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Three Ps = A Great Live Show

In watching and working with artists over the years, I’ve learned a lot – and unlearned what I thought I knew. 

I think most people would assume it’s talent that leads to success.  And they would be partly right.

In some cases, talent alone can get you ‘discovered’, signed, famous…but if that’s ALL there is, it may not be sustainable for very long if an artist doesn’t have the work ethic and know what it takes to give their career depth and keep moving forward. 

On the other hand, I’ve seen artists with average talent do amazing things, mainly because they work hard and want it bad enough! 

We’ve worked with artists who are virtually unknown, and have seen them get the attention of fans and industry folks mainly because they had a great live show. They had some talent and some decent songs, but it was their show that got peoples’ attention. 

These artists now know what it takes to get them noticed and understand that first of all, it’s a “Process.

Getting a great live show happening takes time.  It’s not a ‘do one session and we’re good’ kind of thing.  It can take one or two sessions to just understand some of the basics, let alone get into all your songs, develop the moments, and put together a set list!

Following our rehearsals, the artist then needs to “Practice of course.  They look back at video we took in our sessions to remember what was done, then practice, practice, practice, until performing the set becomes second nature.  (And they set up like they’re on stage so they can get used to facing out to the audience.)

I’ve been amazed and dumbfounded, when I go to see shows after I’ve worked with an artist and they don’t do ANYTHING we worked on!  Which means they DIDN’T actually go home and practice.  They thought they ‘got it’ in the session, but sadly didn’t retain what they learned or bother to work on it.

Conversely, I’m delighted to check out a show and see an artist really engage the crowd and remember to implement things I taught them.  Most of the time, it’s a gradual thing – they don’t do everything we worked on, but incorporate things over the course of several gigs until they’re comfortable. 

Again, the word “PROCESS”…these artists come back and work with Tom and me again and again, because they see results, and they know it takes time to make something great.

This brings to mind my 3rd ‘P’…”Professional mindset”.  The artists that understand the process, are pros.  They maintain a Pro mindset and attitude with their music and everything that surrounds it. 

One band I work with gets up every day and starts work (rehearsal on their show, recording, songwriting, etc.) every day at 10 am.   They treat it like their job….and it’s paying off!  They approach their show – as do I – with the mindset of performing for the gigs and venues they want to be doing…not where they are now. 

If you perform like a bar band, you’ll stay a bar band.  And that’s fine, if that’s what you want, but if your eyes are set on theatres and arenas, approach your show that way!

Another band I work with regularly, calls me when they have new songs to put in their show, or important gigs coming up that require a new set. 

Recently they found out I was going to be in the same town attending and speaking at an event, so they booked a couple of hours so I could give them ideas on new tunes they were working into an important upcoming gig.  They worked the ideas into the set and performed them a few days later! 

Same story with a solo artist at that same event.  We worked on tweaking a few songs and she performed them 2 days later.

Please note that this wouldn’t work, without having worked with them previously and laid the groundwork for what we did.  They already understood those things, and were able to quickly incorporate the new ideas.

These artists and many like them who we’ve encountered, understand the power of a great live show, and make time to improve.

So remember peeps, approach your show like a Pro, Practice hard, and remember, it’s a Process!  Peace, out.

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. David Turner says:

    One thing I unlearned was to think every audience was the same. I’ve learned to watch the audience reaction.

    • Yep, focusing on the audience is key to being able to deliver what they came for! See how they’re reacting, watch to see if they’re paying attention, or if they’re ‘checking out’. Every audience IS different, and remember to not let an unresponsive crowd dictate YOUR emotions or performance…YOU need to set the pace for how the show goes and deliver something they want and will RETURN to see next time!

  2. Thanks Ger! Yes, to the ‘spin on the old tunes’ for those artists who have hit songs – even if it’s just among locals that are familiar with their tunes. Just this week I helped an artist give a new spin to one of her covers that she does well…Patsy Cline’s ‘Crazy’. I wanted to try the song with a different feell/beat. We tried reggae, rock, then landed on R&B, which let the song stay true to the original vocal feel, but gave the song a fresh take. Created a very cool ‘different’ moment!

  3. I totally agree. Once you leave the songs on record, you are free to express yourself live and this would include freedom for new members in your band to allow some spin on the old tunes nevermind expanding them into some worth watching on stage. Just saw the Foo Fighters this week and definitely what they have done with some of their songs actually a lot of them. 2hr 45min set no less too!

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