Performing live is one of the best things about being a musician. Whether you’re in a band, or you’re a solo artist, it doesn’t get much better than walking out on stage in front of a big crowd and tearing the roof off the venue.
Every gigging musician knows that sometimes, things go pear-shaped. Sometimes the problems are out your control, but other times, mistakes can be easily avoided.
The experts over at OpenLIVE – a hi-res music recording and distro platform who’ve recorded countless live shows for bands – have offered some straightforward advice when it comes to getting the best from your live set, and making the most of a live recording.
Simple Performance Tips to Improve Your Live Show
Tune yourself, tune your band
This may seem a little obvious to most gigging musicians but we often hear recordings that contain out of tune instruments, or instruments not in tune with each other (let's not get started on some of the vocalists…)
Buy a decent tuner, have it on stage with you, make sure it has a bypass function (the audience doesn’t need to hear your tuning!) and if you find you're hearing something or someone out of tune during your gig take the time to fix it. There’s nothing worse than an out-of-tune band performing live, and you’ll appreciate getting it right when you listen back.
Use appropriate volume levels on stage
A FOH (front-of-house) engineer only has so much they can work with. If your lead guitarist turns up to a 100 capacity venue with a Marshall stack turned to 11, all the engineer can do is take them out of the PA all together. Plus the rest of the band will start turning their volumes up to match.
This only results in NO control of the sound by your poor FOH engineer. This is when you'll spot them heading to the bar…
Keep all stage levels to the bare minimum and have even volumes across all amps & instruments. Yes, you need to trust your FOH engineer to complete the magic for you (if no trust, might be time for a change). Oh, and don’t wait until halfway through the gig to inform them that you can't hear yourself through the monitors. Get this sorted during the first song if you can.
Think twice before cranking the volume up on your amp
Practice, record & learn
We've all had those shows where you're thinking you're blowing the crowd away, only to come off stage and be told by your honest mate that the sound stunk out front. Or Vice Versa.
Don't always listen to your family & friends when they tell you how great you were! 75% of the time, they’re probably just being nice. Practice more. Learn your parts. Get your tone right. Get your arrangements right. Stay sober.
Aspire to the standards set by musicians who recorded entire discs in a single take during the 40's, 50's and 60's, before multitrack tape!
Keep it real & keep going
That’s the power of live. It’s RAW and REAL. That’s what the fans love about it. They’re human and they want to know you are too. You made a mistake on the night – don’t stress! Your fans are there to hear different versions of your tracks.
A mistake is just a different version. Don’t shy away from it – embrace it! And don’t let that hold you back from giving your fans access to it. No doubt at least a quarter of the people that came along would love to own a copy of a live track.
Record your show
It stands to reason that you’d want to record yourself playing live, not only to generate a awesome live audio track or video, but also to watch back and see what you’re doing right – and more importantly, what you’re doing wrong!
There are a bunch of other great reason to record your live performances. It offers more material to share with managers, labels, press and fans, and it’s a great resource from which to gauge the crowd’s reaction to any new tracks you might have played, or just your whole show in general.
You could even sell a copy of the entire gig (or just a track) in Hi-Res from the OpenLIVE download store. Consider it more merch that your fans would love to get hold of! You can learn more about OpenLIVE at the end of this article.
Give your fans a better live recording than the one on their phone
Give your fans a copy of your live track – for a price
Sure there are lots of platforms where fans can access music for free. But that doesn’t mean you should be always thinking about giving your music away. That also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give your super fans the odd freebie; but once something is free it’s hard to get people to pay for it! Why would they?
You put a lot of work into your music. Hours rehearsing, dragging gear around, money on equipment. If you make good music people will pay!
And those people that came to your gig are the people most likely to pay! They’re clearly your biggest fans. So give them a memento of the night – for a price. Just like you do with merch. Let them remember how good the gig was. The more they listen to you the better! Your live music is something special. Put a price on it and give your fans a chance to own it.
Remember, “Content is King!” Create great live music to engage your fans. Give life to the gig long after you walk offstage. Your fans will love you for it, trust us!
Using OpenLIVE to record your gig
OpenLIVE is an Australian hi-res music recording and distribution platform offering tech that allows you to schedule a recording for any gig you play at any OpenLIVE-enabled venue. Within minutes of the ‘last note played’ you’ll have an awesome sounding recording, fully mixed, mastered & optimised, sitting in your secure OpenLIVE dashboard ready for you to review.