#167: The 4 pillars of a successful performance

Kevin Breuner - guitarJust because you wrote a song and happen to be standing on a stage doesn’t make you a great performer. Captivating a live audience is a skill all its own, one that you must learn and practice — just like your instrument. In this episode, performance coach Tom Jackson reveals the 4 pillars of a good live performance. Take these tips to heart, integrate them into your rehearsals, and you’ll be on your way to building a die-hard fanbase, packing out venues, and driving more merch sales.

Check out all of Tom’s performance resources at OnstageSuccess.com

  • Matt

    Please start your interviews or the meat of your discussions sooner! 5 minutes in and just starting!

  • velvetpiano

    Just start the podcast at the meat of the info 4:24. It’s a passive aggressive slap in the face to waste a listener’s time. Then – after that, you don’t even have the guest in the studio. Sheesh – for an ‘audio-performance’ based company, this is pretty poor. I switched off and won’t bother with another of these.

    Here’s my podcast tips; 1) 5 seconds (max) intro music/pod-ident 2) Start the talk by introducing the guest 3) get to the point right away 4) finish the podcast.

  • Linda Vee Sado

    Yes I lose interest. Too much babbling. I’d just rather read a text version in half the time

  • Matt

    Why would it matter if the interviewer is in studio with the guest? If that was a necessary criterion there would be a great scarcity of interviews. By the way, the content in this one is great…just takes too long to get there.

  • John Schwab

    Pillar #5. Don’t do a phone in interview on a speaker phone. You lost me at the top.

  • Eric Wetmore

    I’m wondering if the same pillars hold true for gigs like restaurants … where group is more background music.. not on stage?

  • kbreuner

    Was not a speaker phone. It was Skype. If I could only have guest “in studio” we would never have podcasts.

  • kbreuner


  • velvetpiano

    I’m afraid that listening to someone else (interviewer, who I don’t know/value personally) talking to someone else who’s literally ‘phoning it in’…. doesn’t appeal. Standards are high these days, as are media expectations. The whole thing sounded “aren’t we great”… then proceeded to not sound great. Personal choice – ‘glad you got some value out of it.

  • kbreuner

    I think that’s a tough one and really depends on the specific situation. Usually in cases like that, you’re not really the center of attention, so it wouldn’t make sense to do some of the things mentioned. But, I think those are the kind of gigs that people tend to use as an excuse to “just play” and get out of there.

  • velvetpiano

    Babbling – like ‘babbling brook’… runs on and on and on. Are you mis-reading it as ‘blabbing’… hence your query?

  • kbreuner

    I’ll agree to disagree. I’m a huge fan of a lot of podcasts and this is pretty common. It’s a long format, not a sound bite.

  • velvetpiano

    This is an ‘audio-media’ company… the best they can do is ‘Skype’…?

  • Dean Driver

    Exactly what I was thinking. This discussion should start with the type of show: is it a house concert, a theater show, or a bar/restaurant or market scene? A totally different approach to each type of show.

  • John Schwab

    Understood. I’ll give it another try.

  • Daniel Harrison

    Love it

  • kbreuner


  • kbreuner

    I know it’s not the best audio, but the info is so worth powering through.

  • Funkmayor

    Tom Jackson’s pillars, in my opinion, have distilled the reasons why I don’t want to go to concerts anymore.

  • gillwire

    I appreciate the info – I’ve been thinking a lot about what holds people back from going out to live music and I think a lot of it rests on performers and venues. Many times we don’t create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable. For many people, just showing up to a venue may be out of their comfort zone so anything we can do to make it more organized and professional helps.

  • gillwire

    The audio quality was not an issue for me; yes I could tell he wasn’t in studio, but I could clearly understand it and the podcast format is perfect for listening to while working. Through the archives there is a lot of great info, probably one of the best locations to get such a diverse collection of perspectives on the industry

  • Bill

    Cop walks into the place while we’re playing and we can see he’s gonna arrest this guy at the bar. We dropped right out of the middle of some tune we were in and slammed into jailhouse rock – the place went nuts and the cop gave us a thumb up with his free hand. Point being have a plan sure thats fine… Just read the room and if ya got any spidey sense….USE IT! I don’t like pontificating experts…. just sayin’

  • Ian Bruce


  • Tom Hendricks

    But if you only do bands – now the most boring music on the planet – I’ve already tuned out. Look it is not the 60’s. What was fresh then is not fresh now. To all bands – you’ve had 50 years to try to imitate the Beatles, and you are not as good, honest, none of you, yes really. Give it up. Do something different. Move forward, or move out of the way of those who are changing music.
    Take the man’s advice and give a good show, but don’t start with generic 60 year old, your grandfather’s bands. formula. You can’t be breaking new ground when you are just shoveling dirt.
    Some of us think rock has jumped the shark, and is due for a major change where musicians have stopped trying to fill a 60 year old formula.

  • Linda Vee Sado

    Sorry I guess that sounded mean. But just too much minutia and hard to sit thru to get to the meat of it

  • Nicole Chaplain-Pearman

    I come to the CDBaby site for info not a kaffeklatsch. Get to the point ASAP. By all means share pertinent examples from your own experience, but remember that brevity is the soul of wit. Respect the fact that your listeners don’t have endless hours to watch videos and listen to podcasts.

  • Mark

    Thank you very much! This is awesome. I have listened to this about 3 times already and am picking up more of the details of the points each time.

  • You should ask for your money back. Oh wait…

  • Man oh man – so much hate for a free podcast! GET OVER YOURSELF PEOPLE!

    Here’s 4 More Pillars For Ya

    1) If there’s too much babbling – press the damn fast forward button! Or would you like someone from CD Baby to fly over from Portland and and press it for you?

    2) If you don’t like listening to skyped interviews – DON’T LISTEN! Listen to Tom Jackson’s beautifully recorded products first hand instead. Oh wait – you have to pay for those…

    3) If a podcast is free don’t bitch about it like you paid good money for it.

    4) There isn’t really any point complaining about the audio unless you think the podcasters unaware of the problem – what do you want him to do, go back and rerecord the whole interview? Never interview via skype again? Quit?

    For my part – I enjoyed the podcast. I could hear Tom clearly, and while I don’t subscribe to everything he says he made a lot of helpful points I can apply.

    Thanks for the podcast Kevin. Keep em coming.

  • Awesome podcast. Me and the guys put a lot of the info to use at our last show and saw real results, our wives couldn’t put their finger on it but said we jumped into a new league of performance and they’v seen us play dozens of times.
    Great show guys, love the long format. Keep it up!

  • kbreuner

    Excellent! That’s what I like to hear.

  • Brilliant ! Awesome concept idea

  • Zak Threadgill

    Macklemore standing in the crowd is something I’ll always remember ESPECIALLY when the lyrics “This is the moment” come in right before he hops down! loved it.

  • Tim Bunch

    Spectacular info here. Possibly the best one I’ve listened to yet! Very inspiring.

  • Thank you so much for this, Kevin and Tom! I’m about to play my first-ever music festival and this info is a godsend. I’m thinking about my set/act in a completely new way.

    – John

  • asmog13

    Bullocks. Haven’t you watched the news lately. Lot’s of interviews are done through Skype. Your opinion is your (little) opinion.