5 Things Never to do on Stage

This week’s post is about stage etiquette during a performance. As you might be able to imagine, this list is derived from situations that I have witnessed and/or heard about. I wish that I was making them up but unfortunately I’ve personally seen a couple of these happen recently. So, here you go:

  1. Never pick fights/get into arguments with your band mates during a performance. If there is an issue to deal with, then you do it after the performance and away from the stage and audience.
  2. If something goes wrong, don’t throw a fit in front of your audience. Play it off like nothing happened. Or just fix it and move on.
  3. This is right up there with 1 and 2, but to be even more specific, don’t show visible frustration with one of your band mates on stage. Issues are to be dealt with off-stage and away from the audience. It discredits your band and yourself if the audience starts to see that you don’t all get along.
  4. Never “hang someone out to dry” during a performance. If something goes wrong in a tune, try to work collectively to finish the tune. If someone made a crucial mistake, never give them the “sucks to be you” look and leave them to fend for themselves. Help them out in any way you can. In this way, you can all get back on together and finish together. The better you are at this, the more professional you and your band will look and sound.
  5. Never bash the sound guy on the mic. It’s just poor form and further perpetuates the “grumpy sound engineer” stereotype. Often, they are grumpy because of bands and musicians not treating them with respect. You and the sound engineer are supposed to be on the same team. They help you sound good, so don’t mess that up by publicly bad mouthing them. (For more on working with sound engineers, check out my Soundcheck: Credibility Killers 101 post.)

Do you have any other “don’ts” to add to this list? Please share in the comments below!

Aaron Kusterer is a musician and producer based out of Long Beach, CA. He has worked on commercial projects for clients such as the Hawaii Visitor’s and Convention Bureau and Par Pacific Holdings, Inc. Additionally, he has performed across the globe during a 10 year-stint with the United States Air Force Band, 6 years of which was spent as a music director and tour manager. For more information on him, check out: AaronKusterer.com.


4 responses to “5 Things Never to do on Stage

  1. Pingback: Video: Most Popular Posts Since 2014 | Music Business Etiquette: The Ground Rules·

  2. Aaron, I forgot I saved this while I was avoiding FB during Lent.

    Re #5: The two worst were both outdoor shows and both artists were complaining about the drums:

    Van Morrison kept pulling the mics away from the drum set and the sound crew would sneak on and replace them when he turned back to face the crowd.

    The other was Albert King on a cold, miserably wet night. The sound guy finally had enough halfway through the set and just disappeared, never to be seen again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately, this is the reason why so many sound engineers are grumpy. I’m not sure I would condone an engineer just leaving though . . . regardless of how bad it is, I believe it’s important to see things through to the end. Just my two cents.


  3. This kind of cuts into both the ‘soundcheck’ and the ‘things not to do’ category…
    When the stage tech or engineer or whomever is miking up your set is doing exactly that, DO NOT START PLAYING YOUR DRUMS OR TUNING YOUR HEADS OR WHATEVER! This happened to me just a few short weeks ago with some “Forrest Gump” of a drummer from NOLA. I told him to please stop and he told me he had to “tune up these piece of s–t drums so they sounded half-a$$ed decent”. Fortunately, they weren’t ours (but belonged to another band’s drummer – this guy had already pi$$ed him off!) so I couldn’t say much, but he continued to play and I refused to set the mikes until he stopped. Then he blamed me for not doing my job and delaying the show.
    He very nearly found out where the upstage edge was…

    Liked by 1 person

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