Steve Witschel has been an online music writer for seven years and has played over a thousand songs in his career.
If you're fortunate enough to be a musician that gets to work in public, there is some business to take care of during your show. In general, it's the lead vocalist that communicates with the crowd, but anyone in the band with access to a microphone can participate.
A lot of these things may seem obvious. You may also already be doing them without realizing it, or more importantly, realizing how it actually benefits your band. These are all very simple things to include in your "repartee" during the course of your show, and many of them should even be repeated. Some won't always apply, but it's still a good idea to have a mental checklist anytime you play a gig.
1. The Name of the Band
Show attendee #1: "These guys are cool. What's their name?"
Show attendee #2: "I don't know."
Show attendee #1: "Hey, let's get a shot!"
If you don't have a banner behind you or a logo on the kick drum (or even if you do, because some folks don't bother to read) you should say the name of the band on the mic often during the course of the gig. If people are digging you, they'll want to know your name so they can tell other people how much they liked you. So say it loud and proud throughout the show.
2. The Names of the Players in the Band
This duty will usually fall on the lead singer. It could be included in an improvisational jam in a song where everyone gets a spotlight solo. You can also mention certain individual's names before, during, or after a prominent part that they play in a tune. Or you could simply introduce everyone in the band at the end of the gig.
Whatever the method, it's important to acknowledge the people on stage. The band will always appreciate the recognition and the folks in the audience that are enjoying the show will be able to put names to the faces.
The bartenders are your best allies at a show in a club, bar, or pub. They're pretty much the people running things. You want to acknowledge him, her, or them by name several times during the gig.
3. The Name of the Venue and/or Location
This is sometimes overlooked by bands and may seem unnecessary or ridiculous, but it serves a few purposes:
- Sometimes people go out to party and forget where they are. You're there to help.
- People love to cheer when their town/city/state/venue is mentioned. Works every time.
- The staff/management/person-who-is-paying-you will always appreciate it.
- It also helps you to remember where you are.
Include it in the various banter throughout the gig, and always give props to how great it is to be there.
4. The Bartenders' Names
The bartenders are your best allies at a show in a club, bar, or pub. They're pretty much the people running things. You want to acknowledge him, her, or them by name several times during the gig. If you're drinking, this action will benefit you. If the bartender is also the owner or manager, this will benefit you. You'll make a friend, you'll be asked back, and you'll make the world a better place.
5. The Name of the Song
This is one to use in moderation. If you're playing a song that everyone knows, then you obviously don't need to tell everyone the name. If all of your songs are recognizable to the masses, then you might never have to follow this guideline. But if you're playing more obscure covers, or perhaps playing your own originals, then you should definitely keep the crowd in the loop so that they feel more involved in the show.
If you're playing in your hometown, you'll get a great response. If you're on the road, folks will think you're even cooler because you're from somewhere else.
6. The Name of Other Bands on the Bill
If you're playing a gig with several bands, or even just one other act, you should acknowledge them on the mic by thanking them, telling the crowd how cool they are, or telling the crowd to stick around for them. We're all in this together, and if we want to excel we need to have each other's backs.
7. Where You're From
In most cases, the members of a band are from different areas but the group usually has a home base. Tell the people! If you're playing in your hometown, you'll get a great response. If you're on the road, folks will think you're even cooler because you're from somewhere else. It's another easy way to have something to celebrate during your gig.
8. Toasts and Drink Specials
Quite often, the success of your band is directly related to the amount of alcohol the venue is selling. Some musicians don't like the idea of being thought of as salesmen, but the simple fact is that you are, even if you're not trying. So you might as well put your best effort forward.
Give random toasts. Mention any drink specials. It's a party and you're the host, so you can easily encourage people to go to the bar and enjoy themselves. It will make the gig more fun for everyone and will lead to more sales for the business, which can do nothing but help your band.
9. Birthday Shoutouts
Birthday shoutouts are always a crowd-pleaser.
10. Tip Jar Reminder
In many cases when you're performing, there are employees working that will customarily receive tips. Any venue that serves alcohol will have bartenders that rely heavily on gratuities for their income, and quite often there are other staff members that expect tips as part of their pay. It's good practice to remind patrons on the mic to tip these hard working folks.
Some bands and performers will also provide a tip jar for fans to throw in a some cash. If you're playing some of the bigger clubs, festivals, or casinos a tip jar isn't usually practical. In all other cases, it's a good idea to have a way for people to give you money. Set it up so it's accessible to people but not necessarily in a prominent location, and mention it on the mic a time or two.
11. Join Our Mailing List
If you don't already have a way for people to sign up for your mailing list, you need to make that happen, even if you don't yet send out a newsletter (but you should do that, too). It can be as simple as a piece of paper with your band's logo at the top and fields for people to write down their name and email address. Now that you have that covered, tell everybody about it on the mic.
12. Check Out Our Website/Facebook Page
Your website address should be on your banner or bass drum head. If it's not, or if you don't have those things, then you should announce the URL on occasion. You may not get a whole lot of new followers or Facebook "likes" as a result, but people are using their smart phones all the time in public, so if they like your band, they might just look you up and "like" you right there at your show.
13. Buy Our Stuff!
This is, of course, only true if you have stuff to sell. If you do, you've got to let people know and make it easy for them to purchase. You've already invested some money in creating a product with the intention to sell it, so this is an ideal platform to accomplish the mission. There's nothing wrong with hawking your wares when you have a captive audience. If they like you, they'll be excited to buy your stuff.
Thank the staff, especially the bartenders. Thank the people in the crowd for coming and sticking around. Thank the rest of the band. Nothing brings about more of what you're looking to achieve than gratitude.
14. The Next Show
If you're playing at the same venue again in the future, you want to let the audience know when you'll be back. If you have more gigs coming up, let the crowd know that too, by referring them to your schedule on your website or Facebook page. If they've stuck around until the end of your gig, then there's a good chance you'll see them again somewhere.
15. Thank Yous
People like to be thanked. It makes them feel good. It makes you feel good, too. Thank the staff, especially the bartenders. Thank the people in the crowd for coming and sticking around. Thank the rest of the band. Do it regularly yet sporadically throughout the gig. Nothing brings about more of what you're looking to achieve than gratitude.
Questions & Answers
Question: Why should a singer say stuff on a stage when not singing?
Answer: To avoid dead air, to connect with the crowd, and other reasons that are specified in the article.
Montana Ax-Man on August 30, 2018:
IMO introducing the band members by name is lame unless you are the headliner.
Green Hill Drive on November 11, 2017:
**Never use the words "who is DRUNK?"**
Green Hill Drive on November 10, 2017:
Hint on what not to say: NEVER ask if the crowd is drunk. Talking about drinking and sharing toasts/shots is great. Never use the words "who is drink?" In many counties through US, legally the bartender has too flag any one who joined in on the "woohoo"s or "hell yeah"s.
MammBaJamba on October 27, 2017:
Good stuff but basic knowledge for those of us that have been doing this for decades. And yes, even SIGNED bands introduce the members. Try going to more shows.
jabulani mdakne shane on October 16, 2017:
Warren Wilder on August 13, 2017:
A couple of my favorites are,
"Please remain on the dance floor until the band has come to a full & complete stop."
"Ladies & gentlemen, for your safety please keep your arms and legs inside the dance area at all times."
Nikki Lambert from Western Mass on April 24, 2017:
Always thank your sound tech. With him/her on the board, you can relax and just think about playing. Our sound tech was an honorary band member who got an equal cut from whatever we got paid.
I usually mentioned the band members randomly during the show after they played a particularly challenging solo or song, but not in an old-fashioned "this is the intro number...everyone take a solo" way. I think people get bored with that.
Yes to mentioning the venue, location, tipping, and your website/social media, as well as offering business cards and merch. Overall, another excellent article, Steve. Thank you for sharing your experience.
JR on December 30, 2016:
"Sammy throws a party, I am the party" DLR
Ruben on November 19, 2016:
Some of the ass clowns I have played with need to learn what NOT to say on stage.
Rogerdougherty on December 11, 2015:
Bass Raper Bullet on December 10, 2015:
Great list, Steve. All of these are second nature to some of us after doing it for so long, but lots of guys/girls need to be reminded (especially our younger comprades, lol).
Someone mentioned a "What Not To Say" list. That would be impossible to do where I'm from. The list would need waaayyyy too many things on it. LOL. Seriously though, it wouldn't be a bad idea, but the list would vary from venue to venue in most areas.
paul on December 09, 2015:
never make the mistake a drunk guitar player/singer did in one of my bands and say "Why dont you all just leave the beer is cheaper and you won't have us to annoy you.
40ozfist on November 24, 2015:
Everything is pretty much spot on, but I'd never name the members. I get embarrassed for the bands that do. We generally create song blocks in our set. We run groups of songs together and talk a little in between the blocks. Less talk, more music, more fun. It always keeps the energy up and the crowd rocking
Soulwavela on July 31, 2015:
You get one number and one number only because I'm a lazy bastard. Johnny Rotten
Marv Leis on May 30, 2015:
Mentioning that you have business cards and they are right beside the tip jar, which in turn sometimes adds to the tip jar.
Dr.Gonzo on May 29, 2015:
This is retarded! How about shutting the fuck up and playing a good show? Or saying something that relates to what is happening and help people perceive your songs in the way you intended. Introducing the whole band while shifting on doing solo rounds is the single worst practice in music, it's like watching a bunch of guys wanking over how good they are, while wasting everyones time. Write something that means something and play it like it means something. Hell, motivate people to get into whatever groove you're diggin', if it's right. But viewing playing shows as a business, and focusing on making people spend money in the bar and your merch shop is bull**, and quit licking the DJ and soundguys butthole on stage!
Rick, Sound Doctor PDX on May 29, 2015:
Steve is correct. Always compliment the sound guy. He can make or break your show & usually makes the band sound better than they really are.
Chance Harvey on May 28, 2015:
A lot of cool stuff and insight in this hub, great job!
Antonio Westley from New York on May 28, 2015:
I have always considered this and its surprising how much has to be put into simply giving a shout out for business reasons. It's a little daunting if you ask me but hey what ever pays the bills right?
JLClose from OreGONE on May 27, 2015:
This is great... My favorite shows are the ones where the musicians interact with the audience, even if it's mostly self promotion. I don't care what they say, really...If they're talking to the audience, they seem more like a human, less like an untouchable rockstar. Banter makes the band approachable and therefore more memorable. I have to say I've never seen a band try to promote bar specials... I would think that was tacky, but that's just a personal opinion. On the other hand, mentioning the bartenders by name is a subtle way to get people over to the bar, for sure. These are some great points. :)
In response to the above commenter, I was just at a Ryan Adams concert and not only did he introduce his band members, but his opener, Jenny Lewis, who is famous in her own right, also introduced her band members. It's a sign of respect. Bands who don't acknowledge their back-up people have their heads too far up their butt. Now, the first opener, who was a way lesser known band, did not do much banter or introduce the band members, and while I liked their music, their stage presence was not memorable at all.
zzzzleeep on March 28, 2015:
Think about the last time you saw a major label artist or band introduce their members? The people who came for your band already know who you are and where they can find more info. The people who didn't come for you are drinking, hanging out with their friends and waiting for their band to play. If your music is good and they're into it, they will approach you for more information. That's when you introduce your bandmates by name, that's where you get them to sign up for the email list, that's where you talk about your next show, have some shots, make friends. The only thing I do agree with is saying the band name frequently. I would also add mentioning whether you're local or on tour, mention your latest release and mention where the merch table is/where the band will be after the set and to come hang out. But honestly, if people are seriously interested in your music, they will approach you for more information. If people aren't coming up after your set to talk to you, they probably didn't like your music as much as their friend's band. It likely has nothing to do with how little you said between songs...
Kofi mawuko/Ogya World Music Band on February 26, 2015:
I like all the tips you gave us as musicians.Thanks Steve
Steve Russian on February 20, 2015:
Not mentioning the sound guy, cuz ' it's just part of the deal', why not mention the electricity, the air conditioner, the trash guy, they're all part of the deal! I've done sound for 40 years, some bands have actually introduced me as the next member of the band, generally I'm there before the band, and long after the band. I work hard at making a band sound good, I don't hang on the board talking to buddys or girlfriends. I've made bad bands sound better, and good bands great. I also have played for 45 years and understand a lot of what is supposed to go on. This isn't just a hobby, this is what I do and I've been through the school of hard knocks to get here. The least you can do is mention the fact that I have something to do with the experience the audience is having. If I fuck up, then fire me, but don't act like I'm a piece of furniture.
mike on February 20, 2015:
Don't forget to tip your bartenders and waitress. You can over tip them but don't tip them over. They hate that. Except for Bob, he digs it. He's freaky that way.
Tony Joe on January 19, 2015:
Hello!!!! Thanking the sound guy is #1 try after the first or second song. He or she is your best chance of have a good or bad show.
Steve Witschel (author) from New Orleans, LA on January 19, 2015:
I didn't mention the sound tech in particular but I did say "Thank the staff"...which would include anyone that is working on the job. I've spelled out a lot here. Some things people should be able to figure out for themselves.
Audiophilette on January 19, 2015:
You forgot to thank the sound tech. Trust me, the sound tech will remember appreciative bands. This could result in getting booked at the same venue again and most likely having an even better mix the next time around. Not to mention all of the connections that a sound tech has in the music industry. Say good things about the sound tech and the sound tech will say good things about you as well.
Krzysztof Willman from Parlin, New Jersey on January 17, 2015:
I thoroughly enjoyed this very interesting.
jim on January 17, 2015:
good stuff. there is a little bit of nuance to announcing upcoming shows... it can be bad form to mention a competing venue by name -- best to be vague and point fans to your facebook. i once got a big smile & a nod from a venue owner when i made a big deal out of saying something like "we're playing next week at some other joint that's not nearly as cool as this place."
stmotivationmag on January 16, 2015:
will add in our magazine to spread the good advice
Eslam yosef from Egypt on December 18, 2014:
it was a very good tips, thank you steve,
and keep up,
Eh on December 18, 2014:
Listing off the names of the people in the band comes off as amurature. I've only seen really old bands do it and kid bands that are starting out. I've never seen any current signed band take time out of their set to name off members. Either the crowd already knows who's who or they don't care. People would rather hear you play another song than chatter on the stage for a few minutes. For those who are just finding out about the band, that's why there's things like the Internet. As long as people remember your bands name and have an actual interest in checking you out, they'll inform themselves on info you didn't share. Less talk more rock.
Windsor on December 18, 2014:
Don't forget to acknowledge the sound person -- they do as much to make you sound decent as the bartenders. Great list otherwise.
Hezekiah from Japan on December 17, 2014:
These are very important actually. Some bands don't even introduce themselves properly. In Japan, most bands like to do the intros at the end with solos for each member.
Keithonbass on November 10, 2014:
The singer in a band I was in always added a bit of humour. He would say things like "the guitarist is called Norfolk and the bass player called Good and together they're norfolkngood!
Steve on November 10, 2014:
don't forget to introduce the DJ by name!
Randi Simon-Serey from Ohio on September 17, 2014:
Funny and accurate! Even if your music were horrible, I would like you! One thing I would add is how important it is for your sound quality to be clear so your audience can understand you. Great article!
Sal on September 17, 2014:
Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes to all of these. In my humble opinion, nothing more needs to be said. No need for jokes or dialogue with other band members or anything.
Also, I have found that after the first song of the set and right before the last song of the set is the best time to get to a lot of these.
Elizabeth Lynn Westbay from United States on August 23, 2014:
very complete list, I never know what to say when I get in front of a microphone.
Susanna Duffy from Melbourne Australia on August 23, 2014:
Whoops! Forget to say, always thank the Soundie
Susanna Duffy from Melbourne Australia on August 23, 2014:
Excellent advice, particularly regarding the venue and the staff of the venue. Get them on your side!
legendary apple on August 22, 2014:
nice! interesting article
Jeannie Carrico from St. Mary's County, Maryland on July 24, 2014:
love it. . My husband in a band and I just read him your hub and he did a mental checklist. Most he does do, some not so much due to being embarrassed of the current band he's in! Poetically sad..lol. great hub. Rock on!
Rodrick Lewis from Online on July 16, 2014:
Really just go on the stage and no that know is your time to shine! Let the listeners now that's there is no equal.
Kevin on July 16, 2014:
# 8 ? I guess someone else is loading up your equipment and driving you home. Nice.
Rev. Hatchet on July 16, 2014:
Just, as a rule of thumb, cut the bass player's mic between songs and your probably ok...or better yet, don't give him one.
wrongfinger on July 14, 2014:
OK, how about a list of things you should NEVER say on mic when performing. We all have some horror stories!
Steve Witschel (author) from New Orleans, LA on July 13, 2014:
Billy Turnock from Manchester England on July 13, 2014: