“Being onstage is magic. There’s nothing like it. You feel the energy of everybody who’s out there. You feel it all over your body. When the lights hit you, it’s all over. I swear it is.”
– Michael Jackson
There’s something special about being there live as the music is happening. Why else would people pay hundreds of dollars to see a band live when they could easily listen to the same music for free?
I was at a live show recently that got me thinking – what IS it about live shows that draw people to them?
And what can artists learn from them?
It's about the community.
Live shows are about the experience. It’s such a cool feeling to be surrounded by strangers who are listening to the same music and sharing the same experience as you.
But even if you don’t have a cult following, you still can have a community. Everyone who is there to see you (even if they’re just there by accident!) is a part of your community.
So when you’re performing live, try to think of ways you can get the audience to connect with each other.
Even something as simple as clapping to a song or laughing at a joke together could make them feel connected – like they’re a part of a community.
Try to make your show an experience for them.
Because they will remember it.
It's about connection.
Live shows are about more than just the music.
There was a certain artist (who shall remain nameless) that I was dragged to go see with zero interest in her music. But the crazy thing is, by the end of the show, I was so captivated by her personality and her style. Suddenly, her music became more attractive to me.
I think as artists we can use this to our advantage. Connect with your audience. Tell goofy jokes! Introduce your songs with quirky stories! Dance around the stage like you’re having the time of your life up there!
People are drawn to personalities. So don’t be afraid to let yours come through! No one likes a robot, so don’t be one. ;)
It's about the visual.
I get it - You probably don’t have the resources or budget to produce a full-on Katy-Perry style extravaganza for your live shows.
But that doesn’t mean you should completely ignore the visual aspect of your shows!
Having a little bit of visual contrast between your songs can go a long way. Try to think of creative ways to “mix it up:”
You could sit down for one song, stand for another. Or switch instruments (if you can!) Walk out into the audience during the instrumental section of a song! Put on a santa hat right before you do that Christmas song ;)
Try to get creative with it – a little bit of visual contrast goes a long way! And hey – people are a lot more likely to remember a show where you wore a Santa hat than a show where you sat in the same place and played guitar for an hour.
It's not about perfection
Music on the radio is about as “perfect” as it gets. It’s produced, filtered, compressed, autotuned, mixed, mastered, and every little flaw is smoothed over to give it the best sound possible.
I’m not saying that’s bad.
But I think that shiny flawlessness of the produced track makes live music even more special. We’re all human and I think we’re drawn to the humanity of a live performance.
Everyone KNOWS live music isn’t going to be perfect.
Those little flaws in your voice are not only expected, but they’re accepted. Your audience isn’t there to see a perfect performance, they are there to see you.
And I think that’s the most important thing to remember when you’re performing live.
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