There are a lot of things we all know (or think we know) about the ins and outs of live performance, since most of us have been dealing with it professionally for years. But do we? Take the Quick Live Performance Quiz and see! We’ll start with some stuff most of us already know:
IT’S FAIRLY COMMON KNOWLEDGE THAT…
…developing a great live show and building a live show fan base are essential to entice the attention of a manager, agent, record company or investor these days. If you don’t have a great live act to back up your music, the odds are decidedly against you.
…the ability to sing and play your songs at the same time is a craft that can be taught and learned by rote. But to entertain? That is an art, and it can only be realized by taking the learned craft up one level into experimental rehearsal.
…the first two things a performer needs to do in order to win over an audience are the same two things you need to do when meeting people for the first time. Make eye contact and smile – and do so frequently during the entire time you’re on stage.
…when a performer is uncomfortable on stage, the audience is uncomfortable as well.
…most recorded songs should be moved up a key or two for live performances in order to project more emotion.
BUT DID YOU KNOW THAT…
…90% of singer/songwriters make 90% of their income from live performances? The rest generally comes from publishing and merch, particularly if you look at music sales as merch. And you should.
…most members of an audience make up their minds whether they like you or not within the first ten seconds you enter the stage, even before you get to the microphone?
…your “snazzy” outfit, jewelry, hair style and even showing skin can work against the effectiveness of your performance?
…most live performers today are blocking out a third of their visual communication with their audiences by bad mic technique?
…a set list needs to be constructed according to feel, beat and tone, with a pattern to attract, entice, hold and excite an audience? And that a set of four songs may be a wholly different list of songs than a set of eight?
WHAT IF I TOLD YOU THAT…
…there are three ways to entertain an audience musically (melody, lyrics and rhythm) and you should aim for at least two of the three with every song?
…in addition to planning a set so that everything goes right, a performing artist should have a secondary plan for when everything goes wrong?
…the logos and wild colors on your wardrobe, instruments, amplifiers, and backdrop can provide unnecessary distractions to the audience?
…a note-for-note duplication of the recorded versions of your songs may not be best suited for live performance?
…a visual representation of your name on stage helps the audience remember you?
AND DID YOU REALIZE THAT…
…performing artists need to commit their songs and patter to memory so that they will stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about entertaining the audience?
…when all of the songs in a set are performed from the same place on a stage, they all seem to sound the same to an audience?
…what happens between the last note of one song and the first note of the next is as important as the songs themselves?
…practicing is not the same as rehearsing?
…how a performer exits the stage is almost as important as the entrance?
…probably 90% of the audience knows nothing about how music is created, played or performed. Therefore, since the audience doesn’t know a verse from a chorus from a bridge, you as the performing artist have to visually let them know when you’re transitioning from one to another.
…an effective way to get the attention of an audience is to briefly get very soft or really loud.
…familiarity should dictate set length. If the audience is completely familiar with you and your songs, you should play for at least an hour; however if they don’t know you or your songs, you should play no more than a half hour TOPS.
…an audience member will be more likely to buy your music after the show if the song that really moved them during the set is available at the merch table.
…a performing artist should do things on stage that the audience could never do or would never think of doing anywhere, let alone in front of other people.
How’d you do?
15 – 20: Come on. You’ve done this before.
10 – 15: A little refresher course might be in order.
5 – 10: You need a good Live Performance Coach.
0 – 5: You need a great Live Performance Coach.
A Live Performance Coach is aware of all of these things and more. All the more reason for musicians and performing artists to work with one before embarking on a stage career. More next month.