Tough Love: What are you doing to get them to come back?

W​hen you have a big crowd, it is dangerously easy to feed off their energy. When the room is empty, it is stupidly hard to create something with momentum, and it feels like you’re bombing even if you’re hitting every single note. Why is that? I mean, thinking about it logically, that makes no sense.

All of us complain that we’re not getting enough people to come out to our shows. We promote it on Instagram and virtually beg people to come to our gig.

I​ use the word “gig” in a derogatory way. I was careful not to use the word “show” because that is a massive part of our problem, isn’t it – we’re not putting on much of a show.

In recent years, I’ve done a little growing. I use to think that putting on a good show meant I had to bounce around like Angus Young on 666 grams of coke and a car battery attached to his nutsack.

aka… Well, just Angus Young on a Thursday.

B​ut I have learned that you don’t have to be having a seizure on stage for people to have a good time. Maybe that works for me, but that doesn’t mean it will work for you! Perhaps you’re a singer-songwriter with a lot of heart. You don’t need to bounce around a lot (Hell, you probably shouldn’t do that)!

A​re you bored with your set?

Well, then your audience will DEFINITELY BE BORED. Although it is common to get a little tired of singing the same songs over and over and over and… (you get it) If you’re honest with yourself, you know damn well when your set is like a weekend at grandma’s house. Sweet to see her for about ten minutes, but then you start to look around and notice that it smells kind of funny, she will start saying something racist, and you eventually die of boredom.

Thanks for the cookies Gram Gram, but… YA BORING

I​ want you to think of the best concert you’ve ever been to! Close your eyes for a second and think about it…

Okay, please open them and continue to read.

Lots of lights, huh? Surely some instrument swapping. Maybe you were close to the stage, and you could make eye contact with the artist?? Isn’t that something special!? I remember going to a concert, Colby Caillat opened, it’s still up for debate between my brother, Lance, and I about who she winked at. (F*** YOU LANCE! IT WAS ME!)

Dear God, let it have been me.

Now, I can’t say I​’m a huge fan of hers, but that concert sticks out in my mind, and I know it sounds silly, but I started listening to her a lot more often after she winked at Lance… 

Shit… I mean me. She winked at me.

The overall point is, you need to rethink what you are currently bringing to the table.

W​hat are you doing now?

List out how your performance goes. It’s better if you write it down (proof you’re taking it seriously).

You don’t need to be acting the fool to engage with your audience, but if you can’t think of anything other than the fact that you’re playing an instrument while singing. What makes you different? What makes you so unique, and why would you think you deserve the success you feel like you have earned?

I’m not saying you’re not special! I’m saying – what are you doing to help others see that you are unique. 

The solution to this problem is a cop-out on my part. You simply need to sit and think about it. You are the one that is going to save yourself. The ideas that make your act – YOUR ACT – will be uniquely your own (or a copy of something you’ve seen, which is totally fine).

You want to incorporate your dog into your show. Do it. You want to dress in sequence plaid and do reggae covers of Sonny and Cher – odd but okay! 

H​ow do you come up with some fresh ideas? Well, that’s the fun part! Go out to a lot of concerts! Watch your favorite bands!

  • What part of the show moved you?
  • What did they do that made you want to come back?

Don’t get caught up on the money going into it. You can make your own version of the stage. You can figure out how to do almost anything. 

You’re going to make mistakes. You will change the show-up, you’re supposed to do that. It takes time to perfect playing live. It takes time to become irresistibly magnetic. I haven’t figured that part out yet. Once I have it down, I’ll let you know. 

If at first you don’t succeed, you’re going to the hospital.

Take a good hard look at that stage – How does your stage look? 

If you want a different backdrop, it’s pretty straightforward to go buy some 2×4’s and construct something! I know that sounds freaking nuts, but you can do that! Some PVC pipe is easy to use (and stupid cheap) get a sheet and paint some stuff! WHY THE HELL NOT! You are insanely creative! USE THAT!

The best thing is – the stranger the concept, the more me likely it is to be remembered / The more likely you are to be talked about. That’s kind of incredible if you think about it. 

Start asking – W​hy not – Instead of Why

W​hen it comes to your act, and you’ve come to a new idea, change your question from why to why not. I know that sounds like a piece of advice from Cosmo, but it has drastically changed the way I perform.

I’m pretty sure that’s the wrong Cosmo.

A​re you having fun yet?

F​inally, I want to focus on you. Like I said at the beginning, if you are feeling a bit stale, it’s okay. We all feel like this from time to time. Your show should be fun for everyone else… but the most crucial person in the show is YOU! Are you not entertained? That’s a sure sign you need to change things up. It doesn’t have to be lighting, stage design, costumes, or even song selection. I highly recommend dedicating time to creating something you can be proud of! Think outside the box!

Wait, I don’t get it…

G​et excited! This is where things change! Even though you won’t be able to do every single thing you think up, you will create something.

Remember this, if you’re bored with your show, your audience is bored with your show.

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