This last tip is simple and extremely important. Presentation. We all want to look good and have that swag that will make us stand out. Branding your look, staging, and choosing the right environment to shine all play a role in delivering memorable performances. As they say in my hometown Nashville, TN, it all starts with the song. When in doubt about a look, listen to the music. The theme or underlying style you’ve chosen should help you brand your experience.
Macklemore an American rapper chose to shop for 70’s style clothing from thrift and vintage shops mirroring lyrical content from his songs. He and writing partner Ryan Lewis had a low budget, but the vision to compete against the mold of the big 3 labels. Not taking themselves to seriously, they visually imagined a look that would connect with a wider audience and their music and videos went viral after their debut.
Your presentation also includes how you perform on stage or in your virtual room. You wouldn’t go to a movie theater to watch a movie where the camera concentrated on just one angle. For virtual performers, video switchers and switcher software can add to the feel of your show creating more intimacy for your audiences. You can also use the space you have similarly to how a live band would perform as if you had only one audience member.
A live concert audience needs to be engaged from many angles. If you think of the center of the stage as the letter C and look left to right A, B, C, D, E, you have a lot of positions to engage with your band or audience. Think of each position on the stage as a different conversation point. You’d never turn your head away from someone you are having a conversation with, so finish artists need to finish a phrase or thought before turning and engaging somewhere else.
Center stage is your most powerful point that commands the most attention. Singers are also going to command attention in a band setting and need to help the audience focus wherever they are moving. Remove objects whenever possible that distract like mic or music stands. This takes away from your authority. Any object like this should be used as a prop or for purpose when needed. Where center stage may be your main spot for the chorus of a song, use positions A and F to separate between verses and bridges. Really work the stage and with all performers on it to communicate, engage, and tell your stories.
Whether performing to a camera or on stage, dimension plays a huge role in whether the audience is going to listen to you. Stepping back or staying in one place the whole time loses attention. Move forward and backward throughout your performance or use a camera to zoom in and out. This can help focus the audience to engage with you at the right times. It can also tell an audience to focus somewhere else as you step off the position of authority giving it to someone else.
The venue you choose to perform in will impact the show you put on. Lighting, sound, noise, background all create atmosphere. You need to carefully manage these aspects so colors, tone, and feel of atmosphere match the energy you want to bring in your show.
Tips to shine as an artist on any stage:
Make sure to light the eyes of the performer
Make sure the performer’s image pops in front of the background using more solid colors
Remove distractions from the stage or shot that can interfere with your visual performance
Limit noise that can distract from a performance and use clear audio
Ensure background music pre and post-show create the right atmosphere
Make Center Stage your authority point for telling your story
Use positions A and F for opening up communication
Use positions B and D as passing moments
Use dimension on the stage to focus the audience's attention
Remove elements such as mic stands that pull authority away from your performance
Wow! Taking your audience on a journey really does take a lot. I had no idea what I was missing from my shows early on as an artist. I practiced a lot and was around great players. I remember watching great shows and wondering how it all came together on the big stages. Had I not been an artist on a label in my early years, I may have missed a lot of the principles I’ve been able to implement into my coaching style today.
Live music production has been around for years but hasn’t really been accessible to most accept those bigger label artists. 20 years ago, a record label or producer may have had an A&R department develop an artist to their full potential. They may have put them on tour with bigger acts hoping the artist would learn from and incorporate elements from a more seasoned performer. Budgets have cut these programs relying on artists to bring a lot more professionalism and experience to the table. There is a science to it. Just like any successful business, there is a model for success. Pioneers like Tom Jackson, Victor Wooten, and Bram Bessoff really paved a way for this knowledge to be cataloged for future generations.
My hope for you is for you to take what I’ve learned, experience it, and share it. Get excited and learn more so we can continue engaging audiences on a deeper level the way music was meant to be received. Live!
I'd love to speak to you more about your journey. Please reach out to my team firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to get started handcrafting your ultimate performance.