Married or Dating
Understanding your relationship with your audience has everything to do with how to construct your set list. And in case you are wondering where you are in that relationship, most of you (unless your name is Sting, Adele, or Pink) are what I call “dating your audience.” Most of your audience doesn’t know you or your music.
Now, you may have developed a small fan base, and if you do it right, that fan base will drag more people to your show every time you play and you’ll hopefully move into a “married” relationship with the masses. But for now, you are probably dating your audience.
With this in mind, I’m going to share seven things you can do to turn a potentially shaky start to your show into the beginning of a great show and a great relationship! Here’s how to make the first song in your set captivate your audience every time:
1. Choose the right energy level
Your first song needs energy – but not too much, and not too little. That’s how we like to meet people, after all. Unfortunately, a lot of artists start a live performance with an overwhelming intro, then blaze through the song (and maybe two or three more) without stopping or giving the audience a chance to respond. The result: the artist has no idea what the audience thinks of them. And in some ways it appears to their audience they don’t really care about them much because all they want to do is sing and play at them, instead of involving them in their show.
You know those types of people! You meet them for the first time and all they do is talk about themselves for the first 10 minutes without ever asking about you. They seem clueless and insensitive, don’t they? Not a good way to start a relationship.
2. Make sure the content is right
The first song’s content needs to be for and to your audience, and your attention needs to be on them, not the song. Part of that is making sure you look at the audience as you perform. The song shouldn’t be about your woes, or the pain you’re going through, or a broken relationship. That would be like saying to someone you are meeting for the first time, “Hi, I’m Tom, and I’m really in a lot of pain from a previous relationship that went bad … do you want to hear about it?” That’s a weird way to introduce yourself, not to mention very awkward.
3. Choose a song you don’t have to think about
This first song needs to be easy to play and sing, and easy to move to. Not that you necessarily have to move, but it’s a song where you feel free, comfortable, and confident — you don’t have to think about stuff. You want to concentrate on your audience and start the communication process. It’s not a song where your vocalists belt out their best licks. This is not a time for extended solos or six-minute jam sessions.
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