7 Things Every Opening Act Should Do
Dear opening act. Dear support act. Your job is more than just open and support.
I learned a couple things this past Channukah while I was on tour with Matisyahu. The things is, I think lots of acts go out on tour but not everyone ever gets the chance to go on a properly run tour. If you ever do (which ideally you will after various runs on your own merit) there are some things you can learn and a lot more than you think.
There is a reason why they stay on top and can continue to bring in lots of people. Luckily, they thought you were good enough to get the opening slot and you will set the tone of the night. At the end of the night, you will be remembered enough.
1. Organize meet n greets or group outings.
If you are in any way able to get some sorta club interested in your music, do it. In this case is HIllels and Chabads. If you were in frat, you should have all former frat people at your show. Matisyahu sells 75/100 dollar meet n greet with special passes, autographs, pictures, and more. I will do the same thing. In Jacksonville, Oregon, Matisyahu has two people for VIP. In Boston he had over 50-75. The main thing is that in every place there is a VIP person and everyone deserves to be met and greeted with special treatment. I'll do it on a smaller level, but also do DIY chats with local bands and artists. In return they can promote the show and purchase merch. More ticket sales in the end for everyone and everyone benefits.
2. Establish the One Day Effect.
During Matisyahu's show, he invites people on stage to dance with him during "One Day," which was the theme song for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Myself and @jasonrogoff coined this term, the one day effect, because it causes a hysteria of cameras to come out of people's pockets and film instantly. I learned to do the on-stage Bar Mitzvah. It's mine and no one can have it. Flex Mathews literally was given "the black Bar Mitzvah" on stage. What happened? Everyone who had a camera took their camera out and took pictures to upload to Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. You must have a one day effect. The object freestyle is good as well. Basically, the "one day effect" is to do something that will for sure have the crowd remember you and want to take a picture/video of you immediately.
3. Have a merch person who is organized.
At a certain level, it's ok for people to help you. When I stand by the merch table and try to sell you something, it takes something away from that moment. The headliner doesn't sell the merch. When I stand there and take pics and sign autographs, I become the star I am supposed to be. When I take the money from the person who wants the autograph, I become the cashier. No one ever really likes the cashier. I do …but not everyone! Get help!
4. Be punctual.
It's ok for anyone and everyone else to be late except you. Performing is the easy party for us. Showing up on time, being respectful, minding your own business, is the hard part. Luckily for me, the hardest part about being punctual is me panicking or feeling the need to hang out too long etc. If I am on time, everything is more relaxed. When I rush, everything goes to shit. Just remember you are not the headliner. If your set time is 8 o'clock, the only one who can push it is them, not you. To be punctual is to be grateful.
I think there is a rule with this everywhere in life. When it comes to people on the road " Don't touch my shit"" becomes very real. I don't go into your room. I don't go into your area. I don't hang out with you past a certain hour. Touring is like being on the first couple of dates. You perform during your time slot and that's it. You sell merch during change over time and before the show and after the headliner. During the set you respect the headliner, because everyone is there to see them. If you respect boundaries, you enjoy yourself more. It might not seem like that, but it really is. I know because I have done both!
6. Respect the fans and you'll earn their respect!
A lot of your emotions come on tour with you and do remember that these fans are all there to see the headliner and not you. Mind you they really appreciate the decision of the headliner. Every night on stage I didn't mention to the crowd "buy this" or "buy that." A friend told me to say this; and I did: "Hey guys I really appreciate you rocking with me, in between sets I'll be by the merch table, signing autographs and taking pictures with you, if you'd like, and then I'm gonna watch the show with you from the crowd." – More people will vibe with you and become your fans.
7. The law of diminishing returns.
Everyone loves the opening act if they are good. But one thing I did learn during college was in my 2nd microeconomics class. The law of diminishing returns. Eat one cookie and it tastes amazing. Eat ten cookies and you might be sick to your stomach. NO one remembers the first cookie. While on tour with Matisyahu, I don't need to be around the whole time. I need to be engaging with the fans and people. When I am supposed to be on stage I show up there. When I'm supposed to be doing my thing in my set I do it. If they tell me go on and I don't listen, it's ok once. Once I get told over and over again, it gets really unpleasant. This goes for everything in multiple occasions. Whenever it happens more, no one is as thrilled or ok with it. This goes for cookies, performing, boundaries, and nearly anything else you can think of.
In the end, I think keeping a level head is the best thing to do as the opener. We seem to forget what we just had was way less than what we have now. I think it's safe to say, remain humble and stay vigilant for we can easily be replaced. If you follow all these things above, you should be in good shape.