music festival production

Audience Engagement at Live Entertainment Events

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With all the time and energy spent planning and promoting your live entertainment events, that same energy and eye for detail should carry into the day-of-event issues. Live entertainment events of different sizes require different levels of preparation for the audience members. For larger outdoor shows, access to restrooms, exits, water/food, security, etc. involves detailed planning and logistics for the live event. For smaller indoor shows, access to restrooms, exits, and water/food are still very important but likely are built into the venue space.

Making sure the audience has access to adequate restroom facilities, food, and water is a big priority and will impact their overall experience at any live entertainment event. Meeting these basic needs allows the audience to be more engaged during the shows. Positive memories associated with these entertainment events mean the fan base/audience is likely to come back and attend more shows in the future. Access to the essentials: food, water, restrooms, exits, and emergency personnel can make or break a fan’s experience. Without these basic live entertainment event necessities adequately supplied, people could get frustrated, hurt, or miss out and that can create a negative association with the live entertainment event and possibly carry that negativity to future shows or venues.

Engagement on social media

social media engagementAudience engagement starts all the way back to square one – building an audience for your live entertainment event. The first step is to define your target market for the event. The most current approach to building a target audience is via social media. This requires gaining followers, engaging with them, and posting content that is geared towards them. Focus on your social media approach to building your audience and marketing your event. Learn more on How to Market Your Event on Social Media. This post walks you through the steps of reaching and growing your targeted audience and lending that into the marketing for your event. In addition to building your audience and marketing your event, audience engagement continues through the event itself.

Optimizing your space, time and resources has a big impact on audience engagement. For example, an event that is well marked and has clear directions already sets the audience at ease knowing they can find signs directing them where they need to go. The size of the event and venue also plays a factor in the conversation because the larger the space, the more logistics there are to plan for and the more audience members there are to engage. You want your audience to feel comfortable and safe.

Audience Engagement Opportunities at Live Entertainment Events

A). The on-stage talent, are they engaging?

In the initial stages of asking a performer or performers to be involved in your live event, discuss ways they plan to engage with the audience. Finding artists who are engaging with the crowds and have a track record of success in previous shows can make a massive impact on the energy at your event. Dealing with this issue preemptively can help you avoid over promising and under delivering on an act. It would reflect poorly if the show was marketed to be a lively and energetic performance and ended up being mild and reserved. Have a clear vision for the type of performance your target audience wants to see.

B). The layout of the event matters

The layout of a live entertainment event plays a big factor in overall engagement at events. As I mentioned above, how the venue is set up will influence how the crowd connects with the event overall. Below I discuss accessibility to food, water and emergency personnel. Having these resources available and accessible to the audience can make or break their experience. Food and water access is important for all shows, but especially for outdoor events during the warmer/summer months. Similarly, emergency personnel are important for all live events.  If you know there will be an increased likelihood of dehydration, claustrophobia, or dancing, you should consider having stations around the venue that are easily accessible. These should be included in the consideration for the layout of your event. Having them available to your audience is one thing but making them accessible to your audience is another.

C). Access to food and water

For smaller and indoor venues, this may not be as high up on the priority list compared to a festival, however, all audiences require some level of refreshment accessibility.

There have been tons of news stories in the past about crowds of people dehydrating at outdoor summer concerts. While you can’t control the weather at your show, there are steps you can take to make sure the audience is taken care of and will be able to enjoy the show. First and foremost, having water/water stations accessible to attendees will help with these reactions to the high temps. Whether the audience is allowed to bring their own water bottles and refill in the venue, or they must purchase water once they get inside, accessibility should be a high priority. Along with water, food is another necessity that the attendees will need. So having different options and multiple locations (depending on the size of the venue, of course) will help with the ease with which they can get food and get back to the show.

D). Accessibility to emergency personnel

event security personnelAlong the lines of providing access to food and water, having access to emergency medical personnel is important at any show. Accidents and injuries can happen anywhere, especially when you are in a shared space, there is loud music, and people are dancing.

Knowing your potential risk factors for your event beforehand can give you a rough guide for how many emergency personnel you should have present at the event, where they should be stationed, and what forms of emergency stations you will have. There are different options you have with emergency personnel at your event. Depending on venue size and audience demographic.

Your first aid station should have paramedics or nurses to deal with minor injuries and have an ambulance ready in case of a more severe emergency. You may have security people nearby to assist with crowd control or to help assess any injuries at aide stations. Whatever you chose to provide for your audience, you should consider what level of safety is responsible for the circumstances of your specific live entertainment event and what is optimal for your space and audience.

E). Using a mobile event app

Mobile apps can help you engage with your audience in many ways. For example:

Prior to the event: Send out updates and take polls for what the audience wants at the event. Food selections, prize giveaways, openers for the main acts, or any other aspect of the event you want to include for their input.

During the event: Notify attendees where to line up for the entrance or send out give away notifications like “First 50 people in the venue get a free t-shirt”, safety reminders to stay hydrated or keep an eye on your drinks, and if you chose you can have the app set up with payment options so the audience can pay through the app for food, water, and merchandise. People can post photos and videos during the event as well.

Post event: Send photos from the event (not only does this engage the audience but it can help promote your event when people post photos from the event), send a survey to help plan for the next event or to get a detailed rundown of what worked and what didn’t, and lastly thank the audience for showing up.

A mobile event app keeps all information in one place, making it more streamlined and clearer for your audience. It can be frustrating juggling tons of emails before a show and making sure you have the right tickets saved and that they are in the correct format. Using the app can be used across the board to make it as streamlined as possible for all attendees (and workers at the event).

F). Games, prizes and merchandise

Part of your promotion for the event on social media may involve contests, and if so, you can incorporate them into the live event. For example, you can offer VIP tickets, backstage passes, a meet and greet with the performer(s), or various merchandise options to the winners of your contests. These types of contests will help drive up your digital engagement with fans as they are sharing, saving, and liking your event content. Additionally, it gives them something to look forward to at the event itself and adds to the excitement and anticipation.

Merchandise is another focal point for shows. A lot of fans like to buy merchandise to keep as a memento from the show. Having a spot at the venue (or multiple depending on the size of the event) where merch tables can be set up is another added layer of engaging live entertainment events’ audience. This is also a great way to add a revenue source for the event.

G). Having interactive performances like flash mobs

There are dancers and performers across the nation who will choreograph flash mobs for shows and festivals. Choreographer and dance teacher Jordan Grace, located in Nashville, TN choreographed a flash mob for the CMA fest in Nashville on 10 June 2023.

Having a group of people perform a flash mob can create buzz on social media and reach a much larger audience given that it adds a layer of surprise to the performance.

The concept of a group of people performing an “impromptu” flash mob creates a measure of excitement and garners more attention than the traditionally offered performance (dancers and performers on stage doing the choreographed routines).

On this same token, there are many different types of artists you can involve in your event. There are caricature artists, photographers, and more if you decide to add more elements of art to your event. Involving dancers or other artists to be a part of your event can help draw in a diverse crowd base from across the arts, expanding your overall reach in audience. It can provide your audience with unique memories, pieces of artwork, and pictures from your event.


The first consideration regarding engaging the audience at live entertainment events is to ensure that they have the necessities in adequate supply and conveniently located. While many might not consider this audience engagement, imagine the impact of not having enough of water, restroom, medical and other necessities. Your audience will find themselves engaging in the hunt for these basic things and all other audience engagement opportunities will suffer.

Once you provide for the necessities  at live entertainment events, you can concentrate on providing the many other engagement opportunities that will excite the crowd, get them to post on social media, and provide for an unforgettable experience at your live event.

Related Posts:

Event Planning: Key Festival Audience Engagement Ideas

Festival Production: Why Use an Event App?


About the author

Picture of Martha Reuter

Martha Reuter

Martha has an MBA in music business from Middle Tennessee State University and a B.S. from Texas Woman's University during which she studied abroad in London for a semester - and yes she still miss it every day!). She then moved to Nashville TN for graduate school, and post-graduation moved to New York City where she most recently worked in advertising. She's now on the eastern shore in Maryland enjoying a nice escape from the NYC chaos. She's passionate about learning everything she can about the music and entertainment business and she's excited to combine her work and education experience with this internship!
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