Many artists, whether they are new or seasoned, struggle with putting together a solid show from start to finish, that really engages the audience and gets them from crowd member to follower and fan. The crowd are potential investors in your dream and you need to sell them on the idea. Below we are including some tips to help you realize your dream and enjoy what you do.
Know Your Venue
When booking shows it’s important to be attentive to booking venues that align with your branding. For example, if you are a rock band you’ll want a venue with a stage or open floor plan that can accommodate multiple musicians. Similarly, you’ll want to be sure the expected audience is one who will likely enjoy the sound level your performance renders. For this reason, a coffee shop may not be the best fit for booking your band; whereas a music-centered bar could serve you well. On the flip side, a mellow, easy listening, singer-songwriter guitarist may be best at coffee shops and street festivals over the local bar scene. Be aware that there are venues that cater to specific genres and you should be contacting them if you fit that style. There is no cut and dry rule for appropriate venues, however having a clear vision of your branding and identity as a musician will go a long way to identifying where your music will be most enjoyed.
A good soundcheck is of the utmost importance to a good show. These are hit and miss depending on the venue and their capabilities. Some venues have a dedicated sound engineer that will make sure everything is how it’s supposed to be. But, that isn’t always the case. In some cases, you’re setting up your own sound and doing the mixing. Make sure you have someone that can tell if everything is balanced and is at a level that the crowd can hear you clearly. Make sure you can hear yourself clearly as well. It’s a lot different to soundcheck to an empty room than when you start playing to a crowded venue. If you can’t hear yourself, you’re going to strain your vocals and it can also mean you won’t hear each other, if you’re a full band, and that is a recipe for disaster. Invest in a good set of in-ear monitors and this will alleviate a lot of those headaches. With all of that said you will run into the venue with the sound engineer that only knows one genre, or in some cases, just doesn’t care, so you will have to fight for the mix to be how you need it to be. Make sure that you have provided the sound engineer with a proper stage plot detailing your layout and any needs you have. Band members need to refrain from playing their instruments if another instrument is being checked. Pay attention to what instrument is being checked and if you have enough or too much of it in your mix. A good soundcheck is as much on you, the artist, as it is with the engineer.
- Outfit. Don’t underestimate the impact of your attire at a show. This doesn’t mean you have to be blinged out. Again, knowing your identity and branding is crucial here. You don’t have to dress inauthentically, just intentionally. Allow your style to work as a partner in communicating your music: this can mean all black or dripping in sequins. What matters most is that you are authentic to your brand and you look like you made some effort – aka we don’t recommend clothing you’d wear for yard work, the gym, sleeping or watching netflix.
- Playing. This one may seem obvious, but be sure you are playing music you know well, have practiced, and fit your musical and vocal abilities. While crowd pleasing songs are a good thing, if you choose a cover or write a song that is out of your range or too difficult for you to play, the performance will reflect that. Determine how to maximize your vocal and instrumental abilities within your skillset.
- Audience Engagement. This one may be the most difficult to master; partly because a lot of this one is determined by the audience – which is always unpredictable regardless of the venue. Mastering the art of engaging the audience appropriately for the venue, your music and the comfort level of everyone in attendance, yourself included, can be a lifelong venture. The keys are paying attention and reading the room; ensuring you are comfortable; knowing when to stop talking and get back to singing; and allowing yourself to be driven by the joy of the music over the fear of failure.