Fans Want to Have Fun
This may sound simple, but many artists overlook it. Fans want to have fun! They work all day, have problems at home and they want to go out and relax by having a good time. That's why they came to the club in the first place. Are you able to give them a good time? How do you intend to do entertain them? Rappers that don't do anything any differently at their show than they do in their practice space are boring... So make sure you put all the energy you can into it! You aren’t just a story teller, you are the story!
What's in it For Me?
I'm selfish. So what! I ask “what's in it for me?” all the time. Why shouldn't I? I'm all about me. I'm guessing you are all about you as well. Guess what! All your potential fans are asking “What's in it for me?” also. That's right.... like you and me, they all want something. So when you play a live show, you should be asking yourself “What can I give these people?”. When the show is over, you should be able to say “This is what I've done for you”. And I’m not talking just about rapping, it’s the overall impression you leave on the audience. Do they feel richer after leaving your show, even though they don’t actually have anything tangible to take with them?
When you start thinking the other way, and start reversing the “What's in it for me?” concept into “What can I do for you?”, that’s when you’ll succeed. You have to be generous and when you become generous you become successful. What if you passed out free shots to everyone in the bar, courtesy of “MC your name”? Is it expensive to do this? It can well be, but it’s nothing compared to the exposure it will give you. You call up the local liquor distributor and tell him what you are doing and you may get an awesome deal… Bottom line is, there’s a good chance the next time these people hear your name, they’ll accompany it with a smile. They sure won’t forget you, even though at this point you’re still just another fish in the ocean. That of course is just one example of “giving”, another and a good one would be free MP3s for your fans (we’ll write more about this in the next article).
If you focus on giving your fans as much as you possibly can, they'll return the favor. So what if you don’t make any noticeable profit right away? Think of it as a long term investment and success will follow. They'll come to your live shows and pay the entrance fee to get in (assuming you are entertaining). As any businessman would tell you, you have to give some to get some.
Fans Want Something to Talk About
Pay attention what are people talking about after any show. You'll hear people talk about how one girl fainted and how some guy puked all over the place. You'll hear about how guitarist smashed his guitar into pieces and how bouncers kicked the shit out of some dude. You won't hear the general buying public talking about how technically proficient your music was. Even more, most of the time you won't hear any talk about the music itself at all… Your music is what got their attention and made them your fans, which eventually led them to your gig. But once they’re at your show, they want more than just music. I think it’s fair to say that 80% of your performance should be about giving them something to talk about (of course, the quality of your music must not suffer because of it).
How Important Music Actually is at a Live Show?
That depends on your audience, but if a live show was 100% about music and nothing else, wouldn't someone just listen to the CD? Why would they go to a club, put up with bad air and crowd, pay to get in, etc? To me, the answer is simple. Live shows are not 100% about the music and you can't usually hear everything in a live show anyway. So if you have a live show coming up in 3 weeks what do you practice? What's the best way to spend your time? Most artists practice their music over and over again. That's great if you want to be a musician. But being a rapper (or a rock star for that matter), you need to do more. If you want to make money with your music, you need to be an entertainer. You don't have to be a musician to be an entertainer. Some guys can stand there and talk and be entertaining. (Impressive, actually). They are called comedians. Think about this in your live show. If music is only 20-30% of a live show, you need to spend 70% or more on the other parts. This would be the visual part of the show, and I’m not talking just about the lightshow.
Back in the days when rock music was Satan’s music (dangerous and bad), churches would protest rock concerts and parents ground their children. Nowadays, this same music is everywhere around us. It's kind of sad, isn’t it? Same goes for hip hop, which was negatively stereotyped by certain people that are just waiting for an excuse to label anything even remotely different from their own uptight standards as bad for a long time and now this beautiful culture evolved into a worldwide “movement” that knows no boundaries.
So even if your music is “normal” by today's standards, your live show doesn't have to be. Let’s take rock for example one more time. There is no rule that says you can't set your guitar down in the middle of a song and just start beating the crap out of your bass player. It's funny. Is that too harsh? Maybe, but rockers are like that so we could say it’s part of their culture to act like morons (no offence) and people expect them to act like that or they’ll be disappointed. Having that said, I’m not suggesting that you should beat the crap out of your posse members ;) as that would be pretty retarded if you ask me - I’m just saying that you need to start thinking out of the box, lay down the microphone for a second and pay attention to the crowd. Give them what they want, make them feel special and make this night unforgettable.
At the end of the day, live music is not what it used to be. Technology has changed. You can stay home all night and watch DVD’s. You can play PlayStation or Xbox. Back in seventies, you didn't have any of these things. Of course you went out. You didn't even know what a real band looked like back then because there was no MTV. You just listened to vinyl’s and tapes, so a live concert was a big deal. Now it is not.
People can download a “live” concert in about 3 mouse clicks, so give them something they can’t download. Give them one hell of a night!