9 Tips For Bands To Master Live Showcases


With SXSW now underway in Austin, we turn our attention to the skills required when playing a showcase.

Unlike a your own shows, showcases pack many artists onto a bill to play to a crowd of people who very unlikely know any of your music. So, there is an art to the live showcase experience and we wanted to take the time to outline some helpful ways to make the most of your next showcase:

1. Register shows w/ PRO

So many bands and solo artists overlook the fact that it is possible to get paid performance royalties for live shows. In order to do so, you need to first be affiliated with a PRO, and then you need to get set up with their live performance royalties programs. Last week, we published our guide to getting paid royalties from live performance.

2. Analyze the audience

Show up to the event early and get a feel for the audience. See what style songs seem to be working well, which seem to leave the audience cold, and then tweak your setlist and approach to match the audience in order to see the best results.

3. Engage with the audience

Unlike your own shows, it is likely that the majority of the audience will be unfamiliar with you and/ or your music. In order to make the most of the situation, try reaching out to the audience in order to break the ice. This may help these new listeners to let their guard down and give your songs the chance they deserve.

4. Be flexible

No one likes dealing with a diva. When dealing with a showcase, you are only one of many artists/ bands to perform, so it is imperative that you be flexible. If you're time is cut a bit short, the sound isn't perfect, your amp has to be moved, or any other similar, and (quite honestly common) scenario, being flexible will help you to garner far better results from the experience.

5. Work the crowd

Whether you'd like to think of a showcase as a competition or not, the fact remains that you are competition with all of the other acts for the attention and affection of the crowd. The only way to truly come out a winner here is to work the crowd and the stage and to give the audience an experience they won't forget.

6. End with a bang

Understanding the science of a setlist is very important, and even more important is understanding the simple idea of going out on a high note. The best move you can make is to save your absolute best, most audience attention-catching song for the set finale, as it will not only ensure that you are remembered long after the set is over, but it will leave the audience wanting more!

7. Take chances!

While it may seem best to play it safe with your performance, the bands that are the most likely to find success from taking part is a showcase are the ones that go above and beyond and take some risks. Although they don't always pay off, it is more likely that the risk will lead to something special than it is for your 'safe' performance to lead to anything at all.

8. Play a cover song

If you really want to stick in the minds of these potential new fans, give a well-known song your own spin to perform a cover version. The more iconic the better! A word of caution: avoid karaoke versions and really find something new to bring to an old song. Slow it down, rock it up - whatever!

9. Announce your band's and each song's name

By announcing your name and the name of each song that you perform, you are increase the chances that these potential new fans will look you up online after the show!

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