Recently, I found my way to a blog post about giving compelling business presentations and something struck me – the best time to market your band isn’t when you’re sitting behind a keyboard and rattling away on a website or tweeting YouTube clips at people.
It’s when you’re on stage.
And it’s not just the music. Anyone who has been to local shows knows that a good part of the audience is only half-listening to the music. Your job is to convince them that it’s worth paying attention… and the way to do that is to start moving.
From Zero to Guitar Hero
I started thinking about this when I read a blog post about stage presence over at Presenting Professionally, a blog that gives tips to business professionals about presenting. And I thought, really, what else is a concert than a big fancy presentation?
A lot of the times, bands will go up on stage, put their heads down, and start ripping on their instruments. If you’ve got a singer, maybe s/he will throw in a few hellos and goodbyes. But, really, the whole band has to be more engaged in the performance.
Mike Griffin, from Presenting Professionally, talks about this in a little more detail, using guitarists as an example of a compelling presentation:
“They may move to a different part of the stage to perform a solo. Or, maybe they’ll jump up and down as they’re playing the final note of a song to convey emotion.”
This made me wonder about the last time I saw a local show where the guitarists were really doing something crazy with their bodies. Musically, sure. But there’s a decided lack of emotion (or a surplus of stage fright) that keeps most amateur musicians pinned to the stage, statues with churning arms and hanging necks.
The truth is that there’s no better way to market your band than to give a memorable show. To give a memorable show, you have to present and be present.
The Science of Shows
Whenever I go to concerts for bigger bands, I’m not just going for the music. I’m going for the experience. That means lights, movement, action. Some of the best performances I’ve seen recently are from instrumental electronica bands like STS9, where extremely technical visuals help convey emotion and the experience:
Another stand-out is from The Neighbourhood, where frontman Jesse Rutherford sprints back and forth across the stage, jumping and pumping his fists and pointing at the crowd. He makes sure that the audience gets involved in the music, even if they have no idea who the band is.
Local shows are usually a lot more watered down. Why? Because there’s a lack of confidence and, consequently, a lack of stage presence. Sure, your band might not have the same sound guy or lights budget (or any budget, for that matter), but I think a lot of musicians today are forgetting that people who aren’t familiar with the band are going to remember the experience first and the music second.
So, interact with the crowd. Interact with your band mates. Do a little stage banter. If you make sure the audience remembers your band’s name after you leave the stage, you can make sure they’ll look you up online, later on, and that’s when all the stuff you’ve been doing to promote your band online will really come in handy.
Want to learn more? Check out For Bands.