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You Deserve More Than Tips

No, I’m not talking to performers who play in bars or restaurants “for tips only” – although I’m sure most of you probably deserve to play for more money than just tips.

I’m actually talking about the “tips” artists get from a session at a music conference, a single article they read online, or the ideas they hear from another artist they admire.

While those tips might be helpful (some are, some aren’t), most of the artists I’ve met deserve to get more help with their live show than a couple of pointers!

Most artists I meet have good songs, play and sing well, and have a passion for sharing their music – but they don’t capture and engage their entire audience every time they play (and that is possible!). Why not? Because they’ve been relying on some tips along the way, but they’ve never delved into a real study of what they can do to make their live show great.

About a year ago, I was working with an artist. I explained to them the concept of listening to their audience and understanding their expectations during different parts of their show. We talked about getting a vision for how they want their audience to respond. And the comment came from the group, “we’ve never thought about how we want the audience to respond before!”

This artist had learned to put a show together with a method (an unconscious method, but a method nonetheless) which they had perfected while playing clubs, coffee houses, and from watching other bands. In fact when they first played through their show for me, their closer (put together by the most experienced player in the group) ended perfectly … if they had been a bar band. (When they finished I could imagine hearing one of them say, “we’ll be back in 15 minutes, don’t forget to tip your waiters and waitresses!”)

Now if your goal is to play to a bunch of people who are there to drink, pick up a companion, and not hear your music, I’ll put you in touch with him, because he got many things right for playing those venues! But it was absolutely the wrong song to close with if you were doing a concert. 

That was when I realized, for the first time: my Live Music Method is exactly that … a Method to be learned, studied, practiced, rehearsed, studied some more, and practiced again! It’s not a few tips. You deserve more than that. After all, this is your career, your passion.

A lot of people choose a few specific “tips” from my tool set and implement those into what they do (they’ve read some of my blogs, or they’ve seen me at a conference). And that helps – though it’s a little like putting a band-aid on an internal injury.

Think of learning my Method like being traded from one football team to another. You need to learn the new system, the new language. And there’s no quick way to do it. My Method is a whole new philosophy, with a new tool set, a new mind set, and a new way to look at your show.

There are a number of colleges who are responding to my book, either making it part of their curriculum or putting it in their bookstore as recommended material. They understand it’s something that can be learned, implemented, and maybe even “graded.” 

But you don’t have to go to college to study my Method! You can read & study my book and DVDs. And I suggest you do 2 more things to get “hands on” and personal help: 1) attend one of our Bootcamps or Workshops, 2) join us Backstage so you can ask questions and attend free Webinars.

I hope you believe me: I’m not just trying to sell you my stuff so I can make money. It’s really because there’s nothing that thrills me more than when people consume and implement my Live Music Method. I have never, never (did I say never?), not seen it work when learned, practiced and applied properly.

And by the way, most of my “tips” are for waiters and waitresses.


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. Hi Tom! So grateful for the book! I will putting some of the principles in play on Friday, Feb 1st for CD Release Party! As a largely track artist, I have added 2 live music songs and another song that starts out of tme and then picks up as a track after the 1st chorus. I am already imagining the reactions it may get from the audience. Thanks again for the book..I was clueless on how to construct my set until I read it!


  2. Very true what you say! I am learning how to create moments in my concerts and seem to be getting a good response. As I mentioned before I am still at the tip of the ice berg with all of this stuff, but I am slowly applying things I learned from your book.

  3. humberto vasquez says:

    I m soo happy to find someone that can put together someting I been thinking all this time, as a musician I always knew something was missing in my show and thanks to tom I been able to find all the answers to my long old questions.

  4. Tom Jacksons’ on Stage performance ideas are fantastic. I own the series he put out a few years back and it has helped me tremendously. But it is about time do get the updated series. Tom Jackson is awesome!

  5. I see Tom generally twice a year at Canadian music week in Toronto and the ECMA’s in Canada, I’m a firm believer in Tom and I always encourage my artists to attend his seminars at these conferences and I also make them work and tweak there show as Tom would have them do…. Tom is the best when it comes to performance advice

  6. Any doubters? I dare ya to start applying Tom’s techniques and tell us they don’t work! I’ve experienced a vast improvement in audience connection just from trying to apply the DVD’s, book and Backstage Pass!
    Can’t imagine, and only hope one day, what will happen when I can work with Tom and crew one-on-one.
    It’s not a gimmic folks. We all had that time when it just took the right teacher in school to get us to see what no one else could…TJ is that guy for us!

    San Dimas Highschool football RULES!!!

  7. Have seen you before you guys are the real deal, required course for anyone that wants the tools to make the music Biz work. I hope to make it to a boot camp if I can find the funds. I need a extreme show makeover.After singing to millions Talent isn’t enough
    Donnie Denny

  8. I think that there’s no better teacher than experience, but you have to be aware and constantly adapting to actually gain anything from experiences.

    • John, it’s true that experience can be a great teacher, but experience takes a long time and you need to know what you’re looking for. It is a part of the learning process, but shouldn’t be the complete process.

      Another way to learn and save time is to learn from other’s experience! (Those who know what to look for – whether it’s songwriting, marketing yourself on the web, or even how to change the oil in your car.) If a mechanic shows you the quickest, most efficient way to change your oil, you’ll learn the right way and get it down quickly and easily.

      I find it much easier working with a young artist with less experience and no bad habits they’ve “learned from experience” than working with artists who have learned from experience. I usually have to spend a lot of time & energy undoing things with them. With a young artist, they don’t have to unlearn the bad, but they can learn correctly from the beginning.

  9. Jeremy Strong says:

    Thanks Tom… love your articles, seen your results… I’m a believer!

  10. Your name was mentioned in a conversation the other day about Taylor Swift,

    “Tom Jackson taught Taylor to be Taylor on stage.”

    Love her or not, she really knows how to rock an audience.
    And if I could learn only a fraction of that…

    Thanks, Maria

  11. I had the pleasure of meeting Tom in ’08 during the East Coast Music Week in Fredericton, NB, Canada. Appreciate your insight, Tom, as always. Looking forward to your next blog post.

  12. Here’s those photos Tom 🙂


  13. Great stuff Tom and you are right, it needs to be learned again and again. That’s the fun thing about it, you get to try new things as you gain new experiences. It’s like being a painter with new colors to use. More experience brings the desire to have more options/colors… the better the painting!

  14. Hey Tom, Met you at Music in the Rockies. Played at one of your sessions and got some good advice on enhancing the song. You’re right in this article – minimal attention will most probably enhance my show minimally! Already have your old set of DVDs (purchased in 2005). Need to rewatch them and reapply your steps. Perhaps once I’ve moved past trying to find enough money for rent, I’ll get the new set.
    Yours warmly,
    PS. put up a few photos from when you and I met, on my website.

  15. If the songwriting is good , the audience wil be engaged . All the people some of the time , some of the people all of the time …….ect. I guess it depends on how you gauge engaged . ( ouch )

    • J.R.S., the idea is to capture and engage the audience from the moment you walk onstage to the moment you walk off, and not lose any of your audience. Yes, your material/songs need to be great. But the ability to captivate a live audience is way more than just the songs. If it were just the songs, every night here in Nashville (with all the great songs being sung) would be filled with captivating shows. But those songs (or the artists) can’t usually keep an audience captivated for more than 2 or 3 songs, because they don’t create moments – these artists are just “singing songs” and their delivery is not creative or inspiring to an audience. It’s like a movie with a good script, but poorly executed. The story simply can’t carry everything.

      • Your right , I could not agree more . I just believe the singer has to engage the song , to have a chance at engaging the audience .

  16. Tom, what are the odds of there being a bootcamp/workshop in DC at some point? My band, TheRuinCity, would love to attend at some point soon!

  17. Always interesting reading anything by Tom Jackson and I always go and see him at Canadian Music Week in Toronto each year!

  18. Love it.

  19. Love reading Tom Jackson’s blog and cant wait to see him every year at CMW.

  20. I learned more in two days at Tom’s Bootcamp last fall about how to relate to my audience instead of just singing songs than I had in the previous 5 years in all the workshops I attended and videos I watched. As I slowly add his techniques and ideas to my program there no doubt it has improved my connection with my audience. It shows in both my improved product sales and more importantly to me the increased the number of people coming to the altar at the churches where I sing.

    One of the best things you can possibly do for your career whether as as a secular or Christian artist, is to attend one of Tom Jackson’s Bootcamps. If you’ll come with an open mind and a willingness to work on what he teaches, it will make a positive difference!

    By the way, there were artists from 12 years old to their mid 50s at the workshop I attended You’re never too young or too old to make a substantial, favorable change in your stage performance.

    Dana Russell Music Ministry

  21. Once again, very interesting Tom ! See you at the next CMW !

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