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Ah, Live performance. This is the Artist’s best chance to make a good impression and gain more fans, not to mention to remind current fans of why they love you and your music. The key word here is performance. You want that to be memorable, especially if your audience has paid to get in to see you. That does not mean you give a lackluster performance, even for free events. Be on top of your game at all times from start to finish.
I have been a professional musician for more than 20 years. My first steady gig was with the band Enchantment. I toured with them for ten years before branching out on my own for a bit. The experience with Enchantment taught me a lot about entertaining an audience. However, it was not all fun and games. There is a level of professionalism that I learned to walk in at all times. What are some of these practices? Allow me to fill you in.
Let us first look at pre-show preparation. There is a lot to be done here. Artists need to rehearse, rehearse again, and then rehearse some more. You are giving a show, so make it a show. Make it fun and memorable. Engage your audience. I like to watch other indie Artists on Youtube to see how they do things. As such, I gain ideas for my own events. One thing I have learned is to bond with an audience. Don’t just play songs. Draw them in. If it is a cover tune, invite them to sing along on the chorus or take the mic to one audience member and have them help sing a verse. This is even better if you are singing an original and the fans know it. That can happen if you have a steady gig at a local venue. One of my mentors, Sky Covington, is a master of this. Her stage show is hypnotic and she regularly shows the audience that she is aware of them. Such acts cause audiences to remember you and even buy your CDs before heading home.
I took a class with legendary bassist Ralphe Armstrong and he advised us to wear things on stage you would not wear in real life. Make it big and amazing and again, memorable. Imagine the Grunge era. You knew their genre once they hit the stage by their outfits alone. Or Parliament Funkadelic. Need I say more? Show your audience something they cannot see every day. And don’t forget to encourage them to take pictures and tag you on social media. Even take selfies with them. Again, make things fun and memorable. That cannot be stressed enough.
The next thing you want to do is to promote your shows. There are many ways to do this. ReverbNation.com has a band calendar as part of their website. You can also do flyers or radio interviews if you can. I actually recommend making connections with local radio DJs. Network with them. They can get your songs and announcements about your upcoming shows out there faster.
Once you hit the stage, PERFORM. Unless it is an acoustic guitar camp singalong, perform. Go all out and give your audience a fun show. I reiterate the need to engage them. Make them demand an encore. Also, while you are there, invite them to check in on social media and tell their friends they are watching you. Instant new fan interest. Make your show work for you.
Once you are done with your performance, don’t just pack up and leave. Be aware of the venue closing rules, but the time after a show is important too. Go talk to your fans, remember to take those selfies, and have them post to their page and tag you. And you can even offer to follow them and tag them in pictures you may take. Post pics on all your platforms and let audience members know you are thankful to them for coming to the show. These actions will also gain you new fans and garner more interest.
Remember, your performance is one of your biggest opportunities to gain interest in your craft. You never know who is in the audience. I have made really good professional contacts based on former performances. These propel you forward. So go rehearse, buy that outlandish stage outfit, and get ready to take post show pictures. And above all, keep making great music!