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How Soon Should You Work on Your Show?

Tom working with singer songwriterI’ve gotten both kinds of calls — the kind where I’m asked to help an artist with their show 1-2 months in advance of a tour or showcase, and the kind where I’m supposed to be the “fix-it” guy working with someone a few days before a big, important show.

So when is the best time to work out moments in your songs and put your show together? Should you plan ahead of time and work on the details?

What if you don’t know what shows you’ll be doing? How can you work on your show in advance if you don’t even know what, when, and where you’ll be playing?

It might be good to look at the pros & cons of working on your show well in advance of important gigs.

Pro #1: You Have More Time

That may sound obvious. But there’s more to it than simply having more days on the calendar to rehearse when you start earlier. Not only will you have more days — you’ll also have fewer other things going on to crowd out the rehearsal time. The closer you get to a “big showcase” or “great touring opportunity,” the more time you’ll need to spend on your website, social networks, travel plans, press releases, etc., etc.

Pro #2: You Can Get Comfortable with Your Show

When you take the time to start working on your show well in advance, you’ll have more time to get comfortable with the songs, the moments, the transitions, the movement, the places you’re leaving open for spontaneity… all those things are more fun for you & more meaningful for your audience when you’re truly comfortable with them!

Pro #3: You’ll Give Your Show More than Leftovers

To be honest, as much as I try to follow a budget in my own life and business, there are times when I overspend on some things. That means I don’t have enough money for other things I would have liked to have had. It’s the same thing with the investment you make (of time, energy, and money) in your career. If you’ve spent hours, days, weeks of time on recordings, videos, photos, bios, websites, social networking, booking, publicity, attorneys, management… and then leave the live show development until last… it gets your “leftovers.” That’s not wise.

Pro #4: You’re Ready When a Big Break Comes Along

I worked with an artist who was amazing at networking. Every day, without fail, she religiously worked her website and social sites. But at the same time, we were working on her live show — perfecting each song, creating moments, working on movement, fundamentals, transitions, talking to the audience. Her music started finding traction, and a national TV show took notice and had her on their show. She went on to deliver a stellar performance in front of a major audience because she was ready. The result was a first-round Grammy nomination, and CDs flying out the door. Her manager commented to me that he was glad they hadn’t waited until the last minute to work on her show. 

Pro #5: You May Find Success Sooner

As Henry Hartman said, “Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity.” I believe if you get ready, opportunities will come. You don’t need luck — that’s chancy. But when you’re preparing in advance, looking for opportunities to share what you can do, you will find success.

So those are some of the pros to working on your show in advance. Next week we’ll take a look at the down sides to rehearsing earlier rather than later.

Tell me about why you like to work on your show with “time to spare” — I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

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. exactly the reasons above + you have time and room to experiment and get really creative and out of da box. You’ll come up with different versions, so then no matter where you play, big or small venue, you’ll have a fitting version. Also, when you have multiple versions, you can catch yourself when you make a mistake, or be more free to be spontaneous (which can be magical) and in control, because you have multiple ways you can get ‘back on track’ into (one of) the planned. Also good for your confidence. – Gotta make sure it’s not going to be a clutter though and everything up… but I think you can be more flexible and respond better to the audience and bandmembers, because you can be more in the moment and picking up their vibe.

  2. Kari Hilpert says:

    I think you can concentrate on the audience more if you’re all “settled” and comfortable with what you’ll be doing. The times I’m not quite ready for a show, my focus is on me!

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