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« Mobile Marketing for Independent Artists: Strategy | Main | Artistic Efficiency: How to Create More and Get Out of Your Own Way »
Thursday
Jan122012

The Compelling And Powerful Power Of Confidence

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. 

So… is everyone in your band as confident, or more so, than you? Is everyone on the same page?

Confidence is perhaps one of the most compelling traits someone can have. It gives you a certain energy, an aura that’s hard to ignore. It’s a primal thing that runs deep within us and is impossible to escape. It’s rooted in our instincts, our ego, our emotions, our fears, our pride, our anxieties, our failures and our accomplishments. 

Everything we do feeds it.

Having confidence in who you are and what you do is powerful. It changes everything. In fact, perhaps this is the mystical, magical 
Mojo itself. The secret sauce. That thing that sets the Rock Gods apart from the rest.

Having confidence in yourself not only makes you sexy and more appealing to the opposite sex, but it also elevates your perceived status among members of the same sex. Being confident will get you the girl, score you the gig, land you that job… in addition to making you kick some serious fucking ass on stage.

Yet if you’re overconfident and your swagger is unmerited, well then you’re just viewed as cocky and arrogant. Which is obviously not what you want. Stop that shit.

Confidence can be a self-fulfilling prophecyThose without it may fail because they lack it, and those with it may succeed because they have it.

But consider this: If you don’t dwell on the negative shit, you can be more ‘self-confident’ because you worry far less about failure. And if you’re worrying less about failing, then you’re more likely to focus on the actual job at hand… which means more probable success. Kinda makes sense, huh?

Ok, real-world examples? How do you get over your fear of being on stage? Non-stop repetition. Gigging night after night after night. 

How do you get over the anxiety of thinking a string might break during a live show? Practice. You need to know how to deal with a situation before you encounter it so that when it does arise it’s no big deal. Practice. 


Being adequately prepared paves the way to self-confidence.

So aside from positive thinking what else can you to do to boost your confidence?
 Practice. Hard work. True grit. And lots of it.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”

 —Eleanor Roosevelt

Oddly enough, I’ve learned a lot about confidence from Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer. It turns out that projecting confidence as a ‘pack leader’ is one of the best ways of earning respect from your dog, which has lasting positive results. Here’s some of his tips. For starters, just be aware of your confidence levels. Be bold. Carry yourself more proudly. Hold your head high with your shoulders pulled back. Walk tall. Look people in the eyes and speak with a strong voice and a firm handshake. 


It’s a start.

Be sure to feed your mind with confidence building mantras. Be like an olympian who practices the race course in his mind over and over again.

Confidence could be the fine-tuning that you, your performance, your art and your career might need. 

Know your shit. Rock that shit. And get it done.

 
—Brian Thompson

Connect with Brian on Twitter and Facebook, or on his websites Thorny Bleeder and The DIY Daily.

Reader Comments (7)

Confidence is, of course, a tremendous asset to a performer.

However, "shoegazers", as you call them, do not necessarily lack confidence. They may just be deep inside the music, communing with their instrument and muses. They may find the audience distracting, especially if it is not a well-behaved audience. Some performers get so deep in the music that they play with eyes closed. Miles Davis often performed with his back to the audience, but this was hardly a man lacking confidence.

Performers who constantly try to make eye contact with audience members often strike me as insecure, as if they are seeking approval. I actually feel cheated when performers do this, and this is often the line where art becomes mere entertainment. I want artists to give 100% to their playing, their instrument, their inner voice. Similarly, I find between-song banter very irritating and distracting.

January 12 | Unregistered CommenterSerge

Yes, I agree with Serge. Confidence is definitely the most powerful instrument for performers. You may have all the talent in performing but it will be just useless if you doesn't have enough guts to show it.

Brian,

You just nailed this one! CONFIDENCE is needed in every musician and most of them have lack of it. I sometimes see even the very successful ones have lack of it, I wonder how they went so far.

One of my cousin wants to be a singer but he has no such guts to stand in front of 10 people and sing. I have tried many times to encourage him and get this going, but this is something he has to figure out himself. Yes confident makes the girls get attracted to you and you also earn respect from your peers.

The other point you mentioned about overconfident is correct, because you would not make yourself a douche trying to be careless.

January 13 | Unregistered CommenterTamal

Hi Serge,

Playing with your eyes closed and being a 'shoe gazer' are two different things. I am a booking agent in NYC and have seen thousands of local bands. Some who are just starting out. Some who are well into their career. The band can not be so great, screw up some chords, mess up lyrics, but when the band is engaging the audience, having a great time, playing with their whole selves, the crowd goes crazy. They dance, they applaud, they buy CDs, they sign mailing lists. These are the bands with fans that have people come to their shows gig after gig.

You can have a great band even, totally prepared knows every note, but are lifeless and stiff on stage. No soul. And I'm not referring to the genre. I'm sure Miles Davis could play with his back to the audience but still be able to engage his audience with the amount of life he put into every single note he played.

And the worst thing to ever do is apoligize before you start a song!! "I'm sorry if this sucks, this is the first time we're playing it." Uh, SHHHHHH don't say that! Then everyone is going to sit there and wait for you to screw up!

Another thing, never yawn on stage. Yawns are contagious. If you yawn, your AUDIENCE YAWNS!! People will subconsciously react to these types of things while you are on stage...

And Brian is right. How do you cure this? Practice and experience. Know every song inside out so you aren't just playing it. You are feeling it. You are enjoying it. And when you're enjoying yourself, having fun up there, even if it isn't a party band, you will engage your audience.

Thanks for the awesome post Brian

-Christina LaRocca
www.ChristinaLaRoccaMusic.com
www.LRockthePartyBooking.com

January 13 | Unregistered CommenterChristina LaRocca

Yes. Confidence is key. But I would also add that PASSION is extremely important also. Without passion anything you do won't mean anything to anyone else. It's good to see confident performers/artists on stage but when I see that the don't care what other people think and really just love what their doing, that is truly awesome.

January 14 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Borup

Great post Brian. It arrived in my inbox just after I'd been to a gig with two frontmen; one super confident, one giving "don't look at me" vibes. The confident one made the evening very memorable.

Serge is a fan who loves to see a great musician at work. The musicianship is his passion, the rest is a distraction. I go to a gig to be entertained. I am interested in the lyrics. I like melody. I like banter. Whilst I appreciate amazing guitar solos, they're not really my thing.

Confidence is key. But so is figuring out and being confident about what your fans want.

Eliza

www.thefanformula.com

Yes, CONFIDENCE is vital. When combined with HUMILITY, the result is CHARISMA - and THAT the world is always waiting for.

January 16 | Unregistered CommenterDG

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