Every time we step on the stage to perform, or go “live” on social media with a performance or some other type of appearance, it’s incredibly similar to a job interview.
Think about it. The job interview is designed not merely to share information about your education and your experience, but really to give the interviewer an experience so powerful that they want more of everything that you do. It’s also the only chance you get to show that you have something unique and special to share. Doesn’t that sound like the moment you’d like to deliver from the stage, or from the radio appearance, or live on social media?
So, Tell Me A Bit About Yourself
There are the standard interview questions that make us all squirm from the discomfort:
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What makes you special?
- Why do you want to work for me?
- And the list goes on…
Regardless that you’re not interviewing for a job at a bank or a restaurant, you still need to prove yourself to your audience. Focus on your strengths, compensate for your weaknesses, deliver something that makes you stand out from other artists, and make your audience feel that you respect them and want to give them something special.
Look ’em In The Eyes
Who is listening when you step up to perform your music? For the sake of this conversation, let’s completely ignore Mom, Dad, Aunt Colleen, and the rest of your family, who love you even when you’re terrible on-stage. Sure, your typical audience will probably include some other die-hard fans, but will likely have more “interviewers”:
- Music lovers who haven’t heard you before, and who will need to be impressed
- Influential people who can do positive things for your career if you are remarkable on stage
And many of your fans will likely:
- want to keep finding new reasons to love you and to tell their friends about you, or
- be somewhat embarrassed to say they love your music if you aren’t remarkable on stage
Treat these people with respect. They probably have better places to be, and instead they’re giving you their time and attention. They are the reason you are on the stage, just like the potential employer is the reason you might be sitting through a job interview.
Don’t Lower the Bar
Would you ever tell an interviewer that you didn’t prepare for the interview? That maybe they should cut you some slack for not being ready for the interview? I’m betting you wouldn’t.
So why do so many performers introduce a song by saying something like:
- I only wrote this yesterday
- I haven’t quite learned this yet
- I’m nervous because I don’t really know this one
What kind of message does this send to the audience? I’ll sum it up in one word. AMATEUR. The performer is lowering the bar by saying, in essence, “prepare for something unremarkable”. Get off the stage!!!
Here’s your opportunity to turn up the WOW factor, and give them something remarkable to talk about with their friends and their colleagues. Show them something they haven’t seen or heard before.
Spit and Polish
What is it about a pop star performance, let’s say one by Michael Jackson, that leaves people talking about it? Every detail is considered. Not just the musical arrangement and performance, but also the choreography, the stage lighting, and the wardrobe. Every detail is considered with an eye towards making it contribute to a magical overall experience. You don’t have to be Michael Jackson to consider every aspect of your musical performance. What could you do, to make every detail of your performance just a little bit more special? Your hair and make up, your wardrobe, the way you move around the stage with confidence, all of these little details contribute to a larger experience for your audience. Stand out from the crowd, starting with your best musical performance, and framing it with attention to the other details that make up your presentation.
We’ve All Been There
This really isn’t hard to imagine, because we have ALL interviewed before. Think about your time spent as a member of the audience, listening to your favourite musical idol speak or perform. What is it, about their performance, that makes you a super fan? What is it that you want to emulate as a performer yourself?
We all have memories of a bad job interview, one that we wished we could do over. Think about every performance as if you are competing for a job, and learn from each one – the ones that go well, and the ones that leave the audience saying “don’t call me, we’ll call you”.
Do you have experience with a performance that “got you the job”? Or one that you wish you could go back and do over? Share a comment below.
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