And look, let’s be practical here: every cell phone in the world has audio and video recording on it now. An entire generation has gotten used to having their cell on them all the time, and taking that away from them so they can get into a show is pointless and serves only to alienate them. People are going to record parts of the show, and if it’s memorable, they’ll want to share it online. Why fight that?
Also, it could be useful. I accidentally deleted the only copy of my intro for the show after Los Angeles. I needed to refer to it for Seattle, so I found an audience recording from Largo and transcribed it before I rewrote it for our show at The Moore.
* Encourage instant feedback.
w00tstock is supposed to be 3 hours long, but we’ve had two performances that ended up closer to 5 hours. I was *really* stressed backstage in Portland and Chicago because of the length of the show, but I was able to look at #w00tstock on Twitter and see that for every one person who said “please God, let it end,” there were a hundred who never wanted us to stop. Knowing that helped me relax and enjoy the two additional bonus hours.
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A friend of ours, Len Peralta, drew limited-edition posters at both shows this weekend, using themes from the audience suggested via Twitter. At intermission, I noticed hundreds of requests for something called “Bus Plunge” to be on the poster. I had no idea what it was, but I told Len that the audience wanted it, so he should probably work it in, some way. He was nearly done with the poster, but was able to add a word balloon to Paul … which ended up being perfect, because “Bus Plunge” was the title of a song that Jonathan Coulton and Paul and Storm made up on the spot at their last Minneapolis show. It may seem like a small thing, but it was important to nearly 20% of the audience, and because we made it easy for them to talk with us, we were able to deliver.
So I think this all comes down to embracing and facilitating communication with our audiences, and making it easy for them to spread the virus about our shows, to steal an idea from Seth Godin. Think about this, musicians: you have a potential army of passionate marketers just waiting to tell their friends why they should invest their time and money to see you. Why in the world would you do anything that gets in their way?
Wil Wheaton is an actor, best known from the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation and the movie Stand By Me. He also runs a weblog called Wil Wheaton Dot Net. He is a new bi-monthly columnist for Techland.
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