What Makes a Good Entertainer
Thursday, December 8, 2011
What Makes A Good EntertainerUnless you are performing in one of
your regular venues, the question that is inevitably asked - either implied or
directly - of any entertainer is "are you any good?"
Indeed it is a well known fact within this industry that if you do want to
enjoy success as an artist you need a wide range of skills which you can draw
upon on any given night.
Fortunately for those of us who have combined
our natural abilities with the time, effort and - lets face it - money required
to perfect our craft and business, we as musicians and entertainers exist within
an industry where the acquisition of such attributes is generally apparent from
the first verse of the first song that we play on the first night.
without further ado, let me impart some knowledge I have attained through more
than 1000 shows and try to briefly summarise what you should expect of myself or
anyone else, for that matter, who wishes to be truly regarded as a 'professional
entertainer'. This has also been written with the intention of being a bit of a
guide to those who are starting out in the industry, so I would like to
apologise in advance if at times it seems a bit slanted in that
RULE NUMBER ONE - BE PROFESSIONAL
Turning up and
starting on time does not make a professional musician. A professional musician
ensures venues are supplied with posters & supporting material well in
advance, promptly returns calls and keeps appointments. In short, present
yourself as a professional if you want be treated as one.
This does not
just mean your clothing and appearance - it extends to your business
presentation (websites, business cards, posters, demo CD's, DVD's, etc etc),
your mannerisms and your respect for those venues and individuals who are
willing to put their trust in you as an entertainer to help support their
business and/or function.
RULE NUMBER TWO - YOUR SOUND IS EVERYTHING
This may come as a surprise to many people, but getting a good 'sound'
is not as simple as buying a $2000.00 PA system, plugging it in and switching it
on. What effects/EQ are you using, what type of guitar/microphone/amplifier are
you using, are your speakers of a high quality, are you using any type of sound
'enhancers'? In short, if there is ANYTHING within your budget that will make
you sound better, BUY IT!
By gradually adding better and better pieces
of audio equipment, it is possible to obtain your own unique sound that will be
far superior to what you started out with.
RULE NUMBER THREE - KNOW
YOUR STUFF, AND MATCH IT TO YOUR AUDIENCE!
This might sound simple
enough, but what is your 'stuff'? Are you performing to a group of 50 patrons in
a restaurant? A bowling club? Or are you doing a 9pm gig in a ski resort bar
filled with 20 - 30 year old die hard party goers. Simply put, a good
entertainer needs to be flexible enough to be able to vary a show at the drop of
If you are performing to a mixed crowd in, say, a local RSL club,
they are going to want some nice toe tapping music while they are eating, which
will build to a couple of rock and roll/classic dance numbers to get them on the
floor, followed by perhaps some originals and story telling, followed by perhaps
some good old fashioned 'pub rock' numbers towards the last set of the night.
Variety is the key, and an ability to immediately vary your show if necessary
should be the ABSOLUTE golden rule of any seasoned entertainer.
choose from over 300 songs that I can perform on any given night - from Elvis,
Kenny Rogers and Jimmy Buffet through to Matchbox 20, Greenday and Robbie
Williams - with everything in between. It is absolutely critical that your
audience feels comfortable, relaxed and in 'safe hands'. Which brings me to one
more 'golden rule' ......
If there is one thing that
will upset both patrons and managers alike quicker than anything else it is
music that is TOO LOUD. You could sing like Pavarotti, play guitar like Clapton
and dance like Ricky Martin but if the very people you are trying to entertain
have to try and shout above 150 decibels of noise (which unfortunately by now
your performance has become) just to order a drink, then I am afraid that as an
'entertainer' you will now have; a) noone in the first 10 rows of your audience;
b) been asked to turn
it down anyway by management and finally; c) had
your lovely aforementioned promotional package thrown in the bin by said
management first thing in the morning. In this business, RETURN BUSINESS is
everything. You only have so many venues available in an area, and you only get
one shot at each one to show them what you can do.
My philosophy on
volume is - match it to the crowd, the venue and the purpose. Certain rooms are
very acoustically 'alive', and require very little amplification. Others
(particularly small pubs) can become extremely noisy just through patrons
drinking and talking and require a bit more amplification just to cut through
Am I there to provide some nice background music (eg dining
during a wedding), or to get the party rolling (eg later in the night at said
wedding, or in most pubs and clubs from roughly 9.30pm onwards). The bottom line
is, both the audience and the venue's management should be comfortable with the
volume level and all the abovementioned factors.
OH YEAH - ONE MORE
THING - TALENT!
You should find that most good musicians basically live
for their music. They have a guitar in their hand each day, or are singing their
lines each day. There is basically not a moment goes by where I am not thinking
about my shows, planning my next musical venture, or preparing for the next
A good entertainer should firstly, in the case of a
vocalist, have an excellent voice. Their instrument should support their voice
and their backing tracks (or backing band) seamlessly, and be able to develop a
comfortable rapport with any audience on any night.
The reality is, like
most jobs, this generally only comes with experience and I know that even after
over a decade of performing, I am constantly seeking to improve every aspect of
my show to match both current musical trends and my own personal musical goals.
If you got this far, and you are a manager, firstly thank you for taking
the time, and I would hope by now you feel comfortable that I most certainly
know what I am doing and have the experience to deliver a good night, every
If you are starting out as an entertainer, good luck, and please
ensure that before you approach venues you are confident of being able to
deliver a top class performance to a wide range of audience. Once you can do
that, the demand for your business will practically take care of itself!
Comments received on the article above
I never thought I would find such an everyday topic so enthrallnig! wrote on Monday, January 23, 2012:
"I never thought I would find such an everyday topic so enthrallnig!"
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