It’s not a crowd – it’s an audience

It’s a very old, common and outdated term for street performers to refer to building a crowd as ‘building a crowd.’

That’s not a typo mistake. I have literally grown to dislike the term building a crowd because it is not an accurate description of what a professional busker does.

Here at the School of Busking, I used to say I am attracting a crowd and I turn that crowd into my audience. However, now I realise that I have been attracting an audience from the beginning.

In a nutshell:

A street performer attracts an audience, not a crowd.

Attracting an audience

Let’s unpack that school of thought.

At the heart of every true successful street show, we attract audiences, not a crowd or worse crowds – just as a theatre attracts an in-house audience.

Audience builders is a far more accurate term for street performers!

Audience attracted!

Don’t confuse this term with pitch building, or the pitch. This is a very helpful descriptive term. It describes the mechanics of what we do.

Attracting an audience is the heartbeat of what a seasoned street performer does best. 

You see – almost anything can attract a crowd, even a schoolyard fight, or a rowdy drunk can attract a crowd.

To the untrained ear, a crowd could imply you are attracting an obstruction of people. Take your street show as an opportunity to correct and re-educate –

“…this is not a crowd, this is my audience…” 

You are in your right to deny you have attracted a crowd.

You are attracting an audience. The practice of this very concept is clearly worthy of payment.

This is what separates a good street performer from all the rest. Attracting an audience is a skill they have required (even if they inaccurately as I have done called it a crowd in the past)

That performer has through the years, through the consistency of performing and gaining experience in their field – become an Audience Builder.

 A few reasons we should adopt the word Audience.

  • It’s far more accurate and professional sounding to do so. 
  • It’s a reminder that it is a skilled practice. It makes you mindful and focused on what you’re truly aiming to achieve. 
  • It’s a reminder to respect our audience. We’re not attracting a mere crowd of mortals. Rather, it reminds us that we are attracting the heart of our show – our audience. 
  • It reminds the performer that this show is about their audience. 
  • It’s also a way of educating the public, shop owners, city officials and even the police.

Performing to my audience

Further benefits.

When I’m adopting the above practice, I am reminding myself that my show is about my audience,.

These shows, by far, are always the best.

If you are anxious about something or another or got stage fright, remind yourself it’s about your audience.

  • If you get caught up in the detail of your show, keep balance and remind yourself that’s about your audience.
  • Above all else, your show is about your audience.

Put it into practice and see for yourself.

So regardless of whether you’re a seasoned street performer or considering starting out. My tip for you today is to adopt the word audience over the word crowd.

It will bring an extra touch of class to your mindset, the pitch you’re performing on and whoever you educate about what you do for a living.

Here to help.


Mario Morris, Master Street Performer, Comedy Magician, coach and mentor, founder of The School Of Busking


  1. Nice blog, great thoughts.
    What about generating an audience? Perhaps expounding on the energetic exchange that takes place between the performer and the audience. The energetic feedback loop.
    Or terminology exploration of co-creating an audience. Meaning we are co-creating this show. We are unified in connection to create a spectacle (special community of unified camaraderie). Or exploring the word “show”, yes I’m going to show you something. The gathering of a community.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have taught in Further Education for many years as well as performed magic part time for more years than I care to mention.

    In many respects teaching is like preforming to an audience.

    My “FE audience” in no way could be described as a perfect audience. I teach Construction Trades to mainly young males who normally come with a host of issues and very large chips on their shoulders.

    I have performed magic at a range of gigs from theatres to pubs, clubs, restaurants, and private homes but never on the street. At all those gigs there has always been varying levels of interest. Some people don’t like magic!!

    In all that time I have always worked on the premise the audience and my learners are at the heart of everything I do.

    Whether teaching or performing it is all about gaining the respect of your audience/learners at an early stage and the audiences/learners reciprocating this.

    If learners think you are not competent you have no chance of success. You need to show them you have the knowledge and skills of your subject.
    Equally hitting the audience with a quick, visually impressive opener establishes who you are and gets your audience on board.

    Which leads me on to classroom and audience management. I see so many new teacher making friends with learners and by doing so they lose their authority to manage their classroom.
    With an audience you need an establish a structure to your performance which need to flow and create a theme, otherwise it is no more than a demonstration of disjointed tricks.

    Like I said before I have never performed on the street so I can’t begin to think how I would go about generating an audience keeping them engaged and persuading them to pay for the experience.
    Greatest respect!

    I feel I’m drifting slightly off topic so I will finish by saying, “Yes always an audience never a crowd”.
    ………..But where do hecklers fit in to this? Are they an audience or a crowd?


    1. Hi Graham
      Thanks for your response of sharing your story. In response to your question “where do hecklers fit in to this? Are they an audience or a crowd?” In a nutshell, hecklers are none corporate audience members who are attempting to participate in your show without an invitation.
      A good street performer would be able to exploit this situation for the greater good of their show.
      However you have different kind of hecklers, I’m going to mention three of the most common ones.
      The opportunist – this a genuine audience member who of the cuff has simply fired of the hip.
      Attention seeker – this is a disruptive audience member who wants the attention your getting and has forgotten to quite while they are perhaps ahead.
      Destroyer – similar to the attention seeker but this person is the rarest and is seeking to dismantle, destroy your efforts. Even the most seasoned performer will struggle with this one.
      Good question I could tell you some stories and easily unpack this but I’m going to stop while I’m ahead, perhaps this could be a focus for another blog some day.


  3. Hi Mario.
    I totally agree with your remark that a good performer can use a heckler to enhance their performance. I firmly believe there are performers who are naturally funny and deal with hecklers with ease. The rest of us have to acquire this skill over many performances.

    Fortunately I have never encountered the Destroyer type of heckler even when in my younger days I was the support act for a singer in the North East working men’s clubs.


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