Cee Lo Green found himself amidst some controversy this week when he switched up the lyrics for John Lennon’s Imagine during a live New Year’s Eve performance. Instead of singing “Nothing to kill or die for. And no religion too,” the line was changed to “And all religion’s true.” Needless to say, Lennon fans raced to the Internet to voice their less-than-pleased opinions on the matter. Behold, the power of live TV.
Performing live certainly gives you and your band a kind of power. All eyes are on you, and at that moment, you can make or break your career as a musician. But there are also a few common-sense rules to follow to ensure many performances to come. Here are a few tips for what NOT to do at a gig:
1. DON’T…Show Up Late
Promoters and venues ask you to arrive at a certain time for a good reason. They need that time to load you in and get soundcheck set up. They are asking you to be there at that time so they can give you everything you need to have a great show. They’re not doing it to inconvenience you, and they’re not doing it because they just like to stand around for hours before a show actually begins.
Don’t arbitrarily decide that you think load-in is too early or that you won’t really need all that time for soundcheck. When you don’t arrive on time, no one else can do their jobs. Plus, it means that the promoter and venue may be paying people to stand around and do nothing while they await your fashionably late arrival – something that is not going to endear you to them. When you come late, you send the whole operation into panic mode and make what should be a calm time of prepping for a good show a completely stressful few hours instead – and that could affect your set.
2. DON’T…Abuse the Guest List
Even if a promoter or venue loves your music, that doesn’t mean that they want to lose money on your show. It may seem to you like you should be able to bring anyone into your show you want for free, but the thing is, your guest list spots aren’t REALLY free – they may just feel that way to you. Somewhere, someone is giving up the ticket price of every person who walks through the door gratis. You should negotiate with the promoter or venue up front how many guest list places you’ll get – and then leave it at that. Don’t go out before the show, waltz around town, pick up an entourage and promise them all free entry to the show. What you’re really doing then is asking the promoter or venue to fund your friends’ nights out. How is that fair?
3. DON’T…Overstay (or Understay) Your Welcome
This one is especially important if you are not the headlining band – but even if you are, it is important to adhere as closely to any pre-determined set length as possible. These stage times are drawn up to make sure the whole night runs smoothly, from changeovers to giving the venue enough time after your show to get everyone out and clean up. If you’re one of the support bands, if you go over, you’re taking time away from the headliners – a big, big no-no. If you are the headliners, the time you’re asked to wrap things up may have something to do with noise ordinance laws, licensing laws and all sorts of other regulations – your failure to stick by the plan could have serious consequences for the venue.
4. DON’T…Be a Diva
For a live show to really work, it takes a team effort. The people working at the venue and the promoter don’t work FOR you – they’re working with you. Treat them as such. It’s perfectly OK to ask for things you need to make your show great, but your approach makes all the difference. Give them the respect you’d like to have from them, and when things go well, thank everyone for a job well done. Even if you played the worst show of your life and only five people paid in, your good attitude is goodwill in the bank that will help you get another shot at another show.
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Image courtesy of http://studio21music.com/music/performances.html