There are scads of performers gyrating on stages around the globe each night and an equal number of people having sex. Some will be adventurous and make the moment a peak experience while others will go through the motions, waiting for magic that never comes. A great performance, like an orgasm, only occurs when people are willing to let go. Arena performers have a tremendous advantage with respect to foreplay. The audience is already in love. They are primed by radio play and videos to expect an amazing show. As the star steps on stage, the crowd roars with approval. If this seems unfair, just remember: Fan loyalty is built from years of great performances — starting in the clubs or on YouTube.
The purpose of playing clubs and posting videos is to expose yourself to strangers (I’ll try and keep the puns to a minimum.) Even as a headliner, there will be fans of the opening act to convert. By virtue of standing behind a microphone or posting a video, you represent your music to potential fans. The courtship begins with the first song; think of it as a first date. Be aggressive, coy, sexy or witty, just be something. It’s worth risking ridicule to break the ice. Those who identify with you will come together in support. Should you win a majority vote; the momentum will sway the undecided. It’s called collective consciousness and it’s definitely a peak experience. This will never happen, though, if you expect audiences to bond automatically.
People file into clubs or surf on-line as individuals. The smaller the crowd or view-count, the more isolated people feel. Except for the lone drunk who’s dancing before the music starts, most people in a club need a little stroking before they bond together as a group. Stand confident as those in the audience form opinions. Don’t rush to judgment if viewers stare blank-faced. Some people even if they’re into you, won’t let it show. This is usually where the inexperienced get into trouble and feel compelled to do something drastic. I’ve seen performers insult an unresponsive crowd. Besides being lousy foreplay, I’ve never seen it work. Lots of singers resort to pushing their voices. The most common reaction to the increased effort, unfortunately, is a blown voice. Singing with more force does not equal more emotion. If your music requires you to sing hard, then do so. If you don’t think you can be heard, then kick your guitar player.
There are also selfish singers who use YouTube to purge their energy with no regard to connecting with the song. This amounts to nothing more than asking people to watch you masturbate; good for getting attention but leaves viewers unfulfilled. Leaving the audience drained of energy is a better gage of performance. When preparing a video to post ask yourself what the song means to you. It’s okay if you think you sing it really well – but it’s better if the song moves you really well. People will feel the difference and respond with “likes.”
Relationships are built by addressing people as humans first. Show respect and acknowledge the mood in a club — whatever that mood may be. Be present and feel the vibe. It may mean changing a set list slightly or talking a little more, or less, between songs. On YouTube that means giving viewers a little insight about what the song means to you. Open yourself up to people, and they will open to you. Stand before an audience with your shield up, and they will do the same.
Only after you connect with a crowd will they bond and be ready to go wherever you want. Once you have their trust and attention, you’re free to tease and taunt and challenge them to keep up. Take them somewhere they’ve never been, and they will never forget you. Your draw will soon require an arena and your performances will always finish with the big “O” (an ovation of course)!