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A Performance Checklist For Every Musician

The art of performing can be make-or-break for the livelihood of any artist. From small and medium-sized venues to arenas, the goal of the show is to satisfy everyone in attendance.

As a new artist, the amount of effort that goes into your live performance is crucial because it represents your seriousness for the craft. No matter how great you think your songs are, they can still be forgotten if the performance is lackluster.

Performing is an equivalent exchange. Even if the audience isn’t very familiar with your music, they understand the energy behind it based off of what you gave on stage. You can yell “put your hands up” “bounce” and “go crazy” all you want to the crowd; no one will move if the performance isn’t matching that energy. Even if admission was free, people that showed up could be binge watching on Netflix but instead they traveled to be entertained. So as an entertainer, you have to give them everything you’ve got in your creative arsenal.

Here’s a list of everything you’ll need to step up your next gig.

1. A proper set list

Before you even reach the venue, your list of songs should be the first order of business. The set list can be in any order you see fit, as long as there is reasoning for each song’s placement. If you’re a part of a group, everyone should know the order by heart.

You should have the song files saved together in that order in a folder or mixed into a single track. It also helps to have someone else handle your songs such as your DJ if you’d rather not do it yourself.

2. Performance-ready audio

Sound effects at concerts always take it to that next level. If you have sound effects chosen to be played during your set, rehearse with them playing to do any necessary fine-tuning.

Also, if you’re not using live instrumentation or performing acapella, you should have some sort of concert version of your tracks that are not the same as your official release. Seriously, do.not.sing.or.rap.over.your.tracks. Use the instrumental with any vocal pieces of the song you might want to come in behind you.

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3. Gather the vibes

Concerts are an audio and visual experience. After you’ve got your sound prepared, the look of your set is next in line. Your outfit, background performers, and visual representation add context to what people are hearing and they give the stoners something to gasp about. The right visuals can make an unreleased track feel like a long-anticipated musical.

4. Plan your moves for each song

Ever gone to see a potentially mind blowing concert and leave wishing you had just stuck with playing the music in your earphones? Movement on stage for each song is just so key when you want to keep people’s attention. Even if you aren’t dancing, your position on the stage gives the audience a new perspective. Keep in mind that the tempos of your songs should reflect in your body language. No one should be standing still or sauntering around during a fast-paced song. You want to have clear changes in movement for every song as if Netflix were paying you millions to record it.

Hopefully this checklist helps out some recording artists transitioning into performance art. There’s certainly a terrible trend of newer songs sounding great on the track, but awful where it matters most. Even in this technological age, it’s still important to remember that music began as live performances. If you’re brave enough to stand on a stage today, it’s only right that you make your live shows as valuable as the actual songs.

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