If you’re an artist playing live gigs, you’d know that your work on stage doesn’t begin and end with the start and finish of each song…in fact, what you say on stage has a big impact on your image as an artist. Knowing how to use the small moments during the breaks between songs can break the wall that separates the performers from the audience, turning your set into a charismatic journey for your listeners.
Although, it’s the usually the lead vocalist that speaks with the crowd, anyone in the band with access to a microphone can and should communicate with the crowd. While a lot of the following may seem obvious, with you already doing them without realizing it, or more importantly, realizing how it actually benefits your band. However, it’s never a bad thing to have a mental checklist whenever you play a gig and enhance your banter with the crowd as well as with each other if you’re in a band.
- The Name of the Band
Although this one’s probably the most obvious one, there are more than a few instances wherein the artists on stage just do not say their name often enough. If you don’t have a poster behind you or a logo on the kick drum, you should say the name of the band on the mic often during your set. In fact, even if there IS a banner with your name behind you, still repeat your name since some people might not notice or might be so into your music that they miss it! If people are loving you, they’ll want to know your name so they can look you up and tell others about you (and we don’t want to risk missing out on that!). So be loud and proud with your name throughout the gig.
- The Names of the Band Members
Although usually the lead vocalist is the one to introduce the bandmates, there are so many ways this could be done: Each person can introduce himself/herself before or after a song, it could be during a song where everyone gets a spotlight solo or can be spread across different songs, the vocalist could simply introduce everyone in the band at the end of the gig or it might even be cool to have different band members introduce each other. If you really want to keep it very casual and downplay it, a simple line like “Hi, I’m Josh, we have Kenny on the bass, Rob playing rhythm and Jack on the drums. We’re **insert band name here**. Thank you all for coming” is just fine.
Whichever way you decide to play it out, it’s an important part of a performance not only because the band deserves it and will always appreciate the recognition, but people in the audience that are enjoying the show will be able to put names to the faces and also form a more personal connection with the band from that moment, whether or not they actually remember everyone’s name later.
- The Name of the Venue and/or Location
Although this may seem pointless to some, it is important to remember that people love to cheer when their town or venue is mentioned. Works every time. Not just that, but the management or whoever is paying you will always appreciate it and you earn brownie points. One good way to do this is by including the name during banters throughout the gig.
PS: Don’t forget to mention how great it is to be there!
- The Name of the Song
If you’re playing a well-known song that everyone knows, then this point is pretty much invalid. And if you’re a cover band and all your songs are familiar to the audience in general, then you probably can skip to the next point. However, if you’re playing less-known covers, or your own originals, then definitely mention the name of the song once before or after it’s played…or both.
- Grab some drinks!
Many a times, the success of your band on getting future gigs is directly related to the amount of alcohol the venue is selling. So you might as well give it your best shot. Give random toasts and shout-outs! It’s a party and you’re one of the hosts, so you can easily influence people to go to the bar, get a drink and enjoy themselves. It makes the gig heaps more enjoyable for everyone there and will lead to more sales for the business, which is nothing but a great thing for you!
- Check Out Our Website/Facebook Page!
At least once during the show, it’s worth getting your “Like us on Facebook/Follow us on Twitter” game on. If people like your music and have their phone in their hand, it’s a great way of catching them in the moment.
- The Next Show
You want to let your listeners know when you’ll be back at the same venue or if you have more gigs coming up. Announce it there if you remember or ask them to follow you on your website or Facebook Page. If they’ve stuck around until the end of your gig, then there’s a good chance you’ll they’ll want to see you play again. It’s also another way of getting your social media out there.
- Talk to your bandmates
Although this sounds obvious as well, it’s important to realize that as an audience, we love watching you interact with each other. If one of you is really great at bantering, engage your bandmates. Believe it or not, it makes us feel like we’re part of the conversation. Not only that but it gives the audience an idea of what you’re like beyond your music and goes a long way in setting your image. It also makes the whole gig more fun for the audience and separates you from the artists who get up on stage, play their music and leave. Remember, people remember how you make them feel…so have fun!
- Share offstage stories
If there’s a story (appropriate) to share with the audience, do it. The crowd loves getting a small peek of what you’re like as a real person and not just what they see on stage. Keep it short and sweet and if you tell it well, you have your audience charmed.
- Share the stories of your songs
People connect more intimately with a song’s meaning when you share it with them. When you’re introducing your songs, you could create this connection by asking what the audience has experienced, instead of telling them what you have.
For example, instead of starting with, “One day, I…”, try asking the audience the question, “Have you ever…?” By making it a question, you not only engage the crowd but also share your experiences before the song begins. This involvement and recognition closes the gap between you and the crowd and will further encourage them to respond to the content of the song and theme of the performance that goes with it.
- Tuner talk:
With one hand on the tuning pegs and one eye on the tuning pedal, it’s great to tell a joke with the time you have (please refrain from inappropriate or bad jokes. It’s awkward). You could comment on the local culture if you’re from a different town… “This morning we noticed… Is that like the thing out here?” or something you’ve noticed within that crowd or just share a story!
- Time to Sell!
This point is only valid if you have merch to sell. If you do, you have to let people know and make it easy for them to buy. Ideally, make the announcement about it before you play the final song, which should be the best one. If you can make it funny, even better. Maybe joke about how the proceeds will go towards beer. Keep it casual since you still have to prove that it’s all about the music! You can then shout the name of the song, preferably over some form of musical noise. Why? Because if you talk about your goodies after the last song, the climax and euphoria will lose its impact.
So have some things planned out to say and do on stage between songs BUT never rehearse it too much since it should come naturally. The more you do it, the easier it’ll get. And when it’s finished, let that last note stretch in the air, wave to the crowd with a big “Thank you!” and walk away like a boss.