When music takes center stage at a festival, we’re all looking forward to something exciting. It’s not just the music itself: it’s the performance. Whether it’s lights, pyrotechnics, special effects, or just the sight of musicians grooving with their instruments, we’re looking for action, interest, and something that makes us dance and shout out our support. Here are a few stage secrets that make it all possible. Are you ready for the big time? Maybe these music performance secrets will help you on your road to live performance acclaim.

1. Have the Hardware

At first glance, you’re thinking of a lot of expensive goodies. Rammstein lashes out half a million Euros on a single performance in special effects. You can’t afford that? No problem! Stick to the basics – it doesn’t have to be expensive to give a good show.

Look at simple things that will help to free you up when performing on stage. For example, instrument straps need to do so much more than just support guitars, saxophones, and the like during musical performances. They need to give you the freedom to move around in ways you wouldn’t ordinarily try during regular practice sessions. And you need to break free at times – especially when you’re trying out your most daring virtuoso stunts.

Trigger snaps on musical instrument straps are part of the deal and they don’t cost much either. You just need one hand for one second, and you can engage the supporting strap or release it as needed. Plus, the swivel mechanism allows you to twirl your instrument or do quick swops between one and another without getting tangled up. A lot of pro musicians go for custom instrument straps – and it’s not just the strapping itself that matters. Details like the fasteners included in their design allow musicians to perform stunts that leave the audience screaming for more.

Now, let the lights, the sound, and the ambiance do the rest. A few low cost props or a lightning-fast change of appearance are just cherries on the top. Save the costly effects for when sponsorship covers them – you CAN put on a great performance without them.

2. Take Some Lessons in Performance Art

When your audience is listening to a recording, it doesn’t matter what you were doing when that recording happened. You could be sitting hunched over with your eyes pinched shut, and nobody is going to get bored. But when visual performance comes into the equation, you need to do much more than that.

Top performers agree that your audience needs to feel an emotive response, and that means projecting your performance through voice, body-language, and movement, so that the people sitting right at the back of the crowd get the same feeling of engagement that those in the front row do.

Being “lively” isn’t enough. You need to be larger than life – a secret you’ll see in action when watching performances from top artists across the spectrum of genres. Even if you think you’re able to do this, a few acting lessons won’t go amiss – or get a professional performing arts coach to watch your dress rehearsal to see what tips he or she can offer.

3. Keep the Energy Flowing

You don’t need a lot of special effects to get the energy going and keep it flowing. From the moment you make your entrance, project energy and charisma. Makes you feel dorky? Don’t stress! The dumber you feel, the better it looks as long as you can do it like you believe in it.

Take up space. Move around. Be unrelenting. Forget the details and go big. Whatever you do, don’t give that energy time to fizzle out. Need to replace a guitar string? Have your drummer ready to give them a solo that can’t be beat. Whatever you do, don’t leave any dead space in your performance.

Give the people what they want. Dance with them. Shout out encouragement. Involve them so that they feel part of it all. That’s the magic of a great performance, and no pyrotechnic display can match it for sheer effect.

4. Dress-Rehearse Your Live Performances

Cobble together an audience of friends and try a dress rehearsal of your live performance. If possible, choose a space where your stage can be marked out to match the space you’ll have at your festival gig. Just practicing your music is second nature to you – but a performance is far more than “just” your music.

If you want to play it like a pro, practice the performance as much as possible so that you can walk out there with confidence and rule the stage. Not sure how to do it? Watch your favorite artists in recordings of live performances to see how they bridge the gap between making music and turning it into a show that excites the audience and leaves them screaming for more.