You did all that you could to get it right but this gig seemed like it was jinxed. That vacant feeling in your gut right now seems like it will never go away. Yet, it’s in the past now and the best you can do it learn from it. But before we analyze what went wrong, let’s settle some ruffled feathers. Really. It’s ok. You’re part of a huge club that has members all over the world who have learnt to look back and smile, even laugh at that gig from hell.
Not only will you get over it (and bounce right back), you’ll learn that failure is so very important to one’s growth. It’s a humbling experience, keeps you from becoming cocky and builds empathy for those that come after you.
So, punch a pillow, binge watch whichever show that gets your mind off things and then get back to the real work: figuring out what went wrong.
Let’s consider what it was that made it such a bad gig is. Was the sound bad? Were you in less than your normal groove or form? Was the gig poorly attended? Was the audience inattentive? Was it a combination of factors? Whatever it was, it needs to be tackled head-on.
No two ways about it, it’s time to get objective and figure out what went wrong and what we can do about it.
Sound issues: First thing to look at is whether your gear is performing the way you want it to. Cables and connectors have a way of going bad despite the best care, for example. If so, it’s time to save up and invest in it incrementally so you never have to be disappointed again.
Was it the sound tech? If there is a communication gap that you felt contributed to the bad sound, have an honest and polite chat with the person the next time you meet them, or play at that venue. Ask if they understood what you wanted or if there’s something you can do to be more precise.
Loose form: There’s no substitute for practice. Then, it’s much easier for muscle memory to take over even in the most stressful of situations. Also, ask your most trusted friends for advice when you feel you’re ready to perform a song. Work on it till you feel ready.
Low attendance: It may be time to look at how your gigs are being promoted if you’re working with a promoter. If you’re doing it yourself, look at the entire process of getting the word out and getting people excited about coming to your gigs.
Are the creatives too dull to elicit a response from your intended audience? Should you be doing more video shoutouts on social media to interface with your audience? Could you do a Facebook Live session where a friend helps you interact with the audience and the upcoming gig is mentioned prominently?
Look at offline promotions in the form of posters and fliers that connect with your audience where they hang out. Often, we rely too much on online channels and neglect the old, trusted methods.
All in all, it’s a cue to make a more organized effort to correct the gaps in the promotion strategy. All the learning comes handy as one grows as an artist. Building your fan base is a continuous process, one that ensures that people make the effort to come out to support you.
Remember that when we do what we love and work at getting better at it, it also helps us grow as an individual.
Ask For Opinions
However much we might shy away from it, getting other people’s perspective without being defensive about the failures that are sure to dot the journey to success, is a good way to learn.
Reach out to the friends who were in the audience and ask them about the experience. They could tell you, for example, that though you heard yourself well on the stage monitors, the PA speakers were telling another story altogether. Speak to the promoter and venue owner, as well. Most people will respect the effort you’re making to improve your performance skills and this dialogue might just help fix the issues with your last performance.
Despite our and others’ best efforts, there can be things that are beyond control. If another gig was announced after yours that took some of your audience away, if the weather played spoilsport, or if an electric snag in the venue ruined the sound, there’s no point lashing out at the people who worked on the gig.
Even if your promoter or the sound engineer were squarely to blame for the bad gig, throwing a hissy fit will achieve less than you imagine. There’s a few very mature ways of dealing with being let down.
Politely but firmly tell them that you feel you got less than what you expect from a professional of their stature. Keep the dialogue open and you might discover their side of the story or something else that happened that you didn’t know about. Through it all, remain calm. There’s life beyond this one.