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4 Steps to a Unique Show

HouseWhen explaining how to create a unique show, I always offer the analogy of building a house. There are 4 steps to making it happen.

And for those of you who’ve worked with contractors to build a home recently, who are thinking to yourself right now, “Well, that’s pretty over simplified – 4 steps? What did he think I was doing for the last 8 months when I built MY house!”…

…you’d be right. It is an oversimplification of the process involved. And believe me, I always remind artists that creating a unique show is a long process, too!

But I still believe all the things you do in the process of building a house or building a great live show, basically consist of these 4 steps:

1. Plan It

The first answer I get whenever I ask an audience of musicians, “what’s the first step in building a house?” is always “lay the foundation!” (That’s why we’re all musicians, not contractors.) In reality, the first step is planning the house — taking all the ideas you’ve seen, heard, thought about, and putting them down on paper.

With your show, what do you want to see (or more accurately, what do you want your audience to see, hear, experience)? Whether it was an idea you got from someone else’s show, from a song you wrote, or something from your own creative mind that no one else has ever imagined — you need to get a vision for your unique show and begin to make a plan for how you’ll make those special moments happen for your audience.

2. Lay the Foundation

OK, now is the time for that foundation! When it comes to the live show, that means the mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual parts of you and what you understand about your audience. Most artists have an unsteady foundation because they have failed to deal with what is going on at a personal level inside of themselves and their audience. 

The foundation is so very important, but rarely addressed. Your audience will be connecting with you as a person. They want to understand the human side of you. You’ll need to be confident, with authority and charisma, and that will very likely mean wrestling with yourself about being on the stage, being able to accept criticism and learning from it, working through struggles of business and finances, and more.

3. Build It

This is the part most people think of when you talk about building a home. And it’s the part artists think of when preparing a show. Getting the music right, developing the skills to play your instrument and sing, writing songs, and getting the sound & tone right, etc.

Add to that the part of “building it” that most artists don’t think about… the visual and style development… and you know this is a big part of the process, and one that will take a great deal of time to get right!

4. Move In

Finally, there is this important part of building a home (or a show). It will make the difference between moving into a “cookie cutter” house in a subdivision that has been decorated and furnished by the builder, or choosing your own paint color, flooring, furniture, and accessories to create our own unique home.

To do this with your live show means rearranging your songs so you are in control and can connect with the audience. It means extracting the moments within your songs that allow you to express yourself completely from stage. And it means learning how to effectively communicate, musically, visually, and verbally from the stage so your audience can understand who you are and relate to you and your music.

We’d love to help you with all 4 parts of the process… just let us know!

Comment below and tell us which of these 4 steps you struggle with the most and why.

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. Hey Tom,

    It was interesting to shift back to the “big picture” after working on the details (of “moments’, etc) for so long. I’m curious if you can elaborate on:

    “Most artists have an unsteady foundation because they have failed to deal with what is going on at a personal level inside of themselves and their audience.”

    I’ve seen all your DVDs and I’m guessing that you’re talking about the feeling of vulnerability that is inherent with performing personal material? I know what that line means to ME, but curious if there are more ways I can explore and “wake up to” here…

    BTW- this program has me totally rocking out with a Celtic harp- it has been more helpful than all of the 10 years of coaching/ lessons/ workshops I’ve had combined!

    Many thanks!
    Lara Jai

    • Lara, great to hear that you are getting so much out of the online curriculum!

      Regarding the foundation, it has to do with what you mentioned and more. It starts with understanding your audience (knowing how they connect with you) and realizing that you are there to give your all for them. Then it moves into developing confidence, authority, and charisma. (If you want to, you could review Class 17 in the curriculum – that outlines what I’m talking about with the foundation.)

      Hope that helps!

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