As a performer, there is an art to getting people to listen. Actually, that is the art.
When you perform, if people don’t listen to your music, they usually don’t know that you want them to. In this scenario, you’ve done your art an injustice. But this doesn’t mean that your art is of poor quality.
We’ve all heard the term “background music”. We’ve heard this in the context of “poorer quality music” that isn’t as good as the music we choose to listen to. This is a misconception. Highly popular music, usually hit songs, ends up being background music at coffee shops, restaurants, elevators, you name it. The radio station may be playing on overhead speakers, audible, but not focused upon by patrons. What makes popular music background music is the context its presented in, not the quality of it.
Apply this to a Songwriter Showcase.
Sometimes, patrons chatter in the background while songs are being performed. I’ve noticed that if songwriters who are performing “ask” the audience for their attention, they usually get it. And there are many ways of asking. Some songwriters may start their song with an attention-getting strum on the guitar. A story. Things of that nature. Other songwriters, like Anthony Mossburg, have mastered the unspoken art and energy of a “commanding presence”. Before Anthony begins singing, his energy is on the crowd, and his silence is completely abrupt as he walks to the mic. He’s sending an unspoken message to the audience that he’s about to deliver something special. Other songwriters may attempt a funny story before singing their song. If the message is crafted well, the audience gets it: “Oh, you want me to listen to you for 3 and a half minutes? Sure, why not.”
Doing something expected is the worst thing you can do as a performer, if you want people to notice you. Don’t be predictable. At the showcase, everyone is expecting you to walk up to the mic and sing your song. If you do it differently, you’ll grab attention. If you “ask” for people to listen, 9 times out of 10, they will. If you do not “ask” an audience to listen to you, they’ll likely talk amongst themselves. Watch what other songwriters do to capture the attention of the room. Don’t just sing louder. Find your way to “ask” the audience to listen.