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Some Tips For Making Your Live Show Amazing

August 8, 2013
I’ve been to hundreds and hundreds of live concerts during my life.Perhaps I’ve even come to one of your shows?

I’ve seen hundreds of superstar artists from The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen and Coldplay and Muse and Madonna to Arcade Fire and Pitbull and Ke$ha and Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera and Beck and gosh, just way too many to mention.

Of course, I’ve seen many “mid-level” artists at 5,000-7,500 seat venues.

But I’ve also seen hundreds and hundreds of independent, unsigned bands and artists play at small clubs in and around Los Angeles.

Here are just a few helpful tips from what I’ve learned over the years:

1)  One of the best things you can do as a live act is to ENTERTAIN your crowd. In fact, as a performing artist, that’s pretty much your ONLY job and reason for being up on stage. Remember, even your friends and family and significant other drove through traffic and probably paid to park their car AND gave up a slew of other options for their evening to see you perform. Your fans may love you on YouTube or record (mp3?) but when they come to see you perform, they want a SHOW. So, entertain them!

I know, you’re an artist, and you’re obsessed with chord changes and making sure you don’t hit a wrong note or key or God forbid, break a string on stage. And you think your fans care about your songs as much as you do. But, until you’re Coldplay, they don’t. So focus on the crowd and don’t get in your head too much about the sound and such. Trust me. We hardly notice any technical issues unless there is major feedback or something.

2)  LOOK into the crowd! That’s right. Nothing is going to keep people’s eyes on you more than a lead singer (and band members) that are looking at them. Of course, don’t stare or be creepy. One tip is to look at the top’s of people’s heads.  It will look like you are looking at them but will be far less distracting!

Have you ever been to a show where the lead singer didn’t look at the crowd? I bet that got boring pretty quickly. Besides, that whole shoegazing band thing is out…and I’ve yet to see a huge band perform that wasn’t looking DIRECTLY into the audience and fan’s faces directly!

3)  A key to being entertaining on stage is to be ENERGETIC. I can’t tell you how many artists I’ve seen perform who just stand there with their guitar (or sit behind their keyboard) and just sing their songs without any real energy.

If we come to see you perform, we want a SHOW! We’re not sitting at home watching TV! If we come all the way out to see you perform tonight, you better BRING IT on stage.

Now maybe you can’t run around the stage but you have to just exude energy.  Move around if you can. Dance if you can. Just move around! I can’t tell you how boring it is to see an unknown act perform at a club and just have every single band member just stand there behind their instrument. And don’t get me started on band members who just look at the floor or at their instrument instead of looking into the crowd!

If you need some examples, check out my favorite band of all time, Keane. Watch this live video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u022JnifnO0 . See how much energy the keyboard player has! He’s literally bouncing up and down WHILE HE’S PLAYING! Watch the lead singer, Tom, as he sings — he’s got his hands in the air and even when he’s not running around on stage, he has his feet tapping and moving. Sure, he doesn’t have a guitar in front of him – but maybe that’s the key to making some songs different — put down the guitar or come out from behind your keyboard or guitar and just sing — and do it with some ENERGY!  Watch that video! You’ll see that even the drummer, Richard, is bouncing around as he plays up there.

After all, you wouldn’t go to a spinning class or dance class if the instructor just stood there, talking, with no energy, right? You want someone in front of a group of people to LEAD you and be INSPIRING! So, do the same for your fans! You are the instructor AND the artist and they will dance if you dance. They will move if you move. Watch the crowd the next time you’re up on stage. Their energy will match yours. You want a better crowd? Put on an AMAZING live show full of energy and fun and see what happens!

4)  Make your stage outfits INTERESTING. Don’t let the band just wear “whatever” to the show. I’ve had lead singers instruct the other players to wear all black or white. At least do something so you look like you’re one unit, not 4-5 girls and guys who just threw on whatever they felt like 5 minutes before leaving the house.

But, you’ll say, “ABC band just wears a t-shirt and jeans on stage” and sure, many do.  But keep in mind, those artists are already HUGELY successful so people are coming to their shows to hear HIT SONGS they’ve heard on the radio for YEARS.  Until you have a roster of top 40 hits, you’ll need to do something more interesting on stage than wear what you wore to work earlier in the day – or just a boring t-shirt you found in your closet the night before.

Are you a 70s rock band with a 70s fashion style? Great!  Are you goth or 80s or what?

Just do SOMETHING!

A bad image is better than a “blah” image or no image at all!

5)  Do a COVER SONG.  Come on.  Even superstar acts who have sold MILLIONS of albums do cover songs.  Here’s just one example of Sara Bareilles covering Beyonce – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1qD4LtaRIU

Throw one in towards the end of your set.  Trust me.  People will like a new arrangement of a current (or old) hit.  Just make sure it’s a song your target audience will know!  I once managed a band who decided to open (bad idea) with a U2 cover song at music festival in front of 10,000 people.  Problem was, most of the crowd was so young, they had no idea who U2 was or what song they were singing!  Do something current or REALLY well known and you’re sure to leave them wanting more!

6)  ENGAGE your fans.  Get them to sing along with that cover song.  Or one of your own!  (Hey, at least let them sing the chorus).  Trust me, if you can get ME to sing at one of your shows, you’ve done a good job.  The audience is likely getting a bit bored towards the end of anyone’s set so leave them with a GREAT feeling from singing along or asking them questions during the show.  Even using, “How’s everyone doing tonight?” is better than just singing song after song.

7)  TALK between songs. Ya know, to make sure we haven’t fallen asleep or aren’t tempted to check our phones for messages or new Facebook posts.

Don’t talk  between every song though.

Write out some funny jokes or funny stories. Practice them in front of your friends or family (or strangers) to make sure they are good – and make sure they are honestly reacting!

Most successful touring artists use the same stories over and over – just like comedians because they know what will make a crowd laugh from past experience. If you want to do well touring, make sure you are entertaining BETWEEN songs as well as DURING the songs!

8)  Before your last song and before you get off stage, be sure to tell everyone you’ll be at the merch booth right after the set to sell CDs and shirts and mention that you’ll sign autographs! Not only will this dramatically increase your merch sales, it will also bring goodwill to you as fans will tell their friends not only how great the show was but also how NICE you were to them after the show. And yes, be sure you are NICER than Mother Teresa. No one likes a snobby or rude artist.  NO ONE!

9)  I know what you singer/songwriters are going to say. You’re going to say that you can’t dance or move around on stage because you’re singing sad songs and your show and music isn’t about a performance. Well, just keep in mind, that’s fine. But that’s also why you don’t see many singer/songwriters playing large venues like Staples Center or Madison Square Garden. Katy Perry went from gigs at Hotel Cafe to wearing outlandish outfits and singing pop songs. I grew up on Tori Amos and she just played piano – but she was a crazy bird and told silly and funny stories between songs and she, like Regina Spektor here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmfZDt8wvcs was just so gorgeous and captivating to watch that she didn’t need much else. But these gals are the exception to the rule.

10) Oh, one more thing. Be sure you warm up your voice before your show.

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Thanks and until next time!

Sincerely,

Jennifer Yeko
True Talent Management
9663 Santa Monica Blvd. #320
Beverly Hills, CA  90210

http://www.truetalentmgmt.com

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http://www.truetalentmgmt.com

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2 comments

  1. That was a great article thank you Jennifer!

    http://www.richhardesty.com


  2. excellent newsletters Jennifer! Thanks!
    joey



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