Hitting the Right Note: Captions for Live Concerts and Performance Art 

By: David Titmus
girl at concert holding phone with captions on screen cheers and applause

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Though misheard song lyrics can sometimes provide fun comedy fodder, they can prove frustrating for concertgoers or other audience members at performances. Live venues offer fans of music, theater, or other performing arts a sense of community, culture, and entertainment. However, a lack of captions for live concerts prevents the 20% of people worldwide who experience some degree of hearing loss from enjoying live events.  

Recent studies have shown that people are 31% more likely to attend a live event if they know it will be captioned. And of those polled in that same study, more than three-quarters responded in favor of more captioned live events. But while most viewers know where captions are likely to appear on streaming or televised content, in-venue captioning is a bit different. 

There are a variety of ways that captions for live concerts can be displayed, but the process generally begins the same way. Like live televised content, captioners listen to the live audio feed from theaters, arenas, stadiums, or event centers and translate that audio into realtime text. The difference from there is that instead of the text being displayed on the TV screen in your home, in-venue captions can be shown on a venue’s monitor or screen, a ribbon board or scoreboard, or streamed directly to an audience member’s smartphone or other handheld device, depending the on venue’s set-up. 

Good live captions for events and performances require some of the same prep work as good live captions for streamed or televised shows. Quality caption providers will research performers’ names, songs, lyrics, and performance locations to ensure that the words captioned in realtime come out right every time. 

While captions for live events can help eliminate missed or misheard lyrics, punchlines, or audio cues, captions are also crucial for safety reasons. Live event captions also include announcements, emergency messaging, as well as any advertisements for sponsors or upcoming events that occur before or after the event.

Ultimately, captions for concerts, shows, performances, and events create inclusive fan experiences, expanding and enriching the performing arts community.  

VITAC has provided captions to event centers, theaters, stadiums, and arenas throughout North America for more than three decades. To learn more about event center captioning, check out our latest eBook here