Believe it or not, there is a method to the stage madness in the music business, especially when it comes to building a name for yourself as an independent artist. Over the years I’ve been blessed to perform on many a different stage for both large and small (sometimes non-existent) audiences, and when it all comes down to it, these are the some of the tips I can give you to make sure your performance goes well. Whether it’s an open mic, showcase, or your own headlining gig, these are the Top 5 Things To Do When You Perform.
1. Check your Music Source before performing
This may seem like a no-brainer, especially if you’re consistenly creating new music sets. And if you’re a live band, this goes without saying. But whether your backing tracks are on CD, or you got an mp3 to give to the sound guy, always ALWAYS check and double check that source before getting on stage.
You might not have the luxury depending on the type of event it is to actually do a thorough sound check, but you always want to make sure what you need to accommodate you on stage has been tested and approved with the sound engineer first. And as an add-on to this, have a back up ready just in case.
2. Have merchandise to give to new fans
No matter how small or large the crowd, you’re performance always has the potential to connect you with a potential fan. Whether they want to come thank you for a great song, comment on your performance, or be the President of your fan club, you owe it to yourself and your brand to have something to give to those who take an interest in you.
In this age of social media, we’re so quick to just give out our handles and connect with people, and that’s cool, but what makes you stand out and be remembered is sharing a piece of your brand with a potential new fan. It gives them a conversation piece to keep the conversation going about YOU. Remember, this is the music business first, and your job is to keep that engagement for as long as you can. It can be anything from a simple as a sticker, to a branded usb drive full of music and videos. And lets not forget the old standby of a T-Shirt. Get you some merch man!
3. Pay attention to previous performances
This one is actually a trade secret of mine. It’s very important to pay attention to those performing before you and guage a couple of key things: What’s working and what’s NOT working.
If you’re paying attention, you can see if there’s microphone issues so you know what to tell the sound engineer when you get on stage how to adjust as necessary, there may be dead spots on stage where feedback is imminent, the crowd may not take well to certain types of banter and/or music, etc.
Instead of just “waiting” your turn, it’s good to get a feel of what others are doing and how you’re going to make all the best decisions when you pick the mic up.
I have used this plenty of times and it definitely helps. Plus it gives you more confidence on stage knowing what to expect.
4. Introduce yourself and what you do
Nothing I hate more than watching a performance and not have any idea who is on stage. Whether they are good or bad, I feel disconnected if I don’t know who is on the mic.
Now if I just happened to be in the bathroom when they introduced themselves, then that’s on me. But I should be able to ask someone in my circle if they heard the person’s name.
The reason this is so important is that the first thing it does, is breaks you out of your anxiety and nervousness (if you had any) and allows you to just be who you are for just that brief moment. You’re able to just take a quick breath and establish a connection with the audience. Plus in the case like me, if you mention you’re a hip-hop artist and they don’t like hip-hop, they can walk out then and not in the middle of your set. This is the story we tried to capture in the extended cut for the Make It Work video. Check that out here.
5. Always thank the host or promoter
This should go without saying, but you always want to recognize and thank the person, or people who gave you the opportunity to perform. This not only shows gratitude in them believing in your talent, but also helps them remember that you appreciate opportunity. And that goes a long way in this business, especially when it comes to their next event. They know if they reach out to you, you’re going to bring a level of professional artistry to their event. And as artists, connecting with those that are bringing in the potential fans is a great relationship to have.