Live music producer Tom Jackson has transformed the live show for artists such as Taylor Swift, Shawn Mendes, The Band Perry, High Valley, Magic and many more. Author of the book Tom Jackson’s Live Music Method and the All Roads Lead to the Stage DVD series, Tom is uniquely talented and skilled at transforming an artist’s live show into a magical experience for the audience; helping artist at every level to create a live show that is engaging and memorable and teaching them to exceed their audiences’ expectations to create fans for life.
Hello and welcome to episode 25 of Sing! Dance! Act! Thrive!
This week we have live music producer Tom Jackson who has transformed the live show for artists such as Taylor Swift, Shawn Mendes, The Band Perry, High Valley, Magic and many more.
.Author of the book Tom Jackson’s Live Music Method and the All Roads Lead to the Stage DVD series, Tom is uniquely talented and skilled at transforming an artist’s live show into a magical experience for the audience; helping artist at every level to create a live show that is engaging and memorable and teaching them to exceed their audiences’ expectations to create fans for life.
Tom comes up to Toronto every year for Canadian Music Week to teach a workshop on live performance and brings a band up on stage to work with. This year he added a second workshop that focused on singer-songwriters. After our interview, you will hear from a couple of artists (Angela Saini & Tamara Maddalen) that attended the workshop so that you can hear what they learned and how they will incorporate it into their own shows.
Diane Foy 0:00
Hello, welcome to the show.
Tom Jackson 0:02
It is great to be here.
Diane Foy 0:04
So you come to CMW every year and this year you are doing two workshops.
Tom Jackson 0:08
Diane Foy 0:09
Yeah. Tell me about the different ones. I was curious because I have seen you do the full band one a lot.
Tom Jackson 0:16
Diane Foy 0:16
So what made you do a solo one?
Tom Jackson 0:19
Well, actually, many, many, many times people ask me what I do I am stuck behind a microphone, singer songwriter thing. So I started looking into that a little bit more now I do work with singer songwriters, but I’ve never put on a workshop. This year, I actually put on a workshop for singer songwriter specifically.
Diane Foy 0:38
Tom Jackson 0:39
Which is cool. Which here is a plug. I have a new product coming out for singer songwriters specifically, because my product, the All Roads Lead To The Stage is kind of a broad stroke. It is for sort of everybody.
Diane Foy 0:53
Tom Jackson 0:54
Where this is, what I am going to start doing is doing more niche things within the music thing. So the reason I did it is because it is a it is necessary. It is needed.
Diane Foy 1:05
Tom Jackson 1:06
And and a lot of people just want to make a living and they cannot afford a band. And, and their guitar player shows up late.
Diane Foy 1:15
Yeah a lot of solo artists find that they have to hire musicians, because it is their project. It is not a band. And that gets expensive if you’re on the road.
Tom Jackson 1:25
It is expensive. You lack motivation sometimes, sometimes people do not show up. I mean, how crazy is that? So, so they can take control of their own thing, at least it in a lot of the gigs. And house concerts are becoming more and more popular.
Diane Foy 1:41
Tom Jackson 1:41
So there is a way to make a living doing your own thing. So that is the first one. Today I am doing a singer songwriter, teaching a little bit then doing a singer songwriter example or two. And then on Saturday, I am doing the whole band, and that should be fun. It is a band called The Accolades and they have like nine pieces in the band.
Diane Foy 2:00
Oh, wow that is a challenge.
Tom Jackson 2:00
So it will be a challenge. It will be fun. It is painting with a lot of colors. Yeah, the challenge is going to be getting as much done in the short amount of time.
Diane Foy 2:08
Yeah, because you can only coach.
Tom Jackson 2:11
So many people, yeah.
Diane Foy 2:13
Cool. I always want to know, like, how on earth did you get into this? Like, are you a musician growing up? Or what, how? Tell me your story.
Tom Jackson 2:22
I was, I was a musician. I guess I still am to some degree I have not played in 14 years. I am a bass player. But the reason I have not played is because I am so busy doing this. And this is my creative outlet.
Diane Foy 2:35
Tom Jackson 2:37
But I, I tell you a long story short. I was touring, we were an indie band, we were playing secondary and third in there. If there’s such a term markets, and doing pretty well, we are doing we actually we were actually doing 500 dates on this tour. And we are in the middle of nowhere, we had set up, and our drummer had, I cannot remember, he broke it or just really, really heard it, but it was in a sling. And so we had to play the show that night with a one arm drummer, and he was not even a good drummer of two arms. But I remember standing on stage, and the first song is sweating bullets, thinking they are going to start throwing things at us because the drummer is the foundation for the group.
Diane Foy 3:23
Tom Jackson 3:23
And he was all over the place. No dynamics, no tempo, it was it was terrible. We finished the song, and we got a standing ovation. And, and I it was an aha moment to me like, whoa. So what the audience is paying attention to is different than what we musicians are paying attention to. And so I started exploring that whole idea. So now, people ask me, Well, what are you I call myself sometimes a marriage counselor, the husband or the wife does not matter is on stage and the spouse is in the audience. And I may love my wife.
And, you know, I was teaching at Berkelee College of Music three years ago. And I felt that I do not even know why this happened, but it was doing a three day event. And on the last day, the guy who brought me in, put together a panel. And there was like a really pretty darn famous singer, manager and promoter, and then me. And the audience was asking questions, this was the final rap. And the audience asked the artist or the manager or so what should we do, he goes, well listen, if you are on stage, having fun, your audience is going to have fun, and I am sitting under the table, and I made this noise. Because I was tired. I had a little glass of wine before I went. That is not true. Just because you are having fun does not mean the audience is going to have fun. I said, just because I love my wife does not mean she gets it. So you have to do things to make that emotional connection. That makes sense. And that deals with the arrangement of the song, the visual, the verbal, all those things. Otherwise, it is just simply musical masturbation. And, and you are going to have a fun time. And I want you to have fun, by the way, but we want to include the audience. So I started looking at the show from the audience’s perspective. And really looked into that.
And now the reason I get to do what I do, I think, is because I have been on stage, I know what the artist is thinking. But I also know what the audience is thinking, and you make this connection. So here is what you are trying to accomplish, you know, as an artist, but here is how you do it. Without changing who you are. I do not change the artist, all of a sudden, they are somebody different.
Diane Foy 5:42
Tom Jackson 5:43
It is just give them the tools to make that emotional connection.
Diane Foy 5:46
Right. And like, did you study anything? Did you study rock stars? Did you study who is doing it well?
Tom Jackson 5:54
No, you know, I think I did. I did, unconsciously or subconsciously. When I was young, I probably went to 500 shows. And and that was it a day when you could literally go see a festival for 10 bucks, five bucks. And I went to everything known to man. And and I did not realize I was working.
Diane Foy 6:18
Tom Jackson 6:18
But after a while, I just knew instinctively. In fact, my teaching is sort of like this, I just taught at a workshop in Nashville literally yesterday. And I had a guy come up to me and say, You know what, this stuff makes so much sense. There is so much of this that I knew in my heart, but I never could express or pull out of me, you pulled it out. So what I do with my teaching is one, three things should happen. One, when they are listening and they go, oh, I better stop doing that. Because that is the wrong thing to do, Two, I knew that I just I just never had the courage to, to, to go for it. And then the third thing is I never thought of that, it is a great idea. And that is kind of what my teaching is about. But it I never studied it. Never.
Diane Foy 7:16
How was your career evolved? Like, how did you start getting paid to do this?
Tom Jackson 7:22
Diane Foy 7:24
Still waiting? No.
Tom Jackson 7:25
Yeah, I do not think so. My, my first gig was three nights, four hours, no, it is four nights, four hours a night. And I got paid $25 a night. So I made 100 bucks for my first gig. And it was, it was a group that I sort of talked into, they were friends of mine, they just go out and play for free. What you know, like an offering, almost like a busking type thing, but it was real concert. And they can make a collection. And but the band never got paid. And I said give me four days for and at the end of this, they had a gig at the end of the week. I said, and you will not tell people when they come up to that you play for free. But no one has ever asked them. How much do you charge to come? Come play? So after the gig, they had that six people come up and say, and we decided now this was years ago, we decided that they were going to charge $600 for people to go, I mean to hire them, that six people come up after we had worked and asked them and hired them for $600. And you know, and then they start telling everybody and it has just grown like crazy. So that was my first gig. I go to conventions like this, because it is I just was talking to people over here registration and the guy goes on that I love your thing. He goes he is trying to explain his friends. There you go. I cannot explain what you do. Because you got to see it. I mean, that is the good news. That is the bad news. I am a marketing nightmare. Because what this interview, somebody is going to go oh, I know what he does. And the truth is they do not.
Diane Foy 9:15
I always tell artists every year to go, and then some of them will and then some of them do not. And I am like the ones that do not. I am like you just do not understand. Like, you do not know, you have to be there. It is the one that I always say that is the one if you do nothing else, you have to go to yours.
Tom Jackson 9:30
Well, I appreciate that. Because because people think I was a choreographer, oh he is going to box us in oh, he is going to make us look goofy. Oh, he is going to teach us to dance. Oh so all these things and the answer is no, no, no, no, no, no.
Diane Foy 9:41
Tom Jackson 9:41
What I do is help people create moments. I will give an example. This is the other end of the spectrum from the $25. When I first started working with Taylor Swift, she had gone out on tour, she was opening for Brad Paisley. And she had gone out on tour the first half of the year before for Christmas, and dinner thing. And then a vocal coach that I that works with her, had her contact me. And then we work during Christmas time. She went out on the second half of the tour and her merchandise went up 600%. And we used exactly the same songs she did before before the break. But what we did was rearrange them to create moments in the show instead of just played songs and hoping something good happens. But yeah, you know, for me, it is frustrating on two levels. One is the main level is, there are artists that are so good listening to this, at this event that are so good musically, they can sing they can play. And you were just talking about the the class that was before our interview here where the woman who was listening to the stuff goes, well, where are the rocks? Well, the people that bring it and everyone went up there thinking that is me and they played and that is not it. That is not it. And the truth is I can I can get them there. That is what I do. And it has to do with the show. And let us think about it the show in this day and age. I always thought the show was really important.
Diane Foy 9:46
Tom Jackson 10:36
But now, what is what is your saying on the radio? What is the one thing on Spotify? It is a commercial for people to come out and see you. And if you do not deliver, the worst thing that could happen would be you just unmemorable.
Diane Foy 11:35
Tom Jackson 11:36
And so the key here is you create moments. And then here is, here is how we did with Taylor. We created those moments out of the exact same songs. And I would like to be able to explain how I create those moments. But it is it is a process. I am sorry, we are talking to Canadians. It is a process. So it is a rearrangement of the song. It is now after the song has been rearranged. The writing for a show and the writing for radio or two different things, writing the song, and then there is a psychology to the show. Are you doing a 20 minutes set? Are you doing an hour and a half set? Are you doing one song? One song is a commercial 20 minutes is like a short TV show, an hour and a half show is like a movie and the writing for those. The script writing for those is all different. But what we do is we record the songs, play the songs the way they are on the record mostly, and hope something good happens. And I am speaking to people right here, thousands of them that that they are good enough. They are good enough. But they, they are winging it and and they are frustrated as heck.
Diane Foy 12:47
Tom Jackson 12:48
I just talked to a kid right before I came here. Right before I came, here he is. He says, as soon as he gets off stage, that he has been in my workshop, study the book got the DVDs. I mean, he has really applied himself. He says as soon as he gets off stage, whoever who has hired him wants him back immediately.
Diane Foy 13:06
Right. So you have DVDs and books that I guess artist can start with? Before they get to hiring a coach?
Tom Jackson 13:14
Yeah. My recommendation is yeah, and you know, it is an expensive book. And whoa it is expensive, because it is $99 US. Which is about a million and a half. It is exactly what it is. It is a you know, do not even think twice about buying drum heads or guitar strings, or this new effect for your paddle or, or a new dress if you are a female going out to sing or it is a new outfit, all that stuff you just do. But no $99 for a book. It is insane because if to have CDs that sell for 10 bucks. this is what I tell people. If in that book, and it is 432 pages. In that book, you learn one thing over the course of your life and you sell 10 more CDs of the course of your life. You break-even on my book.
Diane Foy 14:03
Tom Jackson 14:05
Or, or you could do what most people do, because we get emails all the time. Oh my gosh, I do house concerts, I usually sell five or six. Now I am selling 25, 30. I had one the other a couple months ago 55 at the, a house concert. Like I said tennis match goes up 600% I have this all the time. And here is one of the keys, you build your merchandise around your moments, but you got to create the moments first,
Diane Foy 14:31
Right, because they want to take something home with them.
Tom Jackson 14:34
Diane Foy 14:35
Tom Jackson 14:35
That is what everybody does. They have an experience. They laugh, they cry, they get chills. You want to relive that moment.
Diane Foy 14:42
Tom Jackson 14:42
But what we do and the people I am talking to do, is we write songs, go out on stage, wing it and hope something good happens. And every once in a while. Here is the downside, actually, every once in a while it does.
Diane Foy 14:53
Tom Jackson 14:54
The planets align. The crowd loves you. The truth is this though, you go out the next night and do the same thing and it does not work.
Diane Foy 15:01
Tom Jackson 15:01
And you do not know why it worked the night before. I know why it works. That might sound arrogant, but that it is my job. So then I do well.
Diane Foy 15:10
Yeah, and you have DVDs as well.
Tom Jackson 15:12
I have DVD series All Roads Lead To The Stage. I have me working with some artists. And then I’ve got this new singer songwriter DVD that is coming out. Yeah. And I have a website onstagesuccess.com sign up for the emails that come. We do workshops.
Diane Foy 15:32
So how does your career float? Like, what from that first job to now? Like, what are some of the jobs that you have had? Like, was there like, rise up? Getting to be more and more successful?
Tom Jackson 15:45
The truth is, I went to a contemporary Christian Music Festival 20, some years ago and taught this stuff. Freaked everybody out all the record companies started hiring me. So I moved from LA to now Nashville where they were based. And that started the process. It happened really a meet after they saw what I did. All the labels went oh my gosh, we need this.
Diane Foy 16:11
Tom Jackson 16:11
So I do that. But the truth is I do three things. I work with artists on their show. And I have an associate Amy Wolter who is amazing. She has been with me for 12 years. She helped me with The Band Perry, she helped me with hip hop artist Lecrae, she has helped me with a group just that we saw in town. I think they are Canadian, Nikki’s Wives, who, who people are clamoring to sign. So we work with artists, I speak at events, because I like teaching and I have fun doing it and and people love it. And I sell products. But the other thing I do and if anybody in this listening to this is in this boat, I would love to talk to him I have a website called Live Music Gives and I got approached 26 years ago by charities to help me partner, no, asked me because I am in front of so many artists or work with seminars to partner with charities and so I help these charities find artists to support their cause, Food For The Hungry, I will be talking about today Child Fund, MAP, which sends medicine overseas World Vision, all these charities I worked with and help them with artists find them artists who who this is a real thing artists who I am talking to now the charities will pay you. They will help you…
Diane Foy 17:38
To get in front of their audience, I guess?
Tom Jackson 17:39
Because they are in front of their audience. Yeah, these people have spent time energy money to get for so so if the artist stands up on stage and and makes what we call a simple appeal, they generate revenue and this is one of the keys. It is multiple streams of revenue to have a career. Every, why do you think Brad, no, who is the Australian country guy?
Diane Foy 18:02
Tom Jackson 18:03
Keith Urban, He’s got guitars.
My imaginary husband.
Yeah, there you go. He is a neighbor. And he has guitars for sale and why do you think this guy has written a book and why do you think, it is multiple streams of revenue.
Diane Foy 18:15
I bought a damn guitar to learn it because of Keith Urban.
Tom Jackson 18:18
There you go.
Diane Foy 18:19
I do not know how to play it, but you know.
Tom Jackson 18:20
There you go.
Diane Foy 18:21
I like watching him try to teach me on a video.
Tom Jackson 18:23
There you go. But and this is a stream of revenue. I just wrote no, we just got deposited into our account for an indie artists and indie artists up here in The Abrams Brothers.
Diane Foy 18:35
Tom Jackson 18:37
A check for, we are going to write them a check for about $6500 for a one week of work. They did five shows and and they got 50 sponsors. Kids lives changed food, clothing, water education. And yet, there, here is five grand coming, not from merch sales not being hired to play. It is another stream of revenue.
Diane Foy 19:03
For doing something good too.
Tom Jackson 19:04
It is a win win. There is no downside to it. Anyways, that is my life. So I am always busy. People say well, when is your downtime? I have virtually no downtime unless I just say..
Diane Foy 19:16
Take a week off?
Tom Jackson 19:18
Take a week off, I am thinking of taking months off.
Diane Foy 19:21
A year off?
Tom Jackson 19:22
Diane Foy 19:23
So what do you do when you have an artist? Like if you work with successful artists that are touring stadiums? What if they are like, I don’t need you. Like did you get that ever?
Tom Jackson 19:34
Oh, no, no, no, no.
Diane Foy 19:34
But maybe their manager or label hired?
Tom Jackson 19:37
Well, this has happened two or three times there were not at that level, but they had deals. And the matter. Everyone in the planet knows they need help except them.
Diane Foy 19:45
Tom Jackson 19:45
I will tell you this story. I live in right outside Nashville and place called Franklin. And there is a Starbucks there that is a second busiest Starbucks in the southeast. And so when you go in, you always have to wait in line. And so there is a line 20 long, and I am standing in line and I hear the guy right in front of me telling this talking to another guy about his publishing and hit the release a new record. It is awesome. I am you know, I have been writing stuff in my studio. And the guy, I am not trying to eavesdrop, but he is standing right next to me. And he is like, how much you make from publishing last quarter? He goes, I made between six and 700 bucks. And I am thinking, how sad is that? Well, they they wrapped up their conversation. And their manager had called me about a week before and said, I want you to work with this group. So I turned to him as as we are now at 15 deep, said, hey, I am Tom, your managers called me to help you work on your show. There was a pause. He took a step back and folded his arm and he goes, What are you talking about? Our show rocks, his wife and even contacted us. He had no idea, or if he had an idea, he did not want to admit it that he was not, they did not have a great show.
Diane Foy 21:06
Tom Jackson 21:08
Oh, yeah, big time. Everyone knew it except them. So this is a true story. And so two years later, I go back into that Starbucks. And guess who is serving coffee behind the counter? And you had no idea how bad I wanted to say, dude,
Diane Foy 21:22
Tom Jackson 21:23
You no, you rock. But I see it all the time. There has been two artists that were hired by managers that you could tell they did not want to do it. I tried, try poking and prod and doing my thing. And they are like, No, no, no. And so I just said, listen, I actually use the term masturbation. So you guys, you guys are getting off. So when you want to include a partner, give me a call your audience.
Diane Foy 21:46
Tom Jackson 21:47
But it does not hurt me. I am not lacking by the grace of God. I am not lacking money. I can retire right now. So somebody listen to this says, Oh, I cannot buy the book. You know, I am trying to sell you, but no, I am not, I am. But I am trying to sell you a book for your…
Diane Foy 22:04
If you spend 100 bucks on a book, you might actually read it. Because you buy a book that is only 20 bucks and you are just like throw it on the shelf, you never actually read it.
Tom Jackson 22:08
That is exactly, no that this, let us get in the game. Yeah. You need to mark it up. You need to go back to it. That is the way you use this book. You do not read it once like a novel. Anyway, that is kind of my career. And I do it all over the world. I do a lot in Canada just worked with the Hunter Brothers. I have worked with the well Shawn Mendez, The Tenors, I do not even know who else of really many, many more. This sounds terrible. But I work with three 400 artists and I cannot remember them all.
Diane Foy 22:45
Tom Jackson 22:46
I mean, if I thought about it, and when I look at my calendar, oh, yeah, I worked with, you know, Magic, Why You Have To Be So Rude. I work with them in LA. They are Canadian guys, on and on and on.
Diane Foy 22:59
What is your like, top three tips for someone that is just starting out and they have a showcase at CMW. They give them 30 minutes to perform. What is a few little things that they can do?
Tom Jackson 23:10
Well the tip is but this is the problem is you got to do some homework for this. The tip is if you got 30 minutes that is it. Let us break this even a little more. You got 20 minutes. First thing everyone thinks of is how many songs can I cram into 20 minutes? Some mistake, because we have been programmed that way we musicians.
Diane Foy 23:19
Tom Jackson 23:20
It is all, well, particularly me being a [ nestle? ] it is all about the song. Well, the truth is No, it is not. It is about the moments created in the song. I would rather you play less songs and create more moments, but that takes rehearsal. Because people will remember the moments if they laugh, if they cry, if the hairs on their arms raised, they remember that stuff. They do not remember the lyrics to songs a particular they do not even know you.
Diane Foy 23:57
Tom Jackson 23:57
You are dating your audience. You are not married to your audience.
Diane Foy 24:00
And a lot of the bands that do just go up and do song after song after song a song? Half the time we are going, what is your name? Who are you?
Tom Jackson 24:06
Yeah, well, you know that they all start sounding the same also, which brings me to my second thing, your songs do not sound the same, I should not look the same, and they do. And I do not mean acting or being goofy or dancing [ entail ] for some pop artists that is, that is a deal. But it no, your songs do not sound the same, they should not look this, look the same because communication is 15% content, 30% tone or emotion, 55% of the audience sees with their eyes, if they see the same thing over and over and over and over. After a while if you do not know the artist, it starts sounding the same.
Diane Foy 24:06
Yeah. start tuning out.
Tom Jackson 24:47
Yeah, you start tuning out that is exactly what happens.
Diane Foy 24:49
Especially during Canadian Music Week, you wonder if there is a better band next door.
Tom Jackson 24:54
That is it. Or who is on after these guys, or, or, or, and it is so, so normal. But the biggest tip is do not let your pride get in the way of actually learning to do this. Everything else in this music industry is controllable. And what I mean by that is this, you do not like your course and your song, you rewrite it before you record it. You do not like the way you did your vocals in the recording, you redo it, you do not like the tone of your guitar, you redo it, you do not like your picture on your website, you Photoshop it or redo it. You do not like your bio, you have somebody write it for you. You do not like on and on and on.
All that stuff is controlled before you put it out to the public. But when you walk on stage, it is what it is. You cannot go, hold it, hold it. Wait a minute I made a mistake there. Let me go back in or, or you know what, I am not an interesting enough. Let me try be more interesting. To me. That is to me, that is huge. Understanding that. And here is the irony 90% of your revenue. And if you are an indie artist, 100% of your revenue is going to come from your live show, probably. And it is and the irony is it is the very last thing you spend time energy and money on. You spend oh, we are going to the studio. Oh, we got a grant. So let us go in and do you know your 10,000 from factor or whatever it is. All we got to do a video we got to do this. We all those things we spend time energy and money on and then we walk out on stage and wing it.
Now we have been told, as musicians, we are supposed to be spontaneous, and I get that. But spontaneity and winging it, are two different things. And everyone, almost everyone that I have ever seen are they are winging it. And they are thinking they are being spontaneous. [ swatting it ] comes out of form, you need a plan. You need and I do not mean to, that is not boxing you in. Your taste is working within limits. Mastering reveals itself. You know, let us just take, let us just take a pop song just for the heck of it, or a country pop song.
There, there are limitations. No words, there are rules. If you want to get played on radio, your song should be three, three and a half minutes long. It should start with an short intro verse, chorus, verse chorus, bridge chorus outro. Three and a half minutes. Now, Mr. artists who I am talking to here, yeah, you are like, well, I can’t do that one. And you do not have to do that you can write a 12 minute song. But you will never get played on radio, unless it is two in the morning and a college thing. And it is your friend spinning the disk on vinyl or something. But, but the truth is, there are rules to play to get on radio. Well, there are rules on stage. But no one understands those. No one knows them. And and this is now you are getting me wound up? Well, the truth is that I just, I was just going tosay that. I just talked to a student, I was just teaching at a Scott Singing Success. Five-day retreat, Brett Manning, friend of mine, awesome guy, great vocal coach. And I had some people come up that were at Berkeley. And they said, I mean, basically, here is the gist. We spent 50 grand a year at Berkeley. And we do not know how to perform. Here is a performing arts school, and they do not teach us how to perform. And the truth is, I do not know how this comes across. But I do not know how to say it any other way.
The truth is, the reason they do not teach it is because I do not know it. It does not get any simpler than that. And I am not talking about hold the mic, microphone in this hand, stand this way. Everyone who teaches performance majors in the [ manners ] they say they do it. But they but they do not. They do not know how to create moments. The Psychology of a show looking at from the audience perspective dealing with the artists stage fright, all control authority, listening to your audience, movement on stage, and I am not talking about dance and choreography.
Diane Foy 26:17
Do you work with choreographers? Like, say you had an artist well and how does that work? Do you work together to create those moments when you are working with the choreographer might have one vision then you have another?
Tom Jackson 29:22
That has happened. And that was a breakdown in communication with the artist and the manager. Because and to be honest with you, I do not do it a lot anymore. Now on I think was a Speak Now Tour with Taylor, I cannot remember what tour it was. We had a choreographer come in. And they we picked two or three songs that their parts were there were, okay, this should be choreographed. And that was cool. There was no conflict there. But I worked with other artists where the choreographer and actually started before I had, which makes some sense of they are doing some dance stuff. But as soon as I heard the songs, I am thinking, this stuff does not need choreography. In other words, it is like the boy bands. I was never a fan never will be, I do not think because they are doing this tender song and they are moving their arms and their legs. And everyone is screaming because they are good looking guys, and the girls are screaming, but the truth is it it makes no sense because what the artist is paying attention to is the movement instead of the song instead of what is going on. Yeah, they do not know, no, it is like somebody starting to take the clothes off and they are singing. Are we watching, listen to them saying no, its background. The key here of what I do is the song, you want to keep the integrity of the song. If the songs rocking you better rock, if it is a beautiful ballad, better be beautiful. And you can what you can. But most of the people I am talking to cannot rely on the lights to do that. That is the other haunting in the major world like a Carrie Underwood. You know, you have so much production that does not matter what she does just show her legs and let her sing with some good songs. But it is not, it is not great. It is great production. And people mistake that as a great show. Yeah, because things blow up. And there is really cool lighting and there are lasers, and then there is a screen and then we go there. And the director really the real creative person here is the production guy.
Diane Foy 31:29
Tom Jackson 31:30
You know, in it. This is a part of their career that and listen I admit it myself, I would prefer to not have to do things, to get better. Do you know what I am saying? I would prefer, I tell people this all the time. If you came up, if I told you, and this is the end of this was the truth, that I could give you a pill, I could wave a wand or I can lay hands on you or something. And you would instantly be an amazing performer like Prince or something like that. That will cost you 10 Grand 15 grand, thousands of people would line up because they would not have to do the work. They would not have to do a lot of work.
Diane Foy 32:09
That is a lot of work.
Tom Jackson 32:10
It is or you can, Prince spent six days just working on microphone stand technique.
Diane Foy 32:20
Tom Jackson 32:22
Anyone listening to this has not spent six minutes. But we watch Prince on a film now. God bless his soul. And we think oh, he is so natural. It is so spontaneous. I just read were Beyonce, I am not saying now that is choreographed also, but she spent 115 days to get ready for Coachella. And some of those days were 10, 11, 12 hours. The people I am speaking to they learn the songs, play them and then go out there and wing them.
Diane Foy 32:54
Yeah. I tried to encourage people to watch the Beyonce documentary, even if you are not a fan. It will show you how hard that is.
Tom Jackson 33:03
Yep. It the same thing with the Michael Jackson thing years ago that this is it. This is it. Yeah. It is like what are we doing here?
Diane Foy 33:10
Tom Jackson 33:11
So I am kind of a combo between Michael Jackson, not the singer.
Diane Foy 33:15
Michael Jackson and Prince.
Tom Jackson 33:17
And his director who Michael was talking to while they are rehearsing. I am kind of a combo with that. I came up with the ideas a lot of the ideas of Michael comes up with. Now if I have got an artist that is that sharp. I will back off like that director.
Diane Foy 33:30
Yeah, you are not telling Michael what to do.
Tom Jackson 33:33
No, but I, you know, I will tell her what to do. I ,mean I did. And it is a collaboration.
Diane Foy 33:39
Yeah. Your producer.
Tom Jackson 33:41
Diane Foy 33:42
Fantastic. That is all I have for you. So yeah, I am going to send a bunch of artists to go see you today and on Saturday and report back. I said I want detailed notes.
Tom Jackson 33:52
Fantastic. onstage success. com. Or if you are touring artists doing more than 30 dates in the US, I have to say right now. In the US, livemusicgives.com there is some tour support there and it is legit. We have given over 100 million dollars to artists over 26 years.
Diane Foy 34:12
Tom Jackson 34:13
Not just the big tours, wrote a check for I did not write it but one of the charities I work with sure a check for two and a half million dollars. And like I said, we just wrote a check for over $6,000 to indie artists.
Diane Foy 34:28
Yeah, will definitely look that up.
Tom Jackson 34:29
So those are two places to find me.
Diane Foy 34:32
Well, thank you.
Tom Jackson 34:33
Angela Saini 34:35
I am Angela Saini. I am a singer songwriter, folk pop Americana artist based in Toronto, Ontario.
Diane Foy 34:42
The solo workshop? How did that go?
Angela Saini 34:46
Yeah, that was great. So I have seen Tom, many times, actually a few times, we have also met on the rail when I was performing on board one time on the train. And so I have met him a couple times seen him several times, at Canadian Music Week, but he I have never seen him do a presentation based on a solo performance on stage. So I was really excited to check that out. And the person on stage he worked with, you know, was really receptive, I got a really good, some great takeaways on things I can do to improve my live solo show. So it was really it was kind of things that I would, you know, expect him to say things, some things were things I have kind of seen him do in the band setting. But it is always great. You know, just as a refresher, even when I see Tom, he really like fires me up to really start working on my show, because it’s very easy. You know, you play a lot, you kind of kind of have a flow of the way that you do things. And it is great when someone kind of shakes you up, and you are like, oh yeah, let us try this for once.
Diane Foy 35:49
Angela Saini 35:49
So I have got a lot out of it.
Diane Foy 35:51
Cool, and what were some of the takeaways?
Angela Saini 35:54
Well, one thing I really liked was where, you know, he always says, do not let the song dictate your show. So people are the slave to the song. And I have definitely done this myself, where, you know, you want to play the show live, how you put how it is recorded. So the studio recording, and being a slave to that means that you miss these really great opportunities where you can slow things down, take your time. And one thing he mentioned was, you know, to stay on the one for example. So, you know, you just hold on that opening cord, and just take your time with it, it creates a bit of, you know, you take control of the situation and, and you just let that moment, give your audience a some anticipation for what happens next.
So that is something I will definitely try where, you know, you might have, let us say, four chord changes over, you know, eight bars, for example. But that does not mean that is how you have to play it live, I mean, you can just hold that one chord for a while and take your time with it. Another thing you talked about a lot was, you know, when you are doing an introduction, perhaps, or parts where you are not singing, to really go to one side of the stage, and you know, really get close to the audience, or just really step away from the microphone. And that is something that I do a lot in my show, but there were some places he suggested that I had not thought of where you could really interrupt the song on purpose. And you know, kind of take a break from the singing. And I think it is good for the audience, it gives them a little break, and it shows you can really command the stage that way.
Diane Foy 37:26
Next up is Tamara Maddalen on what she took away from the singer-songwriter workshop.
Tamara Maddalen 37:32
And it was specific to singer-songwriter workshops and trying to differentiate to the live sound of a solo artist and solo act versus the full band. Well, I mean, one of the things that really struck me was that he talked about your live show being just like a house that you want to build it with a solid foundation. And that comes with having a plan. And that once you have that plan, you have to really work and hone in on it being a consistent performance, every time that you deliver it. But that does not mean you cannot be spontaneous and create moments with your audience to engage with them. But those moments of spontaneity only come when you feel confident and secure that you can deliver your performance consistently. So to be prepared, essentially, there is a lot of like, particular tricks that I had not thought about, where he talked about staying on the one, meaning not allowing the chord progression to get away and lead the song, but rather you being in the song, rather you being in control of how you deliver that song and maybe lingering a little longer on that one that chord progression, and creating really long segments of space, which draw your audience into you. And they are anticipating for what is coming next, because it is not just going to be the obvious lyric, or the obvious verse.
But then it gives you the opportunity to tell a little story and introduce your song. And then find the right moment hit that cresendo when you got them completely engaged as it work, or like under your spell really is what we was trying to create is the magical moments with your audience. Because if you do that, and then the audience gets it. And he likened it to dating someone, right, you are just trying to check each other out, see, if you like one another, you get a second date. Or they might buy a piece of merchandise or your album because they want to take that experience home with them and relive it over and over and over again. So I thought that was really, really cool that I had never thought about before. And I actually use those tips. That very easy. Sorry, the following evening, when I performed at the CMW showcase at Kensington Sound, I did that I used the song rear view, which is kind of a melodic song. And it is a bit of a downbeat song. And I played over and over that chord progression. And I was able to use that space to engage with the audience and plug myself a little bit introduce the next single, and it really worked. It took the stillness out of the air.
Because I have a tendency to get nervous when the music stops. And I have to shuffle on my feet to think of something clever and quirky to say. But I was prepared and I had rehearsed it. And so it came across more naturally. And I think that it more authentically. Yeah, I mean, when she said that the three keys to success, especially with creating moments with your audience, have confidence, have authority and charisma. And those are not things that you can wing, you can create, you can wing it in the moment, you can wing the moment, but only if you have been prepared to deliver the moment ahead of time. And one of the things that he brought about, and his experiences dealing with some of the biggest acts, and these is Shawn Mendez, he was saying and also, his work with Taylor Swift is they were at the top of their game, but they still needed something that that would, you know, bolster them and boost their interaction with their audience so that they were not delivering the same feeling, you know, with the same songs over and over and over again. And when they were, they were able to capture that moment with their audience, in particular with Taylor Swift, her merchandise went up 600% in sales, because she was engaging with your audience, she was creating special moments with them. And they were leaving, buying something because they wanted a piece of her.
That is, that is all things that I am going to now incorporate into my strategy going forward, doing things like interacting with my audience, creating those moments, but then even potentially, I mean, obviously, I am not at the level of Taylor Swift, but then carrying that on to maybe working my own merch tables so that I can have that one on one continuous one on one with the people that come out and check out the show. Yeah, he also talked about grooving, grooving with the audience. So that is another thing too, about your body posture, because I do not feel very, very nervous in front of people, because I have been doing this for so many years. So the performance part is really great. But I did not really realize and he actually brought in a young artist who is performing and showcasing that evening, who graciously became our guinea pig and play his song is we are just like, oh, right over and over.
The experts, sort of, you know, ripped it apart and built it back up again. And one of the things that they were focusing on is his body posture because his body posture was either exuding nerves of confidence. And in his particular case, it was making him seem a bit nervous, which then we were all owning as well. So it is not just about speaking to your audience and singing to your audience. But it is also about how you position your body posture because that exudes confidence and charisma as well. So I want to be cognizant to that which now I am starting to understand all the components that come together, to be able to, you know, put together a good live show and deliver a good live show.