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The Super Bowl, Lady Gaga and YOU

Up until late in the 3rd quarter, the most exciting thing about Super Bowl 2017, would have been the halftime show…but the Patriots came from behind and won in overtime…the first overtime in Super Bowl history!

Yes, Lady Gaga put on an entertaining show, and by the looks of my Facebook feed that night, an overwhelming number of friends agreed.

I started thinking about a show of that magnitude, and how it’s easy for an artist to lose touch with the audience on that stage…how do you stay engaged? Then I remembered a moment in one of my favorite half-time shows ever, Prince in 2007.

He successfully demonstrated what the ‘high tech, high touch’ element that Bill Gates talked about, and that Tom Jackson quotes often. 

It was raining that night.  The show’s producers called Prince and said ‘it’s raining…do you still want to do this? (They’d filmed the show ahead of time, just in case something happened or it WAS raining and he couldn’t go on, so they’d have something to air.) And Prince just said, ‘can you make it rain HARDER?’

He went on in the rain and pulled it off without a hitch. The fact that he went ON in the rain had to make the audience like him. It told the crowd, YOUR entertainment is more important than my discomfort…or danger (in light of the fact electric guitars and water are NOT a good mix).

He stood up there, owned the stage and BROUGHT IT to the audience, to the world, with great joy and confidence. And when Prince got to his closer, he asked the audience to help him sing, and at times stopped singing himself. The audience became a part of the show, and how much better does it get than singing Purple Rain, IN the rain?

Prince was larger-than-life when it came to his talent, and artists can run the risk of losing control of their egos when they KNOW they’re iconic. But Prince still knew to make it about the audience.

I believe Lady Gaga did the same…even though her songs were highly choreographed and there were tons of dancers onstage, special effects, props, drones making designs in the sky… she had a way and a demeanor that was inclusive.  It didn’t feel arrogant. She wisely took the high road and didn’t try to make any political ‘statements’. Starting with the song God Bless America was a powerful way to unite instead of divide us.

Then there was a moment when she made her way down into the crowd to simply give someone a hug. We saw the connection and loved it. 

Yes, high tech – cuz it’s live TV, and the Super Bowl is a huge show.  But it’s also high-touch because you can’t forget about the audience. THEY are the ones coming to see you, so whether you’re playing arenas or dive bars, remember them…NOTICE them, INCLUDE them and connect. Gaga did. Prince did. YOU can too.

Link to Prince at Super Bowl XLI:


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. Hey Amy, you may want to, well maybe you have and I’m just unaware, but I would really appreciate it, if you could help some of us festival players out. When I play festivals, with tight stage changes between bands, I find it difficult to connect with the audience. I’ve had much better luck with smaller venues and festivals where I am asked to bring my own equipment to be used on the stage. So, let me explain, I’m in a two person duo. We use a Bose Sound System. We refer to it as the magic stick behind us when we play. We love it because not only is the sound really sweet, we have the ability to place it behind us and use it as a monitor . This means we can hear exactly what the audience does but also, it keeps an openness between us and our audience. The typical festival, small stage set up has four to five musician microphone stands, all out front to accommodate everyone and make stage changes go more quickly and the monitors on the floor in between. It’s like a wall. I feel out of place and prefer the set up I have with the Bose. I love the openness of it. I love my own simple singers mic stand with my wireless mic that allows me to go anywhere, though I don’t do leaps off the tops of stadiums, while drones fly around me, I have leaped off stages before to catch up with someone singing along or playfully bantering, gently heckling… BUT none of this seems doable or perhaps I just haven’t figured out how to do it ye,t on these stages set up in the one size fits all mode. However, sometimes, if I get to the sound engineers early as they are setting up for the day, I get a sound check and once I was allowed to use my own wireless mic as they were not rushed with their set up or other sound checks. Sometimes we get a larger stage that seems less crowded and has places for us to place the extra stands without interfering with the sound engineers set up but on smaller more cramped stages I feel caged in and separated from the audience and any plan I had previous to that moment, in regards to connecting with the audience, seems seriously challenged and I do, I give up and just hope the audience is able to connect auditorily because I feel visually hopeless. This does keep me from wanting to even put in all the effort of advance planning when it seems pointless in the end. Suggestions… pretty please 🙂 I hope I’ve painted the picture in a way you understand my dilemma. I have to think I’m not the only who finds this challenging.

    • Good question Kristina! Yes I know festivals are tough. You’re doing the right thing by trying to get the the sound guy at a non-busy time and get the set-up you want. If that’s not possible, do the best you can with what you have. If there are a row of monitors across the front,TRY at least, to have some space between them somewhere so you can get a bit closer to the crowd. And ask if then can at least move the mic stands back so you can cross the stage in front of them. Use the space you have to its fullest. Above all, make sure you are creating MOMENTS in your songs. Now, if you are consistently not able to connect, maybe this type of venue is wrong for you. Not knowing your music, I can’t tell you right now. But if most of your songs are in the 1-3 range, it will be hard to grab the attention of a large rowdy/restless festival crowd, and you may need to re-think your booking strategy!

  2. Amy, Great post. I thought of you all when I watched Lady Gaga at the Superbowl. I thought, this is just what Tom talks about. I enjoy these emails so much. They keep me connected to my show and mindful about what I’m developing. I hope some time to work with you. In the meantime it’s me, Live Music Method and these great emails. Thank you! Anne E. DeChant

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