In today’s music industry of declining album sales and accessible digital streaming platforms, the live show has never been more important. Putting on a great performance is necessary in building a sustainable fanbase. As an up and coming independent rapper, it can be tough to distinguish yourself on stage so we put together these 5 key tips to help you on your way.
- Build stamina. Your live performance should be as good as or better than your recording. You won’t achieve that if you’re audibly gasping on the mic by the time your second song hits. Practice reciting your lyrics on a treadmill to boost your vocal endurance.
- Play the instrumental. This is the most common mistake I see, even from established artists. No one wants to hear you shouting your lyrics over pre-recorded vocals. It’s unprofessional and lazy. Instead, memorize your lyrics and make sure you have the instrumental version loaded up for your live shows.
- Work on transitions and keep your set tight. Think about what you want to say when transitioning between songs so you avoid that awkward silence. You’re not Kanye West, no one wants to hear you ramble and rant either. Keep transitions short and sweet and don’t overstay your welcome.
- Lose the entourage. There’s nothing wrong with having a hypeman on stage. That concept has been around since the very beginning of Hip-Hop. However, people have come to your live show to see YOU perform, not you + 10 of your boys. Nothing good can come from having a bunch of unnecessary people on your stage. This serves as a distraction when all you want the audience to be focusing on are you and your music.
- Work the crowd. You should be focusing on getting the crowd engaged in your live show. Measure their reaction during specific points in your songs. Is there a line that everybody recites? Hold the mic out to the crowd during this line in your next performance. Tell the crowd to put their hands in the air before a beat drops. Beyond this, shake hands with people in the front row. Do you see someone in the audience that’s very into your performance? Make eye contact to let them know you’ve acknowledged their participation.
Bonus: Incorporate live instrumentation. This may not be feasible for all up and coming rappers. However, adding good live instrumentation to your performance is always a plus. Get in contact with local musicians that may want to collaborate. Adding a live drummer or keyboardist to your show will help to separate you from the pack.