Here’s a question I think all you performing artists should be asking yourselves about your show. How much do you know that you don’t know?
I teach a music biz course at a local college and I drum into my students the importance of taking a reality check on all aspects of themselves, their music and their act. This includes their stage show. But, it wasn’t until I took the time a little while back to attend, as an observer, a workshop facilitated by American live music producer/performance coach Tom Jackson that I came to realize just how much that even I wasn’t aware of that goes into making for a compelling, dynamite performance.
One of the things that continually confounds me about artists is how little value most place on the importance of certain critical factors that make for an act’s success in this business. One is the acquisition of a strong knowledge base about the music biz itself, something that is obviously of special interest to me, but another is the art of live performance. It’s one thing to put time, effort and money into honing your vocal skills or musicianship, it is quite another to learn how to deliver that artistry effectively.
When you think about it, it doesn’t really make sense to develop your instrumental or vocal talent without putting some serious effort into learning how to reach your audience. It’s a bit like building yourself a wonderful sailboat but not bothering to learn how to sail it.
As an artist, your live show is going to be key to your success. Standing before an audience stiff with nerves and fumbling with a mike you don’t know how to use properly isn’t going to make for a great performance. That should be fairly obvious. But what a lot of artists don’t get is that simply recreating the recorded versions of their songs doesn’t cut it either, because a lot of what a live audience experiences is on the visual and visceral levels. Putting out on stage entails getting your mind, heart and body “into” the music and connecting with the audience through your material, your instrument and/or voice, your physicality, image and staging. This applies even to the solo act sitting on a stool alone with a guitar.
Now, it’s true there are some things you can pick up by observing other more seasoned acts, but good personal coaching can speed up the learning and assimilation process and will teach you other important things, such as how to build up a song both musically and visually, how to read an audience, develop charisma, be spontaneous, engage the crowd with patter between songs, avoid performance no-no’s and even how to approach rehearsals.
One of the things that Tom drilled home to everyone at that event was that, while artists have a significant amount of control over things like the development of their promo kit, their recording project and most everything else related to their career, very few exert much of any control over what happens with their audience. I was floored by what he imparted in just a couple of hours that can go towards making the difference between a forgettable performance and one that has the crowd absolutely wowed. And these were all very simple things that, once you saw them demonstrated, made eminent sense. I came away from that workshop more convinced than ever of the value of a good performance coach to a live artist’s potential for success. Visit Tom Jackson’s site and learn about all the valuable training tips and products he offers.
I’ll have a lot more to say about coaching and coaches, training and developing/defining your act in future blogs and articles, subjects I also get into in my music biz program.