My friend Fran Snyder (www.concertsinyourhome.com) has created a wonderful site for songwriters, performers and people who might want to actually have a concert right in their home. Here is a page from his blog that I thought you would enjoy and benefit from:
When you start to feel overwhelmed by your goals, it’s time to get back to basics. Here are a few bit-sized tips that can make a big difference in your music career over time.
1. Performance: Take your best song and practice it in front of the mirror.
How many times have you phoned this one in? How many times have you performed this song and just came up a little short of knocking someone out?
- Try opening your eyes and looking dead ahead when you get to the chorus.
- Try shaking your head when you get to that “no” in the song.
- Tilt your head when the songs asks a question.
When you perform, pretend you aren’t singing a song, but telling a personal friend an important, sensitive, intimate story. Sometimes when we perform we focus too much on notes and we forget about communication - this can stop all those natural things we do that add richness to a conversation. Even if you are playing guitar/piano, you can find ways to use your body (even your hands) to convey a key phrase more clearly.
2. Writing: Write a bad song.
How many times have you intimidated yourself out of sitting down to write? What if you decided to take 10 minutes every day to “goof off” with your writing? You might wind up with a hit, like this guy ——–>
- Try to come up with a catchy melody. Whistle, hum, play it on piano - anything that takes you out of your habits. Don’t think about words or chords, just a melodic line that sticks in your mind for a while.
- Try to write some great opening lines. Don’t worry about the story, just lines that grab the attention and make you want to hear more of the story.
Here are some nice opening lines:
“It’s been seven hours and fifteen days, since you took your love away”
- The artist currently known as Prince
“Got a wife and kids in Baltimore Jack, I went out for a ride and I never went back”
- The Boss
Honey don’t walk out I’m too drunk to follow. You know you won’t feel this way tomorrow
- Tom Petty & a great band.
“I found her diary underneath a tree and started reading about me”
“She walks in with a rattle snake in each hand, and she asks me for the truth.”
- Host a house concert - for someone else.
- Join a meetup group and offer to play a few songs at the next get-together
- Call a senior center or children’s hospital and ask if you could visit and play a few songs.
- Volunteer to help plan a popular local band’s CD release party if they let you open the show.
Gigging can be one of the quickest “rutt-inducing” activities for artists. Sometimes you keep repeating a gig that pays well - but you hate it. Challenge yourself to do something different, and you might find some unlikely inspiration, or an opportunity to modify the way you currently approach your performances.
4. Promotion: Embrace it.
Making great music is the most important thing - unless you want people to hear it. I’m only half-joking. Great music is what makes people coming back, but you have to take it to them first. Choose one promotional tool today (your website, your myspace page, your bio, or your EPK) and make it better. Look at it with fresh eyes and decide what you want it to accomplish, and how well you think it’s doing.
For example, I saw a website the other day that was very sedate-looking, and the headline was “Dedicated to the Music of …(artist name withheld). It looked like a tribute site. I emailed him to see if he was actually dead. We had a laugh. “I’m not dead yet!”
- Make your bio different. Yes, you can tuck in the necessary facts but be creative. Talk in terms that cause emotion, that make you a real person, not just some hype-savvy publicist. It’s not fooling anyone. Make yourself read 20 artist bios on myspace and you’ll see very quickly what everybody is doing wrong. They’re being the same.
- Create a fun banner that your fans can place on their myspace/facebook page. “Fran’s music saved my life.” Or something like “Adrianne’s music makes me hot!” I’d click on that banner. 8^)
5. Take a break.
If items 1-4 above don’t trigger anything, maybe it’s time.
Regret is probably too strong a word, but there are several times in my music career that look like blown opportunities. Key moments where I could have have been better prepared and achieved a much greater result. I wasn’t prepared because I was burnt. Rutted. I should have taken a break.
A final word. (I’m not dead yet!)
Think about it. At any given moment, there could be someone you don’t know, in the audience, or looking at your website. That person might be in a position to help you. They might only have time to hear one song or read one paragraph.
- Online: Make sure it’s your best song. Your best paragraph.
- On Stage: Communicate. Don’t just play chords and sing.