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Bad Gig? Now What?

Sometimes you have a bad night. Your guitar was out of tune, you forgot the lyrics, you missed cues, and your head was just somewhere else.  It happens in music, it happens in sports, it happens in life. But it’s what you do about it that separates the winners from the losers! 

You have to take a moment to reflect and relive the night. Really analyze it but do NOT beat yourself up over it.  Figure out why you had a bad night and what triggered it so you can do your best to avoid it in the future.  Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself though keep in mind that this is just a starting point, and your answer may not even be on this list, so feel free to add to it.  

  • Were you stressed before the show? If so, why? 
  • Were you prepared personally?
  • Was the band rehearsed enough? 
  • Did you OVER REHEARSE?
  • Did you do warm up vocal exercises before hitting the stage?
  • Could you hear yourself in your monitors loud enough?
  • Was something taking your attention away from the ‘here and now’ of being on stage?
  • Were you hanging out at the bar and trying to talk above the music before the show?
  • Did you tune up on stage before playing the first song?
  • Was it someone in the audience, or the crowd that threw you off?
  • Were you waiting for someone to show up that never did?
  • Did you drink too much or get high before the show?
  • Was someone in the band screwing up?
  • Was the band in sync with each other?

Hopefully, your bad night happened at a gig that didn’t have a lot riding on it.  You don’t want a meltdown when you’re doing a showcase for a record label, or when you’re performing in the finals of a 5,000 band entry Battle of the Bands (That’s when it happened to my old band, and trust me, we learned a heck of a lot from it!) 

Now, you may have known that you were off that night, but you’d be surprised at how few others may have picked up on it. If you hit a wrong chord, just smile and keep playing. If your instrument is out of tune, turn it down and keep playing or tune it fast and keep playing! But whatever you do, stay focused on the ‘here and now’.  You should understand that most people that attend a liveshow know nothing about music and only a few will even catch that something went wrong, so it’s important to just play through it!

Because music is dependent on time in order to operate, (as opposed to an oil painting) the ONLY time to make music work is right now, the present! Don’t think about the song before or the next song coming up or anything else.  The only thing that matters is the current moment, so put your heart into it and give it everything you’ve got! 

So again, learn from it, but don’t hold on to it. Let it go, and make the next gig your best ever! Focus on the next one bro!!! 


Arty Skye is president of SkyeLab Music Group, an award-winning music production and artist development studio located in Times Square, NYC. Having topped the Billboard Charts numerous times and having been involved in 6 #1 hits, Arty has earned 14 Gold and Platinum Records and worked with artists such as Will Smith, Madonna, Santana, Alicia Keys and many more. He has been producing and engineering music in New York City for over 25 years and has worked on over 1,000 records. 

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