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Musicians’ Most Common Mistakes – Part 3: They Don’t Create Moments

This blog and video are the third in a series we’ve put together to answer YOUR questions!

We began by answering one of the most asked questions:

What are the most common mistakes musicians make in their live show?

In video blog #1, we described the first mistake: Your songs don’t all sound the same, but they all look the same. 

Video blog #2 addressed mistake #2: Misdirection.

Mistake #3: Another big mistake musicians make is, and this is massive: They don’t create moments.  They play songs. 

In this town Nashville, there are so many mantras about the song:It’s all about the song. It begins with the song. The song is king. 

I don’t mean that rudely, because we want good songs!  I’ve been fortunate enough to work on over a hundred number one songs, so I’m all about the song.

But, songs don’t necessarily create moments.  Now some songs do, there’s no question about it.  You hear a song and it’s magic; it happens.  You’re driving down the road you hear it or you pop your headphones on and listen and you think:

“Oh my gosh, that moves me!”  But that’s rare!  

So you go out onstage and play the songs, that are good songs, they are well-crafted, they’re well-written, but they don’t really emotionally connect with the audience in a way that’s memorable.

So, what you need to do is to learn how to rearrange your songs, to create moments in a show.  If you don’t do that, but instead you just play songs and hope something good happens, it’s a mistake! 

I’ll tell you what, (and I go through this all the time and I’m sure you do too, Amy), we’ve got 20 minutes, we’re opening for ‘so-and-so’ and here’s the first thing everybody thinks about:

“How many songs can I cram into that 20 minutes!” That’s it!

Because we think it’s about the song. What you’re not thinking about is that it’s really about the moment: the moment in the song. 

So, I’d rather play, instead of five or six songs and cramming them into 20 minutes, I’d rather play three or four really well-crafted songs that create different moments: vocal moments, musical moments, touching moments, fun moments, instead of just playing songs. 

That’s like walking into a restaurant, when you have 20 minutes to eat and saying, “How much food can I eat!? 

Most people don’t walk in that way.  People go in for a good meal.  They may have a short amount of time, but they’re looking for a good meal, something that tastes good. 

They’re looking for, “Oh my gosh, this is good, versus how much can I eat and not even paying attention to the taste of it that much.” 

And, every once in a while, when you’re eating all this food, you find something you really like.  Well, what would you do?

Actually if you’re trying to cram as much stuff in and you found three things that you think “Oh my gosh, this is good.”, you would probably stay there longer.

Well that’s what we’re talking about; finding those things. (that create moments.)

Amy: And that’s what you would tell your friends “Oh, you’ve got to get the carrot cake at J. Alexander’s cause it’s killer!”  Because, that’s the moment they remember.

So, one of the biggest mistakes is: not creating moments in your show.

Now some of you watching this, maybe all of you watching this, have experienced those moments, Those moments when you go out onstage, the planets have aligned, the spirit has fallen, you can hear the monitors; It’s a love fest in the room and it’s amazing.

Everyone has experienced that, but it’s random, though. Because, the next night you go out and do the same thing and it doesn’t happen.

What you have to do is be intentional about creating those moments; which means you have to understand how to create those moments.  That begins with, well a good song, but then learning and working out how to create those moments in a rehearsal room.

…More answers to your questions to come, so keep your questions coming!

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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