Remember those golden moments on Sesame Street, where the two parts of a word would squeeze together and teach us how to say something new? Let’s see if we can make that magic happen again…
Let’s assume that you’re a performing songwriter (if not, you’re still welcome to read along – grab a coffee and get comfy). This means that you’re writing and performing your own songs. Let me say this before we even get going – I like you already. You’re among my favourite people.
G… oals… Goals!
In the moment that we’re on the stage, performing our live show for an adoring audience, we have two primary goals for the show:
- Use our fabulous original songs to entertain a wider audience, to reach more people and earn lifelong adoring fans, and
- Reward our audience for coming to see our live show instead of listening to Spotify instead.
In a world in which fewer people are enjoying live music, and more people are enjoying music via a streaming service, we must be grateful to those who give us their time and attention (and, let’s face it, a little bit of their money) while we sing our songs. That puts them in a special category of music lovers, in a couple of ways:
- they’re positioned to provide us with immediate feedback on our music (applause, insight, etc.), and
- they’re ready to become our biggest fans, if we play our cards right
But Isn’t The Music The Reward?
Of course, we want to give them memorable musical moments, but those are in the songs already (right?). So, what can we do for the live audience that will make them glad they came out? We have to give them something that can only be experienced within the room, something that’s only meant for them because they’re special. If we’ve already prepared to give them great performances of great songs, then it’s time to consider the stuff that happens between the songs. This is the time to get creative, make it special for the audience, and build memorable moments that aren’t musical moments.
Too many performers’ live shows crash and burn at this point, because all the effort has been focused on the songs, not on the moments in between the songs. Whether we tell confusing stories that we make up in the moment, or stories that run too long without creating something memorable, or we tell no stories at all, these are just excuses for not preparing a reward for our audience. One more possibility – the most dire possibility, and yet an all-too-common occurrence to be avoided – telling a story to explain the song. Hey – we’re songwriters, right? So, why doesn’t the song explain itself? Since we won’t get the chance to explain our song before it streams on Spotify, we shouldn’t be explaining it at our live show. That is no reward for an attentive audience, it’s just an excuse for unfinished songwriting. If we’re doing this, it means our songs are missing some parts of the story they’re supposed to tell, and we’re probably not even going to give the audience a great musical moment.
Sesame Street Saves The Day
No More Excuses! Instead, here’s some word fun to help us remember the goal. Start with the word EXCUSE and blend it with the word LIVE to come up with EXCLUSIVE.
EXCUSE... LIVE... EXCLUSIVE!
EXCUSE... LIVE... EXCLUSIVE!
Let this be a reminder to ditch the excuses and create something exclusively meant for that terrific live audience who came out to see our show!
If you like what you read above, maybe you'd like to work with Allister at Tilted White Shed? Reach out through the Contact Us page.