After the mic checks and multiple tuning of your acoustic guitar, there’s usually that crystallizing moment or two when you realize you’re about to perform live in front of strangers. By strangers, we mean that it in the most literal sense because no matter what level you are at career-wise as a musician, from the fresh upstart to the world-beating, all-conquering multi-platinum juggernaut, playing a new track live for the first time means absolutely everyone who listens to it is a stranger. This is because they’re meeting a whole new version of your creative output for the first time or all over again.
Now for some of the more established acts, this tends to matter very little. They are already household names and fans would stay loyal to them even if they played chalkboard scratches all day. However, for the up and comers, which in all honesty make up for 90% of the current music industry, it can be an experience that sits right in between totally nerve-racking and downright scary. Sometimes the odds just really need to be in your favor. This means a receptive crowd, a good band behind you, great equipment, raw talent (this not being as important as people think these days) and a good stage presence.
All this seems very self-explanatory so we’ll cut to the chase, the most important thing has to be the track itself. People can tell when something is well-written and properly worked on, but in this case, it just needs to be catchy and memorable. Performing a popular cover also works, but let’s stick to the new song. When putting together that new track you’re hoping to play live, focus on making it easy to digest and most importantly, as cliche as this might sound, you must ‘play to the crowd’ i.e if you’re at a rock concert don’t give them pop vibes and if you’re at an acoustic-style gig stick to something soulful.
The trick is the simpler the better, it sounds like a straightforward formula and this is nothing against a large crowd of concert goers but they mainly require something that excites them. If the beat’s on point and the vamp is catchy, you might not win them all over but you’ll be respected enough to be listened to. This is how great artists start off, we first heard Ed Sheeran perform his debut hit single ‘You need me’ at a small venue in London and most of the crowd had no idea who he was but we all swear by how catchy that chorus was and how it stuck in our heads for days, long enough for a few of us to search for his tracks online. Long story short, be memorable and do that by being catchy, vibrant and exciting, plus if you can’t write get a songwriter… Or just buy one on Studio Base, just saying.