Artist Development audience concert

Published on November 18th, 2012 | by Hugh Hession


The importance of being an entertainer from Van Halen

If there is one thing I’m always preaching to bands about, it’s the importance of creating a live show that is memorable…the kind of show that people will be talking about with their friends days later. Too many bands are missing the boat when they only focus on playing and NOT performing. Want to gain an edge? Stop being boring. The music may be good (and to me, that should be a given), however if you’re doing the typical, start a song, stop a song, get a drink, figure out what song you’re going to do next, discuss this with the rest of the band and then after all that, FINALLY say something to your audience…please, please…STOP that madness!

You gotta ask yourself – is it working for you?

And, while we’re on the subject. Do you wait for the crowd to respond before you do? What I mean is, does the flow of the night depend upon you feeding off audience reaction? It’s tough stuff to admit, I know, but it’s so common. You want to stick out, right? Then you need to put on a show that people will want to come back for…a show that they will already have on their calendar weeks before you come to their city.

I wanted to bring you some perspective on this, from one of the greatest rock-n-roll bands in history – Van Halen. This is actually one of their recent “interview” style videos on their website.

David Lee Roth:

“I watch a lot of artists in interviews talking about how they feed off the crowd, and the crowd provides the energy and then you are compelled no matter how you feel. I’ve never felt that way. I’ve always thought that it’s my job to bring the cake, the Kool-Aid, set up the lights, make the pancakes, fire up the organ grinding, put the hat on and jump out front and do the fucking dance. And if I was any good at all, much less the band I was in, then everyone would have just the best time ever possible, and I would enjoy that with them to some small degree because their really good host is always thinking 6 beats ahead.”

Eddie Van Halen:

“You can’t depend on the audience to make you happy…It’s gotta be the other way around, you gotta get them cookin.”

Alex Van Halen:

“If you’re waiting for an audience to get you motivated, than maybe you should find a different job.”

Some pretty heavy stuff from a band that is known not only for their musical ability and songwriting genius, but also, their entertainment value.

Here is the vid. Go to 7:29 for the bit on performance.

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About the Author

owns and operates Emerging Artists Entertainment Marketing & Consulting, LLC - a company devoted to cultivating aspiring music artists, He is also the head of Hession Entertainment Group, LLC (artist management) and the Music Industry Liaison for the artist discovery site, TalentWatch ( He has over 25 years experience in the music business as a performer, composer, producer and artist manager. Hugh holds a BA in Marketing and is a professional member of NARIP and a voting member of The Recording Academy. He often speaks at seminars and workshops on artist development.

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