Artists want to be spontaneous… and audiences want to see artists who are willing to take a risk onstage.
But most artists believe that “spontaneity” is just (what I call) “winging it” onstage. In reality, being spontaneous is not making it up as you go, but rather comes out of form. The dictionary definition of spontaneity suggests spontaneity is a “basic structure within which performers are free to play and perform in a spontaneous manner.”
So to me, that means starting your spontaneity in the rehearsal room! Now I could go on and talk about what spontaneity looks like and how winging it is a bad idea. But what I really want to share today is how important it is to have the courage to be spontaneous. Having the courage to take risks. Because taking a risk can be a scary thing.
Even feeling like something might be a risk can be a scary thing. I love what Seth Godin recently asked in his blog about risk and fear, “How much does it cost you to avoid the feeling of risk? Not actual risk, but the feeling that you’re at risk?… Are you avoiding leading, connecting or creating because to do so feels risky?” (Read Seth’s entire blog here…)
What are you avoiding? Are you afraid to work on your songs, your show, your creativity, because you’re afraid it might be a risk?
When our team works with artists, the artists haven’t usually budgeted for their live show, and they can’t afford for us to help them get a vision for their whole show. So in rehearsals, we try to pull out the artist’s thoughts and ideas they have had about their songs, but for some reason, have never explored, and we help them go from there.
Not exploring a song fully is so normal. But isn’t it true that nobody else has ideas for your show like you do? Whether you got an idea when you were writing the song, when you were taking a shower, or sitting in traffic, you are the one who is closest to your music. And these special ideas need to be explored in rehearsal. (I love it when artists are willing to try their own ideas!)
People who are unwilling to take risks will have a hard time developing the uniqueness that separates them from other artists. Some artists develop this uniqueness through their songwriting, their appearance, or their voice. But taking risks, both in rehearsal and on the stage, is one of the keys to developing your uniqueness onstage. And it’s one of the ways you will drive your career to success.
As Seth Godin says, “It’s easy to pretend that indulging in the avoidance of the feeling of risk is free and unavoidable. It’s neither.”