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Who’s Getting It Right?

If you look at today’s live acts, what is it that makes them great? What do they do and know that makes their connection to the audience work?

You might say, “Well, they’re married to their audiences – they’ve got hits and records under their belts.”  True… but what keeps people COMING BACK to see Springsteen live after all these years for a 3-4 hour show?

Rolling Stone magazine ran an article in 2013 on the best live acts at the time, and dug into the ‘what/why/how’.  Here are some excerpts:

“MUMFORD AND SONS… are confident enough to aim big, to make their shows as fervent as possible, to strum their way to emotional and spiritual uplift. ‘That’s why the shows always have to be an effort,’ says Mumford, who cites Arcade Fire, Bruce Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions Band, and Old Crow Medicine Show as live influences. “It’s definitely, like, really striving, really pushing.  Which is why, if we walk offstage and we have any energy left, it hasn’t been a good show.’” [Yes, it’s EFFORT… translation: WORK! It doesn’t just happen.]

“BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN has earned the right to mess with his set list. But, he’s watching the audience to determine what song he’s going to play next.  He’s guiding an experience specific to each audience.” [Watching the audience – YES!  THEY are the ones you need to please.  Bruce could play anything he wants, but he understands it’s about what the AUDIENCE wants!]

“PRINCE does things his own way.  He’s a great showman – completely in control of himself and the band – and the audience is eating out of his hand.”  [Completely in control.  Confident.  Enough said.]  May he rest in peace…

ARCADE FIRE – “At their shows there’s a feeling of we’re all in this together!”  [The audience is part of the experience.  Not just watching, observing, but made to feel a part.]

JIM JAMES says, ‘The greatest shows for me are when there are no thoughts in my head… There have been so many great moments where we run off the stage screaming, and it feels like you just climbed a mountain.  There’s so much involved in making it work.'” [One of Tom’s mantras: Thou Shalt Not Think On Stage.  Being prepared AHEAD of time allows you to do this. Again, the four-letter word: Work.]

EZRA KOENIG states, “When the crowd is really bad….you work extra hard.  And when the crowd’s going crazy, it brings something out of you.  You can communicate things by making eye contact with the crowd – not always easy.  Sometimes you feel shy, or you’re not in the mood.  But it’s easy to tell who wants that.”  [Eye contact is critical. And when the crowd is bad, you don’t let THEM bring you to their level. YOU need to work harder to try to get them engaged.]

These artists get it.  Hopefully you are starting to understand your audience too, and the time and work you need to invest in your live performances, in order to give audiences what they want.

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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