Should Concert Promoters Have To Disclose Lip-Syncing?

Various people in the country of Australia are upset at Britney Spears for lip syncing — and feel that it is dishonest for the pop star not to disclose that sometimes she’s just mouthing along while she dances.

Britney’s spokesperson defended her lip syncing by saying that it wasn’t exactly a secret or anything.

“It’s been all over the internet for nine months,” Dainty said. ‘The inference is that we tried to hide this. It’s been the opposite.

“This show is about an incredible spectacle, which it is,” he said.

Secret or no, Australians seem quite serious about their objections. From The Age:

Last week, NSW Fair Trading Minister Virginia Judge proposed that disclaimers be printed on tickets and promotional material to inform consumers if a concert would be pre-recorded and mimed.

Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister Tony Robinson said if concert promoters misrepresented whether an artist was performing live or was miming, they could be in breach of the Fair Trading Act.

Is a disclaimer needed? Or should everyone just expect people like Ms. Spears to be faking it?

(Photo:ninja IX)


Edit Your Comment

  1. ScubaSteveKzoo says:

    These people should be ashamed for not knowing that she lip-syncs. Seriously? Does it matter anyways? Would they rather she huff and puff through the songs?

    I see rock shows because of the live sound, but I don’t expect it to sound exactly like an album. These people apparently can’t tell the difference.

    • Keavy_Rain says:

      @ScubaSteveKzoo: Clearly you’ve never been to a Rush show. It simply amazes me how much the live performance sounds like a live performance of the album.

      The band has said, on numerous occasions, that they strive to make their live show as accurate as possible to the album’s recording. They do use pre-recorded sounds and such to fill in for instruments and people not on stage, but the band members themselves sing their songs and play their instruments.

      Long story short, its totally possible for a band to accurately recreate their album experience live without lip syncing, but clearly that’s too much to ask of some artists and I do honestly feel that those artists should let their fans know that they’re not willing or able to actually perform on stage.

      • hi says:

        @Keavy_Rain: A lot of bands sound simular to their albums but to expect britney spears not to lip sync is like asking the wind not to blow.

      • Dawnrazor says:

        @Keavy_Rain: Yeah, but Rush are MUSICIANS and consummate professionals.

        Britney Spears, Black-eyed Peas, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, et al. are NOT primarily “musicians”. They are better defined as “performers” whose intent is not to provide a pure musical experience but rather to put on a good “show”. For these performers, music is almost an afterthought, more like aural wallpaper to provide a backdrop for the dancing and stage show than pure art in and of itself. Therefore lip-synching is probably a lesser “sin” for this type of performer than it would be for a true band (whose main purpose is to create music) such as Rush or Porcupine Tree. (Sorry, can’t help but name-drop my favorite musical discovery of the past 15 years! Any fan of Rush, Floyd, Radiohead, or any other heavier Prog act is highly encouraged to check them out!)

    • anduin1 says:

      I’ve been to concerts where it sounded as good as if not better than CD versions. I mean the AC/DC concert I went to was probably the best I’ve ever seen, could literally feel the music.

  2. FreeShaggy says:

    I’m pretty sure that Spears has already made it public that she lip syncs for her concerts.

    Something about being unable to dance and sing at the same time, too much demand on the body.

    • Blueskylaw says:


      How did singers ever become stars in the days before lip-syncing?

      Next crazy thing you’ll hear is that baseball players can’t hit and run around bases without using steroids because it’s too stressful on the body.

    • deejmer says:

      @FreeShaggy: Um…..i think the deficit has less to do with the dancing and more to do with the fact she is an untalented hack who cannot sing in tune.

    • SJActress says:

      @FreeShaggy: Even if she were sitting still, there’s no equipment to make her sound like she has any singing talent.

  3. chuckv says:

    Going to a concert like this is akin to being a 10 year old on Christmas morning. You know in your heart of hearts that it’s more likely than not lip synced, but being constantly reminded of that fact will probably diminish your enjoyment of the moment.

    • dadelus says:

      @chuckv: I was thinking it’s more like going to a WWE event and complaining cause the fights are fixed.

    • pegr says:


      I saw David Bowie sing “Fame” live on the Sonny and Cher show and felt ripped-off when he didn’t sing that falling pitch “Fame, Fame, Fame” bit. At least he didn’t fake lip syncing it.

      I guess Brittany Spears just doesn’t measure up to David Bowie.

      dead-pan like Steven Wright!
      get off my lawn!

  4. whysthsncnsmrst says:

    I don’t see why this matters. It is more of a “show” and I don’t see how her vocals could not be winded during dance routines. I think more people would be pissed to hear her gasping for air mid-song.

    • Sanspants says:

      @whysthsncnsmrst: That’s what I don’t understand I guess. I listen to a band’s album then I see them live because (usually) the live show is more energetic, you get to sing along, maybe get the mic in your face for a singalong part. But what’s the fun in watching a live music video? They’re selling the act more than the music.

      I guess I shouldn’t be surprised with this, but I still don’t get it.

  5. TheWillow says:

    I went to see Nsync once (I don’t care what you say, it wasn’t creepy at all that 14 year old me wanted to marry a 30 year old in a boyband) and they had a song where they were bouncing off of trampolines onto a velcro wall while singing without interruption.

    It’s common sense. It’s not rocket surgery.

  6. GMFish says:

    I saw Metalica back in the late 80s and even they played a portion of the concert to a backing tape.

    If this becomes mandatory, it’ll be on every ticket because everyone does it.

    • craptastico says:

      @GMFish: Metallica? in the late 80s? a little part of me just died. unless it was just chopper noises in the beginning of One or something like that this is just unacceptable.

  7. shadax says:

    I wouldn’t want to go pay $300 to listen to the PA system. MJ could do both

  8. craptastico says:

    it’s hard to believe that lip-syncing devestated Milli Vanilli, leading to one of their suicides, and now it’s accepted as a given. has music really degenerated that far since the late 80s?

    • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

      @craptastico: The difference is it was not Rob and Fab who recorded the tracks that were used for lip-syncing. Britney, at least, records her own vocal track that she lip syncs to.

  9. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Absolutely, let’s do this in the U.S.! I rarely go to concerts because so often “artists” don’t actually sing. There is a realness to singing live that you can’t convey in a recording; and hearing a mistake isn’t a show-ruining moment either. It’s life, and it’s live music.

  10. Steel_Pelican says:

    Next up, Aussies sue Michael Bay after learning that Transformers aren’t real.

  11. Outrun1986 says:

    Yeah, I think they should disclose it just so that you know and are aware of it. Even if its something that’s on every ticket, at least they can say you are warned ahead of time.

    Although it should probably be disclosed BEFORE you purchase the ticket, not sure how this would be done, but it does seem useless to disclose it on the ticket after you have the ticket in your hands and already paid for it. You know kinda like some theme parks disclose what rides are closed/open AFTER you have already paid to park and paid for your tickets, they got you even before you get in the gate.

    Do we know of any performer who can pull off dangerous stunts, a lot of dancing and actually sing live at the same time?? I don’t think so.

    I think its a little bit ridiculous to expect a performer to sing through the whole concert especially if there is rigorous dancing and dangerous stunts involved. If they are standing or sitting or doing light running then that is different.

    I suspect most big-name pop concerts are pre-recorded in the studio, so they are not using the album version, they are using a recording made specifically for the concert.

    I also think that performers should at least do a song or 2 live for each concert, even if that means they are sitting down or standing. This way you would have visual entertainment with lip-synching and you would have live singing, which should be a happy enough mix to please everyone. People who pay for the tickets deserve at least that.

  12. willfromtexas says:

    This is why I only go to Beyoncé concerts!!

  13. JollyJumjuck says:

    And this is why I support local music artists, and the occasional established artist where I *know* I’m going to get value for my money (e.g. I recently saw Jane Siberry at a small, intimate venue for $20 and it was worth every penny, and then some). Performers who are trying to make a living (as opposed to funding a pool) are more likely to give back to the audience rather than just “phone it in.”
    Unless one is doing an homage to Dario Argento, I expect performers to be live in *every* aspect.

  14. trujunglist says:

    Wow, you people are just aching to line up and get taken. You know, if you can’t repeat a performance on CD live, then don’t perform the way you’re performing. If it means not dancing around like a fucking moron for some sections of a song then don’t dance around like a fucking moron for those sections of the song. It’s very simple. Spectacle can be created without sacrificing performance.

  15. pixiegirl1 says:

    I think with Britney that most people already know that she lip-syncs, I think the only time she sang live was on SNL and you couldn’t even hear her over the band . . . I don’t think that was by accident. If I went to a Britney concert I would not be expecting her to sing live.

    As far as having all musicians declare if they are lip-syncing, I think they should. If for nothing more than the shaming factor. I don’t go to concerts that often but I’d be upset if I spent a lot of money on tickets & find out that they were faking it. I think I’d be more inclined to spend money on concert tickets if I knew it was live.

  16. StanTheManDean says:

    Ms. Spears to be faking it

    When I see a reference to a woman “faking it”, “IT” better damn well be something other than singing.

  17. SaraFimm says:

    I go to Vegas for the shows and I don’t care if the Dancers are singing–I’m there for the performance of physical talent. I go to small nightclubs for musical performances where I listen to the music.

  18. SkokieGuy says:

    It seems that the promoters are specifically NOT marketing the musical, singing or concert aspects of the show, but the performance / entertainment aspect.

    It is the Circus Tour, starring Brittany Spears. []

    And if exacting musical standards and delivering a life artistic musical performance are of interest to these Aussies, exactly why are they buying Brittany Spears tickets?

  19. The_Red_Monkey says:

    Just look for the video on youtube of Enrique Iglesias without his support vocals and you can see how crappy he really is. The problem is not the lip syncing but that they autotune these bastards into sounding like they can sing. The albums should have a warning on them.

  20. abz_zeus says:

    If I’m going to see a show then fine to some lip syncing during more physical section, but if I’m going to a CONCERT where a musician (singer/band) is performing I expect the music to be live.

    If I was to see a Britney show I’d expect to see a lot more than her just singing, it it was a concert, I expect her to sing

  21. dbshaw says:

    The poll is ineffective. Just because its too be expected doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be informed.

    A better, more consumerist oriented poll question would merely be: Should people be informed or not?

  22. TouchMyMonkey says:

    My wife and I saw Green Day this past July. Not one note was prerecorded. The closest they come is the use of backup musicians – a guitarist and a pianist (the new CD had piano in it), neither of whom are official members of the band. Were they backstage? Were they on tape? Hell motherfarking no! That wouldn’t be rock and roll, and that’s what Green Day’s fans expect.

    If you want me to STFU about Britney Spears being a no-talent hackette, she ought to be made to actually sing on stage. That is, if she can read the teleprompter without staring at it.

  23. RobertBaron says:

    If you’re going to a Britney Spears. it’s not like you give a shit about music anyway so I don’t see why a person like that would care if she singing or lip syncing

  24. XTC46 says:

    I like live music a lot. I also expect that a band playing and singing live will not sound like the CD, sometimes it is better, sometimes it is worse. Being able to puton a great show is important, and im ok with it not sounding as perfect as the album, but there really are some bands that wouldnt be around if it werent for being able to fix the mistakes via a computer, and that is a shame.

  25. flugennock says:

    Y’know, Jerry Garcia’s singing may not have always been letter-perfect all those years, but at least it was his voice.

  26. swingchickie says:

    I think the rule of thumb should be this: if the lead performer is going to do a lot of dancing (Britney, Janet Jackson, etc), assume most if not all of the songs will be lip-synched. There’s no way on earth a performer can dance that much and carry a tune… hell, even Olympic athletes are huffing and puffing in interviews after competing, and that’s only for a few minutes of exertion. You can’t expect even better stamina and control from a singer/dancer.

    As for the comments about Broadway: having been a professional stage performer, I can tell you there’s a difference. Next musical you attend, watch whoever is singing the lead; they won’t be dancing up a storm the way the dancers in the chorus are. The people in the chorus are able to sing and dance that hard because they are all helping each other out… they learn to stagger their singing, and mouth the words in some parts, in order to save their breath. It sounds awesome, but that’s because not everyone is singing the entire time. It just looks that way. If the lead performer is sick/loses their voice, they have an understudy that can go on… Britney can’t have an understudy, so if she’s suffering from vocal fatigue from all those shows, the show can go on and the audience gets their entertainment.

    Oh — and some musicals have lip-synching by the leads. I toured with a show where we all recorded “click tracks” before the tour started… 2 weeks into the show I lost my voice for several weeks, and to save my voice I’d speak my lines but the “click track” would kick in when it was time to sing. So yes, it’s done there too!

  27. Panamapeter says:

    We seem to have dancers we call singers. I doubt many of these “singers” can actually sing well. A cow pissing on a flat rock can sound good with enough sound engineering.

  28. bagumpity says:

    Anagram of Britney Spears: Bray, Siren Pest

  29. The Marionette says:

    I think there should be some disclosure about it, and not a fine-print one either. If I’m going to a concert I want to see the person perform how they should. With people like britney spears she only sings, that’s it. She doesn’t have to play any instruments at all, so at the very least she should at least sing. With bands there’s even more because they have the instrumental players and the singer. How would one feel if they went to a band concert and they’re pretty much playing air guitar/drum/bass/etc AND lip-syncing? It wouldn’t exactly be that much different than watching a music video.

  30. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    So you mean that even if I’m nailing all the notes in Guitar Hero: Van Halen, I’m not really Eddie and shouldn’t be charging people to watch me play?

    Looks like I’ll have to start charging more so that I can budget for a legal defense fund now.

  31. Tijil says:

    If the promoter advertises a “live performance” of a singer, I expect that person to actually be singing; A live SINGING performance.

    If the performer is just going to lip sync a recording, why should I pay the exorbitant prices? My wife could do that for me… :o)

    Luckily the sort of music performances I attend are much, much more likely to be “live” as I don’t believe most jazz or classical audiences would as easily put up with listening to a recording while the performers simply mime.

    If I’m going to listen to a recording, I can do it more easily, less expensively, and likely with better fidelity at home in my music room.

    Should fake performances be clearly stated in the advertising? Absolutely! Live music performancees should not be redefined as “pre-recorded music performance with a peson on stage faking it” – Unless it Milli-Vanilli…


  32. davidc says:

    If I wanted to listen to pre-recorded music, I simply click the mouse. When I want to hear “live” music performed, I buy a concert ticket.

    Concert: performance of music by players or singers

    If the band or vocals are “pre-recorded” that needs to be disclosed since they are no longer “performing” the songs.

    It’s pretty simple … doesn’t matter how long somebody has been mis-representing themselves or if they shaved their head at some point in their life.

    If you sell “concert” tickets, especially “live concert” tickets, you better be performing it live.

  33. Slow2Whine says:

    I agree with David.c – I think if a show is going to have any vocals or music pre-recorded, They shouldn’t charge such a premium for a “live” performance.

  34. Smorgasbord says:

    If you want to hear her ACTUAL voice, go to

    ). Believe me, you would rather have her lip-sync.

  35. heart.shaped.rock says:

    I’ve seen Britney twice (shuddup, I have a daughter) in her younger years and I can tell you that her shows are, well, pretty damn incredible. Like her or not, the shows are entertaining and wild with great dancing, amazing sets, explosions and everything else. I didn’t go expecting to see a supreme vocalist, and neither did my kid, we went to see a spectacle and that’s what we got.

    On another note, I was a huge Iron Maiden fan as a teenager and saw them several times live, the last time around 1990. It was festival seating and I wanted to get out of the crowd, so I walked up to a seating area that was right behind the sound board. I watched as a technician played a keyboard right along with Steve Harris’ bass line. THAT was devastating….

  36. aliminx says:

    I’ve heard Britney Spears singing on Demo tracks, and she isn’t lip synching because she’s dancing, she’s lip synching because she can’t sing very well.

    Most of her “dancing” is walking around, so COME ON.

  37. danno5-0 says:

    Lip sinking is kind of like buying a high quality fake Rolex watch. The fake look, feels, and works like the real thing, but its not the same.

  38. moore850 says:

    I think the words “lip sync” or something very distinc that will identify the performance as “taped” should have to appear in the title of the show, otherwise it’s like false advertising.

  39. razremytuxbuddy says:

    There are gray areas here. Lots of live shows use electronic sampling to fill in the sound, although they are singing and playing their instruments live. Back in the 60s, the Beatles, Moody Blues, etc. used a Mellotron to recreate the sounds of orchestra instruments. That’s why they don’t need a full orchestra on stage with them. Now it’s done with digital sound. That is all fine with me, although I’d also like the raw sound of just the live singing and instruments.

    Britney’s show is different. It should be advertised as what it is: A person dancing (but mostly just strutting back and forth across the stage) to prerecorded music. If I want to see someone bad enough to go to one of their concerts, I try to get a close seat. It’s easy to tell from there that the singing and playing is live. The occasional flaws and bum notes are part of the live show. If I went to a concert that was lipsynched, I’d be upset.

  40. scredly says:

    My problem with her miming live is the she sells music CD’s not dance videos. An other posters have covered, singing while is done in musical theatre and if it was easy everyone could do it. If Brit-Brit has to tone down her dancing so she can sing, that’s what should be done. If she can’t really sing – then put out dance videos and tour as a dance troupe.

  41. PsiCop says:

    The issue here isn’t just that Ms Spears admits she lip-syncs. As has been pointed out, that’s not news. The issue, rather, is whether or not concert promoters generally should have to report that performers lip-sync.

    While I’m not one for “government mandates,” this is not something that should cost anyone any money, though, and it promotes transparency, which is always good for consumers. So there’s little reason not to do it. Online ticket vendors could easily add into the description of some concerts a line like, “This concert may feature simulated vocals” or something along those lines.

    One more thing … a lot of commmenters have suggested that it’s somehow not reasonable to expect performers like Ms Spears to dance and sing simultaneously. While it’s true that some exertions can stop vocals, I disagree that it’s impossible to choreograph something really astounding which prevents someone from singing. I’ve spent a few decades doing amateur theater and know MANY performers who were able to both sing and dance — and even perform what might best be called “gymnastics” — at the same time. If amateurs who get paid nothing can do it, then it’s not unreasonable to assume Ms Spears … whose pay for the tour will no doubt be in the millions … can do it.

    It may be simply a matter of designing a routine that matches the performer’s ability … but that’s why tours hire choreographers.

  42. shibblegritz says:

    Dear God, is there any limit to which government will not go to nanny its subjects?

    If you’re so dim as to believe talentless pop hacks are actually performing live, you probably also believe recorded performances are faithful reproductions of their angelic singing voices and that the Photoshopped models in womens’ magazines are all really that perfect.

    Shall we require iTunes customers to click through a disclaimer that musical performances have been heavily edited and synthesized or require Photoshopping disclaimers on every altered photo (ie every photo that ever appears in a magazine?).

    Go to the damn show, enjoy the spectacle, but don’t think you’re in the presence of true talent, and don’t expect government to warn you that you’re not. They should have better things to spend your money on, and if they don’t, like the old Australian singer used to say, they should just “give it back.”

  43. stlbud says:

    Britney Spears or not. I want to know if I’m paying for a live performance or a recording. I got burned years ago – paid a lot of money for a “live” concert only to find 5 musicians on stage and a big tape recorder in the back of the auditorium (yeah this was some time ago). Anyway, I thought I was paying for a full orchestra and all I got was a recording. The concert was, to say the least, disappointing. Watching a video would probably have been more entertaining.

  44. P_Smith says:

    This is what happens when you go to see “performers” and “singers” instead of musicians. If you go to see superficial crap, you’re going to get superficial crap.

    People who go to see real music (guitar/bass/drum bands, jazz groups or classical orchestras) don’t have this problem. Any bands or groups that faked it on stage would lose all their fans.

  45. phoblog says:

    I saw the concert. Mouthing the words would have been totally fine . . . IF Brit had put on a real show, rather than just casually walking back and forth across the stage as her backup dancers REALLY danced. Anyone who has seen a previous tour should have known from the first song that Brit was just filling the coffers and in no way ready to get back on the road as the great show-woman she once was. THAT’S what Oz should be mad about.

  46. u1itn0w2day says:

    Most definately they should disclose if they are lip syncing or have prerecording instrument tracks. You are paying for a LIVE show.

    One of the most recent examples I can think of was when I think it was Shakira lip sync’d on NBC’s America’s Got Talent. It was totally contradictory to what the contestants were having to do – perform live under pressure. It was in conflict with what the show was about. What a hypocrite pop star and network for letting her do it.