Get off the stage, they like you

One Direction lyricsA little note for the younger bands and singers out there. I went to see a promising singer last weekend. He has a great voice and an even greater talent in using it in any way he wants. This was his night, in a small jazz club with a few guests to flesh out the bill.

As he does not yet have a commercial release, he made the wise decision of singing his own material interspersed with covers. First comment: make sure your cover is recognisable, but sufficiently different from the original that people don’t think it’s a karaoke night.

A musician or two dropped in occasionally, as well as a guest singer. Everything was going swimmingly, basically. The trouble is, it didn’t stop. He announced the last song but didn’t get off the stage after it. Mistake. Feeling that the audience was enjoying the show, he began to step outside his rehearsed repertoire. OK for one song. By the second, it was clear his piano chops weren’t quite there. So he went back and re-sang an earlier song. Mistake. Followed by another thing he was working on. Mistake.

By this time, the applause was thinning considerably. The friends and family were clapping, the others were fidgeting. I wanted to shout at him,”Get off the stage, they still like you.”

If an A&R man or a potential manager had been there, they would have left 20 minutes before that.

If I didn’t want to talk to him afterwards, I would have left 10 minutes earlier than I did. In other words, if an A&R man or a potential manager had been there, they would have left 20 minutes before.

Sometimes, too much really is too much. You are far better off leaving people wanting more than feeling they have heard the entirety of your repertoire. What you want to provoke is people running up and asking when you are playing next. Don’t wear your audience out, it might be the last time you see them.

Michael Leahy

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