If you’re fortunate enough to be a musician that gets to work in public, there is some business to take care of during your show. In general, it’s the lead vocalist that communicates with the crowd, but anyone in the band with access to a microphone can participate.
A lot of these things may seem obvious. You may also already be doing them without realizing it, or more importantly, realizing how it actually benefits your band. These are all very simple things to include in your “repartee” during the course of your show, and many of them should even be repeated. Some won’t always apply, but it’s still a good idea to have a mental checklist anytime you play a gig.
1. The Name of the Band
Show attendee #1 – “These guys are cool. What’s their name?”
Show attendee #2 – “I don’t know.”
Show attendee #1 – “Hey, let’s get a shot!”
If you don’t have a banner behind you or a logo on the kick drum (or even if you do, because some folks don’t bother to read) you should say the name of the band on the mic often during the course of the gig. If people are digging you, they’ll want to know your name so they can tell other people how much they liked you. So say it loud and proud throughout the show.
2. The Names of the Players in the Band
This duty will usually fall on the lead singer. It could be included in an improvisational jam in a song where everyone gets a spotlight solo. You can also mention certain individual’s names before, during, or after a prominent part that they play in a tune. Or you could simply introduce everyone in the band at the end of the gig.
Whatever the method, it’s important to acknowledge the people on stage. The band will always appreciate the recognition and the folks in the audience that are enjoying the show will be able to put names to the faces.
3. The Name of the Venue and/or Location
This is sometimes overlooked by bands and may seem unnecessary or ridiculous, but it serves a few purposes:
- Sometimes people go out to party and forget where they are. You’re there to help.
- People love to cheer when their town/city/state/venue is mentioned. Works every time.
- The staff/management/person-who-is-paying-you will always appreciate it.
- It also helps you to remember where you are.
Include it in the various banter throughout the gig, and always give props to how great it is to be there.
4. The Bartender's Names
The bartenders are your best allies at a show in a club, bar, or pub. They’re pretty much the people running things. You want to acknowledge him, her, or them by name several times during the gig. If you’re drinking, this action will benefit you. If the bartender is also the owner or manager, this will benefit you. You’ll make a friend, you’ll be asked back, and you’ll make the world a better place.
5. The Name of the Song
This is one to use in moderation. If you’re playing a song that everyone knows, then you obviously don’t need to tell everyone the name. If all of your songs are recognizable to the masses, then you might never have to follow this guideline. But if you’re playing more obscure covers, or perhaps playing your own originals, then you should definitely keep the crowd in the loop so that they feel more involved in the show.
6. The Name of Other Bands on the Bill
If you’re playing a gig with several bands, or even just one other act, you should acknowledge them on the mic by thanking them, telling the crowd how cool they are, or telling the crowd to stick around for them. We’re all in this together, and if we want to excel we need to have each other’s backs.
7. Where You're From
In most cases, the members of a band are from different areas but the group usually has a home base. Tell the people! If you’re playing in your hometown, you’ll get a great response. If you’re on the road, folks will think you’re even cooler because you’re from somewhere else. It’s another easy way to have something to celebrate during your gig.
Quite often, the success of your band is directly related to the amount of alcohol the venue is selling. Some musicians don’t like the idea of being thought of as salesmen, but the simple fact is that you are, even if you’re not trying. So you might as well put your best effort forward.
Give random toasts. Mention any drink specials. It’s a party and you’re the host, so you can easily encourage people to go to the bar and enjoy themselves. It will make the gig more fun for everyone and will lead to more sales for the business, which can do nothing but help your band.
9. It's Somebody's Birthday!
Even if it’s not.
In many cases when you’re performing, there are employees working that will customarily receive tips. Any venue that serves alcohol will have bartenders that rely heavily on gratuities for their income, and quite often there are other staff members that expect tips as part of their pay. It’s good practice to remind patrons on the mic to tip these hard working folks.
Some bands and performers will also provide a tip jar for fans to throw in a some cash. If you’re playing some of the bigger clubs, festivals, or casinos a tip jar isn’t usually practical. In all other cases, it’s a good idea to have a way for people to give you money. Set it up so it’s accessible to people but not necessarily in a prominent location, and mention it on the mic a time or two.
11. Join our Mailing List!
If you don’t already have a way for people to sign up for your mailing list, you need to make that happen, even if you don’t yet send out a newsletter (but you should do that, too). It can be as simple as a piece of paper with your band’s logo at the top and fields for people to write down their name and email address. Now that you have that covered, tell everybody about it on the mic.
12. Check out our Website/Facebook Page
Your website address should be on your banner or bass drum head. If it’s not, or if you don’t have those things, then you should announce the URL on occasion. You may not get a whole lot of new followers or Facebook “Likes” as a result, but people are using their smart phones all the time in public, so if they like your band, they might just look you up and “Like” you right there at your show.
13. Buy our Stuff!
This is, of course, only true if you have stuff to shill. If you do, you’ve got to let people know and make it easy for them to purchase. You’ve already invested some money in creating a product with the intention to sell it, so this is an ideal platform to accomplish the mission. There’s nothing wrong with hawking your wares when you have a captive audience. If they like you, they’ll be excited to buy your stuff.
14. The Next Show
If you’re playing at the same venue again in the future, you want to let the audience know when you’ll be back. If you have more gigs coming up, let the crowd know that too, by referring them to your schedule on your website or Facebook Page. If they’ve stuck around until the end of your gig, then there’s a good chance you’ll see them again somewhere.
(Note: It’s poor etiquette to announce a future gig at a specific different venue.)
15. Thank You 🙂
People like to be thanked. It makes them feel good. It makes you feel good, too. Thank the staff, especially the bartenders. Thank the people in the crowd for coming and sticking around. Thank the rest of the band. Do it regularly yet sporadically throughout the gig. Nothing brings about more of what you’re looking to achieve than gratitude.
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