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You need a VJ for your next concert

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

Fellow musicians - the No. 1 most underestimated job at your live concert is that of a VJ. If you don't have one, you're missing out. A VJ is what sets your concert apart as an immersive experience.

Why you should get a VJ

To unwrap this, the first thing we must understand is that your concert is a package. Your audience is there for the music, yes. But they are humans that have bodies and occupy physical space.

Therefore, EVERYTHING that you do has an impact on their experience. From the way you walk on stage to the type of food & drink your audience consumes. From how comfortable their chairs are to how well-lit the stage is: everything has an impact.

Trouble is, you don't control the lighting, you didn't build the chairs, and you don't make the food. So what DO you control, as a musician?

The obvious answer is, well, the music. But the reality is that, of course, you control much more than that. In the age of digital media, your influence extends way beyond your music and your stage presence.

Take this Los Angeles-based band. I saw them live a few years ago, and I quite like them. You might despise their style, their music, and their clothing - but that's all irrelevant. What's the FIRST thing that jumps out at you there?

For me, the answer is clear: It's the projection that goes on behind them. It's synched to the music, it augments and complements their work, and it's completely unique. Taking away that projection would take away 20% ~ 30% of the concert experience.

I happen to be a classical player. So at this time, my fellow classical musicians might be thinking, "Okay, this is clearly not for classical music. You lost me here." But check out my performance of Antonio Gervasoni's Giardino De La Casa:

What do you notice in the background?

There is a slideshow going on behind us. Of course, it's a lot more tame than the wild show Thumpasaurus puts on at their gigs. Ours needed to fit the societal expectations of a classical concert, after all.

But why have a projection at all?

Well, the piece was inspired by photographs taken by the composer's father in his home's backyard. And while the music is playing, the audience can see those photos. They get to engage with the music on a deeper level because of it.

So, does this mean slideshows are only for music written with them in mind?

Not at all! Let's look at another example. Last year, I had the pleasure of visiting Manuel de Falla's home in Granada. Since then, whenever I play his music, I channel that image. I imagine how he must have looked at his desk, writing it.

Wouldn't it be amazing to share that with your audience?

Wouldn't it be amazing if, when you play a piece or a song, your audience could see the faces of those artists that inspire you, the composers who wrote the music, or the sunset that inspired your interpretation?

The thing is... that is possible. And it's actually quite easy.

A majority of concert venues have projectors, screens, and other devices you can connect to. That might take some extra work to organize, but if it improves the experience, isn't it worth it?

But okay, let's assume your venue has nothing of the sort. Let's assume you're playing in a field of roses. You know what everyone does have - right there in their pocket?

A phone. A supercomputer that can channel the world's knowledge and display everything from song lyrics to blockbuster footage that cost $400 million to shoot.

So by all means, do ask your venue if they have a projector. You might be surprised to find that most of them do. But if they don't, just remember that 95/100 of your listeners have a computer in their pocket that can stream any media you throw at it.

A VJ ("video jockey"), is the person that handles that projection, playback, or live video for you.

Ever wonder how Taylor Swift's concerts have 10 camera angles, a laser show, and 2 live feeds going on behind her on stage? Well, she has an entire team handling that.

Obviously, you're likely not Taylor Swift. (If you are, though... Hi Taylor! Thanks for dropping by.) So, most likely, you can't afford a team of technicians to turn your concert into an interactive extravaganza. In that case, you are left with two options.

How you should get a VJ

Option no. 1

Begin a collaboration with a professional VJ.

Some are video makers, some are light artists, and some are DJs with a side hustle — there is no shortage of people with technical knowhow and the creativity to enrich your concert.

But you know what's even easier?

Option no. 2

Do it yourself using Cicada.

If you are a musician who performs live, you can stream real-time concert media, either on large screens OR your audience's smartphones. Whether on a 40ft screen or a 6in phone, all it takes to activate it is scanning a QR code.

When you sign up for a free trial, you get your own beautiful, personalized QR code.

When your audience scans it at your concert, they can access the real-time concert media you cooked up for them. Or just scan it yourself to project media into the large screens at the venue!

You can stream videos, images, slideshows, real-time lyrics, & live video from the stage! (Taylor, you've got competition.) In fact, if you're using an iPad for sheet music, you've already got a camera on stage! Use Cicada to stream close-up video of yourself.

Check out Cicada over here. Or, even better, book a free demo call with us, and we'll show you what it can do for you:

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