Small Audience

Performance Motivation 2: Play for the People who ARE There



In my last post I told a story that helps me motivate myself for performances when I’m not feeling quite as energetic or inspired as usual. In this article I want to talk about that particular kind of disappointment that hits you when you look at your audience just before the show and it’s not what you expected.

Many of you will know the feeling. You look out from backstage 15 minutes before your stage time to get a feel for the crowd. When you look, that A&R guy from Sony you were assured would be there hasn’t turned up. Or that hot guy / girl you were hoping to impress isn’t there. Or your best mates have failed to escape from the local pub. Or there are only 3 people and the sound engineer in total.

In an instant, all the excitement disappears. Everything you’d imagined, all the possibilities you’d envisioned and hopes you’d fostered, dissipate. You immediately ask yourself what you’re bothering doing it for.

This disenchantment can affect the whole night. If you feel this way it’s likely to lead to a lacklustre performance and a poor night all round. That’s not going to do your confidence or your reputation any good.

If this happens, it’s because we’re letting the people who aren’t there affect our performance. And let’s face it, there’s nothing we can do about the people who aren’t there. But we can do something for the people who ARE there. We can put on a great show for them. We can give them a great night. An experience they’ll remember. Who knows what opportunities that might bring?

If you let your disappointment result in a bad performance, you’re playing for the people who aren’t there. It’s infinitely better to say to yourself “To hell with the people who aren’t here, I’m going to play for the people who ARE”. They’ve bothered to turn up. They’ve made the effort. They’ve spent time and money getting to your show. Play for them. They’re the ones who are supporting you. They’re the existing fanbase without whom you’d be nothing, or the potential fans who will tell others about the great gig they saw. If you can’t get a grip and give them the performance they deserve, what are you in this for?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t feel down. That’s natural. But you should be able to look at the people in the crowd, even if it’s only a handful of them, and say “I’m going to give you the performance of your lives. I’m going to make you glad that you were the ones who bothered to turn up. I’m going to play for the people who ARE there”.

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