So you've decided to start a band. Congrats! But now what? Most band’s debuts are forgotten by everyone except the musicians on stage. How do you make your band's debut show stand out from all the other crappy local bands?
Most artists play their first show at a dive bar or small local club. You might have fun playing the show, but it won’t make any big splashes or lifelong fans.
By standing out at shows, you can make your debut show blow the other acts out of the water and set yourself up for long-term success. Listen now to learn how!
What you’ll learn:
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#17: Fix Your Stage Presence NOW!
#120: Playing Live: Creating a Lasting Impression for Your Fans
Pure Love live at The Underworld
And pun intended sets the stage for the rest of your career as an artist So I'm going to talk about launching your band with a stellar first show. Now, if you're already playing shows, if you've already started, don't worry.
Don't tune out just yet, because these are all things that you can do and hopefully are already doing. But if you aren't, it might be time to take a step back and implement what I'm going to talk about today into your set before you play any more shows that you haven't already booked, because it is really important to not go around playing shows.
Don't really give you any long-term traction. You [00:01:00] want to be very careful about how you present yourself, how you're branding comes off to the people who see you play live, and you want to make sure that you are the best band on the bill.
Every single time you play a show, whether you're headlining or not. That's difficult to do, but it is totally achievable. If you have good music and you put some effort into your performance. Getting into this when you're just starting out as an artist, you might be tempted to play. A ton of show is literally every show that gets offered to you and use that to practice your set and find the ideal stage banter. don't get me wrong. Stage presence and banter are absolutely important. And we even did an episode about that quite some time ago. This is episode 1 33 back on episode 17, fixed your stage presence.
Now believe that was Aaron and I talked about how you can work on your stage presence. If you want to hear that, you can check it out at [00:02:00] bandhive.rocks/17. That's the number 17, or you can search for that episode in your favorite podcast. That said the time to practice your stage presence and your banter and all that is during your bands, rehearsals, you should not be using shows as rehearsals.
Your shows should be fully fleshed out performances, where you're going to blow people away. Now, I know a rehearsal is not the same as performing to an audience, but you can get 90% of the way there during your Hersel's. And then when you start playing shows, you'll quickly fall into step and find what that last 10% of improvement is.
And you can work that out from there rather than just jumping into a live show and having no idea what to do. now? You're probably asking how can you make yourself stand out? And the first show you ever play? Well, just to start, you should have a full run through of your set at least two to three times before your first show. [00:03:00] This is separate from any other practice where you're working on songs or nailing the parts or anything like that, treat this as a full show without the audience. So again, two to three times, you're going through the full set as a show. You're not stopping to fiddle things or adjust. You're going to play the set. And then at the end of it, you're going to talk about things that you think needs some work and incorporate that before the next time you go through a full dress, right?
This all includes working out any stage blocking, jumps, movement, that kind of stuff. Stage blocking is just where you move. you need to move and I'll get into this more in a second, but keep in mind that you are not just a musician. You are a performer. Anybody can get up on stage and stand there with a guitar and a mic and play.
You know, they have to have solid amount of talent, but nothing amazing, you know, anybody can do. But if you make your show a performance [00:04:00] that is going to set you apart. So obviously if you're singing and playing an instrument at the same time, you're kind of stuck to wherever your mic stand is. That's, you know, just a given.
And this is one of the reasons why most of my favorite bands. Vocalists who don't play an instrument just because the live experience is so much better. Now that's not to say I don't like bands where the singer is playing guitar, or bass or some other things.
But the best live shows I've seen have been shows where the singer is only singing They're not messing with anything else. If you are a vocalist, only the worst thing you can do is just stand awkwardly at your mic. Stand. If you have a mic stand while you're. You should be moving around, whether you have a mic stand or not, you shouldn't be using it. If there is a mic, stand, take the mic off of it and move around. If there's not a mic stand, it's even worse to just be standing there. You can use the mic stand as an accessory in your performance, but you should not be using it as a crutch to hold you up.[00:05:00] do not lean on it, unless you're doing that in like an emotional part of a song symbolizing that, you know, you need to lean on something because it's so heavy, you know, you can use it as a prop, but do not use your mic stand as Homebase.
I've seen so many artists where it is a home base, it makes them feel safe. And that's not what you want to do. You want to move around. You want to create energy for the performance when it's appropriate. And by that you will be engaging the audience even more. Same thing goes, if you're playing an instrument like guitar or bass, you can move around with those.
As long as you're not also singing or messing with your pedals. So find the times in your songs when you don't have to make changes on your pedal boards and you don't have to sing anything and coordinate when you're going to move around. So for example, if you know that you're the guitarist and your other guitarist or based there, or whoever it is on the other side of the stage, you don't have to mess with your settings for a good 30 seconds.
Take that 30 [00:06:00] seconds for the song to switch sides on the stage. Look at the other people on the other side of the stage, you know, show off a little bit for them perform for them, and then switch back in time to mess with your pedal board or sing your backing vocals or whatever it is, but get some movement going in there because that is one of the biggest things that sets a band apart.
The bands that just stand there and look super bored. Aren't going to go on. I've seen it all too often, the bands that move around and act like they're having the time of their life are going to have a much better time at building a fan base because people see that energy up on stage and they enjoy that.
the next thing you can do, going back to vocalists is if you're a free roaming vocalist, Or maybe, you know what the free range vocalist is, what I'm. You can jump into the pit. If a sound engineer is worth their salt and you can connect to the audience on an even closer level by doing that.
so if the crowd has good energy jumped down there with them and, you know, [00:07:00] Right at them being there, join the pit. If there's a pit, you can do all kinds of stuff. If you're a vocalist. And I mean, you can do this as a guitarist too. It's just a little more difficult because you know, you have a guitar or a bass rather than just a microphone, but either way you can still do that.
now, one thing is if you are a singer, do not try this. If there isn't a dedicated to sound engineer at the soundboard at all times, because if there's any feedback, they aren't going to be able to fix it. If they're not. So make sure that the sound person is paying attention before you do this, because if they're not paying attention or they're not at the board, you could have some really bad feedback.
Now I'm going to link a couple examples in the show notes at Bandhive dot Rox slash 1 3, 3, that's the number 133. That's this episode. And you can see some of the examples of bands that have blown me away. Live. One of them is pure love. I did basically an entire episode talking about their stage presence. A while back, it was episode [00:08:00] number 120. You can find that at bandhive.rocks/120, and it was called playing live, creating a lasting impression for your fans. And that's actually a very similar episode to this, except here, I'm going more into the nitty gritty and talking about what you should do before your first show and pure love. They were a pretty big band, but they still played small clubs, like 200, 300 cap and they absolutely killed it. It's by far the best live show I have ever seen.
And I've seen arena acts, but the energy of a band and a little punk club. If they do it well, just cannot be rivaled in an arena or stadium, because you don't have that closeness. So this is all stuff you can absolutely achieve in a small local.
If you do it right. So pure love is going to be one of those examples. And then I'll have at least one or two more of artists who have great stage presence. Maybe there'll be bigger. Artists. Maybe there'll be smaller artists. I haven't decided yet. but the main thing [00:09:00] is you can watch these videos and learn from what they do and apply it to your shows, even if you're playing to like 20, 30 people right now.
So again, those examples will be in the show notes for this episode at dot rocks slash 1, 3, One more thing that you can do if you're a singer with no instrument is practicing your movements in a mirror at home, the more you do it, the more natural your movements will become.
And it's really important for you to go through this goes for the motions. You know, just literally the motions of singing your songs in the mirror and watch yourself and see what you like and see what you don't like. And just that, because this is all muscle memory. By the time you get on stage, if you've practiced this enough,
Now I know this might seem like a long list, but it's just a few of the things you can do. There's all a lot more that goes into putting on a live show. but in my opinion, this is the bare minimum of what you need to practice before you play.
Any show. And now this is not to say you should take years before playing a show. I see artists do that. They go to the other [00:10:00] extreme, and instead of playing any shows, they might like five years before they ever play a show. That's way too long. You should be able to put this together in a handful of months, like probably two to three months, you know, four to five tops, but two to three would be a good goal.
In my opinion, once you have your songs and then you can book the show and spend that time rehearsing your performance. Now you might be asking why this is all necessary and here's the scoop. There are two paths to success in the music business. And I mean, there's lots more, but these are two broad categories.
There's the long hard grind, and it can take you a decade or more before you see any indication of success whatsoever. There are bands out there that have played like this for years and they never go anywhere. And then all of a sudden. That one key change happens and an audience starts to catch on.
typically that long, hard grind involves playing a bunch of different local venues over and over trying to find What the band calls their audience or playing opening [00:11:00] slots for bands that have a totally different demographic than what you're going for, or playing shows with bands who don't care about their future.
And don't put any effort into marketing, the shows they play. So everyone at the show is your fan and the other band and bring anyone. And there's not really any benefit for you because you're not playing to anyone who hasn't heard of your band before.
The other path is you can put together a plan for your band and carefully select your target audience in advance. Because artists who say that are playing shows to find their audience. That is a joke. If you don't know who your target audience is, you've already made a mistake before you start any business.
And I say this all the time, a band as a business, you have to do basic market research before you jump in head first. So find. What your target audience is based on the music that you play. Now, you might have to adjust the music that you play. If you really want to go for a career, that's not to say you can't make it in [00:12:00] any genre, but sometimes you do have to adjust what you play.
If you want to have a specific target demographic, once you know that target demographic practice and rehearse and go through the tips that I shared earlier in this episode to make that performance. Now, while you're doing all of this, you also need to go to a bunch of local shows that share your target demographic and make friends with the artists who are playing those shows.
So you're already going to be in the scene, whether your target demographic, like I said, you don't want to say we're playing shows to find our audience. No. That is something that you establish before you ever set foot on the stage. There is no such thing as finding your audience, because if you don't know who your audience is, your audience, isn't going to know who you are.
That's what it comes down to. You have to go out there and know exactly who you're going for, or at least have a wide range of people, but you're not going to find an audience by doing a little bit of this, a little bit of that and kind of thing. Well, should we go this [00:13:00] way? Should we go that way? No, you are going to find an audience and you are going to target that audience before you ever play your first.
So now you've made friends with people who are in bands that share a similar target audience to you. they have a similar demographic in their fan base. Now it's time to schedule a dress rehearsal and invite 10 to 15 of those artists that you've connected with while you're going to local shows to come check out your dress rehearsal.
then you're going to implement everything you've practiced for the last few months and blow them away. Treat this as a show, not just a rehearsal. I mean, technically it's a dress rehearsal. It's in your rehearsal space, but you're going to treat this as a full on show as if you're playing to a hundred or 200 people.
Once you've played that set, talk to your new friends that you made in that scene and ask them if they'd be interested in playing a show with. once two or three other bands have said, yeah, they would like to play a show with you. It's time to pick your lineup and book [00:14:00] a show.
You are going to headline it. I know this is your first show, but you are going to headline. It doesn't matter. Even if it's a small 100 cap venue, you are going to headline it because this is your event. this is not just a show. This is an event.
So you need to have the proper branding, graphics, all that kind of stuff in place and use those to promote your bands, debut show featuring sets from the other local artists who are on the bill. Now you're going to talk to everyone, you know, who is remotely interested in the genre that you're playing and ask them to come to your show.
The opening act will ideally bring some of their fans. And some of those fans will leave before you're set. That's fine. That happens. But ideally your friends will stick around the ones that you made in those bands. and hopefully they'll have asked their fans to stay around and watch your set. That should be part of the deal. like I said, some people will leave. Don't sweat that there'll still be plenty of people there to [00:15:00] watch your debut show. The other bands have played and it's up to you and it is time to play the show.
Do not let any tech issues get in the way you're going to play the show. And you're going to keep playing until you're done. Don't stop to focus on any hiccups. Don't complain about things just to play an absolutely killer.
Even if everything is going wrong, you're just going to keep playing. Unless there's a safety issue that, you know, that's always the caveat. If there's a safety issue, speak up immediately, but if it's not anything to do with safety, just keep. At the end of that. Now you've played your first show and you've turned it from something that no one, but you would ever remember into a night that a lot of people might look back on in 20 years and say, man, remember that band who had never played a show before, but absolutely killed it during their debut.
Yeah, that was amazing. So you want to be that band and you can do that with some effort. I know it's a ton of work. It really [00:16:00] is. But if you're trying to make a career out of your music, You have to do that. You don't have any choice. It takes a lot of hard work to stand out from every other band ever who says they want to make it. and without that work, you aren't going to just become another face lost in the crowd.
So putting in this work will help you stand out from that crowd instead of thinking, there's no way we can ever do that. It's too much. Keep your attitude positive. So it's up to you to remember that.
Yes, you can do it in the, make it happen That does it for this episode of the Bandhive Podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in and listening. I really appreciate it. And I hope that this episode will help you either with your first show or if you've already played shows, it will help you get your set optimized for future. It shows that you. I'd love to hear what kind of prep techniques and rehearsals you do for your band.
So head on over to our Facebook group, by searching for Bandhive on Facebook or going to [00:17:00] Bandhive.rocks/group Slash group to be automatically redirected to the group and there will be a thread for this episode. Number 133 of the podcast where you can drop your thoughts and share what you and your band do to prepare for your shows and tours.
Again, that's Bandhive.rocks/group, or you can search for us on Facebook. We'll be back with another brand new episode next Tuesday at 6:00 AM, right here in your favorite podcast app until then I hope you have a great week stay safe. And of course, as always ki rockin'.
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