I went to two concerts this weekend and underneath all the education and information, podcasters are entertainers. If you're not entertaining your audience, you're losing them. Dictionary.com defines entertain as, “X. Two Concerts by musicians with track records going all the way back to 1980 (King's X) and 1995 (Lang). Jonny Lang released his major label debut when he was 15 years old. Both bands had music in the rotation on MTV (for those that remember MTV)
So what does this have to do with Podcasting? Well as both of these bands are now “Indie” we can learn from them.
Have a Crappy Opening Act
In both instances, the promoters of these shows picked HORRENDOUS opening acts. While the bands have little if nothing at all to do with this, it does make them sound better.
Know what you're going to say
Both of these bands have what are called set lists. This lists the songs in the order. It's only game plan and can be changed, but when they hit the stage they have a pretty idea of what is going to happen in the next 60-90 minutes.
As a podcaster you should have a pretty good idea of where you are going when you press record. I know this seems common sense, but I often here shows start with what should be pregame chatter, “Did you want to talk about _____?” This should've been decided before the microphone was turned on. It's not like the guys in King's X have a big “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN KING'S X” and then Doug and Ty look at each other and ask, “Should we do Groove Machine?”
I recently read a book about Van Halen, and bands of this caliber practice the same set for months to make sure everything is smooth.
For the Love of God put the good stuff first
There is a reason the news often starts with the phrase “Our top story tonight.” Both bands came out with great up-tempo songs to get the crowd engaged.
3. Be Original
Jonny Lang sounded like he was 15 going on 48 when he came out of the gate. He has a voice that is very distinct, and you know its him.
Kings X has a very distinct sound. Did they do something way outside the box? Yes and No. They tune their guitars lower than what is considered standard, and they use a slightly different tuning (for the musicians they tune to C instead of E, and they use Drop D (not C) tuning). So while a little outside the box, all they did was twist a few knobs. These small twists (combined with awesome musicianship) makes them very identifiable.
4. Listen to Your Audience
During one song Jonny was playing and singing with his guitar. This is called “Scat singing” and it was pretty cool (and I hate scat singing). The crowd really came alive. Sure enough later in the evening he brought it back.
All night King's X fans were shouting requests (they have quite a few albums). One song is called, “King” and one person kept screaming, “Are you going to play King?” Well, they weren't because I was in the front row leaning on the stage and could read their set list (and I took after the convert). Before their first encore, they swapped added it.
5. You Can't Make Everyone Happy
One dufas at the Kings X show wrote a note with a song request and was very persistent. Eventually, the lead singer stated they had a set list, and they are prepared to play and some they are not.
6. Have a Cool Logo if You Want to Sell Merchandise
Jonny Lang's t-shirt was boring. They pictured his latest album cover which has his picture on it. With the music business in a mess, musicians make a fair amount of money from merchandise sales. For those who want to keepsake from the concert, the traditional “Album cover” t-shirt will do. King's X has a cool logo, with the phrase “First Church of Rock and Roll” with the saying “May the Groove be With you” You want to wear this shirt BECAUSE IT'S A COOL SHIRT.
The other thing about having a cool logo shirt, is you can sell it no matter what tour you're on.
This also means knowing your audience, so if your audience is a bunch if middle aged dudes, you better keep the extra large in stock.
7. Do No Underestimate the Power Of You, and the Value of Direct Access
With Jonny Lang you can purchase a VIP package with gives you access to the soundcheck, selfie, posters, guitar picks, commemorative laminate, etc for $100. Most of this has very little to do with Jonny.
8. Don't Lose Your Cool, or Panic
During the first few songs, the lead singer was having an issue with a microphone stand. Eventually, he threw it to the ground. Was he upset? I don't think so. I think he was trying to get the attention of the sound crew. Some “Rock stars” might've walked off the stage. Doug kept his cool.
King's X Did Something Brilliant
At Disney at end of the every ride you exit through the gift shop. At the end of their show, the lead singer from King's X explained how they were going to towel off, and head over to the merchandise table where you can get pictures, selfies, merchandise, etc. In other words, exit through the gift shop. The AMAZING thing is you didn't have to purchase anything to meet the band. The lead singer explained this as he was leaving the stage, “After all, it's all about you.'
I was at the very end of the line. I was worried that they would cut the line, but I was told by one of their staff, “No, they stay till everyone has been served.” WOW.
What Was The Result?
Most of the people there got a lot of time to look at the merchandise. To see other buying the merchandise. This was the law of reciprocity in action. They were doing something nice for you (free selfies) in hopes that you would do something nice for them (I bought a $25 t-shirt). Doug did a quick soundbyte for the show. They were awesome.
Jonny Lang put on a great show. I love his voice, and can't wait for the new album. I do want to comment on something I noticed.
I talked to people at the Jonny Lang show and for the most part people were from the Akron/Canton/Cleveland Area (within an hour of the location). There were a lot of fans of the venue (the Kent Stage), and alot of fans of Jonny.
Within the first five minutes of standing in line at the Kings X show, I met people who came from New York (7 hours away), Indiana (4 hours away), Columbus (4 hours away). People who had seen them 10, 12, 13 times.With any prodding of the band, the King's X fans bellowed out the song with the singer. This often lead him to back away from the microphone. I was in the front row, I had probably 400 people behind me. To hear a room of people drowning out the amplifiers a few feet from me was a very cool thing. It obviously touched the singer as he was amazed at the enthusiasm of the crowd. So is this enhanced engagement with their audience the result of their “Free” Meet and Greets?” I don't have any facts to prove this, but if I was a betting man, I would guess that to be true.
Check out both bands (both were great concerts) at www.jonnylang.com and kingsxrocks.com
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