There are very few concerts that feature just a single act, as there is usually at least one other artist or band included in the ticket price. While it is the headliner that will have top billing and be the major draw, a solid opening act can add to the ticket sales if they have developed a solid following of their own. This is a format that works for just about every type of live performance, be it music, comedy, or otherwise. Essentially, you are giving the audience a little bit of a warm-up before the headliner takes to the stage.
When a promoter starts booking shows, he or she has to look at the artist they are working with, as well as the venue that will be the best fit. It is in venue choice that the role of the opening act can play a major role. If you have a band that is not very well-known nationwide, but which has a huge local following, you may be able to book the headliner into a larger venue. The addition of the large number of fans that come to see the opening act can mean that a larger space might therefore be filled, and more money made in the process.
While the opening act can help the bottom line, concert promotion is usually driven in large part by the headliner. They get the top billing, as well as the right to name the tour, which is usually something that has to do with the name of their most recent album release or genre of music/entertainment. They also get the biggest slice of the financial pie, which includes such things as merchandising and bonuses. The opening act will have their merchandise appear in the sales booths, but they will take up a relatively small space.
The opening act is generally a new or up-and-coming act whose style serves as a complement to the headliner. In some cases it may simply be a similar or complimentary artist. For example, a classic soul opening act would pair well with a classic soul or classic rock headliner. Choosing the right opening act can be a difficult task for a concert promoter or booking agent, and is one that is often dictated by outside sources. The headliners may want a band that they particularly like, and who they know their fans will love, while the record label may want to insist on a new band that should serve as the opening act so that they can essentially get free promotion and access to a potentially huge audience.
Pairing the headliner and opening act is something that has the ability to go great or very, very wrong. The perfect choice will lead to a show that goes off very well from start to finish. Choosing an opening act that does not fit well with the audience can hurt that artist over the long haul, while choosing an opening act that blows the headliner out of the water can lead to very different problems. Putting together a great show requires some real careful thought and no small amount of hard work, but the end results can be extremely rewarding for the concert promoter and everyone involved.
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