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Upping Your on Screen Show

I was just watching a replay of MTV’s inaugural show on its 40th anniversary, and chuckling at their choice for first video out of the shoot being the song ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’.  I immediately thought about today’s music world, where at one point I wondered if we’d be singing, ‘Video Killed the Live Show’!

Fortunately live shows and tours are happening again but video and online performances will always be a part of an artist’s career.

This year I’ve worked with several artists on either live video shoots, preparing them to shoot music videos or prepping for online live or prerecorded shows.

The live video shoots are performed as if you’re doing a live show, but with no live audience. In one case I prepared the band’s show as I normally would, working on creating moments, and changing arrangements some to create space for those moments to happen. In another case, the arrangements were kept like the record but performed live.

This is challenging for any artist – to perform AS IF you’re in front of an audience, but you’re only performing for cameras.  In some ways, it can be easier for the artist, since when it comes to creating movement, the CAMERAS move instead, adding motion, angles and change of view.  I still however, tried to have the artist move like they would for an audience, to give it a more live feel.

At a video shoot, the director is overseeing the entire production, but sometimes isn’t able to focus on the minutiae of what the artist is doing, and that’s where I can come in and direct you on movement, facial expression and little things the camera will catch that an audience might not notice from stage. (Those closeups can be a killer!)

I recently prepped a male artist for a music video a couple of weeks prior to his shoot.  He said he needed some preparation going in, and I was happy to see him seek out help. Not knowing exactly what the director had in mind, I prepared the singer in different ways. 

First, we worked on him playing the song on guitar…moving with it, singing in front of a mic, etc.  Then we worked on singing it ‘live style’ withOUT the guitar – using a mic stand and then walking around with the mic. Lastly, we worked on what to do without guitar or mic…just moving around, walking, emoting with his arms, body, etc.  If you use the song (the vibe, the feel, the lyric) as your ‘script’, it will tell you what to do and how to express yourself. I had him rehearse following the camera with his eyes as well…there’s something special about the right kind of eye contact, and looking THROUGH the camera lens to make people really feel the emotion and artist connection.

By the end of the session, this artist felt like he had plenty of tools in his tool belt to go in and give the director what she needed at the shoot.

Tom and I of course, have also been prepping artists for better online/Facebook Live gigs as well and as we’ve done all along, critiques of your live videos; where you send us a live performance and we give you ideas for creating moments, what to do visually and lots more.  If we can’t come to you or you can’t get to Nashville, it’s the next best thing!

Time to up your game for going live….in person or on-camera, so make sure you’re ready!

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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