I Played 45 Shows in 9 Months. This Is What I Learned

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I moved back to NYC in May of 2021. Pre-pandemic, I had slightly dipped my toe into the NYC cover gig scene, performing solo on acoustic guitar and taking requests from patrons. I, like so many people my age, had to return to my parent’s house for a majority of the pandemic. It was such a hard time in my life. I had been laid off for 10 months and my only income was the occasional cover gig at outdoor bars in Tampa. A week after I returned to the city, indoor dining was reinstated. After being stuck in one place for so long, I was shot out of a cannon and began to gig as much as possible, maintaining several residences across the city. I ended up playing 45 gigs total in 2021…all as a solo singing guitarist. 

It was really cool to be a part of the resurrection of the city. The amount of times people came in, saw me and said “Oh my god live music!” was overwhelming. That being said, I learned such a valuable lesson in that time. As an artist, performing live is still one of the most valuable and impactful things you can do, even when performing cover shows. It’s especially true when you can take requests. I’ve had so many sweet moments with perfect strangers, asking me to play their wedding song or “New York, New York” while visiting for the very 1st time. I’ve played for people from all over the world…I even received a tip in Australian currency which I keep in my wallet to this day haha. (Maybe one day I’ll get to use it)

That being said, so much discussion of marketing online is all about “conversion” but I think that sorta gets left out of the conversation with music artists. How do you get online followers to do more than hit the like button and scroll onto the next video? How do you get them to switch apps and stream your music? Get them excited enough to come out to a show? I believe it’s all about creating an experience that you cannot get online. 

Turning online followers into fans IRL

It comes down to stage presence and connecting with an audience, which I feel is a skill that a lot of the younger musicians haven’t gotten a chance to hone in yet. Not only have they been stuck inside for two years, the entire industry has flipped on its head. The model has become gain followers first, perform live second. 

Yes, you can do this even as an introvert (I’m one too!)

That being said, many people are always surprised to find that I am a pretty socially anxious person if they’ve seen one of my shows. Playing all those gigs became exposure therapy in a way, haha. I pushed myself to speak with audience members on my break, ensured I knew the bar staff name’s, challenged myself to take on cover requests that I knew I wasn’t gonna perfectly nail – but taking that next step to create a connection has been extremely beneficial. If you’re an introverted performer, stepping out of your comfort zone is a necessary step. I’ve gained followers and listeners from all over the world just by saying “Hi! Thanks for coming out to the show!”

Photos by Ruba Amara

Connection + Stage Presence = success as a live performer

That being said, conversation is not enough on its own. Ya gotta be entertaining (and that way people will be eager to talk to you haha.) Stage presence is a major part of your identity as an artist! It’s one of the biggest factors in longevity. It’s something that I don’t think gets talked about enough among small independent artists. It’s important to know how to entertain, whether you’re playing in a small bar in your hometown or a gigantic theater.

Stage presence comes from confidence…and if that needs to be “fake it until you make it.” That’s fine too. 

You can be introverted but still very confident. I’ve gained this more with age but those 45 gigs certainly played a very large part in that growth. Feeling confident in performance but not always in the day to day is a partial inspiration for the character of the Madame. Performing makes me feel like a different person. I have learned over time that audience perception means more than what is actually happening. It doesn’t matter who I actually am. It’s all about illusion. You have to get people on your side and you do that by taking the stage by storm and telling them in your actions “This is my show now.”

I have always liked the saying “If you’re not buying what you’re selling then who is?”

That being said, if that confidence needs to be more of a “fake it til ya make it” thing that is 100% okay. I am slowly but surely having to fake it less and less. That’s partially why I’m a glam rock artist. Glam knows that it’s all for show and that’s what makes it so damn fun. It’s all a grand farce and facade. The hype of icons is something we make up, so why can’t you make up your own? You are already a star, ya just gotta get the crowd to see it.

 Madame Daley exists at the intersection of Madison Daley’s love for glamorous fashion and gritty rock n roll, her affinity for drag queens and broadway musicals, her nostalgia for the Daley family’s multi-generational history with the city of New York, her all-out devotion to the music legends of the 20th century and her never-ending appreciation for the power of women and femininity. 

Madame Daley crowdfunded her debut single “Annie, Sing Your Heart Out Anyway” in early 2020 and the remainder of her upcoming ‘Classic’ EP in the fall of 2021. She recently joined forces with three NYC based musicians to form the Starchild Band. Madame Daley and the Starchild band take great pride in being an all woman and LGBTQ+ group. They began performing together in NYC in May of 2022 to many enthusiastic audiences and cannot wait to perform the Madame’s new music very soon.

Madame Daley’s debut EP “Classic” drops today, August 5th, 2022. You can stream below:

For Fans Of: Haim, Harry Styles

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