When I started Crewclass Backstage Training in 2010 I assumed that my audience would be almost exclusively young men wanting to get into rock concert touring.
That assumption has been proved wrong time and time again, and this months Crewclass at The Arcola on 30th April is no exception.
Once again the early sign-up’s have all been women, and not necessarily with a specific interest in gigs and rigs!
I should point out that we do get young men signing up as well – of course, and not always with an interest exclusively in rock&roll. But it is undeniably true that I find myself frequently presenting to an audience that is 60%, or more, female.
This is great, and absolutely not a problem as Crewclass always adapts its content to suit the needs of its audience on the day. But why does this happen time and time again?
I was speaking to my friend and colleague Darryn De La Soul at Soulsound about this situation and she made an interesting observation.
“Maybe”, said she, “young men are more inclined to believe that they know what they’re doing already, and feel they have the ‘cajones’ to learn on the job and bluff their way through. Women, on the other hand, tend to be more circumspect, and want to go into a new situation fore-warned and fore-armed with a basic knowledge and understanding”.
When I put the “Is there a need” post up for discussion on a rock&roll forum, the men on the site weren’t hostile, but appeared to back up what Darryn was saying. One respondent said “I came through the ‘being shouted off the stage for not knowing what a Grelco was’ Induction and it never did me any harm”! Or words to that effect.
There seemed to be an overall acceptance that this sort of thing is normal, even “character building”, and that someone who can’t take a public dressing down probably wouldn’t survive very long in the industry!
Maybe that was once true. Certainly when I started in 1995 with a big show crew, we had the luxury of being able to almost “hide” our newbies within a greater crew and only put them above the parapet when we – and they- had confidence in their competence. I’m not sure that this is the case any longer.
Crew’s are smaller – in all area’s of backstage life. Budgets are tighter. Clients and Producers want to see everyone performing tasks quickly and competently. “Watching and learning”, whilst a worthy use of time, is not something a client is prepared to pay for!
You need to know (at least roughly) what you’re doing right from day 1.
The women – and indeed the mid-life career changers, seem to “get” this. It’s interesting that they are my majority audience.
So, in conclusion, my audience has turned out to be almost a complete opposite (but still positive) of my initial expectation.
What do you think?