THIS IS WHY Concerts Have Opening Acts

When attending a concert, you will often notice that there is an artist performing before the actual event. Not only is this a great chance for other musicians to gain exposure and experience, but there are other reasons behind this too.

The three main reasons are to warm up the crowd, fine-tune the sound levels with a full venue, and give exposure to an upcoming artist. This contributes to a better concert experience for the artists and audience in terms of sound quality and crowd participation.

Let’s have a finer look at these points to make it a bit more understandable. It might be that you would like to know when the main show will start if you are planning your time to arrive at a specific event of the concert. We will also address a timeline for that below.

Pre-band preparing the crowd for the main act. (Photo credit: Canva)

As you enter the venue, many people are still finding their space or seats. An opening act relaxes the audience so that the crowd can focus on enjoying the music.

There might be cases where not all of the above-mentioned reasons are always applicable, especially with highly experienced musicians that have been performing the same set for weeks and the crew knows the exact setup. This could potentially also be a reason for a raise in ticket prices which we want to prevent.

To Warm the Audience Up

Let’s take a step back. Arriving at a location, not quite knowing what to expect, many people also end up being late.

Having an opening act helps create a buffer for the latecomers and allows them to enter the venue stress-free. It is also important to allow your fans the chance to pay a visit to your merchandise stand and fill up their glasses and be ready for the main event.

To Relax the Audience

When the opening act arrives, the audience will still feel stressed and rushed. It is the job of the opening act to get the audience in the zone of comfort and enjoyment and out of their rushed lives.

This is achieved by playing a similar genre of music as the main act and bringing people a little bit out of their comfort zones and making them feel welcome and comfortable.

For example, asking the audience to raise their hands for a certain outcome is true, or to sing along to a catchy melody.

Not all people would participate, but the objective is only to bring attention to the togetherness of the crowd as a unit and make them realize that they have one important thing in common, and that is their taste in music.

To Fine Tune the Sound Levels

A filled venue changes the acoustic in comparison to an empty one. Therefore it saves the main act the blushes of the sound levels being out.

Having an opening act helps the sound engineers to make the needed last-minute changes. This process comes in very handy when artists continuously perform at different venues.

In many cases, it is also known to have an opening act with fewer instruments or only a solo performer, to make the main act sound much fuller and better once the main act hit the stage.

With the same goal in mind, the sound gets lowered a bit for the opening act and then gets pushed again for the main show to create a comparison between the two. It is not really fair, but if it’s your show, it’s your game.

If you are a musician or you play in a band, don’t miss the article I wrote about having a successful sound check for bands. It might add some insight and enrich your preperformance experience.

Giving Exposure to an Upcoming Artist

The greatest opportunity to get as an upcoming artist is to perform with a successful artist.

The crowd is already there. The stage and sound are set, and all you need to do is to advertise your music and sell yourself to a hungry crowd. It is a win-win for both parties at the end of the day.

Keep in mind that normally the opening acts do not get paid as well as they could be. This is because they are either include in the performance deal, or they are using the concert as exposure to market themselves.

An opening act usually performs a shortened version of their normal set which is about 30 minutes in total. To give you an example of a time structure:

  • Your ticket says that the show starts at 19:00.
  • The opening act appears at 19:00 and performs until approximately 19:30.
  • From 19:30 – 20:00, the change and setting up for the main event take place. The audience fills their glasses and visits the lavatory.
  • The main act starts at 20:00 and normally performs for 2 hours, including the encore.
  • The show ends at 22:00. (I would include a buffer until 22:30 for extended encores.)

Take note that it will take a venue between 20-40 minutes to empty before the cleaning crew will enter. They might even stand ready from early on. Respect and thanks to those warriors for the work that they do.

It Offers a Variety to the Audience

It sounds like 2 for the price of one! I remember attending a concert as a boy, where the opening act was surprisingly good. They went on to become really famous.

As a part of the audience, it is not easy to learn the new music from an opening act. You need to get used to a new voice, understand the style and melodies, and learn the new lyrics, all in just a few songs.

That’s why it’s really important for an opening act to perform something familiar and have a good stage presence to win the crowd over and warm them up properly.

Stage presence and confidence are key to winning over a new audience. Don’t miss the article I wrote about Building Confidence for a Musical Performance. You will find some key elements to guide you on your journey.

This post was written and posted by De Wet from on 26.03.2023. The content was stolen from me if this blog post is seen anywhere else.

Live band performing (Photo credit: Canva)

As an opening act, it is key to selling your music to the audience. Don’t forget to have some freebies or something for people to remember you by.

If you are an artist and you would like to have some tips on how to get an opening gig for a successful band, check out this post I wrote where you will find some key tips.

Until next time!

De Wet

The dream started during a school tour at the age of 15 years old. One that might take a long time to reach. De Wet was 16 years old when he got his first bass guitar as a gift from his dad. The guitar was found, hidden under boxes. As if it was waiting for its owner to come by and pick him up. He practiced every day to improve and to teach his fingers to dance to the music. After finishing high school, he played in various bands where he collected valuable experience, before being signed by a record label as an upcoming band. He reached success at age 22 when he released two albums with his band, which also included televised music videos for publicity. By age 24, he co-started management, artist promotion, and booking agency for successful and upcoming musical acts.

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