Sometimes you look at a show flyer (like the one above) and shiver with anticipation; other times you see the artists on the bill and doves start to cry. Why is that? We would all like to believe that we have it in us to unconditionally support someone whose music and energy we enjoy, but the other artists that play the venue on that very same evening can cause undue stress on the fans. Follow me:

It’s Friday afternoon. You’re a local, soon-to-be rap star on the rise. Your Mixtape vol. 1 is out now with two or three supporting music videos and you’ve been reaching out to blogs and DJ’s alike. Your budget is low, but as an indie artist, that’s perfectly alright. You have a show tonight and you’ve been inviting all of your friends that Facebook would allow you to tag to come out to one of the slightly overused neighborhood venues to witness the greatness (let’s hope) that is your stage performance. If you’re smart, you have at least attempted to use other avenues for promotion besides The ‘Book, but that’s neither here nor there. You’ve got your coveted USB stick and/or CD-R handy, freshly loaded with 15-20 minutes of your own custom, pure-gold word-vomit; vomit that promises to splash all over your fans faces, causing their eyes and ears to bleed with joy. It is for that very reason that you are making last minute invites as well as contacting anyone who has already purchased a ticket, ensuring they won’t miss out on an amazing evening.

After load-in and mic checks, the doors swing open and your anxious fans begin to trickle in while the DJ plays his favorite songs. Time goes by at a snail’s pace as your friends, family members, coworkers and teammates mingle throughout the crowd, flashing encouraging smiles whenever you lock eyes with them. Then it happens: the acts leading up to you are giving it their all, but it’s just not enough. Every time your guests see you, the smile decreases a little bit as they grow restless. “When do you go on???” This is the question, and the tone becomes increasingly agitated as your adoring fans – with tears in their eyes – beg you to grab the mic and put an end to their frustration. Finally, you do; you grab that shit and you MERK that shit. Is it enough for your fans to take home as a successful evening, though?

I, for one, do not wish to disappoint my fans in such a way EVER again. You spend your first handful of shows wetting the back of your ears, but at some point you progress. If not, please end yourself. I believe I have gone through my own skyward transformation as far as stage presence and performance are concerned. In turn, I have learned to be a little more selective when accepting show offers. In the beginning, it was more than flattering to receive a show invite… ANYWHERE. Call it pride or selfishness if you prefer, but I just constantly reassess my skill and attitude in order to understand my self-worth. As you elevate, so should your value. These days, I’m looking to challenge myself further, while simultaneously raising the bar for the people who enjoy my shows.

I still feel blessed to have show opportunities offered to me, but branding is key; the standard I want to set is as important as any standards that are expected of me. At my shows, I want my fans to be hype before I go on stage, while I’m on stage, and long afterwards. I want my fans to hear other indie artists at my shows and give their music a chance because it is of a similar caliber, if not better than my own. They already know what my MUSIC sounds like… I want to show them a GOOD TIME!

By now, I think we all know that it ain’t what you know; networking is important. You will want to make connections with various people with various roles in the “indiestry,” more than just performing artists. Still, do you think it’s a good idea to network with artists that bore your fans? Artists that decrease the chances of your fans enjoying themselves after they have already paid you their hard-earned cash to be entertained? Well, this is America, so you can think what you want. Me? I only want to work with the best.