Music IndustryOngoing History of New Music

Ongoing History Daily: The story of “claque”

The last thing any performer wants to see is empty seats at a gig. They also need energy back from the audience, so performers also need people to applaud. This has been an issue since ancient times.

For example, the Roman emperor Nero fancied himself an actor. To make sure his performances were seen to be appreciated, he ordered 5,000 soldiers to be in the audience to cheer him on. Then in the 1500s, a French poet named Jean Durant gave away free tickets to one of his readings, promising anyone who got one would applaud.

In the 1820s, this idea of hiring professional clappers for gigs was turned into a business when an agency in Paris began managing and supplying clappers. These audience plans were known as claquers and were hired by theatres and opera houses across Europe.

The practice continued until at least the mid-20th century.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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