Do Singers Use Teleprompters for Lyrics on Stage?

Do Singers Use Teleprompters for Lyrics on Stage?

June 29, 2018

Are you thinking about getting a teleprompter to display lyrics?

Have you seen professionals sing songs they’ve written and need an autocue?

Do you need help remembering the words on stage but don’t want your audience to know?

Well, you’re not alone.  Thousands of performers rely on Stageprompters every day to help them with added confidence, enhanced performance and the ability to significantly expand the number of songs they can play live on stage.  Here are a few more reasons why Stageprompter is the preferred teleprompter for musicians.

I am old.  “Old” is a relative term, but one thing I know is that none of us are getting younger.  I’m a big proponent of doing the right things to stay healthy, but there is no Fountain of Youth, so most tactics are a means of slowing down the aging process, not reversing it.  My mind just does not work the way it used to.  I sometimes walk into a grocery store and not know what I needed to buy.  I can be introduced to someone, and immediately not have a clue what their name is.  Please don’t take it personally, I really am glad to meet you, (and “Mrs. You”).  The same goes for remembering lyrics. 

I’ve heard that most people only use a small fraction of their memory capacity, but I disagree.  Often, I am unable to remember small pieces of information, but can’t and think, “ok, I’m out of memory”.  I’d like to start deleting useless information to make room for important things I can use, but that doesn’t seem to work.  Interestingly, long-term memory seems to hold up better than short-term.  Songs that I learned in my 20s hold up better than ones I’m learning now, but neither can be relied on completely.

Remember what Cat Stevens said, “you’re still young, that’s your fault”.  To those of you who get upset about people reading lyrics on stage, please be patient with us old folk.  And of course, please keep our contact information in a safe place where you can find it someday.

Read also: Why lyrics on an iPad can be a problem for musicians

The first word is the hardest.  If you’re like me, you know the words to hundreds of songs if only you knew the start of the verse.  “American Pie” is a classic example of a very long song that very few people can sing unassisted.  However, if you spot the “Did you write”, “Now for Ten Years”, and “Helter Skelter”, a lot of people could carry on and sing about “The Marching Band”, “Jester” and the “King and Queen”.

It’s also the reason why I prefer a static image on my Stageprompter.  Since I only need the first few words, I don’t want the lyrics to scroll down the screen.  When the page is moving, artists feel compelled to keep their eyes on the screen and not the audience.  I want to connect with the crowd, so if I need added confidence with the first word, I only glance at the screen prior to the verse.  Remember, I do know the words!

Fronting a band is the musical equivalent of landing an airplane.  Ok, that may be an exaggeration, but there’s a lot going on when you’re on stage.  When you’re the lead singer, there are a ton of things to keep track of.  The responsibilities vary with every performer.  In addition to playing and singing, you’re also keeping an ear on the sound of the band.  Not only how it sounds to you, but how it sounds to the audience.  Beyond that, it’s important to gauge how the audience is connecting to your music.  What songs are getting them going, and if none are, what songs do you think will get them out of their seats?

If you’re playing in a bar or club, there are additional variables that exist when alcohol is being served.  If you’re lucky, there is no drinking drama, but the more gigs you play, something is going to happen.  Bouncing isn’t usually in the job description of the front man, but regardless, problem patrons can be a distraction to your performance.  When all these things come together at the same time, remembering the third verse to “Gimmie Three Steps” might not be in the forefront of your mind.

Performing on stage is magic… and scary. The great philosopher Tom Petty once said, “Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There's not some trick involved with it. It's pure and it's real”. 

There’s nothing like playing live in front of an audience.  Whether you’re belting out rock anthems to thousands of people or trying to impress the ladies around a campfire, connecting with an audience through music is addicting.  Do it once, and you’ll understand why people go to great lengths in the pursuit of rock-n-roll.  However, bright lights and pounding amps can put in in an altered state, some say like an out-of-body experience.  This same euphoria can also make you lose your place in time, space and yes, your music.  When this happens, it’s nice to have lyrics on stage to keep you tethered.

The stage can also be a scary place.  I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been nervous before a gig.  Most people have tricks to get them through it, but for some, it’s a reason not to perform at all.  The same audience that loves you when you’re killing it can be the same ones who are completely unforgiving when you stumble.  This fear is intimidating for most of us.  Having a Stageprompter loaded with your entire set is a great way to break through the wall of fear.

I’m a working musician playing in 8 bands!  Yes, believe it or not, we have some customers who play over 7 gigs a week with multiple groups.  Being paid to do what you love is a dream for most of us, but it’s hard work and must be taken seriously.  To do it, you must be able to deliver a strong performance day in and day out, even if life gets in the way.  A paying audience doesn’t care if you’re not feeling well.  They came to see a show and will let you know if you don’t perform to their standard.  Knowing the words to every song is a must.

A telemonitor is also a way to enable working musicians to play an expanded catalogue of songs from different genres.  The tribute band wave is alive and well.   It’s not uncommon to see a bass player jamming to “Panama” one night, then laying down “Detroit Rock City” in full Gene Simmons makeup the next.  Do the math on multiple groups playing dozens of songs and your head will spin faster than the opening riff of “Atomic Punk” (The Punks by the way are one of the best tributes to early Van Halen out there). 

Playing live music is fun.  For most of us, music is about having a good time.  Yes, there is a lot of sacrifice, preparation, practicing, highs and lows, but when it all comes together on stage, happiness abounds.  The time on stage is not work for most of us, it’s a privilege.  And the enjoyment that one has seems to correlate with the quality of the performance.  I play my best when I’m spot on with my music and lyrics.  That’s why having lyrics available when I need them is a no brainer for me.

Not only does having a Stageprompter in front of me help me perform better, but it keeps my mind from worrying about forgetting lyrics.  This enables me to enjoy what I’m doing that much more.  I’m more engaged with the audience and play with more confidence, which is what makes playing music fun.



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