We are only a short, sweet space away from announcing the winner to our recently launched competition that’ll see the chosen one take to the stage alongside the talented Professor Green for his final tour date show at London’s Roundhouse. So it seemed only right that we share some top tips on how to prepare for such a performance ahead of the evening to follow (December 11).
Whether you’re an artist who’s managed to secure yourself gigs in the past or you’re a newbie that’ll be gracing the stage for the first ever time, it’s only natural to feel nervous about a live performance, and what’s the best way to eliminate that you ask? Preparation, preparation, preparation!
It may be a given, but with the right amount of preparation and practice you’ll be in your element within minutes of making your entrance and will win over the crowds in no time, which is ultimately the aim of the game.
Gathering up some words of wisdom learnt along the way by various artists and music industry professionals, below is a collection of tips that every music artist should keep in mind if they’re hoping to pull off an effortless live performance that’ll leave a long-lasting impression on those watching.
Practice In Front Of An Audience Beforehand
Practice so that your performance is rehearsed to the full and becomes ingrained. Filming it and/or performing a few dry runs in front of trusted friends or family will hopefully make your performance second nature and you'll know exactly what you will be doing when on stage.
Analyse Your Favourite Artists
Analyse some live performances by your favourite artists and see how they act on stage. See their mannerisms, how they use the space on stage and how they interact with the audience; this will help you incorporate elements of performance into yours.
Practice Entrances And Exits
Practice entrances and exits: Also practice how you’re going to walk on stage. At the end of the set, practice how you might walk off stage. Other things to consider: Are you going to have the band start playing and then enter? Are you going to exit while the band is still playing and then reappear for the final applause?
Practice Talking To Your Audience
There are times to talk and times to let your music do the talking for you. If you’re comfortable talking to audiences, I still suggest making decisions on where in your set you’ll do so and decide on a theme. Instead of leading in each song with “I wrote this song…” try saying a few lines about the theme of the next song and then go right into it. Remember, even if you’re expert at talking spontaneously to your audience, talking between numbers changes the energy of your show. If you want to maintain high energy, when you do speak, say less and play more.
Have A Pre-Show Ritual
Try creating a pre-show ritual. You would be surprised how many singers have one! Whether it's something as simple as having a game of pool two hours before the show or something more complex like an hour gym session followed by a walk and ending up with you watching your favourite TV show. If it works for you and puts you at ease, do it!
Try and avoid taking in caffeine! You may think it will boost your energy but it is more likely to give you even more jitters and nerves. Not to mention it is bad for the vocal chords!
On Stage Tips
What To Do When Something Goes Wrong
Your amp catches fire, your microphone breaks mid-song, or a gnarly case of food-poisoning kicks in mid-set — things go wrong on stage, no matter how experienced and professional you may be. The answer? “The moment there is any weakness or hint of failure on stage, you need to reassure the audience,” says Darwin. “Do something to indicate, ‘Okay, something happened, but I’ve got this,’ and then move on.”
For musicians, Darwin cites singer and songwriter Livingston Taylor as a prime example. “I saw him teaching at a convention for variety entertainers and he offered a great story,” Darwin recalls. “If you’re a singer, at some point, you’re going to be on tour and lose your voice. Taylor said that he never cancels a show, even if he can barely croak. He goes in, sings one song, and at the end, says something like, ‘As you may have noticed, I have a touch of laryngitis and I’m struggling right now. If you feel like you’re not getting what you paid for, please go to the box office and they’ll refund your money. I’m going to stay here and do my best with what I’ve got.’ And almost nobody has ever taken him up on that offer.”
Sometimes acknowledging and taking control of imperfections in your show can make the overall show even stronger, Darwin continues. “When you do that, you get the audience on your side. There should never be an adversarial relationship between performer and audience. It’s all about getting through things together.”
Maintain Eye Contact
Always look at the audience or just above them, not at the floor. They are here to see you so look their way. If you need to pick a spot to focus on where no one is sitting, do it.
Show emotion to the crowd. Look happy to be there and interact with them during and after songs. Showing them that you are having fun will, over time, loosen you up to the point nerves will never be an issue and you will be itching to get up on stage.
Use The Stage
One way to improve your performance on stage is to use the whole stage. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to walk over every inch of it, but make use of it. Your performance is not only about your voice. Whether you’re stood with a mic stand or handheld, you can still move around more at the upbeat parts or even use your arms to highlight emotional parts of the song. Getting close to the front of the stage helps with connecting to the audience.
Try and have energy in your performance. Use the stage, go from side to side and interact with the fans. If it's an appropriate song jump around and avoid being stood there doing nothing. Have your spatial awareness about you. As long as you are confident in your abilities, entertaining should come naturally.
Dress For Success
Comfort, on stage, is key. You don’t want outfits that inhibit movement, you want outfits that let you feel free, and make you feel like a baller. Dark clothes are a great way to go, as they hide form and make you feel more mystique. But, if you’ve got the physique, I’d suggest choosing some clothes that catch the eye. Especially, small accessories, like hats, that have colours like indigo, orange, yellow, or red. These colours catch the eye, and help keep eyes focused on you. Also, colour is known by medical science to sub-consciously affect mood.
Tips provided via: openmic; discmakers; askaudiomag; inacoustic
You might also want to check out our previous #schoolme piece, Ten Top Rehearsal Tips For Powerful Performances, courtesy of the one and only Jeannie Deva, which can be found here.