In a time where music fans are spending more hours staring at screens than ever before, live shows are becoming crucial opportunities for audiences to experience music in person and in other ways they aren’t able to through digital formats. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll be able to play routine sets on stage and wow crowds just because they’re starved for meaningful in-person experiences. Putting some real thought and resources into making your live shows unpredictable, compelling, and memorable could mean the difference between winning over the listeners you play for or not. Here are three tips for injecting excitement into your live shows:
Team up with an artist and focus on visual accompaniment
Working with an artist is something that can help the visual elements of your music stand out, and this doesn’t just apply to show posters and album art. An experienced artist can add a sleek, compelling visual element to your live shows through lighting, projections, props, costumes, and more. If you can’t afford to pay an artist to help, focusing on adding creative, visual elements to your shows is the next best thing, but what you end up creating probably won’t be as strong as it could be from working with an expert. Today, more and more bands are incorporating the sort of production values that are normally associated with major artists. By extending your focus and energy to the visual elements of your shows, you can get great results.
Debut something new
Whether it’s a new video, song, or big announcement, revealing something new is a surefire way to make your live shows more memorable and exciting. Most artists save big debuts for social media, but building anticipation for a show by telling your fans that something new will be revealed or performed at your performance can help turn a show into an exciting event. If the new item in question is something significant like an album release announcement or news that your band has been signed, you can always livestream it for the world to see.
Add in timed elements of surprise
Something like an unexpected burst of confetti or an unannounced musical guest can surprise your audience and transform your performance into something they’ll remember. Elements of thoughtfully timed surprises in your set should tie in with your set and can be visual, musical, or both. This could be things that happen at certain emotionally charged points in your songs, or something that occurs throughout your entire performance. It’s important to be 100% transparent about your plans with the venue you’re performing at beforehand. Some venues will be fine with confetti or fog machines, but others have strict rules against them. So ask permission first. Audiences usually resonate with surprises. Venues are a different story.
We often think of band practice as a purely musical endeavor, but leaving room for risk, newness, and non-musical creativity in your performances can bring an entirely new energy to your shows.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.