5 Investments That Will Improve Your Live Show
Lots of musicians out there are perfectly happy working in the studio and presenting their work in a recorded format, but there are just as many musicians who have the urge to perform their music for live audiences. Part of performing music is playing the actual music, but there is so much more that goes into a show that will enhance the experience for your audience. It is important to remember that your live show should be that – an experience. How you present your music will be surrounded by context, the context of not just what is heard but what is seen. The experience begins before you step foot on stage and continues after you’ve performed your last piece. We have some ways for you to improve the experience of your live show for yourself and audience members.
Stage design is a whole creative field in itself and it can be easy to forget about if you are used to performing in small venues. Some venues (i.e. themed bars) may have the stage filled with decorations that go with the theme they have previously established but plenty of places will have nothing to add to the ambiance. This is an opportunity to create an environment for your audience to immerse themselves in. Think about your sound, is your music uplifting? Is it dreamy? Is it dark? My set is filled with upbeat music and themes of going after your dreams and is easy to dance to, so I made a bunch of cardboard clouds and place a few in front of me and a few behind me. I even got a friend to dance with a cloud behind me! That was a low-cost solution to add a little bit of my own personality into my visual stage design. Lighting is a huge part of stage design, and if the venue doesn’t have anything more than downlighting you may want to invest in your own. Something like this is an affordable choice to add a little attitude into your set.
Spread Your Style
Expressing yourself on all fronts is an important aspect of performing music in an engaging way (and living a fun-filled life), you’re doing a show to share your music with the world. Use your available resources, like your gear. If you play the guitar then customize that bad boy with some stickers, or deck out your amp with spray paint, or use something less permanent like tablecloths or masking tape! If you really like the way your gear looks as is then no need to alter it, but maybe you have things like keyboard stands or bass drums that don’t necessarily have character inherent to them and need a little more flourish. Whatever you do make sure it feels authentic, emphasizes your personality, and your sound.
Band Name Banner
This one may depend on the size of the venue you are playing at and is an easy one to forget but it works on many levels. Having a sign or band banner with the name of your act will express your personality, professionalism, and remind the audience who you are. You should be introduced at least once during your show and should take the opportunity to verbally remind the audience who you are, but having it in big bold letters in front of or behind you while you play the music is a great way to associate your image and your sound.
This one depends on the venue as well and hinges on your set. Having visuals introduced into your show can be an engaging way to enhance your show. Lots of artists use projectors to display visuals that sync up with the music. If you have music videos or premade visuals then even better, but having a friend who can VJ on the fly works too. With the increasing number of solo acts out there having a projector displayed over/on you while you perform can really create a cool experience. If you’re playing in a bar then this can help you melt into the background or pop, it depends on what you are going for.
Merchandising! Merchandising! Merchandising! As the wise Yogurt once said, merchandising is so very important. Merchandising will hopefully make you money, but can serve other purposes as well. If you want to grow your fan base then your going to have to build an email list and an easy way to do it is to give away free stuff like stickers/pens or even song downloads. People love free stuff and while they may not even read the first email you send after seeing you at a show they may read the third or fifth email. The point is you have a way to communicate with your fanbase in the future. Having a centralized location to recruit email addresses and sell merchandise at a show is important, so ask a friend to help out. Every smartphone can now accept credit card payments, either with an accessory device like Square or without one. Check out this article for more options. Don’t forget that your merch table is an extension of your performance, an extension of the world you’re creating for your audience. Whatever theme or decorations you’ve put on stage then you should have matching imagery at your table. Also, put up some lights so fans can see what you’re offering. And hang up those t-shirts if you can, they look better on a hanger.