Picture this, one minute I am standing on stage in front of 3000 screaming, dancing and clapping 18-35 year olds who have obviously come out to have a fun time at a live music event, and we are all having a great experience; the next minute I am singing at a high profile charity event in front of 300+ individuals, an audience that consists of mainly Lawyers, Doctors and Accountants and I am being ignored (by most) and shouted over. Same singer. Same voice. Different context.
I've learned over the years, that when it comes to performing music context is so key!! Questions to determine the context could include: Who is in the audience? What material are you performing? What is the purpose of the event? Are you allowed to choose the material that you are going to sing or are the organisers asking you to sing something specific? Who is in control of the sound? A professional sound engineer or someone who has less experience? Will you be allowed to be yourself on stage or are you being asked to fit a mould?
All of these factors and more can determine the outcome of your time on stage and yet they can be so easily overlooked. I am sure there are some great singers walking around feeling like they are mediocre, all because they do not understand the power of contextual setting when it comes to music performance.
I will always try and work out the context before I accept to do anything, if it matches my ideals, I say yes. If it does not I turn it down. It's that simple. But i'm only cut-throat like that now because I used to say yes to everything and learned FAST what will and will not work for me. I paid my dues lol.
So the next time you are on stage think about whether the context is really serving your vision for your music and if it is not, the don't waste your time. There will always be better opportunities and when you say no to one thing, you don't miss out, you simply make yourself available for something better.
If you have had a terrible time on stage, don't beat yourself up, perhaps you were doing the right thing in the wrong context.