There’s a reason why we play music. Performing music makes us high. Every musician who’s ever gigged has experienced the rush on stage when you played something so cool that they rest of the band would give you that acknowledging smile. Or when the whole band does something at once in such a tight fashion that it’s like thinking with the same mind. Or hearing the whistles and applause at the end of a song. That’s what keeps us doing it. Now new research confirms what we’ve always known.
Entries in Live Performance (8)
This article originally appeared on CD Baby’s DIY Musician Blog.
Why the Value of Your Merch Changes Every Day
Let’s say you just started a hot-sauce business. The price of your product probably changes depending on the buyer; lower-end grocery stores, shi-shi markets, restaurants, and direct customers on your website will all pay a little something different for the same mouth-burning sensations— to say nothing of the folks who will try free samples at the store.
Musical products aren’t that different; the value of your merch changes from gig to gig, and should (or could) be priced accordingly. This is NOT “Name-Your-Price,” but an alternate system where the band and manager keep the context of the concert in mind when setting today’s “market price.” And unlike fish, your music won’t grow stale,… right?
The “Four P’s” is a term used to describe the traditional Marketing Mix: Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion. Well, I’m going to borrow from that expression and talk about the Four P’s of Playing Live Shows: Preparation, Promotion, Performance, and Post-Show. This series of blog posts will cover the things that you can be doing as a live performer to maximize each show. Part 1 is all about preparation.
The Four P’s of Playing Live Shows: Preparation
We’re going to start with the assumption that you’ve chosen a venue and confirmed a date with the venue booker. For tips about getting booked, see one of my previous posts 5 Ways to Impress Venue Bookers and Get More Gigs.
Once the gig is confirmed, here are some things you will need to prepare for the show:
Who will the opening band(s) be?
I guess the first question really is will there even be an opening band? The answer will almost always be yes, as the benefits are clear. An opening band can warm up the crowd, hopefully bring their own fans to the show, and help with the promotion of the show. So when choosing an *opening band, a few things to consider (*and if you happen to be the opening band, much of this advice can still apply):
I believe that good information should be spread and even though I do booking for bands, I’m not afraid to share, step-by-step, how I go about this process. That’s what this music blog is all about, partnering up with artists to take the next step. I hope this helps your music career.
This is a more concise version of an earlier post which you can read here. I recommend you read that one too.
Once you’ve decided that you want to and are able to tour (and you’ve figured out the why’s), it’s time to plan the how, when, and where’s. This is what I do.
I’ve seen oodles of bands perform over the years in dark and dingy small clubs to soft seat theatres to hockey arenas. I’ve seen some of the world’s best and quite possibly the worst. I’ve also worked one-on-one with countless musicians and aside from sheer musical talent, one of the things that separates the good from the great is confidence.
When I think of bands without confidence, I think of shoegazers for example. You know, those bands who stand on stage and simply stare at their feet, too shy to truly connect with the audience. Too nervous to even look up and be ‘present’, for fear of being judged.
Think about it. Who’s more entertaining to watch on stage? Someone who has no confidence can be incredibly boring. In fact, you don’t even watch them, you end up watching the other guys.
In a word: AWESOMENESS.
As an indie I go to a lot of local shows. I want to find and network with other bands, make friendships, and help support my scene. Some bands are great, some are good, and others are…’eh’.
The really great bands are firing on all cylinders. Great live show, great recordings, great merch table. The other bands always seem to be lacking in certain areas.
If the live show is THE most important thing for a band, then I think there are certain aspects, certain ‘Standards of Excellence’ that a band MUST achieve before stepping outside the rehearsal room. We just cannot afford to suck anymore, at all, no compromises. That doesn’t mean that you need to be perfect: to play a million notes a second, or whatever. Not perfection, just a commitment to excellence.
Here are a few Standards of Excellence I feel every band should consider the bare minimum before starting to gig regularly, if they expect to get results that is:
There is no doubt about it; social media has taken the sweet and innocent fan, and has created a monster.
A transparency-seeking, interactivity-craving, empowerment-hungry monster.
Ok so maybe fans aren’t these terrible things that goes bump in the night, but the point remains the same. Today’s fans desire something more than just music and the occasional Facebook or Twitter update.
Today’s fans desire an experience!
But creating this experience can be a bit tricky. It has to cater directly to the needs and desires of YOUR fans, or else you run the driving them away.
If there’s one thing I learned from my former years playing in houses of worship, it’s that the Sunday morning experience is designed for maximum effectiveness. Granted, some churches are more finely tuned than others, but the principles of your average worship service should apply to every single concert you play.
- Start with an engaged crowd. Even if it’s just the first row or two, a well-timed “Hallelujah!” now and again will get the cold crowd to warm up a little.
- Appeal to all five senses. Studies have shown that we remember events better if all of our senses are engaged. The Church, in its various forms throughout the millennia, has evolved to adopt this level of impact.
- Sight: Robes, banners, crosses, flowers, statues, you name it. Stained-glass windows and flying buttresses were designed specifically to catch your eye.
- Sound: Obviously, a church service involves talking and music. If your shows don’t have either, you’re reading the wrong article.
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(Updated July 8, 2015)