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The 1 Thing a CD Can Never Contain

Solo singer full of emotionPerforming artists still have it… that 1 thing. Something a CD can’t contain.

It can’t be duplicated, digitized, or downloaded. And you can only get it if you’re in the same room.

The Booming Concert Industry

Catching up on my reading on a recent long flight, I grabbed an article that caught my eye in our local weekly Nashville Scene.

Writers were looking at the current state of music, talking about the shift from focus on the record industry to the concert industry (in case that one slipped by you! 😕 ).

Club owners and industry folks interviewed for the article pointed out, the concert industry has a major advantage: “No one can digitize the experience of seeing the performance in the flesh, feeling the immediate give and take between artist and audience… hearing a performer in the same room was the first music medium to be promoted and it’ll be the last one downloaded.”

Good for us all in some ways — but there are also so many more bands out there, crowding the market!

So with this in mind, what will make you stand out to a room of people? One club owner stated, “It’s harder and harder to maintain peoples’ attention and their investment in an entire set and an entire night of music.”

Yes it is — but not if you know what you’re doing!

Stand Out from the Noise

This is exactly why we as Live Music Producers are getting busier… it’s because we help artists stand out from all the noise, and win the fans, and get booked again.

Peoples’ iTune catalogs are filled with songs, so we know audiences don’t just come to hear you play songs. It’s the “emotional impact of going to a show that can’t be duplicated,” states promoter Rick Whetsels in the Scene article.

As I worked with a Canadian artist recently, I wanted to know what was behind a song she’d written titled “Who Saved Who.” When she told me the story, it let me know something about who she was.

Suddenly, the lyrics came to life!

Realizing how intimate the song really was, I asked the band to strip down what they were playing so the music wouldn’t overshadow the message. I had them switch from drums to shakers, electric bass and guitars to upright bass and acoustics. I had them all sit on stools so the audience would mentally “sit down” and let the meaning of the song wash over them. Then we worked on what the artist would say — how to tell the story in the most effective way so the listeners would zone in on the song’s message.

The result was stunning, and I watched and listened with goose bumps all over me. The singer got tears in her eyes as she sang. The raw emotion was laid bare, and to say a moment was happening was an understatement!

I know we talk about moments constantly, but it needs to be said again and again. People don’t feel songs. They feel emotions created by moments.

Connection is Power

At the conclusion of the Scene article, Beth Cameron of a live event consulting company called Show This, made a powerful statement. She said, “As long as artists can control their connection with their audience, then that will always be the power that artists have.”

Yep. And you can’t get that from a download.

Amy Wolter

As a trained Live Music Producer for Tom Jackson Productions, Amy Wolter brings her years onstage as a lead singer & keyboardist - along with her experience as a producer, arranger, and songwriter - to singers and bands who won’t settle for ‘good enough’. She’s worked with artists at all levels, and genres ranging from Rock to Celtic, empowering them to have confidence and authority onstage, and put on memorable live shows, a few of whom have been on two of the largest US tours in recent history. Some of her clients include Grammy award winners The Band Perry & Lacrae, CMA and ACM –winning country acts, Gloriana & Thompson Square, 2016 The Voice contestant Mary Sarah, CCMA (Canada) winners High Valley, Jess Moskaluke & Chad Brownlee, and Winter Jam Tour veterans Sidewalk Prophets & Love and The Outcome.

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Greenroom Comments

  1. Really nice article Jordi, thanks. Some great points well made, and you’ve inspired me to take another look at the live arrangement we have of a particular song.

    I was wondering, what’s your opinion on live streamed gigs, and do you think the same principles of focusing on “moments” would apply the same way?

    • Sorry Amy, I don’t know why I wrote Jordi! Maybe it’s just getting too late here. My first night backstage and i just got overly excited.

    • Amy Wolter says:

      Hey Garvin! Is your live streamed gig going to be in front of a live audience? If so, you play to the audience and create those moments. If NO audience and you’re playing to us on our laptops, you’ll want to play to the camera…still work on the arrangements/moments but you’ll need to adjust some things….ie: you can’t really do an audience participation thing. So if that was going to be your ‘big fun’ moment, you’ll need to do something different for that. Also, since there would be no live audience in the room with you, you’d need to scale back things like your trash can endings. May look a bit ridiculous to trash for :30 with no crowd ‘going crazy’ Hope this helps! Love, ‘Jordi’. 🙂

  2. I demonstrated that exact same thing in an interview last year with 11radio.com. You can sit on your couch and watch Porn or you can be involved in sex when and where it’s happening. Bottom line is the experience is very much different and hence WHY people go to brothels and are willing to pay for it because it is not the same “excitement” or “Experience” as the real thing (in the moment).

    • Amy Wolter says:

      Interesting analogy Ger! 🙂 But you’re right – there’s no replacement for being physically present – face to face!

  3. Great article, Amy! I must confess that I’m probably the worst audience member in the world because, when it comes to sitting in any venue, I might have some strange version of ADHD. I don’t go to many concerts anymore… there I said it… because I have had my hopes dashed by so many UNmoving musical performances.

    In my experience, the standard for “good enough” is very low when it comes most artists’ live performances. And I’m not talking about musicianship (singing and playing the correct notes). I’m talking about what you’re talking about… a well-prepared journey that the artist (who is in charge of the whole experience) takes the audience on (who is along for whatever ride has been prepared for them).

    I’ve seen two big developments in recent years that convinces me I’m not the only one who suffers with Performance-Onset-ADHD: 1) Shortened Attention Spans (from a zillion available distracting media) and 2) Immediate Access to those distractions on a device in the audience’s pocket. That is why you see, when the artist didn’t prepare an interesting enough journey, the audience members will simply “change channels” by checking their favorite app in the middle of a musical performance.

    This is NOT a complaint about “tech” ruining our culture. It is a recognition that audiences are just people… people you will follow the most interesting path to engagement. The musical artist’s job is to provide or BE that most interesting path. If I were still performing live, the only way I would try to do that is with help from the outside… namely you “Live Producers.” I find myself wishing that every artist whose concert I stumble into would have spent some time with you guys first. God bless your efforts.

    • So true, Morgan Cryar! I remember someone asking in college (during a performance class), “when will I be able to enjoy a show again?” The teacher responded, “well…. you kind of get used to many shows being less than they could be.”

      Pretty sad, but I think he was right.

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