What’s the secret to connecting with an audience? If you’re a solo performer, how do you give the people gathered to hear you a meaningful experience? What about for bands? Is it even possible?
The answer is yes… and, no.
YES magical moments are possible during your performance. And, NO you can’t “make” them happen.
Performers have various reasons for getting up in front of groups of strangers and supporters to sing and play original or interpreted music. Yet why do you really do it?
Motivations for a career in music are as diverse as the songs we sing. Many artists claim to be inspired to create similar meaningful moments to what they have experienced in the past:
“I want to help *YOU* feel the way *I* felt when I first heard [fill in name of song/artist/band].”
It’s an altruistic intention. But how can this be accomplished? Can a soloist or lead singer truly connect with the audience? What about the rest of the band?
While performing, find friendly faces and interact with your fans. They came to see you, or they came to hear good music. Smile, and direct the lyrics or your killer licks to various individuals. Talk to the crowd between songs if you have a mic; if you’re not a singer, talk to the people before and after the show. Most importantly, be yourself. That’s what makes your act unique. No one can appreciate your music if they don’t connect with you.
Prevent bumming the audience out with tuning issues, false starts, forgotten lyrics, and setlist confusion. You will perform the way you have rehearsed (though likely not as well). It’s probable that your very best musical moments will happen during band practice, when no one else is listening. So, on stage you can expect to bring about 80% of your best. Thus when you are well-rehearsed, you raise the bar. Eighty percent of chaos (poor rehearsal preparation) is still just…chaos.
You will perform the way you have rehearsed.
Keep in touch with your sense of wonder. What do you love about music and about performing? Remember that artist or song that inspired you long ago? The good news is that you CAN experience the wonder again. The other news is that you CANNOT, ever*, directly cause anyone else to have those awesome feelings. You just can’t, no matter how good you are**.
So what’s the point? How can you connect with the audience, and make a magical moment that will keep them coming back for more?
You have to feel the magic within yourself. Concertgoers seeking to see and hear something like what you are offering will be with you. Whether you are the bandleader or rhythm section, soloist or part of a 10-piece ensemble, when you are truly in touch with the magic that music creates for YOURSELF, you will be doing your job.
You have to feel the magic within yourself.
Audiences respond to authenticity. When you find a way to keep it real for YOU, to stay well-rehearsed, and to be present, right there in the moment with your audience, you will connect with the people who are on your wavelength. Some of them may have magical experiences just like you have had. One or two may choose to follow in your footsteps.
For everyone else, there’s always the next show.
*No, not ever!