It's music festival season, and for me, as part of the content team at MyMusic.com, that has meant spending many hours in the past few weeks on site at festivals, finding and sharing stories. We've interviewed several bands, and me and the team have spent the first three songs of many shows taking photos.
All this requires us to spend most of our festival time backstage. From this perspective, one gets a completely different view of how these giant events come together.
Most of us are used to attending concerts and festivals from one angle – the audience. You show up, give your ticket, find a seat or a grassy spot, and camp out with the crowd. Sometimes you're lucky to be close to the stage, other times you're further back. When the show starts, you see nothing but the full, polished experience. It's spectacular, engaging and entertaining. It leaves you wanting more.
That polished, slick show is why you pay your money. You're paying for an experience.
What you don't see is what goes on behind the scenes. In fact, the people in charge of putting this stuff together go to great lengths to ensure you don't see it. You don't see the people who build the stages and set up the speakers and lights – that's already done when you get there. You don't see the publicists and record reps working tirelessly to ensure the artists are happy and promoted and on schedule. You don't see the catering department's days of effort to make sure people are fed and watered well.
And you don't see the immense hard work the performers have put in to get to be on that stage in the first place. You don't see them agonizing over writing a good song. You don't see them battling it out in the studio to record a hit album. You don't see the hours and days and months and years of practice they've had to endure to bring you that perfect live show.
But when you're backstage, you see it all. You see a hub of activity, and you see all of the pieces gelling together for one complete purpose; to put on the best show possible for the fans that have paid to be there.
I've yet to meet an artist or band In the past 20 years who doesn't deeply appreciate and respect the fact that people are showing up just to see them perform. That's why they put in so much hard work. They know they need to give their fans the best they have to offer. When you're backstage before a show, you can feel the energy of the performers and all of the people who support them in putting on their show. They are driven by the audience they are paid to entertain. It's a wonderful, and creatively satisfying feeling.
So what does this all mean to you as a content maker? Creating great content like a rock concert – in order to put on a polished show, you have to work very hard to perfect the pieces and parts that bring it all together:
- There are no overnight successes and no shortcuts. You have to put in the hours, days, weeks, months and years.
- Every day, bring your absolute best to your audience. Show up ready to perform.
- If what you have to offer is of great quality, and is polished and slick, it shows you've put the effort in and you will be rewarded.
- You don't have to tell the world how hard you're working. If you are producing something remarkable, they will know how hard you worked.
- Surround yourself with people you trust and who have no ulterior motives. Raise them up and they will raise you up in return.
- Have immense respect and gratitude for the people who take the time to listen to you, always. They will keep coming if you keep giving them the appreciation they deserve.
- Practice. Then practice some more.Then practice some more. Then practice some more.
- If it seems too hard, it's probably worth doing.
- The harder you work, the more hours you put in, the more polished you'll look on the outside.
If you want to create something great, this is what it takes. While it's important sometimes to go out and stand in the crowd so you can see what they see, know that most of the hard work is done from the other side of the stage. Focus your efforts on perfecting things from that side, and you'll find that the show you put on will get the attention it deserves.