We recently received an e-mail from an independent artist who’s had a successful first single launch online and is now transitioning into real-world impact. Her question was, in short, “What should I pay attention to and know for my first-ever live performance?” Mind you, the upcoming gig will likely host over two thousand attendees, thus making the event a serious opportunity for advancing her career and brand credibility. As the answer is mightily long, we decided to reply via the following comprehensive checklist, therefore helping all other first-time performers as well. So do your homework and rock that stage!
How long will the drive to the venue take? Did you consider the time of the day? The day of the week? How will you get there? How will you carry your gear and clothing? What if the friend who’s offered to drive you there gets sick the day prior and can’t fulfill his promise? There are peak hours and peak days. And there are also public transportation malfunctions and road repairs and accidents. You don’t want to compute your arrival time without taking into account unforeseeable delays and circumstances. There have been major venue delays with big-name artists who didn’t do their proper homework and the fans got royally pissed and trashed the concert afterwards online sharing their dissatisfaction with the world. Sure, as a first-time performer the venue attendees are not there for you BUT you don’t want the promoters and organizers to dismiss you for future shows due to your lack of punctuality and poor preparation.
20. Live Rehearsals
Performing without at least ONE live rehearsal from start to end, is a major, unrecommended risk to take. There are so many things that could, and do go wrong, even with the top preparation measures. Without a prior, full, complete live rehearsal, you’re headed for a poor performance and forgettable stage presence. You need to get visually used to the stage and light setup. First-time performers are shocked how blinded they become once those lights turn on and they realize they can barely see anyone in the crowd. You also need to get used to the sound amplitude as it changes for each venue. You need to get used to your own voice coming out through the speakers. But the biggest deciding factor, is stage fright. If the first time you perform in that venue is also the first time you step on that stage, your nerves are going to annihilate your vocal cords and breath control and you’ll find yourself angry, flustered, and embarrassed at the absence of power in your pipes. Never underestimate the physical response to stress for a music artist.
19. BTS footage
Never take for granted the opportunity to create heaps of social media-worthy content with each live gig you take on. There are so many things to share and build on from Behind The Scenes footage! Costume changes, bloopers, meeting the organizers and shaking hands on camera, showing your POV from the stage, setting up the merch table, sharing your impressions about the upcoming show, introducing other participating performers to your followers, etc. The list is truly endless. Therefore, plan on how, when, and where you will shoot the BTS footage right from the start with your first live show.
Don’t leave your makeup concept for the day of the show. If you have long hair, good luck performing with gloss on your lips. If you like fake eyelashes, good luck keeping them on if the event is outside and suddenly strong winds blow. If you always rock long fingernails, good luck figuring out how to turn your mic on in case the host hands over a new microphone to you other than the one they use themselves. When you plan your gig makeup, you have to think about its utility and impact on your performance. Many venues don’t have proper ventilation for example and too much foundation and setting powder can start dripping off your face and onto your clothes with the passing of each minute. Also, some textures work best for daylight conditions whereas other brands specialize in closed-off environments. Take your time finding what works best for you, your skin, your eyes, your tone, your style well ahead of the big day.
Yeah, you might have a cute, glittery branded jacket from your grandma that’s just in again trend-wise but does it actually suit you and your music? You can’t just throw on your best clothes and call it a day. No. Your outfit has to complement you, your music, your message, and make sense. If you dress like a Pop artist when you do Hard Metal, it will likely work against your credibility unless it’s a long-term strategy to attract attention as a performer. Yet again, TAKE YOUR TIME deciding on the way you will dress. Don’t forget that it’s a bad idea to dress in dark colors for concerts taking place at evening-nighttime. The camera focus sensor will malfunction and you will end up blurry in most shots. Aim for the subject (you) to always be in a lighter shade than the background.
How many YouTube videos you can recall of performers falling on and off stage? Blame the shoes 9 times out of 10. Such a pivotal factor to consider when planning your performance in advance yet so underestimated by most! The safest way to go about it is to attach rubber soles on the bottom of your shoes as many stages are extremely slippery. This will be easily done for a fairly low price by most cobblers in your area. This is an absolute MUST DO on your list if you’re planning to wear high heels. Trust us, you’re better off breaking your bank than breaking your neck.
The queen of not thinking too much ahead about the conflicting oversized earrings and the high-impact movements of her choregraphies, is Beyoncé. The poor woman even had a full-on bleeding ear during one of her shows because of an earring that broke away and hurt her as a result. UTILITY. Think, strategize, adjust, implement. Your accessories must NOT impede you from having full freedom of movement and neither should they be a threat to your safety despite their looks and shine! Equally, a tight belt will limit your diaphragm’s ability to take in plenty of air, a tight collar will give you hot flashes and you’ll start sweating from the face down, a hat too large might end up kicking other people on stage or even obstructing your face entirely from being seen on camera.
14. Brand Reinforcers
Always remember that each gig is a chance to promote yourself to many people both directly and indirectly. If you make enough of a positive impact, they will go home and tell their friends and family about you and you’ll get new ears on your streams and new eyeballs on your videos at the price of ZERO additional dollars! To help people remember your name, you must include brand reinforcers on stage! A T-shirt with a large font carrying your name, a banner in the background displaying your logo, a customized drum kit advertising your brand’s website, are only few of the many ways one can reinforce their brand’s name throughout a live gig.
The conversion process commences, as a matter of fact, with the presence of brand reinforcers BUT it needs careful planning and preparation to aid you, the first-time performer, in building a loyal, real fanbase. Conversion is your ability to turn a stranger who doesn’t know you and your music into a dedicated follower who wants to hear everything you have to say and buy everything you have to sell. If you can’t afford hiring someone to go through the crowd with a clipboard and pen to collect people’s emails for staying in touch with them for future announcements and gigs, you can shake hands and ask for these new folks’ contact info yourself after you get off stage. If you did a great job, people will approach you first and all you have to do, is say you have other upcoming shows and you would like to send them more info via email! Don’t worry, nobody will think you’re stupid. If anything, they’ll see you as determined to be in charge of your own career. Collect, collect, collect, send, send, send, convert, convert, convert.
Do you know what will happen if you’re one of the best acts of the festival but received a lukewarm introduction by the host? Not too many great things. The way you are introduced by others is the way the attendees will regard you from that day on. You need a SPECTACULAR introduction. We are willing to go as far as to tell you to write your own perfect introduction and just make copies of it to hand over to the venue hosts at each gig you perform at. You would be surprised how handy these mini-speeches will turn out to be. Many hosts will gladly read what you wrote instead of coming up with something themselves.
11. Live Version
As a first-time performer you may not have the ability to properly evaluate the need of having a live version of your song. Ideally, it will slightly differ from your studio version in order to grant the show attendees an exclusive experience (a new theatrical buildup, an altered bridge, an additional hook at the end, changed lyrics, a sped-up/slowed-down section for a dance breakdown, etc). This will incentivize future fans to buy tickets to experience the twist on the songs they already know. Not to mention that it’s an aspect overlooked by amateurs and heavily treasured by pros. Try to slightly alter your song to better fit a live setting even if it’s your first time performing it (some studio records are heavily edited in post-production and nearly impossible to pull of start-to-end in the real world).
Make sure you read part 2 for the rest of the list!
Blue Rhymez Entertainment ©2023
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