Building Stage Presence And Confidence
Gigging To Increase Your Band's Stage Presence
I think a lot of bands forget that the best way to eliminate stage fright is to perform. Performing is the pinnacle of being a musician. This is also the best way to be building stage presence and confidence in yourself. Experiencing first hand what people really feel about your music is what makes writing the music worthwhile in the first place.
Besides that, playing live tightens the band. You will start to feel the changes in the music as they happen. You will notice and fix timing issues before they become evident to your audience. You will start finding clever ways to enhance your music with out hurting it. You will start to find new things about your instrument that you didn't know about before.
You will begin to become comfortable. This is the key to stage presence! Enabling yourself to look like your aren't a scared jackrabbit on stage reigns supreme for getting the fans, and earning those extra tips when it comes to gigging and eventually touring. And face it folks, if you can't get on stage without falling around fumbling fingers on the fretboard (say that three times, fast...) you probably will not make it to the fancy lights and big front of house sound board in front of 3000 fans who bought your tickets. You possibly won't even get very many gigs at coffee houses and clubs.
Such things will start to bring you to new levels of play if you treat the music right. So if you plan to play get some gigs to increase your band's stage presence!
A Little Self-Respect
Goes a long way
Just like the practicing for a speech in front of a mirror, I suggest playing in front of a mirror. Now you probably don't have a mirror big enough for the whole band... This is something for your personal practice time. For the whole band? Video camera from different angles. Besides giving yourself the needed viewing it will also give you something to throw out to YouTube or Vimeo!
And it works just like that. Work on how you look holding your guitar/bass/drum sticks/keyboard/vocals. Stay focused in on watching your own face just like you were watching an audience. Scrutinize your own actions the way you feel a concert goer would. If you can't hold your own against yourself while trying to play/sing, how are you going to in front of 3000+ people.
Okay, that may sound a little far fetched, but my first gig with Cedaridge was for a 4th of July Barbecue, and there were 2000+ present; heck of a break in, huh? I had a month to learn the list. I had never played country music before... luckily the bass player I was replacing said he would stand in on the one's I didn't know, and I still feel in debt to him for that one.
But in retrospect, we must have looked like mannequins on the basketball court that summer, especially compared to the energy that False Hope has now.
That's another thing, really not pertaining to this page, but I can't emphasize enough that you need to do music that you feel passionate about. The energy will be built in and you won't struggle with building and keeping energy once on stage.
So my questioning goes like this:
* Do you still have to watch the main guitar player's fingers the whole night?
* Do you have to watch your own fingers on the keys or fretboard all night?
* Can you concentrate on what someone else is saying while you continue to play?
* How good are you at multitasking?
* Can you text and sing your part at the same time?
* Can you sing the note your are playing?
And there's more, but I think you get the point. The more you can play this music in your sleep, the better you are going to be at it.
The gigs that build character
Most bands have the issue of first time failure in their minds as they push themselves on the stage that first time. Some people will always have it and aren't really ready for show biz.
One way to move slowly into the spotlight, so you don't have "the deer in the headlights" issue, is family and friend venues. Turn your rehearsals into a venue.
Yeah, get a BBQ cookout together then play for the family and friends that come to eat. No need to charge anything, it's a practice. Do it as a "potluck" and you won't even be out much for the food.
One band I know locally did this and succeeded quite well. They built a following, while building a song list, and built their courage at the same time. Killing three birds with one repetitive stone. That is until they were old enough to get in the clubs and start making money. At which point they brought family and friends along and packed every place they went to. And again, that is what the owners like to see.
* Getting the right management
* Using the press
* Make money merchandising CDs, T shirts and videos
* Legal matters
* For rock bands and cabaret acts
* Big name interviews
* Tips from top managers
* Written by music business professionals
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It covers choosing band members and the band name, deciding on the direction of the project, establishing the business structure, and getting the right management in place.
Once you have the framework you can start creating press interest both locally and at national music press level, we point you in the right direction. And don't forget your fans - look after them and they'll look after you.
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Slightly Bigger Venues
Move on to small clubs, careful of taking the line: "We'll let you play for the door." There are ways to cheat the door and there is no way to prove any one took any money out. Also, just exactly how much money do you think you'll get from 20 people in the small club. However, if you know 50 or more of your own friends are coming, then by all means take the door!
Also, careful on passing a tip jar. Several states have passed the panhandler laws, and this applies in many cases, to passing the hat. You could get in trouble for it, and you definitely won't make enough to pay the fine.
Don't worry about having a big sound system or lights at this point either. Just your amps and something to run vocals through. There are several small PAs on the market for less than 300 dollars. That way you won't be having to be too crazy with renting a trailer that you can't afford yet. In fact, one band in Tulsa have come up with a way to haul their gear on their bicycles, even the drums.
This type of gig is also good to fall back on when you are adding to your list and need to work on filler material.
This is also a good gig style to test the waters and get honest opinions about music you are writing.
Get involved with your audience, especially at this stage. If you show some friendship and concern for them, they will return the favor. If you interact with them on stage, it can reap benefits. False Hope has a family that now regularly has us out to do birthdays and weddings. They started as fans at one of the small clubs we played years ago!
It's not good to get overly friendly, possibly, but then again you never know when you might have an understudy for a sick guitar player out there, or the leader of your Street Team when you start growing. But it's like any business, work the client, but also realize there are boundaries that shouldn't be crossed and ethics that need to be considered. Palling around is one thing but use your judgment wisely!
Like Anything Else
You will have to find your niche
Another aspect for the small venues is, they help you to push out of a shell. Start your movement, or even choreography. Look like your enjoying what you're doing. If you do then the crowd will get more interactive.
When that happens then you can start building your following as well.
So, building a following is yet another important reason to use the small venues. Getting people to listen isn't that hard. Maintaining a following is a lot like keeping friends. How do you keep friends? Communication.
Now would be a good time to be handing out some of the better practice songs that you were supposed to be recording early on, burned to CD of course. And make sure they aren't copyrighted material unless it belongs to you. It would also be a good time to hand people a business card.
Anyone worth talking to or shaking hands with is worthy of your business card. Handing out business cards is how we get some of our new venues. Weddings, birthday parties, family reunions, biker rallys, many of our side line gigs have come from someone who needs a party band at a venue in the future.
I'll get into the subtlety of business card design later, because this is a good way for your imagination to shine. The more you use your imagination, the easier it will be for them to remember you as a picture as well as a person. But be careful to keep that image constant.
Build your brand. You can go anywhere in the world and even if Coke is written in Cantonese, you can figure out where to buy one. Why? The type of font, the style of logo, even the color can be all important. And once you find it, stick with it.
The time to be different is with your music, your instruments, your clothes, your album covers, but try to keep your image fairly constant.
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Eliminate the Jukebox Syndrome
And kill it early
I have been in and have seen more than once, bands who just act like a jukebox. The only interaction is when someone comes up to see if you know a song.
This can do as much to damage a band, as it can to enhance it. Yes, you might get some rave reviews from fans of your genre, who noticed that you nailed the lead note for note to the way so-and-so played it at Madison Square Gardens in 1986. But for the other 98% of the people who came to hear you, they want to be entertained and have a good time. Why pay a ten dollar cover charge when the bar down the street has the same music for 50 cents per play?
And don't be afraid to let your own music shine through. Careful with that one, because, and I repeat this several times in this series, you don't want to ruin Sweet Home Alabama by making it sound like Paradise City, even though you might have a killer rendition.
One idea for that is to have an extended play of your set, do the original first, then medley it into your other version, just to show people that you aren't being an evil band, trying to butcher the original.