Your Live Show Yours
By Tim Sweeney
I played a show with an artist your company is working with. Besides
the fact that he had a lot more people there than I did, I really
took notice that his show stood out far greater than mine or the
3 other bands playing that night. Instead of just coming up as
the second band and playing, he "changed the stage and the vibe
of the club to match him." When I asked him how he came up with
the idea, he said you helped him understand that your live show
has to be a "visual" reflection of you and your music and not
just depend on playing great live. Can you explain to me what
I should do?"
While it is hard to give you exact ideas without talking to you
in person or over the phone (which I am happy to do), I can give
you an overview of my philosophy and how you can start to use
it until, we have a chance to talk.
One of the problems why artists and bands don't sell as many CDs
as they would like to at their shows is, they are "visually" boring.
When you put yourself in the place of the fan who is watching
a show, you are more stimulated and focused on an artist who is
moving around and interacting with the audience. While this is
not a cue for you to jump all over the place, especially if your
music doesn't reflect that or to give long drawn out stories between
the songs, it should serve as a reminder that while people are
listening to you for an hour, they are also looking at you.
The easiest place to start is to simply video tape your next show
and see where you need to move around more and talk more. But
that's not the purpose of video taping your show. You will notice,
once you get past the "how dumb you look reaction" that we all
have, focus on the stage and background. It doesn't visually change
from one artist to the next. Nothing motivates you visually to
pay attention for long periods of time. So, with those pictures
of the stage in mind, here is what you are going to do.
Get away from all distractions. Sit down with a blank piece of
paper and your CD playing on your Discman. Write down random ideas
and thoughts as each individual song is playing. Incorporate into
those thoughts, how you would visually present them at your next
Then ask yourself, what "props" can I bring on stage that doesn't
take up a lot of space and will cause people to stop and take
notice. For example, I have an artist who's album has a constant
theme about family life. She simply found a small kitchen table
at a thrift store with 4 old fashion chairs. She places them on
the side of the stage with plates and silverware to represent
the place where her learning process about life first began. Then
later in the set, 2 friends come up and simply remove the table
and chairs and replace them with an old fashion lamp, end table
and straight backed living room style chair.
During the transition which takes about 2 minutes, she talks about
the songs on her CD and how they go from her early learning experiences
at the kitchen table, to one on one discussions with her father
in the living room. While the props where not some lavish or elaborate
decor, it changed the audience's perception to where it made them
want to stop and focus on her and learn what the songs were about.
Dozens of people at the show who didn't even come to see her remarked,
how she reached out to them personally and they wanted to buy
a CD as a "Thank You."
In your own case, these same props probably won't work for you.
The point is, are there ones that come to mind that you can use
to change your fans focus?
The props can be practically anything. They don't have to change
during the show. They can stay there the whole time. But lets
not stop there. I challenge the artists I work with to tell me
what else can they do.
What about the lighting? Does it have to be the same as everyone
else's? Can you have only a spotlight on you with the rest of
the stage dark? Maybe only a blue light? What about the drinks
the bartender serves that night? How about long forgotten ones
that would be different for people to try? How about a new concoction
you can make up as the "band's drink?" The club can have it on
special that night.
The point is, there are literally hundreds of things to do. Don't
sell yourself and your CD short by only focusing on playing great
live. While it is very important, the visual presentation and
the impression you will leave with new fans will not only sell
you twice as many CDs, it will create a tremendous word of mouth
which will help you double your fan base.
|About The Author:
Tim Sweeney is an independent music consultant. He is one
of the music industry's most highly sought after experts in
the areas of artist development, radio promotion, record distribution,
retail marketing and publicity. He has helped dozens of record
labels both major (Columbia, Epic, MCA, Revolution, Hollywood,
Capitol, Mercury, Polygram, Warner and their sub-labels) and
independent (Restless, Skunk, Screaming Goddess, among others)
develop some of their most promising and successful artists
of all time. For more information on Tim's seminars, books
and artist consultation, please visit his website at www.tsamusic.com
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