playing live

Playing Live As An Artist

By Devlon Horne
In Jun 24, 2016

If you’re a solo artist or in a band who’s currently playing live, and you have any serious intentions of succeeding in the music industry, then what you play when you step on stage, how you deliver it and the impact it has shouldn’t be underestimated. A great live show or an awful live show can be the difference between ‘making it’ or not.

Structure Your Set

When playing live, you set should have a beginning, middle and end, and most people in the audience will remember what you play first and last. That means the first thing you play is the most important, especially since there’s the possibility of record company representatives being in the audience.  Try to make an impression with your opening number: it should be one of your strongest songs. The same goes for the last song. If the audience have stuck around, then make sure they leave with something to remember.

Establish a Stage Presence When Playing Live

It’s not just what the audience hears that’s important, it’s also what they see, so try to be aware of what you do on stage. Unless you’re an already established band, try not to turn your back on the audience. Instead, try and play to and for them. It’s not appropriate for every band, but think about what you’re wearing and how you present yourselves too. Simple things are often the most effective and easy to achieve when playing live — for example, all dress in black and only use white ties. Again, it might not be right for every band, but try to think about how you want your band to be perceived.


Make Your Live Set The Right Length

Do make sure that you don’t make your set too long. It’s much better playing live for a blistering 20 minutes that leaves people wanting more rather than 45 minutes with people yawning and looking at their watches. Also, definitely don’t play an encore unless everyone in the room is shouting for one. There’s nothing worse than a band coming back on to play to an empty room. Just ask anyone who’s had their fair share of playing live shows.


Don’t Overdo The Banter

Avoid spending ages between songs explaining that you wrote this one for your mum, girlfriend or a dead dog or especially what album this song comes from. No one will be interested until they’re a fan of the band! The same goes for repeating the website address and introducing your individual band members. It’s good to interact with the audience, but keep it simple. Tell the audience the name of the band when you come on and when you go off. If you want to say something between songs, then make sure you’re confident that it’s worth saying. It’s harder than it looks to be funny. it’s usually better to keep it minimal.


Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse

It may seem obvious, but the more you rehearse the better you’ll play when you perform live to an audience. Ideally, try to film yourself in rehearsal so you can see how you look and sound. These rehearsals prior to a gig shouldn’t be about learning the songs, they should be about playing the live set over and over until it’s as tight as possible. The better rehearsed you are the more confident you’ll be and in turn the less likely you are to be nervous and that means you won’t make as many mistakes.

At least that’s the plan, anyway!

© Guitar Excellence 2016 All Rights Reserved

Profile photo of Devlon Horne

*Has over 10 000 hours teaching experience *He has played locally and abroad for original & cover bands *Has biceps 3 times the size of an acoustic guitar's fretboard radius *Graduated top of his class at Damelin Contemporary School of Music

Leave A Comment