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Playing ≠ Exposure

September 9, 2013

2013-9-9“The gig pays in exposure. No cash,” says the cliché promoter as he puffs on his cigar. You may have heard this before. This is often a red flag that you may be getting ripped off, and there are plenty of blogs that will talk about that. However, I’d like to look at it from a different angle, not focus on the sleazy booking dude. Let’s pretend that this hypothetical gig would get you a lot of exposure, but is your show something worth exposing?

I know, I know. “Of course it is!” you insist. And you may be right. Chances are, you show doesn’t suck. It may be good. But what makes a good show? My point is, there are a lot of things musicians aren’t aware of that are keeping their concerts from getting the results they want. I would estimate that about 90% of local bands just get on stage and play without ever putting thought into the right areas.

The live show should be so much more than just getting up and playing songs.

I know we think that it’s all about the music, but its so much more. The sound is generally bad at local shows anyway, so you definitely can’t rely on muddy, pub audio to do the work.

How does your show compare to most other local shows around? Is the only difference between you and them the songs that you play? Because it most likely shouldn’t be. You should have the upper hand on talking to the crowd. You should have the upper hand on the visual experience. You should have the upper hand in story arc. You should be doing something more than just playing songs. Go above and beyond to make your live show stick out (and that doesn’t mean you have to go buy a bunch of expensive laser shows and fire).

Make your show so awesome that you are certain people will buy your merch or check out your site.  Playing for “exposure” is worthless if the exposure doesn’t pay you. Whether or not you should play for just “exposure” is a topic for another post, but the point of this post is that you should go out and make your show something that’s so awesome its worth exposing.  Your potential “exposure” may just walk on by and never follow up. So next time you meet with your band, start working on your concert. You can show them this post if you need to, whatever it takes to make your concert more awesome than it already is!

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  1. A Vital Concept That Many Bands Miss | Bandology

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