Developing a Live Fanbase with Better Song Intros

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Better Live Song IntrosHow to court your concert audience with more creative song intros

Do you want to develop a fan base from stage or not? It begins with the introductions to your songs. (And I’m not talking about speaking to your audience!).

I always say there’s a difference between what you perform live and what you record.

For instance, song introductions on your recording need to be short and sweet. You’ve got to get to the meat of the song immediately (if you really want to be played on radio). But live is a different animal. In fact, live you want to be creative, draw your audience in, and captivate them – with the intro!

Most of you reading this blog are “dating” your audience. In other words, you haven’t sold millions of records, appear regularly on TV, and aren’t known by everyone watching & listening. So you need to win your audience as soon as you can. That won’t happen just because you play your songs correctly.

Watch this video and get a little taste of what I’m talking about:

For at least 10 seconds at the beginning of this artist’s performance, there’s really nothing to draw his audience in. He had the right elements – but he was in a hurry to get to the song. If he doesn’t take the time to draw his audience in, he’ll lose some of them and they’ll stop paying attention.

It doesn’t matter what style of music you play: you want to develop captivating intros both musically and visually. In most cases, artists do their radio version introduction because they’re in a hurry to get to the song. The problem with that is the audience can’t catch up to what they’re saying or doing until the chorus or even the 2nd verse. They’re still checking the artist out, because they’re not “married” to them.

Using the intro to create a moment of connection

This next video is a young band’s intro and my efforts to bring different elements into that intro. As you watch, take note of these same concepts you can try in your rehearsals as you develop your live intros:

  • * bring spontaneity into the intro
  • * build relationships
  • * make it more visually interesting
  • * give the artist control of the song (instead of the song controlling the artist)

How to keep things spontaneous when you play with pre-recorded tracks 

This next video is for those of you who are tied to accompaniment tracks. It answers the question of how to develop an introduction that captivates while there’s no track playing, and how to pour some of your own personality into the intro so your authority onstage is established.

By the way, wheneveer I work with track artists, I’m constantly having them edit/manipulate their tracks on ProTools in order to develop “moments” in their show. Otherwise, the track is in control, and not the artist, which causes the artist to lose authority onstage. The audience senses they aren’t in control. We want to take some of that control away from the tracks and give it back to the artist.

Check this video out:

Now, what you see in these video clips is only a very small slice of a rehearsal. To do this properly, own it, develop it, and milk it, takes a lot more time than the few minutes we took at one of my Bootcamps with these showcasing artists. In fact, everything I talk about in my blogs is just one small part of the whole process.

I know you can do this. Take the time to develop the intros in your songs. Make them interesting, compelling, & creative, and you’ll find this is one of the ways you can draw people into your music. And when you draw more people in live, you’ll find you’ve developed more fans!


Tom Jackson, world renowned Live Music Producer, author of the book Tom Jackson’s Live Music Method and the All Roads Lead to the Stage DVD series, is a master at transforming an artist’s live show into a magical experience for the audience! Tom has worked with 100’s of artists in every genre, including major artists like Taylor Swift, The Band Perry, Jars of Clay, and more. He also shares his expertise as a highly demanded speaker at colleges, conferences & events worldwide.

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  • Brandon Reese

    excuse me!!! who is the violin player? she must be cdbaby artist right! i waana see her music!

  • Jason Gregory Abbott

    What an entertaining and informative article. Thanks.

  • Once again, great stuff from Tom Jackson! I wish every musician would read this and watch the videos!

  • Roy Linford Adams

    I wonder how much help he would be for an extreme metal band since it looks like he works mostly with top-radio hit bands. My frontwoman can use a lot of help with stage presance but we have no formal environment to work on it. For years I've wanted to get her on a stage and work on how she acts and expresses herself to the crowd. I love how this guy take the chick's hand off the mic stand. It's minor but just like he said, it looks like she needs a crutch.

    • Hey Roy, I actually think Tom could do good things with a metal band. I've seen him work with folk songwriters, punk bands, pop bands, new age, world music, country, … all sorts of genres. And though he approaches them all a little differently, there are some tips that I think are universal.