How To Avoid Becoming Background Music

Being a live performer has its interesting moments. You get your typical bar gigs, where besides drinking and dealing with the occasional brave soul who tries to chat up the strangers, as the band, you get most of the attention. As a performer, I thrive on feeling the energy of the crowd, having some fun with them and sometimes pulling their leg. When you’re playing at an event where there are other things going on, however, the scenario is much different.

Oftentimes, when you play these venues or perform at annual events, people are distracted or have their attention on multiple things at once. Many are going to be looking for drinks or water (if the performance is outside during the summer, for example) and many others are simply going to be enjoying other activities—booths, games, playing with their family, et cetera. And this can sometimes feel rather disheartening, because you put so much time into your set that you would hope that people would take the time to listen carefully and give you a chance to gain some fans and get some exposure.


Then, sometimes, the worst thing happens: You’re playing a set, and absolutely no one is

around at all to hear it. They are all yards away, and you’re playing at an empty stage. How is this even possible, you wonder? Well, now you’re unmotivated and you feel like you’re being paid to practice.

But here’s how to avoid this happening to you in the future. If there are drinks at the venue, and you’re at a small party or an outside summer event, this is probably the culprit. People don’t want to stand out in the sun without drinks—instead, they’re going to stay near the watering hole, so to speak. So, if the stage is far away from everything else, expect it to likely be empty.


If the main events are happening on other stages, and people are just going to relax and have fun while the performances are all going on, then this is again another mistake. You need to be playing where the action, is or at least have people walking by at all times.


Anytime that you’re away from the most crucial part of the event, it’s like you’re at a food festival but nowhere near the food, if you see what I mean. Or maybe it’s like you’re at a birthday party, but in the room behind the bar. Each of these situations will end up not working at all in your favor!


You do have certain options, however. One way to prevent this from happening is by coordinating with the planners in advance and making them aware of your concerns, because many people just don’t think about these possibilities at all. Secondly, you can simply choose to not take on the performance if the fear of these possibilities happening to you is a major concern of yours. You can also just accept that at certain venues, due to poor planning, you’re going to wind up as background music no matter what you do. You’ll just need to make the most of the venue, and at least try to get some free food out of it! Whatever you choose to do, however, just realize that you’re not alone, and that every experience is a learning experience. Take this experience, learn from it, and prepare yourself even better for the next time.

About the Author:


Chris Glyde is a musician, performer and dedicated teacher in Rochester New York. If you’re looking for more tips to improve your performance contact him for more info.