Updated: Aug 3, 2020
Focusing on songs as moments will allow you to work on delivering memorable performances while building a library of experiences you can easily categorize and reproduce. How do you know what moments to deliver and when? Before we talked about your performance as building a relationship with your audience. Part of taking an audience on a journey is meeting them where they are at.
When introducing yourself to a new audience, you don’t want to show off to much in the beginning or come on to shallow. You’ve already done the work to rate your songs. The first moment you want to create for your performance is an intro moment. In storytelling, this moment introduces us a little bit to the characters and sets an expectation for what the reader can expect in the story. Is your story suspenseful, humorous, nostalgic, a relationship builder, or maybe you want to teach the audience something? Shows can have many elements but should have a logical flow and central theme. As an intro song, Lionel Richie’s 80’s dance classic “Dancing on the Ceiling,” could be a clear indicator of both theme and type of show you’re going to put on without ever saying a word to your audience.
Your intro moment is generally two songs. The audience is still sizing you up at this point and you want them to be familiar with you before you show off something unexpected too soon. Extending an opening song to a longer version is also a way to captivate and engage an audience sooner in your format allowing this.
Generally, songs on the radio fall into that 3 range on a scale of 1 to 5 from 2:30 to 3:50 minutes long. Cookie-cutter as they seem, there is an easy flow from one song to the next on a playlist. It is easier for a disc jockey to set a mood and keep it going this way. In your live show, you don’t have to or need to follow the same format. You can take a high-intensity song and turn it into something more intimate or visa versa. An audience wants you to show up with your own creativity when they are ready to listen. You can also deviate or mimic this model planning your social media posts. It’s all about the mood you want to create to draw people into a relationship with you on the right stage of their journey.
Setting up your intro moment:
One or two songs that fall into a mid-intensity range
Tells the audience a little bit about who you are
Tells the audience why you’re here
Give the audience permission to do something
Recall, you show likability by playing to the room with eye contact. You show confidence by engaging with everyone in the audience including the other performers on the stage. Show you’re great at building relationships with charisma from the start of your show.
To take your audience on a journey, a performance may contain any of these additional key moments:
The Call To Action
Game Show Moment
Dance Off Challenge
Love Match Moment
Wrap Up Moment
Band Feature Moment
Thank You Moment
The placement of moments within a show doesn’t have to follow the order above. Some moments may repeat. There should be a logical rhythm and flow. You should have a solid intro, segway, midpoint highlight, breakdown, and rise to the ending. You want to leave the audience hyped at the end to get them to engage with you after a show. Also, consider combining moments within a song. This can provide a vision for your arrangements. When blueprinting your live performance template, these moments will help guide through the emotions you want to help facilitate within your performance.
For virtual performers and those trying to create single posts for themes of content over a long period, these moments are additional ways to develop content that is easily recreated. They are categories for content you can use many songs for. You can work in collaboration with others to create these moments online. As a virtual showman, you can create a calendar that rotates content to post over time. Work smarter not harder. Create a library of posts before posting, post to publish at a later date, and engage while researching and creating new material. This is also a great way to advertise an event. You’re using many elements you’ll use in a live show, but not showing everything at once.
An intro moment is also a transition piece. Live Music Producer Sean Leahy describes creating mini sets as another way of taking an audience on a journey. The journey you start out to take may change. Sometimes mid-show. The idea behind mini-sets is short actionable themes. Within a show, they run together in show order or these blocks can quickly be switched out to change with the mood of an audience.
To provide the most requests, I’ve seen many solo artists, piano bar entertainers and bands rehearse a lot of material to switch up quickly during a show or virtual concert. What this lacks is a logical flow and can cause a break in the atmosphere that feels unprofessional to the audience. Here you’re trading immediate likes for long term relationships. Playing a favorite song for someone will make them feel good for the moment. Doing this for everybody loses your ability for the audience to engage in the music and creativity you’re able to showcase through thoughtful planning and engaging moments. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.
By creating mini-sets within your show, you can still pivot with an audience while providing great moments they’ll remember about you. Think of the app Snapchat. Audiences want to identify something great that is snap worthy they can share with their fans. They want to be acknowledged, inspired, and feel like they’re part of an experience. This is a great way to think about creating moments in your performance. Showcase yourself and your team in a way that the audience would likely take a picture in a moment. Go to the audience. Use the audience and bring them onto your stage or virtual show.
Now I’ve spent a lot of time with artists, bands, and organizations to streamline this process and customize their performances. I’ve planned out social media campaigns and designed performance experiences for many markets. What I know is no crowd is the same and you still need to read your audience. That means planning for applause and other interaction points to judge their level of participation. Sometimes you just need to trust your audience and pivot. For a live music show, that means pivoting by theme, style, or just within mini sets to keep audiences engaged. Virtually, you need to test and follow what your audience is really engaging with. That’s your bread and butter. You can always grow and expand on what you do as your audience grows and gets to know you. You should always do a self-assessment after a performance and engage with your audience to know what the highlights were and key take-aways from your performance. This helps with testing and taking your show to the next level.