Photo by: Catchlight Portraits
Here are SEVEN ways to be genuine AND interesting. To fill the space powerfully -says Alyse Black.
She’s won various songwriting contests and had her music featured in various television shows and adverts. After playing over 700 venues, Alyse shares her stage craft secrets:
I recently went to an invite-only showcase to play my record and perform my live show for 30 top music supervisors in film, TV, advertising, and anything else that pays to place your song. Every single artist there was playing a big game – and they were very good.
Was I intimidated? Yes!
I wanted to stand out but I also wanted to feel authentic. I was terrified that I would waste this incredible opportunity by being ho-hum OR by being fake. So here’s what I did!
(All of this presupposes you are well-rehearsed because, without putting in the time to feel confident on the material, everyone stumbles and feels small.)
Know your purpose. Aside from the music itself, what do you believe and how do you want to leave the world differently from how you found it? To quote Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it.” WHY do you make music? OWN THAT. And don’t apologize for it.
Stretch. Warm up your voice. Stretch your body all over in addition to your jaw, neck, and shoulders. Then sing as loudly as you comfortably can at the end of your warmup – fill the space with your voice. Don’t apologize for it if someone happens to be listening to your warmup.
Find your core and let it explode. Your voice and energy have an effect on everyone around you. Here’s an exercise to feel that. Close your eyes. Imagine a ball of light in your chest. Imagine it expanding to encompass your whole body. Feel it shining brightly. Imagine it expanding to fill the room you are in. Feel it shining brightly. Repeat with the whole building. The whole city. The whole state. The whole country. The whole earth. And, finally, the whole universe. You are the whole universe and the whole universe is you. Open your eyes. Go be The Universe.
Know who you are and then play the HUGE version of that. Examine everything that makes you unique, then blow it up. There is an element of acting to this, but it is more like giving yourself permission to be yourself completely. Don’t apologize for it. That’s why they came, and that’s why they’ll come again.
Spread yourself out. Take up the stage as much as your little heart feels like. Take a deep breath between songs. Don’t rush. Say what you feel into the microphone from your core, but don’t bore us; get to the chorus. And the chorus is your honest body and soul. Don’t apologize for being a human, in all its imperfect beauty.
Play like you’re on Madison Square Garden. Look into their eyes and a little above their heads, as if you were playing a stadium and you were looking out to the back of the arena as well as deep into their souls. Milk the moments worth milking straight into peoples’ eyes. Let go and be the unapologetic, passionate person inside of you. That’s a hell of a lot more interesting than your everyday self (and likely to be on Madison Square Garden). Bring them on a joyride of emotion and beauty with you. Sound fun? Yeah. It is.
Take care of yourself extra on that day. This has two benefits.
A. Doing something extra for yourself is likely to make you feel more relaxed and good at your show, AND:
B. You are sending an underlying message to your subconscious that YOU are worth it. That you are an Artist with a capital A. That you deserve to be treated well. Even if you have to do it yourself.
When I took the stage, I let all my fears exist and be without suppression. I focused on the audience and committing to every word and note. The room immediately fell so silent you could hear a pin drop. Many of the music supervisors came to ME after the show to say kind and glowing things.
I’ve used these same steps to win over all sorts of audiences. These steps are really about being comfortable in your own skin – deeply and truly and hugely comfortable. THAT will connect.
And don’t apologize for it.
See Alyse Black’s previous article: What It Means for a Singer to “Own” Their Voice?
Alyse Black performed on NPR, recorded a commercial for Target, won Billboard’s Annual Songwriting Contest, had several songs placed in movies and TV shows, garnered an endorsement deal with Fishman Amps, and toured the country playing nearly 700 clubs, theaters, festivals, television shows and radio stations. She recently won The Recording Conservatory of Austin’s Top Singer-Songwriter Contest and ran a successful Kickstarter to fund her long-awaited next album. Visit her website