This weekend I was invited to attend and perform in the Band of Oz’ 50th Anniversary in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. An audience of over 900 friends, fans and family attended the sold out performance on Saturday night. What really struck me was how well the band knows their audience. After all these years, the set list they chose was perfect for the night and exactly what the faithful fans in the audience came to hear. The band chose the right songs in just the right order and the audience ate it up.
In coaching artists and songwriters I always share this axiom: know your audience. I can share many stories from my early career where I didn’t know the audience and my presentation fell flat.
I Didn’t Have A Clue
Back in the day, I took frequent trips to New York and L.A. to pound the pavement and knock on the doors of record companies in hopes of landing a record deal. I bought a record company directory and set out for meetings, not giving a single thought to whom I might meet or what kind of music or artists they were seeking.
One of the my most memorable accounts of being clueless about my audience was at Oh Boy Records in L.A. Arriving without an appointment, I rang the buzzer and after a brief introduction, was allowed into the office, where I met the late Al Bunetta, who unbeknownst to me was the president of the label. He was gracious enough to invite me into his office and hear my complete pitch before informing me that his label had one , and only one artist, legendary singer songwriter, John Prine. I was mortified. I had wasted Al’s and my time by not doing my homework. Not knowing my audience.
And Then I Did
The silver lining is that when Al and I moved to Nashville, we became great friends. I miss him to this day. But, I never forgot the lesson he graciously taught me.
As an artist or songwriter, you have one chance to make a great first impression. Do your homework. Know your audience. Maximize the moment.
(Photo by Rickie Lipscomb)