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What Kind of Vision do YOU Have?

It might be a record producer or a manager that calls us and asks for some help for one of their artists. Or sometimes it’s a friend who refers an artist to us for some work on their show.

But the phone calls and emails typically have the same request: “the show is really good, but we need you to give it a little polish.” The expectation is a 1/2 day would be plenty of time to work it all out.

My assistant might talk them into trying a full day (because she knows that even a full day will only give us enough time to work on 3 or 4 songs). And my associates or I will walk into the rehearsal room, and the artist tells us, “we don’t want a planned and canned show – it needs to be spontaneous!” Laugh? Cry? Scream? It’s hard to know what to do.

You see, these artists have no vision for their show! They expect to run through their 15 or more songs in a rehearsal, get the music tight, have us tell them what order to play them in, where to stand, when to smile, etc. – and think the audience will “get them” because… well, because it’s them!

They haven’t taken the time to see in their mind’s eye how they’d like each song to affect their audience. They think running through as many songs as they can fit into their allotted concert time is what the audience wants.

They don’t realize their show, however short or long, is all about moments and connecting with the audience. Whether it’s one song or 20 songs, it can either be a Chinese water torture or it can be engaging. Your audience needs fun moments, serious moments, musical moments, audience participation moments, moments that move them, and moments that make them jump out of their seats. And you want to string those moments together in a way that feels like a great movie or a great book feels: effortless.

You’ll create lifelong fans by thinking about the moments you want to bring to them, and by asking yourself “what moments do I want my audience to experience tonight?” That’s what I mean when I talk about getting a vision of your show!

After you get the vision for your show and for each song, then the hard work of woodshedding, practice, and rehearsal comes in:

  • woodshedding the skills required onstage (just like the hours and hours of time you spent learning to play or sing
  • practicing and getting the music right (whether you are a solo act or an ensemble or band)
  • rehearsal time, preferably with a Live Music Producer (rearranging songs, getting creative visually, working out transitions, revising your set list, etc., etc.)

But with your vision in place, you’re on your way to creating lifelong fans instead of just “playing your songs” and hoping the audience gets who you are.


Tom Jackson

Tom is uniquely talented and skilled at transforming an artist's live show into a magical experience for the audience; helping artists at every level create a live show that is engaging and memorable, teaching them to exceed their audiences' expectations and to create fans for life. Tom has taught indie and major artists of every genre. He has worked with Taylor Swift, Le Crae, Home Free, The Tenors, Shawn Mendes, The Band Perry, Francesca Battistelli, Jars of Clay, & many more. Tom also teaches at colleges, conferences and events worldwide.

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Greenroom Comments

  1. I find it interesting about not having a planned or canned show. Around Christmas time I present a Christmas Story Guitar Cantata that involves instrumentals, singing, and small scripture readings. Around Easter time I do a Passion Play Guitar Cantata with a similar format.

    If these shows weren’t planned and in a certain order they wouldn’t make very much sense. Just because the cantatas tell a story in a chronological order doesn’t mean they are canned.

    I watched a video of me playing the Christmas one from last year and noticed that although the songs had some moments, they needed something more. This year I worked on bringing more moments out during the songs. I have my first Christmas Cantata this Sunday night 12/2/12.

    Now a vision I have for the Christmas Cantata is to do some type of orchestra and choral accompaniment. I would sing the lead vocals with the strings and choir backing me up. I had a small taste of this last Sunday night when at a Christmas gig when I invited the people up from our voice studio to do an impromptu version of Silent Night.

    Now these singers ranged in age from middle school students to older adults in their 50’s. It came out sounding pretty good without any practice. But I thought how awesome this would sound if we would have rehearsed it for several months instead of an impromptu version.

    Anyway, a vision I have for this Christmas Cantata presentation is to take it on a nationwide tour with an orchestra and choir. I think that would be so awesome. Now to figure out how to do it!

  2. Does a song have to already be recorded for you to recognize moments in it? In other words, wouldn’t there be huge value in working with Tom before you make the record so that you can record some of those moments? I’m pondering a new project and thinking that working with Tom before I record the songs could be really beneficial???

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