Making great music often requires uninhibited self expression. As musicians, we create some of our best work by removing filters on our thoughts and actions. If we come up with ideas that don’t fit the larger context of our work, we easily discard them later. But when it comes to the things we talk about on stage, that same unchecked expressiveness many of us use to write, record, and produce music could end up alienating our audiences and potentially damaging our careers in more serious ways. If you’re new to performing live, here are a few things you should avoid talking about when you’re up on stage:
As songwriters, we like to think that all of our creative decisions are intentional and 100% up to us. A lyric written about a personal experience or chord progression composed spontaneously probably feels generated right there in the moment and only by you, but the truth is that a lifetime of musical influences and hidden tendencies are at play each and every time you try to make music. We might think the new songs we write are comprised of ideas we’ve never explored, but what we’re really doing is piecing together a countless number of old memories, habits, and loved songs from other artists. There’s no way to completely negate a life of musical experiences, but taking a short music cleanse can help break habits and inject new energy into your songwriting practice.
Lots of musicians make music with the intention of sharing their work with the world. The main function of being a serious musician is giving music with people, whether it’s through live performances, recorded songs, or both. But making music available for audiences is a serious choice with consequences we don’t often give much attention to as musicians.
For many music fans, a feeling of intimacy is what makes them feel most connected to the songs they love, whether they’re being played at home or live on stage. But from a musician’s perspective, creating music that feels a certain way when it’s recorded is often challenging to replicate in a live setting where the pressure of having one chance to get things right often dominates the performance. Intimacy in live performances can be a big challenge for musicians, it’s one of the characteristics that make playing on stage special, so it’s something you should care about.
Playing in a major city is always an exciting experience. While it takes a lot of planning to set up a successful show, it can also be very rewarding in the end. The most obvious advantage of playing in a major city is that you get exposure to more audiences and to different niche groups that might not exist in smaller towns. But there is also more competition, which is why planning, strategy, and flexibility are key for playing concerts in major cities.
Fortunately, we live in the age of social media and we can start spreading the word about our upcoming show to people beforehand. Even if we don’t have a fanbase in that city, we can still target certain audiences, demographics, and people who listen to artists who have similar sounds to us. This will not only build word of mouth marketing, but it will also lead the way for playing in more venues and selling more tickets. Read on for 10 tips to build an audience in a major city:
On the surface, few things are as revealing about a person as the sort of music they claim to like. Think, for a moment, about the major genres of music out there and the social and economic stereotypes associated with each. For decades, music has been used as a social tool to figure people out by categorizing them into neat, predictable boxes. Musical stereotyping has always been problematic, but in 2019, it’s also becoming woefully inaccurate about not only music fans, but also musicians. Today, music is bending and shifting into new styles that borrow from a spectrum of all genres and eras like never before. As musicians, we’re doing ourselves a massive disservice when we listen to music we think we like and nothing else.
There’s no getting around the fact that being confined to an apartment or dorm room is a major challenge for a serious musician. Maintaining positive relationships with other musicians is tough enough, but throwing non-musicians into the mix like roommates and neighbors is something that makes writing music and practicing even more complicated. But look around for musicians who’ve thrived in similar challenging conditions, and you’ll find that lots of people manage to make great music while living in less-than-ideal spaces like apartments, basements, and dorm rooms. Here are three tips to help if you’re a musician working in a challenging living situation:
Unestablished bands often have the experience of being in the middle of a long tour they’ve booked themselves with having no idea if what they’re doing is paying off or not. DIY touring can be filled with unpleasant experiences, whether it’s playing in front of empty rooms night after night or having to skip meals and sleep in the van to save money. Most bands know the end results of what they want to have happen through touring, but it can be tricky recognizing the small successes it takes to make big things happen. If these three things are happening for your band through DIY touring, then you’re doing something right: