Mistakes Musicians Make When Gigging [GUEST POST]

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This is a guest post from Shaun of Independent Music Advice, a website dedicated to increasing the business knowledge (and income) of independent musicians.

I’ve been watching a lot of live gigs recently. Some of the shows I’ve witnessed have been really good, and others…not so much. In terms of maximizing the outcome of every performance, most musicians simply aren’t doing enough.

Here is how a typical gig plays out for many artists:

  1. Get a gig.
  2. Sort out what they’re going to perform at the gig, and practice the routine until they feel comfortable.
  3. Let their friends know they are performing a show.
  4. Turn up on the night and carry out their performance.
  5. Mention their website once very fast once their performance is over.
  6. Hang around for a bit then go home.

Can you see any problems here? Without going into the lack of promotion that has probably occurred (a whole different topic for another day), it’s the last bit that I want to bring to your attention. So let’s say you’ve just had a great performance, and people were really into the music and paying attention. They are probably open to hearing more music, or learning more about you.

Despite this interest that develops among crowds after a great show, none of the musicians I’ve seen recently took this opportunity to feed the crowd’s curiosity a bit more, and instead left the stage with nothing more then a round of applause.

So, what should you be doing once your performance is done? In this case I think it may be more helpful to learn from other’s mistakes…

Mistake 1: Not providing contact information effectively (if at all)

As I mentioned above, many artists tend to quickly mumble their website at the end of their performance. I don’t know why, but this is a common thing I noticed. Maybe they mention it fast because of nerves, or maybe I don’t fully catch it because I wasn’t expecting them to say it at that particular moment. Either way, they’ve lost the chance to get me (and others in the crowd) to go back to their site.

A lot of musicians don’t give out any contact information, either. Most just end their set with a “thank you” and leave the stage to a round of applause. In fact, one act I saw even forgot to tell people his name (The audience actually had to ask him, to which he replied his name very fast like he was embarrassed or it wasn’t important). Yes the crowd liked you, but don’t you want them to become part of your fan base? If the crowd doesn’t know your name or how to find out more, they won’t remember you at the end of the night.

So what should you do? Make it obvious that you’re about to share your website and contact information. Give the crowd the chance to get their phones out and write down your website address.

A simple message like this works:

“Thank you so much for coming out. If any of you want to hear more of my material, please visit my website at [www.YourWebsiteName.com]. Once again, that’s www.YourWebsiteName.com. If you want any more information or just want to say hello, please come and talk to me after the show.”

Simple, direct, and polite, right? This gives people the chance to take down your details, and lets them know exactly what’s going on and how to find out more.

If you have a difficult website name to spell (or if it’s just an uncommon way of spelling a common name), make sure you also spell out your website address exactly. In fact, you may want to do that even if it’s a common name. Who’s to say everyone in your audience will be a good speller? Make yourself as easy to access as possible, and you will maximise the amount of new fans you retain from the show.

Mistake 2: Not offering the audience a product

One thing I don’t see often is bands letting the crowd know they can buy their music and merch at the show. To me, this doesn’t make any sense at all. You have just performed in front of a decent-sized audience, an audience that knows they will be watching live acts all night. They are clearly into your type of music, even if they haven’t heard of you personally before. But that’s what they’ve come out to do, hear new acts and have a good night. So why wouldn’t you try and ask them to help support you by purchasing music and merch?

When it comes to showcase events especially, audiences almost expect you to offer them a product. They often have spare change in their pocket in case they run into an act they like and want to buy their CD. As I’ve seen though, many musicians fail to take advantage of this. Don’t be shy to let people know you have music to sell. Simply mention it once your set is over to put the idea in people’s heads. You can then go round during the break or at the end, and ask people individually if they want to buy one of your CDs (The sooner you can do this after your set the better, you want to be fresh in people’s mind after all).

While you will probably get some rejections, if you had a good performance some people will being saying yes as well. Be okay with the fact that not everybody is going to want to buy your music, because once you’re okay with that notion it becomes much easier to ask in the first place.

Mistake 3: Doing nothing to stay “top of mind” amongst a crowd

One final thing that’s often not done well is ingraining your name (or website’s name) into people’s brains. If you’re performing at a showcase event or talent show, chances are there will be other acts performing there too. You might have a good set and have people cheering at the end, but how will that help you tomorrow if no one remembers your name or website?

You should mention your name a few times during your slot, to ensure that people remember it. People often need to hear things a few times before absorbing that information. You may want to mention your name a couple of times before you go into songs, during your songs, and a few times after. Make the way you say your name catchy so people find themselves humming it after. Tell a quick funny story or joke for people to associate your name with. Have your name on your clothes if you want. However you do it, make people walk away with your name stuck in their brain. Who knows, they may just look into you more when they have a free moment.

Conclusion

The live show is the lifeblood of many musicians’ careers. Not only does it allow you to get out there and impress people face-to-face, it also gives you the opportunity to get paid for doing so. Despite this, many musicians aren’t doing everything they can to make their shows a success. If you’re playing live but aren’t seeing any real results from it (more fans, subscribers, and money) then something is missing from the equation. It may be one of the things listed above.

And if you haven’t gotten round to gigging yet, what are you waiting for?


If you found this article helpful, then consider checking out the IMA Music Business Academy! This is a weekly online course that will fill you in on everything a independent musician needs to know about the music business. If you’re ready to fast track your music career and get things moving, then enroll today!

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  • http://www.vamnquis.co.uk/credit-cards Mundaytrevor

    Absolutely right – I once went to a gig where the support act had leafletters handing out flyers after the gig, entitled “Who the f*** were supporting {main band name}?” – reverse had the band website details and a promo code for an exclusive download. Certainly made me look them up afterwards!

  • @ryanmbrewer

    good article. i have a rather quiet stage persona. (which is the exact opposite of how i am in most social settings, but as a singer/songwriter it works for me)
    sometimes i’ll go a 4 hour set and only stop to talk 5 times. but it’s always to say something that involves my name and/or website.

  • http://www.musicclout.com A and R

    3 solid tips! Building up your live performance experience is a must for all musicians. 

  • http://www.imamusicbusinessacademy.com Shaun Letang

    That’s a good idea, a strong message can make people remember you. Nice tip Trevor, thanks a lot.

  • http://www.imamusicbusinessacademy.com Shaun Letang

    That’s interesting you say that,
    sometimes you do need to set your stage personality apart from your
    real personality. Glad to hear you still plug your details in every
    now and then though :)

  • http://www.imamusicbusinessacademy.com Shaun Letang

    Glad you liked. Agreed, live performances can be a good way of making money for musicians, so should be taken up wherever possible.

  • http://www.musicliveuk.com/home/wedding-bands Wedding band

    So may bands miss opportunities to promote themselves and on staege in front of your fans is the perfect place.