Business Success


  • Written by Angela Predhomme

I know about stage fright. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, where you actually can’t perform, I was a 9.5. It’s hard to believe I’m the same person who’s performed at countless gigs, and sang and played in real time on live network television. How did I get here? To see my journey and how I did it, read on, below. The good news is that if I can perform music in front of masses of people now, anybody can do anything!

People tell me they like my voice, and that’s awesome. However, I didn’t sing until I was well into my adulthood, in my late twenties. I was a strictly an instrumentalist before that. I played the piano, and then clarinet and saxophone in the school band. Singing was something I had never, ever considered growing up. I can’t say the thought of singing in public filled me with anxiety, because it didn’t get that far in my mind. Like, how much do regular people think about sky diving? Probably not much, because it’s just not something they’d do. Singing in front of people might have been more terrifying than jumping out of a plane for me. Or maybe about equal. It was off the table, and not even in the room.

Growing up, I never played the piano when people were nearby at home. I for sure never performed for relatives at the house, despite some persistent requests by my grandmother. When I had piano recitals, I was extremely nervous, but I managed to pull them off. I was determined to.

Fast forward over a decade later, I was a young mother with two preschool-age kids. I had taken up the acoustic guitar, and wanted to try singing with my strummed chords. I thought my voice sounded OK, and I thought, “I can do this.” I can work up the skill and nerve to perform. Because why am I doing this if no one ever hears it?

After lots of practice of some cover songs, my husband went with me to an open mic at a lovely little coffee shop in Plymouth, Michigan (the town where I grew up). It was a historic house turned into a coffee shop, with several rooms on the main floor. In one big room, there was an open mic one or two nights a week run by a guy named Shawn.

It was my big moment. If my memory serves correctly, I think I had prepared a song by Jet called “Look What You’ve Done,” and maybe a Rolling Stones or Beatles song. It’s all a blur.

In the room to the side, covering most of the 1800s hardwood floor, there were several rows of folding chairs set up with an aisle in the middle. They were all full with attentive music lovers of all ages. When it was my turn, I was overcome with a mix of adrenaline and pure terror. Typical stage fright feelings, I’m sure. The host, Shawn, was incredibly warm and supportive. His gentle encouragement of all the open mikers was truly beautiful. I felt cradled in a safe environment, and I got up and sang my two songs. Gosh, the feeling when I was done was amazing. I had done it. I had totally blown the mind of the long past 16-year-old me. I had sang in public! And people clapped! Wow.

After that, it didn’t take long until I did it again, and then started booking my own whole gigs.

Not too long later, I found out that Shawn had passed away. I never found out why. Maybe I don’t want to know, because it doesn’t matter. He was relatively young. They say only the good die young, and there is no question that Shawn fit that.

How to reign in performance anxiety

My personal method for overcoming stage fright was/is this: Practice so much your performance is almost on autopilot, without thinking, and then just DO IT. Do it, because you didn’t put in all that practice for nothing, did you? Of course not! You did it for a reason, and now it’s time to deliver. And come hell or high water, you’re gonna pull this off! Because you’re strong. Because you’re not less than anyone else who performs. It’s just a thing people do, and there’s no reason that you can’t do it, too. And if you mess up, who cares? Nobody’s perfect. (But you probably won’t mess up much because you practiced so darn much.)

That’s my thinking about it. Practice like crazy, and then force yourself to get on that stage. Oh, I know all the little eyes looking at you are terrifying. I don’t look at them most of the time. It freaks me out. I do a trick I learned in my 10th grade speech class: Imagine a horizontal line on the wall just above people’s heads, and look at that. Follow that imaginary line around the room, and no one will know you’re not looking right at the audience.

So, that’s how I did it, and how I still deal with the fear when I get nervous (which is usually). People say I don’t seem nervous, and I seem so comfortable on stage. But that’s because I’ve learned how to fake it. My victory was from sheer will and determination – traits anyone can choose to embrace.

Below, here are some professional tips from the experts at Web MD. (Full article here).

Here are 10 tips to help you overcome your fears and shine on stage, on the field, or at the podium:

* Be prepared: practice, practice, practice.

* Limit caffeine and sugar intake the day of the performance. Eat a sensible meal a few hours before you are to perform so that you have energy and don't get hungry A low-fat meal including complex carbohydrates -- whole-grain pasta, lentil soup, yogurt, or a bean and rice burrito -- is a good choice.

* Shift the focus off of yourself and your fear to the enjoyment you are providing to the spectators. Close your eyes and imagine the audience laughing and cheering, and you feeling good.

* Don't focus on what could go wrong. Instead focus on the positive. Visualize your success.

* Avoid thoughts that produce self-doubt.

* Practice controlled breathing, meditation, biofeedback, and other strategies to help you relax and redirect your thoughts when they turn negative. It is best to practice some type of relaxation technique every day, regardless of whether you have a performance, so that the skill is there for you when you need it.

* Take a walk, jump up and down, shake out your muscles, or do whatever feels right to ease your anxious feelings before the performance.

* Connect with your audience -- smile, make eye contact, and think of them as friends.

* Act natural and be yourself.

* Exercise, eat a healthy diet, get adequate sleep, and live a healthy lifestyle.

* Keep in mind that stage fright is usually worse before the performance and often goes away once you get started.

Bio: Singer-songwriter Angela Predhomme’s music has been heard by millions through television, film, radio and streaming. Her soulful songs have been featured in the popular Hallmark movie “Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane,” Lifetime’s hit show “Dance Moms,” commercials for ING Bank and Fiat, and more.

Apple Music:

Music 101 A series about how to succeed in music. 

Overcoming Stage Fright: My Journey & Tips for Yours

I know about stage fright. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, where you actually can’t perform, I was a 9.5. It’s hard to believe I’m the same person who’s performed at countless gigs, and sang and played in real time on live network t...

Balancing artistry with commercial viability

“Just tell your story, as many verses as it takes.” This was advice given in a songwriting group I used to go to. This approach might work if you’re Gordon Lightfoot telling the tale of the Edmund Fitzgerald, a ship famous for its ill-fated wreckag...

Originality in Music: Innovators and Imitators

Someone once said to me, “Artists are either innovators or imitators.” Nowhere is this more true than in music.  First off, I want to make it clear that both of these paths have value. People are easily impressed with innovation. If something hasn’t...

Navigating the Gender Gap, Part 1 Advice for Men: How to Work with Women in Music

I’ve been making music for over a decade now, and there are thoughts I’m happy to share from my personal experience. The intention here is not to generalize or feed into stereotypes, but simply to offer my insight to help other music professionals ...

The New Art: Balancing Human and Synth in Music Creation

It’s a great time to be alive for indie music makers! There are many of us, maybe including you, who are creating good music out there, armed with nothing but our own ingenuity and the few dollars in our shallow pockets. But what’s the best way to ...

What No One Tells You About Being an Indie Artist: Attitude Is Everything

By far, the most common types of compliments that music artists get are on their voice, their vibe, or their music. And that’s wonderful. Compliments never get old. However, behind any successful music artist’s public face and polished sound is a b...

On Becoming a Lyricist (for Musicians)

Music 101- A weekly series about how to succeed in music. It seems to me that by nature, everyone is either a word person or a music person. With a background of piano lessons and school band, I was definitely a music person. Melody is my stron...

Music 101 - The Importance of Quality Production

Whether you have a great voice, a lyrical masterpiece or a killer instrumental performance, your track will be dead in the water out there if the production sounds amateur. High quality production is a determining factor that makes or breaks your...

Social Responsibility in Music Creation

“This song makes me feel better.” “I didn't realize how much I needed to hear this song until I heard it.” Comments like these on my YouTube video for the ballad, “Epiphany,” helped me to realize that songs are extremely impactful out there in ...

We Need Each Other: The Benefits of Collaborating

A weekly series about how to succeed in music. Our society likes to promote a certain denial. Independence is seen as a noble badge of honor. The jack-of-all-trades, unless they’re a master of none, is admired. But like many creatures of this eart...

Music 101 - Opening to Creativity

A weekly series about how to succeed in music. Opening to Creativity Our Western minds love tangible, provable science. We love concrete methods and a straightforward path of doing X in order to get Y. However, mastering creativity is a bit mo...

Finding Your Calling in Music - A weekly series about how to succeed in music

For my first full-time job, I was an advertising salesperson. I wasn’t great at the job, because I politely took “no” for an answer, thinking it was the respectful thing to do. Any successful salesperson will tell you that’s not how they operat...

Music 101 A weekly series about how to succeed in music by Angela Predhomme

Be Good (or Get Good) Oh, if I had a nickel for all the times I’ve heard musicians and songwriters complain that so-and-so on the radio is not very good, or dismiss a whole genre as factory-cranked-out fluff. But the truth of the matter is that ...

Business Marketing