Posted: Dec 16, 2013
Category: Live Performance
**Guest post written by Sarah Lynch, digital music marketing and social media content manager.
"Here’s a fun fact:
Did you know that it’s physically impossible to stick your tongue out and look at the ceiling at the same time??
Don’t believe me?
I’ll wait while you try …..
OK, so this may not be entirely true (and by entirely true, I mean completely false), but I guarantee that this little exercise in foolishness had you intrigued just long enough to attempt it. Which begs an interesting question:
Just how powerful does a statement have to be in order to capture an audience’s imagination??
For musicians, having a killer live show is essential because it is one of the only opportunities that fans have to see, interact with and get to know you as a person behind the music.
So how do you make an audience fall in love with you?
Yes, it does have the word ‘hearse’ in it, but this doesn’t mean your rehearsals have to be deathly boring. There are a few key reasons why rehearsing before a live set is critical to captivating your live audience:
- Firstly, it ensures your performance is tight enough to withstand any unforeseeable hiccups on the night, allowing you to relax and just enjoy playing;
- Secondly, it loosens the creative juices allowing you to experiment with other elements of your performance where your attention might otherwise be distracted – nailing a tricky chord progression or reaching that impossibly high note, for example.
- Rehearsing frees you to revel in the unrepeatable magic of each show; to be more attentive to your audience; and to enjoy all the other unique aspects of the moment, the night and the city.
If you’re comfortable and noticeably enjoying yourself, your audience will follow suit.
Think through the various elements of your stage presence:
- Plan the music
Are there any parts of your songs you want to arrange differently to make for a more dynamic live show?
Songs produced for radio don’t necessarily translate to the stage so it’s important to dedicate time to making sure your song arrangements work in a live setting.
Don’t just sell fans tickets to a show; sell them an experience they can remember and re-live.
- Plan the visual and interactive elements
Are there any visually rich ideas you would like to incorporate?
Think about how Wayne Coyne jumps inside a giant orb ball and launches into an adoring crowd of thousands!
People LOVE this part of The Flaming Lips’ performance because it transforms each person from a passive observer into an active participant. They become involved in a bigger purpose that shapes the course of the evening.
- Plan your dialogue
Is there anything you want to talk about or ask your fans?
The best performers regard live shows as an opportunity for one-on-one interaction with fans - to share personal anecdotes and make each fan feel as though you are speaking just to them. Belle & Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch exemplifies this approach.
- Plan the spontaneous elements of your show
Are there any unusual ideas you want to experiment with?
Contrary to popular opinion the words ‘planning’ and ‘spontaneity’ are not mutually exclusive. Think about how Iggy Pop draws the crowd on stage for a spin. This is a carefully planned and executed strategy to engage his audience.
Seduce them with spontaneity and they will adore you for it.
At the end of the day
Meaningful interaction with fans is the cornerstone of a devoted following.
To have an audience eating out the palm of your hand you need to create the kind of live audial and visual tapestry that makes fans feel special as individuals and as part of a community in pursuit of a common goal – the love of your music.
Do you have any great stories or exciting ideas for live shows? Let us know in the comments section below."
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About the author:
Sarah Lynch is a digital music marketing and social media content manager based in Sydney, Australia. To hear more musings from Sarah, you can follow her on Twitter or can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.