Let me set the scene. You and your friends are set to hit the clubs and see some great live music. It’s Friday night, and you’re ready to let loose and have a good time. You get to the club, pay your $5 cover, walk in, and there before you is the stage with a drum set, a few guitars and some speakers on the edges of the stage. When it’s time for the band to come out and play, you see 4 musicians saunter out on stage, they look like they just rolled out of bed, threw on the shirt and pants closest to them and grabbed a burger on the way over (you assume the burger because the lead singer has a mustard stain on his shirt). The highlight of the evening was watching the band walk out because while their musicianship was great, you were not impressed with the show.
In a parallel world, you choose a different club with a different band playing, you get to the club, pay your $10 cover and walk into the club. To your amazement, you see drums, a few guitars, keyboard, big merch table with a great presence and a huge video screen at the back of the stage. At the top of the show, the lights go out, some weird rhythms and music start playing while a video starts on the screen. The music is syncopated with the video and it builds, heightening your awareness that something big is about to happen. All of a sudden, everything stops and the band kicks in together on their first song. You assess the band all through the first song, noticing how they all look like professional rockers, their stage is clean and organized and their movements are almost choreographed. Throughout the rest of the set, the band is wooing and interacting with the audience, making eye contact and the lead singer is really working the stage. They even play a couple of cover songs you recognize, but not exactly like the originals…they have a flavor that matches that of the band on stage. By the last song, you feel like you’ve been on a roller coaster ride of emotional ups and downs and walking out, you’d be willing to pay $20 to see that show again.
They say “Image is everything,” but I’d like to add the caveat that image is nothing if you do not have substance to back it up. Start big, end bigger and make people beg for 1 more song. Most likely…they will.