Even the most successful musicians and artists have moments where they doubt themselves. I'm going to share some information, facts and actions that will help you overcome those anxieties and focus on achieving your goals.
1. Everybody Doubts Themselves
Every artist and musician I have ever met doubts themselves to some degree. The question is: will you allow your self-doubt to paralyze you and force you to give up, or will you use it to motivate you to work harder? Those who are successful never allow self-doubt to stop them from improving and working on their goals.
2. You Don't Need To Be "The Best"
A major source of self-doubt is the assumption that in order to be successful, you need to be the best in your genre, category, etc. You are basically telling yourself that you need to be in the top 0.001% of the tens of millions of artists in order to be successful, which is a very stressful thought. This is not true in music, because there is no definition of "best". Your uniqueness is what sets you apart from the rest, so you just need to be the best version of yourself. Develop your strengths and practice your weaknesses until they are no longer a hindrance.
3. Action Destroys Self-Doubt
The best way I have found to eliminate self-doubt is to take constructive action towards your goals. Use a calendar app to schedule slots in the day that you will dedicate to these actions. For example, if you are an artist you should schedule a 1-hour slot for sending out booking emails, a slot for writing a new song, a slot for posting on social media, etc. If you are truly going all out and working as hard as you possibly can on your goal, much of your self-doubt will be eliminated as you can rest assured that you are doing all you can.
Ultimately, you need to have a conversation with yourself and decide: how much does this mean to me? If you feel as though your life needs to revolve around creating music, then you simply MUST forget about the possibility of failure and work as hard as you can on making that life a reality. You will enjoy the process of working hard much more than the self-doubt and sadness that comes with knowing you're being half-hearted and will probably never do what you love. If you just want to make sure that music is always present as a hobby and passion, you will still need to work hard to make sure that happens in the long-term.
Best video for overcoming self-doubt: https://youtu.be/W6nT2yFc5UA
How much time do you put into crafting your set list? Or do you just wing it and feed off the crowd energy? The structure, order and content of your set list have a huge impact on the audience's reaction, and can be the difference between people becoming fans or leaving underwhelmed. Below is a template that, if executed well, will guarantee you an encore. I've tested this template with a number of different acts and it really does work! I was amazed at how your setlist can have such a huge impact on your show.
The numbers in the right column refer to the energy level of each song, with 1 being the lowest, and 5 being the highest. This template is designed for a 45-minute set but can easily be expanded into longer sets by doubling up some of the sections (for example song number 6 can become two fun songs if you need to add more time.)
1-2 - Groovy/Catchy Songs (3, 4)
You want to start with a couple of songs that will immediately draw people's attention, and hopefully get them singing and dancing, but won't give away your best material straight away. These songs should represent your band's typical sound, so don't start with some new experiments you've been trying out. The energy should be pretty high, but save your highest energy songs for later.
3. Well-Known Original Or Cover (3)
Depending on how many loyal fans you have in the room, now is a great time to play a really well-known original or cover. You've already won over a lot of the audience with your two catchy openers, and now is your opportunity to get the rest of the crowd on your side by playing something you know they'll recognize and be able to sing along with.
4. Lower Energy Song (2)
Now it's time for a slight change in energy. You've just had three pretty high energy, catchy songs and the audience needs something a little bit different before you ramp it up again.
5. Musical Moment (3)
Now you're starting to increase the excitement again, and it's a great time to play a song that has an awesome musical moment, like a guitar solo. Make sure to really showcase the musician by having them come to the front of the stage, and maybe cue some applause for them. The audience needs to be AMAZED at this point.
6. Fun/Audience Interaction (4)
The energy and excitement is still building and the audience will be ready for some interaction. Play a high-energy, fun song at this point where you can get them clapping, dancing, singing, etc. Just make sure that the audience really feels like they are part of the show at this point, as this will form a great connection between them and you.
7. Intimate/Emotional Moment (1-2)
This is the moment in the show where the band leaves the stage, the singer picks up an acoustic and sits on a stool with just a spotlight on them. It's a great change of energy and aesthetic, and allows the audience to connect with you in a more emotional way.
8. Something With A Strong Message (3-4)
Now is a great moment to play a song with strong lyrical content. Whatever it is, just make sure that the audience understands it and that you convey the message in a powerful way.
9. Something That Builds To A Huge Ending (1 building to 5)
This is your last song, and you need to go out with a BANG! But even better than that is to build from something small into a massive ending, because that makes the ending seem even bigger than it actually is. It also leaves the audience wanting more, because the huge moment was only at the end, not the whole song, and so they still want some more of that energy. That's exactly what you want them to feel, because that's what will get you an encore!
Make sure you prepare an encore, you will get one! Make it something big and fun, 4-5 energy level, and preferably well-known to your fans.
So there you have it! I urge you to try this set list template. It'll probably be one of the quickest and most effective changes you've ever made to your show.