Are you giving your best performance? You hear artists say, “Man, I live for that hour on stage!” Or “The audience fires me up; I play off of their energy.” Or “I come alive when I step onto that stage!”
What comes first though, audience energy or artist energy? Giving your best performance.
If you are a new artist who doesn’t have a following yet, you may be lucky enough to tap into the crowd energy of the act you are opening for. But until you get those big opening act gigs, it will be up to you to sell yourself to an audience who doesn’t know you.
Your songs are certainly a huge part of what will draw an audience to you and build your fan base. But how will you get them to listen to your songs?
Your vocal style and musical prowess are also tools that will help you find your niche in the crowded music market, but only if you get someone to pay attention to you long enough to appreciate your talent.
Let’s say you are not the headliner yet, or that you are playing at a new venue to an audience that is unfamiliar with your music. With live performance you have the benefit of both audio and visual to draw them in. Their first impression of you, before you ever sing a note or strike a chord, will be visual. How you walk out on stage tells them what kind of show to expect. How you approach the mic, hold your guitar, look at them (or don’t) gives them a first impression of who you are as an artist.
Eye contact, or lack of, communicates to an audience what you expect of the relationship you are trying to form with them. Avoidance can sometimes give an air of “too cool for school; too hip to care”– if the body language supports it. Sometimes, eyes on the guitar or looking off to the side looks like you don’t expect to be heard and are submitting to being only background music.
Be aware of your body language and of how loudly it speaks for you; or against you. An audience may sympathize and act nurturing to a timid artist; but only if that artist has the voice and songs to express the emotion their body language cannot. That same audience may be drawn to a “bad boy” persona and swagger, but only as long as the artist’s music owns the attitude.
Be confident and consistent in who you are as an artist? When you have a clear answer to what image you want your audience to have, be sure that your body language is expressing it clearly.
Solidify Your Artist Image
Here are some other ways to solidify your artist image and improve your audience interaction.
Use facial expression to communicate with your audience. Always assume that they are noticing; because someone will be. And one person paying attention can attract the attention of others and help you reach the entire audience.
Claim your space. Demand attention. Make your movements bigger than life. You should ALWAYS be playing/singing to the back row of the venue. Use exaggerated facial expression and body language so that you appear larger than life and in control. You have asked for the stage for a reason. Show them what you are there to share and why you deserve the stage.
During your songs, use annunciation and vocal dynamics to create energy and guide your audience to the emotions you want them to feel. A whisper can express tenderness or intensity. A scream can express anger or desperation.
Use your physical movement to accentuate the energy and emotion of the song. Swaying to a cool, R&B vibe; bouncing to Punk jam; dancing to a Pop groove invites listeners to participate. Help them hear your words by using your movement and physical expression to also sell your message.
All performance is acting. No matter how genuine a delivery or how heartfelt a message you are still playing the role of narrator. You are the guide that is there to lead listeners through the song and the show. They expect you to know the way and to show them the beauty in the journey.
Act out every line of every song. Practice this before you go on stage. What is each line of each song and each song of each set about? How can you explain it to the audience using all of the tools available to you?
You Are There to Entertain
When you are on stage, you are there to entertain. A stage is designed to be a focal point and to give a podium to whoever walks onto it. You do not walk on stage NOT to be noticed. By virtue of taking the stage, you are asking people to look at you. Only when they are looking at you do you have the opportunity to make the listen to you.
The more you get into your performance, the more likely the audience is to get caught up in the moment and join you in the emotional ride. Show the audience how you want them to join in and share the experience.
Performance energy can make the difference between success and failure in an artist’s career. Be aware of the energy you are putting out so you can control the energy you get back. Energy begets energy. You create the energy of every performance.
So, what comes first; artist energy or audience energy?
Even for rock legends, the energy has to come from the stage first. No matter how fired up an audience is to hear music they know by artists they love, they can be stilled quickly by a low energy performance. At every show, your first and most important job is to show them you want to be there and that you deserve their attention!
If you want to dig deeper into some of these techniques and performance tips, check out our other articles and videos. Our goal at KCP is to help you become the best you can be and turn your dream into a reality.
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Check out more from Kim Copeland at www.kimcopelandproductions.com