Wouldn’t it be fantastic to get paid to be an audience member?
We see them all on TV. The crowd seems to be genuinely happy about being there.
Have you ever wondered how audience members of talk shows and sitcoms get the gig?
Do you wish to participate in being part of the live audience while filming your favorite show?
Whether you’d like to do it once and check this experience off your bucket list, or if you want to add extra income by doing this once or twice a week, read on for all the information you’d need to explore this gig.
Can Anyone Become an Audience Member?
The answer to this question is: Yes.
Anyone can become an audience member.
However, you won’t get paid to be an audience member on popular shows.
Here’s the thing:
Popular TV shows fill up their audience seats months in advance. They also do not pay audience members (at least, not anymore), but give away freebies and prizes.
Oprah (when her show was still on) was legendary about her Favorite Things Giveaways: from diamond watches to all-expenses-paid cruises. And who can ever forget about the brand new Pontiac G6 given to ALL 276 members of her studio audience in 2004?
For these popular shows, you can line up during filming days, but there’s no guarantee you can be chosen to fill in for other chosen audience members who didn’t show up.
Shows that are not popular enough to fill in the seats allocated within their studios still rely on paying audience members to watch.
Where to Find Paid Audience Member Gigs
If your goal is to join the crowd of your favorite show, the easiest way to find paid audience member gigs is to visit the show’s website. Look for a button that says “tickets,” which usually leads to a page that most likely includes details on how to get them and other information.
If you’re here to earn some side cash, no matter which sitcom, talk show, or other live shows, check out these 5 resources:
The shows listed here are neatly arranged, so you can quickly see which of them are currently giving away tickets (and those on hiatus).
There’s a mix of paid and unpaid gigs. For example, Beat Bobby Flay pays $65 to attend a 4 hour taping.
The shows are arranged by date and location, which makes it easy to filter based on your availability and which shows are near you.
Click one of the shows and you’ll see complete details, including the number of hours required to be on the show, transportation availability, and amount of cash incentives.
What I like best about this site is that they also list a month or two of a show’s schedule, so you’d be able to adjust your availability if necessary.
This casting call site has been serving up actors and actresses with audition listings for years.
If you dig deeper, you’ll see that some casting coordinators post audience member gigs here too.
An example gig from 2019 looks like this: MTV TRL seeks paid audience member at New York Times Square Location, Thursdays in September from 3PM to 6PM. Payment is $40 after filming.
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My problem with Backstage.com is that their search feature isn’t that accurate.
Finding “paid audience member” results also includes other listings, which is quite disappointing since the site does offer a comprehensive and up-to-date list of gigs in the entertainment industry.
You’ll need to register to access the casting lists on SRO, but they do have a lot of paid ones.
Instead of a gig-based fee, Standing Room Only lists paid audience member gigs with an hourly fee, so you’ll see listings with $10 to $20, then details for how long each show will be.
If you’re after the experience and don’t really care if you get paid to be an audience member of your favorite show, 1iota.com is where tickets to all other popular shows are found.
The process of reserving a seat varies by show, so better check out each one.
Some examples of popular shows include:
- American Idol
- Dancing With the Stars
- Dr. Phil
- Jimmy Kimmel Live
- So You Think You Can Dance
- The Late Late Show with James Corden
- The Price is Right
- Wheel of Fortune
- America’s Got Talent
- Late Night with Seth Meyers
- The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon
- The View
Sometimes, you might find a paid gig, but it’s rare since the shows listed here are in-demand throughout the year.
AuditionsFree works similar to Backstage.com in that you can search for “audience” and you can see casting calls for audience members.
However, not all of these are paid. The ticket will be free, though, so at least you get to watch for free.
Important things to Know to Get Paid to be an Audience Member
Before seeking out tickets to shows, you should take note of the following:
- Age requirement: Most TV shows require adults (18 and above) for audience members, but family-oriented shows may allow kids (from 10 to 18). If you plan to go with your kid or younger family member, make sure to check a show’s age requirement before making a reservation.
- Location: While TV shows usually have their headquarters already in place, some shows can switch locations every now and then. They may be some instances where the show would travel to another city or even another country.
- Dress code: Most shows require their audience members to dress business casual. Some are particular with colors (no busy patterns or neon), while others just list clothes that are not allowed (shorts, tank tops, short skirts, hats, etc.). Of course, during themed shows, you might see specific requests such as ‘nightclub wardrobe,’ ‘Halloween costume,’ and so on.
Things to Expect on the Day of Filming
- Arrive early. The show isn’t going to wait for your arrival. In most cases, you’ll be in line for a couple of hours, and shows typically recommend audience members to be in the studio or venue 30 to 45 minutes prior to the check-in time on your ticket. Plus, almost every TV show have standby tickets given to other people, which means it wouldn’t be surprising to be bumped off your slot by other audience members.
- Bring your ID and ticket with you. Most of these tickets are non-transferable, so they’ll be checking your identity before entry.
- Food isn’t allowed inside. Better eat a big meal before call time, unless of course food is included as an incentive. Your best bet is a water bottle, which you can keep inside your bag.
- Actually, plenty of things aren’t allowed inside. Big bags like luggage or travel backpacks are typically not allowed, and there’s usually no baggage check to leave them. Laptops and professional cameras are usually prohibited, and smartphones and other electronic devices are typically switched off.
- Be ready to laugh or clap your heart out. If you’re really not a fan of the show, laughing along with the show’s host, or clapping every time you’re required to can be taxing. You have to be mentally prepared to make your laughing or clapping believable since show coordinators can easily kick out audience members between takes.
- Audience warm-up. Whether you’re watching a sitcom or a talk show, someone (a crew, comedian, singer, or other type of entertainer) will wake up the audience and give the space a happier vibe. Watch out for some last-minute reminders as well.
Generally, audience members are paid at the end of filming. No need to wait for checks, since pay is almost always in cash.
For long-standing shows, “seniors” (paid audience members who have been there several times) may be asked to return at a particular date.
This already removes the entire process of reserving your slot.
So if you’re banking on these gigs to bring you extra income, your goal is to become a senior audience member.
Alternative Gig: Be a Seat Filler
If paid gigs to be an audience member are scarce, try to find seat fillers instead.
The job of a seat filler is to occupy empty seats at award shows, plays, concerts, sporting events, and other live performances. The tickets are free and these are often paid gigs because you need to be able to follow instructions and fill seats that you’re instructed to.
Why does this exist?
Fuller audiences and venues are simply a better experience for both the performers and the other paying patrons.
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And having a full house is especially important for televised events; empty seats on television simply don’t look good.
For instance, when audience members of awards shows accept their awards, seat fillers take up their seats so that when the camera pans over the audience, there aren’t empty seats.
What you need to be a seat filler
You’re most likely to get to be a seat filler if you reside in a city with plenty of live events going on, such as Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Miami, and other similar cities.
Aside from your location, the most important characteristic you need to have to be a seat filler is the ability to read and follow instructions.
Companies that hire seat fillers can be specific about what they’re looking for. When they post openings, their requirements are usually detailed: age range, gender, dress code, makeup and hairstyle, even down to your shoes.
Where to find seat filler jobs
Here are some companies where casting calls for seat fillers are periodically posted. Some of these may be unpaid gigs, though, so carefully look at the postings.
From Audience Member to Performer: Exploring the Entertainment Industry
Joining a live show and getting paid to do so is a quick gig many people would choose to do than be stuck in an office from 9 to 5.
It’s a cool way to make some easy money if you’re in Los Angeles, New York, or another area where they’re hiring.
Some people even turn this into a temp job until something better arrives.