Artist Development How to improve your stage presence and win over audiences.

Published on August 29th, 2013 | by Hugh Hession


What it takes to win over your audience, Pt 2

This is part 2 of 3 series on winning over your audience. This series brings to light the typical mindset of a band when dealing with a difficult or a non-responsive audience and offers time-tested tips on how to overcome performance obstacles with your audience whether you’re playing in a new city or just dealing with a general snag at one of your shows. Click here if you haven’t read part 1.

What creates a strong memory?

What I want you to do now, is to go back in time and think about one of the fondest memories you’ve ever had. Why does it stick out as one of your all time best? What are the situations, events, people or objects that are attached to this memory? What emotions and feelings does it elicit?

One thing I’ve learned is this. The strongest memories have two things in common. One, they are often associated with something which serves as a link or an anchor to that particular memory; and two, the strongest memories are not just interpreted as random events, but rather something that are remembered as an experience.

There is a huge difference between just being at an event and experiencing it. An experience is something that entices all your senses; it’s exciting and keeps you completely enthralled in the moment. Think of all the parties you’ve been to. Most I bet, you can’t remember. However, I guarantee that the parties you do remember, have experiences linked to them and are firmly attached as an anchor in your memory. It could be that crazy strip poker game you played. Maybe you met someone special that night and also associate that moment with a certain song that was playing in the background. Can you relate?

Taking back the control

The mindset behind every show you perform, should be based upon the above principles and consistently implemented. 1). What can you do to stick out and become instantly recognizable AND memorable even after the show is over? 2).  How can you ensure that you’re giving your audiences an experience to remember and not just some random show? You’ll find that both tend to work hand in hand. Hopefully, you are starting to see how effective this can actually be in gaining a huge edge as a band.

Two core beliefs that you should take hold of now

1. You and only you are accountable for the show you deliver

Yes, the buck stops with you. As we talked about in part 1, you can come up with every excuse under the sun. And don’t think I haven’t used them at any given time in my career. This is coming from a voice of experience! You have to put yourself in check. If you can’t be responsible for your own actions, then you fall into the trap of being a “victim.”

2. Never let the audience dictate the level of your performance

When you depend on your audience to get you off before you do it to them, you’re in trouble. You have to be the accommodating partner, every time! It’s your job to pleasure. And if you do it right, only then will you get full reciprocation.

I’ll say this. You’ll find that your audience will rarely be in agreement with your reasons behind a bad show. They won’t care that you couldn’t hear yourself in the monitor. The only thing they saw, was you looking uncomfortable and constantly pointing down at “that big speaker” in front of you, while motioning with your finger to the sound man to turn it up. They won’t agree with your reasoning that they need to clap, whistle and yell first, so you can then play at 100%. You’re the entertainment, not the other way around!

BTW, this is a great explanation regarding consumer experience and associations. It’s from a retail point of view, which is all the better. Read it. It’s short and sweet. Remember, you’re a business, selling a service and a product!

Stick around! In part 3 of this series I will talk about some things you can do as a band to consistently deliver a top notch show…no wait, an experience!

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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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