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How to Create a Live Performance Checklist

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If you are a performing musician - especially one that plays out and tours often - I believe you should have a live performance checklist.

In my experience, you can easily get swallowed up by the excitement onstage, forgetting to carry out important marketing duties while you have the audience’s attention. Remembering what you were going to say to onlookers after the fact is a little late. You could be leaving a lot of opportunities - and cash -on the table if you are not in the habit of communicating your priorities.

If you create a performance checklist for yourself, you will be less prone to neglecting your marketing efforts as a musician. Let’s explore this concept in more detail.

What is a Live Performance Checklist?

My definition of a performance checklist is a list of everything that you need to do while you are on stage. A gear checklist (that lists every piece of gear you bring with you) or a marketing checklist (that outlines your marketing duties before, during and after every show) would be separate entities, though no less important.

Your checklist may change from one show to another, based on what you are promoting and what you have plans to do next.

What Items should be Included on a Performance Checklist?

If you have any shows coming up that you want to promote, that should be on your list.

If you have limited-time merch offers that your fans can purchase at discount prices, then that should be on your list.

In my case, my list may have looked something like this:

  • Announce your website address on stage. Twice.
  • Take a photograph of the audience.
  • Let the audience know about your newsletter and give them the opportunity to sign up.
  • Mention your latest release and give the crowd the opportunity to buy it.
  • Give away an album to the first person who answers a music trivia question correctly.
  • Let people know about your next show.

This list could be taped to the back of your guitar or the side of your snare drum. The more things you have to promote, the more likely you are to forget something. If you have the checklist in front of you, you can mentally check off items as you announce them from stage.

If you’ve kicked yourself for not being as prepared as you could have been for any given performance, you won’t regret the extra time it takes to make a memo for yourself.

Now don’t misunderstand what I’m saying; these items are definitely not as important as connecting and engaging with your audience, telling stories, sharing experiences, and so on. However, you don’t want to leave valuable opportunities on the table either.

What are the Benefits of a Performance Checklist?

If you have a show coming up, but no one that was at your show knows about it, you’ll have to reach out to your fans in some other way later. This could prove difficult, as you may not have the contact information of everyone that was in attendance.

If you have a merch special, but no one at your show knows about it, your merch sales aren’t going to skyrocket on their own. Had your fans been presented with the opportunity, some of them may have sprung for a package deal.

So, in short, the benefit of making a checklist is that you will do a better job of promoting the things that are important to you. I’ve already hinted at the fact that your priorities might be different from mine. Your list will help you sort out what those priorities are.

Perhaps you know bands that do well with selling vinyl records. If you don’t have any vinyl albums to sell, that would not be a priority for you. Perhaps your website is not set up yet. If that’s the case, there’s no point in promoting it at your next show.

Conclusion

Creating a live performance checklist is a simple thing, but it can help you to make the most of every show you play. After all, you don’t want the outcome of your performance to be that you just played another show. You want to take advantage of the opportunities that are in front of you, and milk them dry.

I’m not suggesting that you manipulate people or cheat people out of their money. I am simply saying that, if there is someone in the crowd who could help you to move your career forward, you will be thankful for having done the little things to mine for gold.

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