Ok, so first let me apologize for not managing this blog as well as I should. I could give lots of excuses, but let’s just say it has been an extremely busy summer. I promise from now on that I’ll be posting at least once a week with some key thoughts to help my friends in the music business. These may be topics you’ve heard before but some that I feel need repeating after listening and reviewing bands each week. So let’s get started…..
The topic for this week is Planning an Awesome Show. Not just an ok show, but an Awesome show! This is such a key to your success. Fans may hear your music via a CD, MP3, Radio, Internet, etc. but I know of no better way for them to get hooked on your music than to see and hear your music in person. The show experience is what is going to keep your fans coming back.
This is going to take work, will be a learning process, and you may not always get it right but this is absolutely vital to your music business (you are a business you know). You may have great songs but if you have a very lackluster performance you’re going to be hard-pressed to get your fans to your performance again outside of your Mom, Dad, Best Friends, etc. And even with your close relatives or friends, you want them to enjoy it so much that they can’t wait to share it with their friends, acquaintances, Facebook or Twitter network, etc.
So here’s some key areas to work on:
1.) Practice, Practice, Practice your Music
- This shouldn’t have to be said but I sometimes hear bands who I question how much they really practice. As a bass player myself I know that I need to practice a song at least 30-40 times (if not more) so that when I get in front of an audience I have the song down and any distractions will not take away from my performance and I’ll feel more comfortable expressing myself through my music.
2.) Rehearse as if you’re at your Gig
- For some people being in front of an audience comes naturally, BUT, for 90% of people it isn’t natural and it shows on stage. Therefore, you must rehearse the entire show from beginning to end, transitions, talking moments, who’s going to talk when you’re tuning, etc. Don’t just do this once but several times.
3.) Plan & Review the Flow of the Show
- This means writing up your set list, developing good transitions between songs, working through how you introduce your band, planning where you’ll have short pauses to talk to your audience, who will be talking, what you want to say, etc. This should go without saying but this shouldn’t just involve the band but all parts of the production, i.e. the sound and light folks as well when possible.
- Also, I encourage you to have a short pre-show discussion with the band, light, sound folks, etc. the day of the show. Just go over a few key items so everyone is on the same page and knows what to watch for, i.e. a problem amp, sound board, etc.
4.) Practice Speaking Moments
- Ok, I’m definitely not a good public speaker so I can identify with you on this topic. Most people don’t come by this naturally. Therefore, write out a few thoughts, keep a note card handy with what you want to say, practice it a bunch, so you will feel comfortable. This will develop to where you feel much more comfortable the more you perform. But even then, your comfort level will rise if you prepare ahead of time.
5.) Put Your Energy and Passion into Every Show – No Matter the Size
- I’ve talked with lots of bands who have had shows where there may have only be 7 or 8 people are in attendance. But, of those 7 or 8 there were 2 or 3 music industry people who just happened to be there, perhaps for a different reason, but they were in attendance listening to the show. Sometimes it was a booking agent, or a producer, a venue owner, a promoter, or a record label A&R person. As well, if you put on a great show, the venue staff are going to start to spread the word as well. These are some of your key allies that can help create buzz about your band. From the music lovers in the audience, they may end up being your greatest advocates and spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, etc. You may use a smaller show to try some things out but you’re a professional now so give the best you can each time.
- One other quick mention that fits here is taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually. You can’t perform your best if you’re not feeling your best. The music business is notorious for bad habits or decisions that lead to physical and emotional problems. It doesn’t have to be that way.
6.) Change Up Your Show Periodically
- Have guest appearances, use cover songs modified slightly, do an acoustic set, change the set list. Think about this yourself. Do you want to see the same songs played the same way every time. You may love the songs and the band, however, if you see them somewhat often it is going to get old quick.One of my favorite bands, The Mystiqueros , do this well. Each time I go see them they change up their set, they have guest appearances, do an acoustic set…something that makes their show different each time. I never know what to expect which makes it even more enticing for me to want to attend their next show.
7.) Integrate something New
- Most shows tend to follow the same format. Band get’s on stage, plays their music, interactswith the audience some, or maybe not at all, then gets off. I love to see bands integrate other techniques into their performance. I’ve seen bands include a sequenced backdrop using a projector, or maybe they work with the house light person to add a special effect. I’ve seen video clips starting to be included prior to a song or between songs. One of my favorite bands, Quiet Company, has a song where there fans can come on stage and sing it with them. (This may not work with a larger production, but you may try it any way with your fans who can win the opportunity via your website). The list is really endless. Think of something that fits your bands personality but yet can be a distinguishing aspect of your band’s show.
8.) Interact with your audience
- I see a lot of bands who get up on stage, play their music, and never talk to their audience. Fan interaction is a key to entertaining, obtaining new fans, and retaining your current fanbase. You don’t have to talk all the time but your fans love it when the band’s personality comes out on stage. Speaking of the Mystiqueros, one of the things I love about their shows is how they talk to the fans and amongst each other on stage. It’s entertaining, humorous, and you can tell that they enjoy each other.
9.) Seek Advice & Reviews from Peers or Mentors
- This item tends to get over looked quite a bit but I feel is extremely important. Ask folks for a critique of your show. These can be friends, parents, venue owners, venue staff, other musician friends, booking agents, etc. Find those people who you respect that can give you a thorough evaluation of your shows and ask them about the different aspects of your production, i.e. the flow, the songs, timing, audience interaction, etc. I can’t stress enough how valuable this is in improving your production. To often we feel like we know it all and what to do. However, there may be a “blind spot” we’re not thinking about that can come to light in these conversations.
10.) Highlight a Cause…A Greater Purpose
- Music is such a powerful medium. A very emotional experience. I would encourage your band to use your music to highlight a cause that you and your fans can embrace and support. This can help create an even stronger bond with your fans, as well as, identify with a greater purpose in life. I would suggest you create a relationship with representatives of your cause as they can help provide some materials, information, etc. to help. As well, they may be willing to encourage their supporters to support you. It can be a win-win for everyone. There are so many non-profits and organizations out there who would love your help. Find one you are truly passionate about supporting. I think you’ll find that this purpose driven mission a wonderful experience!
I’d love to hear your thoughts or if you have any other suggestions. So feel free to send back your comments. Alright, go have a great weekend and a great show !