Artist development comes in many forms. Here we provide information for all artists in the hopes of growing their music and ministry base.
YOUR FIRST LIVE PERFORMANCE
It’s your first show as a band and you are really excited. Maybe even nervous. You’ll play every song twice as fast or it will be sooo slow. Your fingers will cramp up and have a dry mouth. But you do have one advantage; no one is expecting you to be good. To be honest, they are here for you and not so much your talent. They are friends, church members or family.
Now chances are the crowd knows you. Assuming they are family and friends, they are out there watching and smiling. They are excited for you, perhaps even a little proud. (Just ask your Mom.) Ok, they’ve seen you at work and at the church, explaining the different kinds of equipment, or using phrases like reverb explosion and sub-woofer components to describe garage collection of music and musical equipment. Now it’s time for your musical art to shine, to put on your best performance, even dress the part and really give them the what-for show.
Eminem famously said ‘you only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow.’ Blow equals shine. BUT that one time is not entirely true, because assuming you choose to keep performing and creating OR makin’ music, a chance to blow (shine) can come at any time on any given day. As your crowd grows and word spreads, you will have multiple chances to make a first impression and improve on first impressions.
Still, it’s best to hone your craft early, starting with your first show.
Getting to your scheduled date early has its benefits. Nothing worse than showing up and having to load right onto the stage and play. An early arrival means time to get situated, to meet the soundman or set your sound, the emcee, other artists, the promoter, etc., and establish when you’ll be playing and for how long.
Get your sound right
If there’s a sound-check, really take advantage of it. A long, narrow brick barroom with high ceilings is not going to sound the same as a sound-proofed garage. Don’t settle, there is a soundman or you have a trusted right ear (your own person) there for a reason. Louder is not always better in the case of adjustments. There’s not enough time to get into the shapes of different sound waves, but it’s easy to overdo it on bass and create a muddy, farty sound or have the tenor sounding tenny and shrill. Send the soundman or friend whose ear you trust to the back of the room, play a song, and watch for the thumbs up. Remember monitors are speakers and that volume you use can influence the sound you place thru your house speakers.
Keep it short, sweet and to the point
The promoter or emcee will tell what is expected for your performance time. There is an order of the service. Be aware of those expectations as this determines your music time. But let’s have our own guidelines. It’s a good rule of thumb to leave the audience wanting more, not less. 45 minutes is too long? 15 minutes is probably too short? But 20-27 minutes is a good approximation of how long you should be up there. That means music not 3 songs and the rest is talking. People came to hear you make music, not talk. Now, the people watching/ listening to you won’t get burned out if you are aware of general concert expectations. No one is expecting a super hour long concert. It’s Sunday night and everybody’s missing their TV shows to be here, so only play as long as normal worship service to accommodate their attention spans.
It’s not supposed to be a Grammy speech, but typically bands will acknowledge all the people that went into making a show happen, as well as any other acts sharing the bill. Really try to show your appreciation of thanks to those who really support you and to the venue, pastor, promoter and those in attendance. Keep in mind, do it right and you get invited back to the venue or to be a supporting on future shows.
These days everyone is in band and/or has experienced some kind of public performance, so no need to be nervous; no one is expecting anything.
Practice everything until you can play it backwards. If you’re going for the aloof, nonchalant performance, practice pretending that you don’t care about what you’re playing. It might be good to invest in a full-length mirror for the practice space, one where you can practice your delivery, repeatedly.
Ask and ask again to sing. It is hard sometimes to recognize a chance that is meant for blowing (shining), but sometimes that opportunity comes once in a lifetime and you find yourself in the moment, with only one shot.
Be ready to start your dream.
TIME FOR A CHECK-UP
This story was recently sent to us. It resonated with us. After reading it a few times, we began to examine, the music and mission. What we realized was not what we set out to do. So our check up allowed us refocus on our music and mission with a greater energy and passion. This check up applied to Classic Artists Records and to each partner individually.
In the 1990s, a company called Boston Chicken was a serious competitor to Chick-fil-A. Their goal was a billion dollars in sales by the year 2000. Chick-fil-A insiders were nervous and began a series of conversations about how to grow faster. Eventually, the conversation reached the boardroom and a roundtable discussion on how they could get bigger faster.
Truett Cathy, the legendary founder of Chick-fil-A sat quietly at the end of the table. Some say he wasn’t engaged in the discussion at all. That changed when he began banging his fist on the table. He said “Gentlemen, I am sick and tired of hearing you talk about us getting bigger!” He paused and said, “What we need to be talking about is getting BETTER! If we get better, then our customers will demand we get bigger.”
That shifted the conversation of the meeting and solidified the strategy of Chick-fil-A. Instead of reaching a billion in sales, Boston Chicken filed for bankruptcy. And it was Chick-fil-A that did a billion dollars in sales.
Truett Cathy’s business lesson can also be applied to the performing artist. Maybe you swap the terms “bigger” and “better” for “growth” and “consistency.” However you look at it, when an artist gets better, growth is sometimes the result. Many artists can reference the book of Acts for the early church. Experienced tremendous growth as a result of good teaching, meeting needs, and prayer grew the church. For a performing artist, that means practice, use solid business practices in scheduling appearances and recording, practice and don't be afraid to pray, often.
One of the best ways for you, the artist to get better is to evaluate everything you’re doing in light of your mission, vision, calling and strategy. Examine your music, concert staging, business practices and most importantly your communication within the group and with the public. A heartfelt all around check up can energize with renewed passion and a better focus on direction for your music, ministry and possibly your career.