by Tom Jackson
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a surefire strategy to get more gigs: no matter who your audience is, you need to Exceed Their Expectations!
But before you can exceed an audience’s expectations, you need to know exactly what they do expect. You might be surprised to hear what it is…
Almost everyone involved (musicians and audience alike) thinks that the reason people go to a concert is to hear music. So of course the usual goal for musicians and singers is to technically play and sing the songs perfectly.
This isn’t any more true than to say a movie audience goes to a movie to see great technical skills. But they don’t go to look at lighting, camera angles, blocking and positioning, the actors’ movements, timing or delivery. They go to get pulled into the story; to experience “moments” in the film!
In a concert, technical perfection is not the goal; the goal is communication. Now I’m not saying “don’t play well.” You should nail the vocals, find great tones, play tight – but the common person in the audience doesn’t know if you’re playing a mixolydian scale, if the drummer is doing a triple stroke roll, or if the singer is hitting a high C or drinking it!
Here are the real reasons an audience goes to an event:
1) To be captured and engaged.
If they’re looking down at their watches and thinking the show is too long, they won’t be captured and engaged. They want to be present in the moment. They don’t want to be thinking about something else when you’re singing. They don’t want to be thinking about school or work the next day, or the kids at home, or whatever is going on – you want them completely engaged, with you all the way.
2) To experience moments.
Your audience wants to laugh, cry, be touched in some way. They want to be a participant. They don’t want to just listen to music and hear words. They want to laugh, cry, and have fun. They want us to tug on their heart-strings. They want to learn, fellowship, hear great songs and great music (two different things, I might add). People come to experience the show. They come for the moments.
3) To be changed or transformed.
People want something to happen during the concert to move them, to help them grow, to make them think, to bring relief from a stressful day…they want to be changed. Is that happening at your shows?
The artists I work with, the ones that really want to develop their show, run everything through this grid. They understand that if they ask themselves, “are we capturing and engaging the audience, are we creating moments, are we changing them” – that’s what will help them exceed their audience’s expectations.
And isn’t that what we should be doing?