How to Impress a Crowd Who Doesn’t Know You


We all know that showcases, open mics, and being an opener is a great way to expose your music to new people. But at the same time, we have all been to these shows where the opening acts are a bit of a disappointment. It could be because the artist hasn’t practiced, didn’t soundcheck, doesn’t have experience performing, or a combination of them. I think artists underestimate the power of a great performance whether the crowd knows who you are or not. If you can captivate the audience, you can make new fans. After your set, you should go in the crowd and mingle with the fans. You don’t know how many times, I have seen this work for artists. If you have a great performance, the fans will want to meet you. Trust me. As a blogger and photographer, I definitely introduce myself to artists that impress me. You might ask yourself “but how can I put on a memorable performance?” Well look no further, I have reached out to artists who have hit the stage dozens of times for crowds who didn’t know them.

I asked them the following questions:

  • One thing you should never do while performing
  • Two things you should always do when performing
  • What does a successful set look like in your eyes?
  • Any additional advice for upcoming artists.

Jared Evan – |

  • Never perform without sound-checking first and make sure your sound/setup is to your liking beforehand.
  • Always continue on seamlessly if an error occurs, and always remind yourself to work the entire stage from time to time throughout your set.
  • A successful set is one that simply just feels amazing to the performing artist. If the artist feels great, the show will be great.
  • Never second guess your gut. Always stay the course. No matter what.

Jadon – |

  • You should never show the crowd that you are nervous or unprepared. The crowd is there to be won over, that is the biggest challenge. As long as you can rap and keep the people entertained, things will usually go well. I have rocked stages with no written lyrics and have still been able to make it seem as if I had rehearsed for weeks.
  • 1) Actually talk to the crowd. Make the crowd do call and response. Try out hooks that are easy to remember. Ask them if they’re feeling the tune you just played. Get the fans involved. The more comfortable I have been with the crowd, the nicer the set. 2) Know who you are sharing the bill with. For me, knowing who I’m sharing the bill with makes it easier for me to decide what my set will be. I am the vocalist on the stage but consider myself the producer or dj when deciding what I will play for the crowd. I may play more trill beats or do a whole acoustic set depending on what the headliners’ sound is. I mean do whatever you want but if you pick the wrong set of songs, the crowd may boo you off stage lol.
  • A successful set consists of: 1) Great Energy 2) Confidence in your material 3) Connecting with the crowd.
  • My advice is to not get caught up in what you are accomplishing month to month. Focus on winning year by year. Put numbers on the board and after a while they add up. I’ve been competing in spoken word and rap competitions for over 10 years and now more people are taking note. I was a volunteer for the Live Nation Music Geek program passing out flyers and taking peoples emails for 3 years. I’ve been free styling on trains for almost 6 years. Now more people are taking note and more opportunities are coming through because I planted seeds until the time was right. Believe in yourself, study the craft your investing time into, keep creating, performing, and create even when times are so bad that you want to escape or give up. Be patient and eventually you will be able to live your dreams and will be prepared for the ups and downs that will come.

ROOKE5 – |

  • You should never turn your back to the crowd. The moment you turn your back on the crowd, you lose a little bit of their attention. You want them to be more into your set and your music than the phone in their hand or the people around them.
  • Two things you should always do when performing: First and foremost, have fun. The crowd can feel if you’re tense, that will make them tense and then no one is having fun. Second, don’t be afraid to make eye contact. It’s not only a good way to break the ice with the people in the first couple rows but it also shows confidence.
  • A successful set in my eyes is when we hit all of our cues, we get some solid crowd participation and we leave people talking. Whether we’re the surprise of the show or the local who always crushes it, our goal is to have people talking about our set the next day.
  • My advice would be to enjoy the come up. I’ve learned that everyone has to pay their dues, and it’s best if you enjoy the process of it. Be patient and stay focused on your goals. I’m a firm believer that good things come to those who work hard. And most importantly, be kind. Venues are going to be more willing to work with you if you’re a good person. That starts with the emails you send the venue’s staff and booking agents, continues with the door guys who check your ID and sound guys who are setting the stage. Also pays off to be polite to the bartenders and managers, they will all be more willing to have you back if you show respect and appreciation.

Ponce DeLeioun –

  • Never Disrespect the crowd you are performing in front of. Why? You are essentially there to entertain. The crowd may not know of you, so they may not show the love and respect you want. However you have to look at is as a business man, the profesional way. Keep compsure and keep giving them the heat…. Personal Example-Couple years ago I performed with some bros and they got wild on stage and dude in audience threw 2 bottles at my mans. My dude got on mic and threatened everybody in the crowd. Club had to shut down, escorted out etc. Than the manager came to me like yo, that type of stuff will do damage to your name and brand. Thats the type of stuff that will cause a club to not book you.
  • 1) Know your audience. Its important to know the audience your performing for. If its all white frat party you want to do music for the occasion. If its all black club in Harlem, New York, once again you want to perform for the occasion. If you don’t know your audience or the sound they are expecting it may cause issues with your performance and results. 2) Always make eye contact with the crowd. If they dont feel like your talking to them or your trying to entertain them you will lose their focus. Crowd engagement is a huge aspect of performing. If you can control the crowd you can gain new fans instantly.
  • A successful set in my eyes….When I walk off stage knowing i used up all my energy, I had damn near a flawless performance, I’m sweating, the crowd is showing me hella love, and I can honestly grade myself an A or B performance.
  • ALWAYS grade yourself and your team after a performance. If you feel like you did an A or B job than thats whats good. If you feel as if the performance could have been better than you have to go back to the drawing board and practice some more. Its more than music. A good performance deals with stage presence, energy, crowd reaction, as well as knowing the words to your song and performing it to the max. The more professional you perceive yourself to be, the more accomplished the crowd will perceive you to be.

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