THE ART OF LIVE SHOWS
So you've been booked for a live show and want to make sure it's a great one. There's a few things you may want to consider since mastering this art form is something that can take artists many years to accomplish. Here are 10 tips I've learned over the last decade performing live to help you on your way.
1. Interact - this can be done both during and in-between songs. Call and response is a great way to interact with your audience during a song. What I like to do is tell my audience before I start the song what I want them to do and give them a practice run, that way they’re engaged throughout the entire song waiting for their part to come.
2. Arrangements - if people wanted to listen to the song as it is on the album, they’d just play the album. A live show is a unique experience that your audience can't relive twice, playing around with your musical arrangements makes your songs automatically sound different to what people can hear on your recordings. Live shows are a great opportunity to present songs that your audience already know and love in a completely different way that gets them to fall in love with the song all over again which can spark a second, third, fourth (you get the picture) boost in your record sales. To keep it simple you could try starting off with a completely stripped back arrangement and then building it up into the fully produced track.
3. Staging - think about what you want included in your stage show. Are you going to use a DJ or a live band and if so what instruments do you want included? Will you require dancers and if so what dance styles do you want included? You can get as creative as you want with this!
4. Visuals - the look of your show is just as important as the sound after all the beauty of a live show is that your audience gets to see as well as hear you. Think about what you and your team are going to wear. Are you going to use audio-visuals to keep your audience engaged? Will you need pyrotechnics, props or special lighting? Again, get creative! I once based my entire live show around audio-visuals which helped take my audience on a journey and that’s what I feel this is all about, taking your audience on a journey with you.
5. Moments - live shows are a chance to create moments that people will remember for the rest of their lives. Try to create special moments that will be talking points for years to come! I would get my team to scout young people from the audience throughout my live show who would be allowed to run and jump around on stage with me on my final song. You want to create moments that your audience will remember, talk about and leaves them feeling inspired.
6. Structure - every element of your show is important. You need to grab your audience from the start and hold their attention right up until the point you exit the stage. In order to do this you need to structure your set wisely. Think about what is going to initially grab their attention and then what is going to keep it there. It is vitally important to consider the pace of your set too. For example, putting numerous high energy songs back-to-back will be very tiring to perform. Try to factor in songs within your set that will give you time to recuperate your energy levels at the points in which you will need them most, but be mindful to choose songs that will keep the overall energy of your set flowing. If you don't have suitable songs another trick is to get your DJ or dancers to interact with your audience. If you're featuring an artist you could let them perform one of their own suitable songs while you take a couple minutes to catch your breath and hydrate.
7. Research - attend live shows in as many different venues as you can with as many different demographics as possible. Remember the things an artist did which worked well and also remember the things which did not work well. It's just as important to learn what not to do as it is to learn what to do. When you go and watch your favourite artists on tour, take a notepad and make notes on how their shows are constructed. If you can't attend live shows you could always watch YouTube videos to dissect the live shows that you’re inspired by.
8. Well-being - performing live can be extremely draining. Make sure you and your team eat over an hour beforehand and make certain you’re all hydrated and have enough water available on stage. It is not wise to ever perform on empty! The more looked after you are is the better the show you will be capable of putting on.
9. Preparation - turn up with ample time for soundcheck. You may have rehearsed for your show with a certain plan in mind but after soundcheck or getting to see the stage find you have to tweak your live show to suit the environment. Always have a 'Plan B' as 'Plan A' rarely ever goes to plan. Being well rehearsed will give you confidence when it comes to performing. It will give you peace of mind to know that if you make a mistake you'll be able to get back on track without your audience noticing.
10. Relax - if you are enjoying yourself chances are your audience will enjoy themselves too. You’re getting to do something you love, embrace it fully!
I'm sure there are more points that could be added to this and if you can think of any feel free to write a comment, I'd be more than happy to read them! These tips should be able to help you on your way though. Let me know in the comments if you found this information useful and if you do happen to use any of these tips let me know how they went down.