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3 Parts of Communication: Are You Using them All?

As an artist, you know your songs are all different. They have different themes, different rhythms, different tones. They really don’t sound the same at all!

I’m guessing they probably have different lyrics, too. Some of them are about a love you lost. Some of them are about something that makes you happy. Some of them tell about a deep relationship you have. They’re all about something different.

But most artists have a problem when they perform these unique songs…although their songs all sound different, they don’t look different! That’s a major mistake. You need to be as creative with your live show as you are with your music.

That’s because communication with your audience is a lot more complicated than you think. Communication is really made up of 3 parts:

1. Content

This is the substance of what you’re singing and/or playing. It’s the music itself. It’s the words or lyrics — the message or story. And most people believe that’s the majority of what an artist or band is relating to their audience. In fact, most artists themselves believe it to be the biggest source of their connection with their audience.

Not so.

You see the content of the songs is the smallest part of what a live audience is relating to — really only about 15% of what they get from you.

2. Tone or Emotion

I’m sure you’ve all been to a concert where you’ve been sitting way in the back of the audience. It’s hard to see or hear anything at all because you’re so far up into the nosebleed section of the arena.

Yet, if the lead singer is really into what they’re doing, and they begin shouting into the mic, obviously super pumped about what they’re saying… you hear, “Lrrmwrastifjk onlllwori shkoobleditiwoth!!”… and you respond “Yeah!!”… because their tone (or emotion) told you that was how you needed to respond!

If you’ve experienced that phenomenon, you can readily understand that someone’s tone or emotion communicates about 30% of what they are trying to convey.

3. Visual

If you’ve been doing the math, you realize we still have 55% of communication left for this last item — the visual. I’m talking about what your audience sees with their eyes.

Again, it should make a lot of sense to you that the visual part of communication is so important. In everyday life, you experience this when someone smiles and holds out their hand for you to shake when they meet you. (Imagine if they had a grumpy scowl on their face and kept their hands in their pockets instead!) It doesn’t matter much what they say — you know exactly what they mean by their body language.

But 95% of artists out there don’t understand this concept. Their songs don’t sound the same… but they look the same.

And that is a huge problem! Because if their songs look the same, to an audience that doesn’t know who they are, those same songs start sounding the same.

Most artists typically do the same things onstage over and over for every song. It’s the same movement from the same place for every song… big mistake!

The solos are delivered from the same place. The singer stands behind the mic stand for every song. Or the singer takes the mic out of the stand and holds it for every song.

It doesn’t matter whether you move or don’t move – whether you stand in the same place all night or you jump around the stage the whole show – if every song looks the same, your audience won’t get what you’re trying to communicate.

And that’s a problem.

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. Totally. some songs are slow, some are fast, some are melancholy, some are angry. All that is to be conveyed on stage. nothing worse than seeing a band where all the songs sound the same after 3-4 tracks like some punk albums.

  2. Thanks for the words of wisdom. I’ve seen this with other professional artists, but have never really incorporated it with myself. I will be following you hence forth.

  3. Robin, thanks for the heads up. We need to address this unfortunately…. i am glad you are getting help through the teaching. I would recommend the book and try and make it to one of our bootcamps to get a full view of what we do. We approach a multitude of important things for an artist to give their audience a memorable experience, keep in mind this is a process.

  4. I love it! Thank you! See ya soon! JD

  5. Hi Tom~

    I just bought one of your dvds on song type/number
    and ordering songs on a setlist based on this idea.
    A total revelation – so thank you for the golden wisdom
    on how it affects the audience’s reaction.

    I am wondering about moving onstage and tips on how to
    make each song different. Do you mean sitting or standing
    or crossing the stage? Would so love more info on this.

    ps. just a heads up….a company called “Rocket to the Stars”
    seems to be using your ideas and posting them as their own
    on their website. Seems unethical and thought you should
    know as your philosophies are original.

    Cheers to ya,
    Robin Lovejoy & Amalgamation

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