PostHeaderIcon Successful Performing Artist: 20 Things You Need To Know


As a “performing artist”, you want to come across to your audience and other music business professionals as reliable, and professional in your work.

1. Wherever possible, give out written contracts or letters of agreement before hand. Check with your employer or agent the 7 days prior to the show, to make certain no details have changed.

2. If you are booked to play at a venue that you have not been to before, try and visit on a band night prior to your gig. It will make it possible for you to check access for the gear; where the stage or playing area is located; where to position your mixing desk and speakers; whether or not your cables need to be flown around fire exits; just what volume levels are tolerated, and what kinds of music the regulars enjoy most.

3. Always arrive at the venue in plenty of time to be able to complete a full sound check before the public arrive.

4. Always carry spares of things like fuses, cables, backing tracks, strings, or any other small item that could mean the difference between performing the gig or not.

5. Definitely take along an extra long main cable just in case the closest socket is does not work.

6. Safety first! – Purchase a mains power polarity checker (like a “Martindale” Ring main tester) and also a set of circuit breakers for all backline amps. No matter how badly your guitarist performed tonight, he doesn’t deserve to die!

7. Create a “set list” for each show. This should be adapted to the type of crowd that you now know frequent this venue (See tip no. 2). When you have rehearsed well, you will know precisely how long your set will last. Don’t go on stage late and overrun your contracted time. The venue owner’s license depends on all music ceasing at a certain time. You won’t want to be the person who gets the venue closed down!

8. Perform your set with no long gaps in between songs. Talk to the crowd to engage the audience yet make sure to keep focused on delivery the goods. A professional presentation and tight overall performance shows just how well rehearsed you are, and keeps your audience on the dance floor.

9. Practice a polished entrance and exit. Absolutely nothing is more unprofessional compared to a bunch of musicians meandering onto a stage holding the remains of a sandwich or pint, and then wasting several minutes chatting to each other, tuning up, jamming, smoking, adjusting their clothing, answering a their cell phone…. The list goes on! Believe me, I’ve seen it all! Wait for your performance to be called, then march briskly onto the stage and kick off straight into your 1st number. At the conclusion of the performance, the reverse should be observed. Don’t hang around trying to motivate the crowd to shout for an encore. Depart the stage as quickly as possible and then wait in the wing to see whether the audience want more.

10. Do not be observed on stage in the same clothes you were wearing in the soundcheck, or even while mingling with the crowd. Use the dressing room to put on your stage clothes and make-up just prior to your performance.

11. If you rent the sound system, take your own can of telephone cleaner/sanitizer. Rented microphones are almost never clean

12. Rehearse on your own time, not during the soundcheck!

13. Practice, the show completely, however always leave a “breathing space” of a day or two between the last rehearsal and the gig. Over-familiarity can make you complacent.

14. Be pleasant and business-like while dealing with staff at the venue. Particularly with the person who is paying you! Don’t automatically assume gratuities such as free drink and food. These are generally bonuses unless stipulated in the contract, where they become part of your “fee”.

15. Respect the venue’s property. Don’t take a chance damaging their furniture. They will often be glad to fetch some beer crates to stack your speakers on, rather than using their tables. Ask permission before you start stick gaffer’s tape on walls, floors and furniture.

16. Don’t get drunk, or high before, or during, the show.

17. Don’t hang around the venue for longer than necessary after the show.

18. Don’t stop playing a song if a small problem occurs or start a song over again if someone makes a mistake. You need to be sufficiently properly rehearsed for these types of mistakes to go unnoticed by the crowd.

19. Don’t try and fill the whole venue with loud music. Just the area of the dance floor immediately in front of the stage will do! People will want to be able to hold a conversation in other areas, such as at the bar.

20. If you know you have a good sound mix with the right sound level for the venue and some person in the crowd wants you to turn “it” down. Pretend to turn a knob so as to please. The likely hood is, he just doesn’t like that specific song. However, if the venue owner or bar staff tell you to turn “it” down … DO “IT”!! They know when it is too loud, after all, they are there every night!

Finally… Your bonus suggestion No. 21. If you have released CDs. Make sure they are for sale at every gig you do. Employ a friend, or one of your fans to set up a table with your CDs. Additionally it is an excellent way to get people to sign up to your mailing list. After the show, you can even go out front and sign a few autographs!

Comments are closed.