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Special guest blog on Heckling in the new Social Media World, by Clifton Printy


Heckling is generally defined as trying to…

”…to embarrass and annoy (someone speaking or performing in public) by questions, gibes, or objections; badger.”

However, it is also a more subtle problem. I would further define it as intentional and unintentional acts that cause breaks, gaps, disruption, and interruption of the performance.

Most of the performers here on StreetJelly are not technological wizards freshly instilled with a degree in sound engineering or computer programming. It is their intention to share a passion and love with you. Many of them are in fact singular musicians who have only begun to perform publicly online.

Please remember that as an audience member you have a job. You came for a great performance. Here’s how you get one.

  1. Encourage, Encourage, Encourage
    • “This song is OWNT!” (David Wesley)
    • “Super Great”
    • “That song was awesome”
    • “Holy Moly” (Frankie)
    • CNTRL Clappy Clappy Clappy
    • “You are amazing”
  2. Sell
    • Put the performer’s link in the chat.
    • Chat to and about the performer. (DCrann)
    • Favorite the artist so you can see when they are on.
    • Share their performance links on social media pages.

Now for the hard pill to swallow. If you are not going to pay for production, or transportation for tutelage, and/or are not Simon Cowell; then it is probably not helping if you critique the performer’s style, ability, prowess, set-list, or looks. These things stall the performance at the least and completely decimate an artist’s timing at most. Think about it! They are remembering the chord progression, the lyrics, the pitch, the tempo, and the punch line introduction to their next song. As they answer a question about how they are, read a side joke between Image and Clifty that makes no sense what-so-ever, and quiet their friend who has just barged in; you say, “raise the bass a little.” It is completely disarming! Worse still, when a musician has a connection problem or a sound problem that is not readily repairable, he or she is constantly attacked.

Look out folks, I am just getting wound up. Making a request from an artist usually involves having an understanding of the artist. However, you have to remember that you are trying to make the show better. If you ask Image and Family to play Pantera, you are unequivocally heckling with malicious intent. As funny as it would be, we should remember that our job as an audience is to enjoy the show. For the Image and Family show, a good request may be Drunken Sailor by Great Big Sea. Continuing on with this particular vent, there are people who understand this. Ever notice that when someone is barraging the request-o-meter with impossibles that a Don Gaynor or a Damian will come in and request a song they are sure the artist is good at. They are a practical participating audience.

Important and most obvious: not every performer is for you. If you don’t like a show or performer, just leave the show. Everyone has something to offer, but maybe not to you. Be polite, too. An explicit comment may work sometimes, but not other times. Remember that your chat is visible to not only those here but those who will join in a moment. If you know you are derailing the show, pull back and encourage. You are the audience, not the heckler.

Also, a certain persistent problems frequently arise from a free to use site of this nature. Please be kind and courteous. Smoking weed, swearing, illicit sexual content, vulgarity are not always appropriate in the conversation and/or the performance. Many of us are here for pure music and art. We are all of different values, culture, and political opinion. Going into a family performance such as Image and Family’s show with illicit sexual rhetoric is more than a social faux pas: it is blatantly rude. Would you act like that at the White House, church, grandma’s house? I bet not. Could you drop a licidious comment at Molotov Colostomy’s show? Sure, they are a different sort of musicians all together. But you shouldn’t go there and try to pull a sermon off, either. Very honestly, you are not anonymous and it is not your chat. It is the artists’ show, and all viewers are entitled to hear and enjoy that performer without the rudeness and distractions from a few jerks. Make sure you know the performers and their sense of propriety before you try to shout out the familiar…. or you will really be a heckler.

Clifton PrintyLikewise, performers need to remember to be cognizant of the camera personally seeing boogie sleeve wipes, a crotch torn out of a pair of jeans, a funny cigarette, a nose pick, (special woman note: don’t bend down in front of a desktop cam), and pay attention to what you have in the frame around you since you are also live to the world.

Last, most performers here are willing to play for free, and we do. But your tipping shows us that we have value. Want preferential request treatment, familiarity, and kinship, then give compliments that come from the heart. You will know if it’s good if it builds friendship, and makes it more enjoyable for the listener and the performer.

P.S. Believe me, some of this is learned from personal mistakes. Our personal accountability will keep a wonderful and rare respite on the internet.

Posted under: Guest Blogs, Industry Rants, Random Thoughts

Tagged as: , , , , , , , ,


  • Great timing on the article, Clifty. This topic has come up a lot lately. I’ll repeat what I’ve told a number of people in private. The mission of StreetJelly is to support independent musicians by giving them a venue to perform …and hopefully make a few bucks. The best thing everyone can remember: StreetJelly is NOT a chat room site that happens to have music. StreetJelly is a music performance venue site that happens to have chat. We will always cater to the musician and their show. Anyone who thinks they can take center stage by disrupting the chat window is heckling, and is not welcomed.

  • I agree Crystala, but I don’t mind the occasional plug for a future show. But Don’t Jelly Rat ` If you see me doing good at my performance, take notes. Don’t tell my crowd your going on come see me… BTW demanding tips is not busking it is pan handling, and is also very distasteful and will drive veiwers away.

  • I too have to commend the timing of this article. We play with our hearts, with the best of our abilities, and with the best equipment we are blessed with. I personally enjoy Streetjelly because the talent is raw, individual, and has a ‘welcome to my home’ feel to it. I’ve studied music management in L.A. I know pro A/V and Lighting from my years at FullSail University. What I love most about Streetjelly is that it takes us back to what music is suppose to be; Art. Lets CELEBRATE one another as uniquely and original as we are all created and blessed with the gifts of music that we are given. Thank you for this article.

  • I am a huge advocate for freedom of speech even on subjects I do not agree with. The internet is the final frontier when it comes to this freedom, but freedom is not free. It does have its boundaries and the article above mentioned a few.

    To sum it all up: Treat others as you want to be treated. Now there will be the minority, whether in public or on the web that will not be able to adapt to this venue. Some musicians, and some will be the audience, but the great thing about streetjelly is that you will be given a chance or two to adjust or acclimate to the streetjelly environment in order to participate on the site.

    This site is a gift from Frank Podlaha. Thank you sir. Music is the answer, music crosses all boundaries, music does not see race or color, music is sexless and does not see age. Music is the answer we all all deserve respect.

    Yes it is difficult to read the chat window while playing your tunes, but I kinda of like it. It is a great challenge that I accept. What really gets me is when people talk about my denim jacket. LOL All joking aside. Hey people be nice 🙂

  • Kevin Emmrich on November 13, 2013 at 7:08 pm said:

    “you say, “raise the bass a little.” It is completely disarming! ”

    However, I hear a lot of sets where there are sound problems — distortion, something is too low, …. I can either leave or I can be helpful (in my opinion) and try and get the best sound possible. Distortion is the enemy of performers and I always bail if it doesn’t go away. Other than that I agree 100%.

  • Pat Marr on November 30, 2013 at 10:48 pm said:

    The irony of treating others as you want to be treated is that not everybody likes what we like. It is entirely possible to stay within the boundaries of your own sensibilities and still step outside someone else’s. There is a learning curve for every internet community, each has its own culture. As I read thru the comments it occurs to me that my interaction has probably not been received the way I intended. If so, I apologize. My intent is never to be disruptive

  • Pat Marr on November 30, 2013 at 11:02 pm said:

    Another aspect to factor in is the way SJ has evolved as a community. It isn’t just a listening room, a concert where the audience sits quietly. It has evolved into a clubhouse where friends meet and enjoy one another’s company during the show. I dare say the interaction is equal to the music in terms of giving people reason to come back over and over again. I think censoring the audience might not work out as planned. They are an equal part of the success equation, even though the role they play is different than the role played by the performers.

  • Barry Nelson on March 8, 2015 at 10:51 am said:

    On the topic of sound, I personally am not offended if someone offers a suggestion, in fact I ask how it sounds.

    Its hard for us to know what the audience is hearing and Im constantly trying to better my sound.

    But i agree, its no place for rudeness
    Great blog !!