What does your live show have that people will want to see and hear? Once you find your niche, how far can you take it? If you’re in a Caribbean band (random example 🙂 ) besides playing island music and Jimmy Buffett covers do you also wear bright floral shirts, decorate the stage with inflatable palm trees and tiki lights and occasionally affect a Jamaican accent? How are you different and better than other bands? Yes, the music needs to be good; Of COURSE the music needs to be amazing and wonderful but everybody has that on their phone these days. I’m not talking about gimmicks and cheesy attention getters, I’m asking you how far can you go to enhance the relationship between yourself and your audience?
When developing your show, it’s easy to err on the conservative side. Once you choose to be on the working side of the proscenium you have a responsibility to entertain. If you play covers, do you play them so that they have your own style? Change the tempo or groove, put an original rap in the middle, write a verse for a specific listener; all easy and entertaining. Can you take requests? Even learning a few special songs a few weeks in advance will mean a lot to a wedding couple or event planner. If your band doesn’t have a particular theme, what can you do to stand out from all the other rock/country/r&b bands in town?
If something happens during a show that gets an audience reaction. keep it and build on it. Don’t be afraid to try new things, especially the stuff that feels uncomfortable at first. It’s rare that one joke or stage routine will kill a bands popularity (DO keep your clothes on), but if you keep playing the same show you’ll keep getting the same results. While it’s important to be consistent, don’t let that stop you from trying new things.
If you play original music, again; are you going as far as you can? A couple of Grunge bands got by staring at their feet in the ‘90s, but it doesn’t work for most styles. Does your performance enhance the transfer of musical ideas from your brain to your audience? Do you follow established performance protocols; simple stuff like physically active during energetic numbers and still on the quiet tunes? What kind of lighting and staging can you add to engage the audience and get them involved? Video your performance and analyze it for aspects that help the music, especially elements to which the audience reacts, and keep them in the act.
It IS possible to go to far, but most of us never come near it.