In the entertainment business numbers are a big deal and this is even more apparent in a capitalist economy which touts the phrase "The bigger the better". It's no surprise the amount of worth that is placed in the size of one's crowd. While it can be remarkable to perform on gigantic stages and feel the intensity of hundreds to thousands of people, few have highlighted the benefits of small intimate performances and the worth and value they have for performers of all levels.
1.Smaller audiences allow the performer(s) to have more control over the way their content is presented and interpreted by a distinct group of individuals rather than an overwhelmingly large crowd. If one is familiar with the herd mentality theory, the theory according to psychologist Gustav Le bon is that people in crowds are actually less independent and less likely to think for themselves; they will likely go for the majority hence the expression...."following the heard". While crowds are not always negative, for the artist, a "small-batch" approach may be a more effective way to connect with fans. In intimate settings, one can acheieve a higher level of awareness with the audience as both a group entity and as individuals. In small intimate settings, there are usually enough people in the room for small group dynamics to occur, which creates group bonding. Therefor performers can cater their message to specific people in a authentic manner.
2. Audience members feel special and they are able to really feel the performer's creative energy in a unique way. A small intimate performance can become exclusive and unite small groups of people. In a massively large performance, the performer may act differently due to the situation of being under pressure; physiologically our bodies are producing more adrenaline and stress hormones to prepare us to perform. The assumption here is that the bigger the crowd the more intense we may feel and the more likely we may be to "show-off" and impress. Showing-off is okay, but it sends a different message than that off a small intimate performance that aims to share secrets and inner expressions. When there are fewer people, a performer can give them more individual attention through their energy and presence. Additionally, one is likely to be less distracted by how many people are there and furthermore the performer can actually focus on what it is that they would like to communicate as a musician.
3. Quality over quantity. Bands and performers that appreciate intimate performances understand that it's much better to make stronger lasting connections with audiences then to make your audience feel like they are just another number. The people who come to intimate shows get to see a side of your creativity that may not come out in a larger show for a multitude of reasons. Performers may be feeling like they aren't able to please the masses or they may be over-thinking their own material. They also may be distracted by the noise and energy that comes from large crowds. Quality connections turn into quality fans and supporters.
4. The star-audience complex dissipates and a new level of humbleness is achieved. When there isn't a huge stage, and one is not put on a pedestal, the approach to music changes-- it's more about the music and less a bout the spectacle of performance. When one is still performing one's craft but eliminating the common ideal of being a "star" (and therefor needing to be worshiped and adorned) one may slip into a lovely peacefulness. A peacefulness of simply sharing one's own gift and being heard. This is a profound and a worthwhile experience as the performer can find another level of humanness.
So, no matter your skill level and interest in performance, consider the wisdom and joy to be shared in all performance situations big and small. Each performance is a moment to be shared with those who have answered to your call....so let the conversions begin with introspective, intimate performances!
Reicher, S. (2008). The Psychology of Crowd Dynamics. Blackwell Handbook of Social Psychology: Group Processes, 182-208. doi:10.1002/9780470998458.ch8
Woody, R. H. (2012, April 11). Music Made for Peak Perception. Retrieved July 14, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/live-in-concert/201204/music-made-peak-perception