a concert, so they could have the opportunity to sing on stage. moe.'s offer connected the fan with the band in a way that no other band does.
Sure, the encore may have become repetitive to fans who tour with moe., having to hear ‘Raise a Glass’(admittedly not the best moe. tune) performed every show. However, this is as an example of evolving the encore into something other than a mundane, expected part of the concert. moe. is utilizing it to connect with fans and give them a reason to buy...and it is absolutely brilliant. Let’s all raise a glass to moe!