I watch a lot of independent and aspiring artist live performances and there are a few things that always jump out at me. It would seem that some of this is common sense but apparently, it needs to be said anyway.
Introducing each song, this practice must stop! You are not rocking Madison Square Garden you’re trying to get started. At this stage of development, our number one priority should be a tight set and a great performance. The reason a major act can do the occasional ‘This song is” or “I wrote this song when” is because the song has millions of fans that have all shown a genuine interest in supporting the song and artist.
You are still brand new. No one cares about what the song means to you or what you were doing when you wrote it, they don’t know you or the song. Your job at this stage is to create the connection and performing with intent and passion does this. No one will ever care about the story behind a song or an artist that they are not already aware of.
Being unprepared comes off unprofessional. Don’t take the stage like you just walked through the wrong door. If you desire to be a professional artist you should always expect to perform. To this end, you must know your instrument, in this case, your voice. Allow yourself time to warm up. This applies to rappers too, don’t just get your head in the right space, get your voice in the right space.
Your set must flow. Far too often artists are so eager to display their favorite songs that they’ve made and they pay no mind as to how the songs flow from one to another and as a complete set. Everything about the live show is tempo and pace. Not that the pace is the same throughout, quite the opposite, your set should have a progression to it, it should drive the energy in the room.
Which brings us to my final note. Own your space and time on the stage. You want to connect with fans of your music and at showcase and starter shows that’s a tall task. Crowded with fans of different acts that are there to perform combined with a few locals and a handful of general music fans open to new experiences. So from the beginning, you need to take the stage, command the space, and read the crowd.
In the end, there’s no formula but the people in the room are there to be entertained. You only have a few songs that you get to perform so seize the moment and own your time on that stage. Take the stage, say a few words, thank them for coming out and go! Don’t let the room reset in between each song. Use the previous songs outro for any set up for the next song and keep your intros reasonable. Having an 8 bar intro on every song on your set is a waste of energy and opportunity. The better you prepare, the more fun you have when you take the stage.