Touring and performing live may be incredible experiences.
On fantastic evenings, when everything is going well, you get to enjoy the rush of singing your music in front of an appreciative audience.
Yes, outstanding concerts may result in new fans, merchandise sales, more gigs, and positive publicity.
But, no matter how prepared you are, there are always SOME parts of performing live that are beyond your control. What if THOSE things don’t go as planned?
Here are 8 challenges most touring artists will face:
Perhaps the PA is malfunctioning. Maybe you arrive and learn you have to run sound yourself. There are insufficient inputs. There is just one monitor available. The microphones are gone. Perhaps the sound engineer is simply dialing it in.
On tour, you will experience sound problems at some time.
Can you persevere and yet put on an excellent show?
Staff who are rude. Regulars who are hostile. The acoustics are terrible. There is no green room. “You can’t obtain your drink tickets until after your show ends at 1 am,” says the bartender.
Every musician has experienced walking into a new setting and instantly thinking, “Oh, this isn’t good.” Can you still put on a good show?
Tiredness and grumpiness
Touring is physically and mentally demanding. Long days on the road. Sleep deprivation due to late nights. Every day, for weeks on end, I’m in close quarters with the same folks.
Can you find space, rest, and maintain communication clear and healthy in the meantime?
Outdoor concerts take place… outside
Excessive heat or humidity. Frozen fingers. Computers and effects that do not function. You can’t see the LEDs. Listeners might be found in a park or plaza. The sound is leaking into the outside air.
Outdoor performances are terrible. Can you get through it without sucking?
Wildcard performers on the bill
The other act might be critical and cliquish. If you want to impress them, you may feel intimidated. After the first set, all of their supporters were free to depart. The band may rage at each other onstage, scold the crowd, and then split up in the parking lot (true story).
The other performers might have a significant influence on the overall vibe of your performance. Can you still deliver?
Your in-ear monitors do not pick up on the click. A beloved synth fails in the middle of the concert. During a solo, your guitar string snaps.
Your tools will fail. Can you continue with the show?
It’s not just about your instruments. Your car or van may also fail you. Your flight or train may be delayed or canceled. Anyone who has traveled knows that you can’t always get from one place to another on time. If you break down in a small town on Sunday, you’ll be much more delayed.
Can you keep your cool and solve the challenge as soon as possible?
The “stage” does not exist
Of course, this is part of the venue issues, but it deserves its own area. When you arrive, you see the stage is an 8×8 piece of plywood. The band will not fit. The performing space is partially obscured by a massive pillar.
Worse, there is no stage at all. You’re in the corner of the room, and some drunk is certain to knock the mike into your teeth.
Can you handle it?
These are just a few of the things that are guaranteed to go wrong on tour. You won’t always be able to “fix” these problems, but you should be prepared to work around them.
Know that if you put on a terrific show, the audience will have a great time.
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