Top 5 Lessons From My First Album Release Concert

Alex Sanford Concert

Last Saturday, I had my very first concert.

I’ve played in front of people a lot. But never like this. It was an event that I was putting on myself to promote my new EP.

I released the EP in late November of last year, but I decided not to do the release concert in December, as it would interfere with Christmas and holidays. So instead, I scheduled it in for early February.

Quite a few friends and family came out to support me, and we had a blast!

Today, I would like to share with you the top 5 things I learned from this concert, in hopes that even just one of them will help you in your future musical endeavors:

1. Push yourself to do something great

I was scared to do this concert.

What if nobody shows up? What if I mess up? What if they don’t like my music?

Putting my art out there was difficult. Making the decision to go ahead and do it was difficult.

But man I’m so glad I did.

You see, pushing through your fears breaks mental barriers. Next time I want to do a concert, I can say to myself, “Yeah, I’ve done that before, and it wasn’t so bad after all, in fact, it was pretty awesome”. It’s rewarding, and empowering.

2. Know your crowd

It’s important to put together an event that your target crowd will connect with. In my case, I write music about my faith, and the people who would be coming out were mostly church-goers. They tend to enjoy fellowship time, hanging out with each other having snacks. So, there was a snack time after the concert. People stayed around, hung out and chatted, and had a great time.

I also sang some familiar worship songs during one part of the concert, and encouraged people to sing along. This made them feel involved, and a part of the event.

You may not sing worship songs, but think about the crowd who your music is targeting. What do they like? Where do they hang out? Are there cover songs you could throw into your set that they would enjoy?

Now there’s one problem with all this: I suck at making snacks. Which leads me to my next point…

3. Surround yourself with amazing people

My family, my friends, and my dear wife were absolutely amazing and so supportive. They made snacks, brought juice and pop, invited more people, and even printed off little download cards and handed them out to the people at the concert.

I was hosted by a local church, who gave me more support that I could possibly ask for. They provided a sound guy for the evening, advertised the event in their bulletin for several weeks in advance, and were very encouraging.

If at all possible, don’t try to do it all yourself. In general, people are willing to help. Surround yourself with amazing, supportive people. You will go much further than you ever could on your own.

4. If you want to build your email list, be deliberate

One of the best things you can do to keep in touch with your fanbase is to maintain an email list.

Social media is great, but it seems that in the internet marketing world, email is still king. You can use it to send a message directly to your fans. A message that is less likely to get lost in the crowd of updates and news items.

I was thinking about building an email list for my music, but I wasn’t that serious about it for this concert. I only got a few people to sign up.

For now, that’s ok. But I thought I would mention this as a lesson. If you want to build your list, be deliberate. Mention it more than once. Pass around the clipboard, rather than just setting it up on a table. Give people some kind of incentive to sign up (a free piece of merch can work well). Don’t expect them to just sign up because there’s a piece of paper there.

5. Keep it simple

The arrangements of the songs on my EP are pretty full. Lots of guitars, full drumkit, vocal harmonies, etc.

I didn’t want to play the concert by myself, so I did put together a band. But I kept it simple. Just me with my acoustic and vocals, a second acoustic guitar, a bass guitar, and some percussion and hand drums. That’s it.

Of course, it really depends on what works in the situation. In my situation, there were fairly few people at the event, and it was a kind of close, intimate environment. The smaller band just worked.

But the main reason I did it that way was to keep it simple. To have less details or roadblocks to worry about. To get it done, and then start thinking about the next project.

So that’s it! Those are my top 5 lessons I learned from my first ever EP release concert. If you haven’t checked out the EP yet, please have a listen. I’m glad that I managed to push past my apprehensions and go ahead with the CD release concert, even though it scared me.

Most importantly though, I want you to push past your fears, and do something that will take you to that next level. What’s scaring you right now? What’s holding you back? Which one of these 5 lessons do you most connect with? I truly hope that you can take inspiration from some of this insight and apply it to your situation, your music, and your journey.

Please leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you.

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2 thoughts on “Top 5 Lessons From My First Album Release Concert

  1. That’s a great summary of the learning for someone like me who is always in a fear of not doing well rather than just doing it. All the points are spot on, especially the first one. I loved the article and I think it really inspired me to think about performing my first album in front of family & friends some time in future, even if I have released it almost a couple of months ago. Of course, I need to take lessons and improve my keyboard playing skills, but I hope I can do it some day.

    Alex, could you please elaborate more on the fifth point? I mean who all played the other instruments and how was the setup like? How did you perform your parts in the songs? How long did the performance last?

    The biggest thing I worry about when I think of live performance is the setup, more so because my music is instrumental & electronic rather than being acoustic and that it does not have vocals. It can be minimal, but what exactly should be included in “minimal” apart from the instrument itself? Some information on this would really help.

    Awesome post, keep it up!

    Like

    1. Hi Kaitav,

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m so glad that this article has been helpful for you!

      I think it’s a great idea for you to present your album for people! Even doing it for a small group of friends will be very rewarding, I think.

      I can certainly elaborate on my fifth point. For me, if I wanted to play my music the way it was recorded, I would need a live drummer, at least one electric guitar player, preferably two, a bass, and probably keys or a synth. The volume would be high, and I would want an experienced front-of-house mixer who could handle the volume and complexity.

      However, I didn’t want to get into all that for this show. I wanted it to be simple, and easy. The hard part was going to be pushing myself to actually do it, so I wanted the rest to be as simple and easy as possible. So I stripped it down. I could have just played the songs myself on my acoustic, but instead I got some friends to play guitar, bass, and a hand drum. Played an acoustic, “coffee-house” style set. And I think it worked great!

      We played at a church that had their own sound gear, and the sound tech from the regular church services did sound for us, so I didn’t have to worry too much about setup. It could have been pretty much all acoustic though, really.

      The performance was about 45 minutes long, and then people hung out afterward for snacks.

      As for your question about what should be included, man it’s really whatever works for you! You could go solo with just a keyboard, you could play your keyboard along with a backing track, you could get some friends to play some instruments with you. I would just suggest trying to make it as easy on yourself as you can at this point. Do you have some friends who you play music with occasionally? Even through your tracks are electronic, are there ways you could include some acoustic instruments (such as guitars and drums) for the performance?

      Good luck man! I hope this helps. Let me know if you have more questions!
      Alex

      Like

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