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How To Create The Most Epic Setlist for Effortless Live Shows

An amazing live performance can have your head bobbing and your voice hoarse from chanting along to favorite songs. Some of the best shows can seem effortless; however, the key to this is knowing what tracks to play by creating a standout setlist. Knowing how to organize your songs allows you to prepare for a show quickly and connect with your audience on a level you may not have thought possible. Say goodbye to ‘trial and error’ and start planning your epic setlist with these tips.

Form An Arc With Your Track Order

Make your performance set memorable by coming out with a bang and saying the ultimate ‘farewell.’ Your first track is the initial impression, and it often relates to how an audience will feel about your music. Make it stand out and continue the momentum in the next few songs so that you keep the audience’s attention. If you have a track that can rile the listeners up then use it as your final song (closing). Add some flavor by adding something special to it whether it’s a final sing-along with the audience or you switch up the song composition. You want the crowd asking for more, and when that happens, always prepare an encore to top off your show.

Switch Up the Tempo

Let your low tempo and fast tempo songs intermingle. When creating a setlist, it is vital that you don’t list them in a predictable order. If you clump together your slow tracks and then play all your fast ones, it is easy for a listener to lose interest. By knowing the tempo of your playlist, you avoid monotony and create the most engagement. One way to do this is to allow your setlist to form ‘an arc.’ You can start with an energetic song that shows off your sound, then move into your slower ones, then finish off with another vibrant track that can make a statement. The ‘arc’ is one method, yet it is also essential to know the strengths of your songs to figure out which would keep the energy flowing throughout your performance.

Photo Via Pexels

Know Your Song Length & Set Flow

Do you know how long your tracks ring in your fans’ ears? If you do, that’s very helpful in keeping track of time during your set. When you are performing a live show, you will most likely have a timeslot. Pick the right ones that will maximize your moment, and also, carve out space for interacting with the crowd or making any adjustments. Doing a complete run through of your set during rehearsal will help to know when you’ve hit the mark. As you are keeping track of time, be mindful of how your set flows from one song to another when performing. Silent pauses between songs can be awkward and noticeable to the audience, therefore use moments like those to engage the audience. Also, you can use your transitions as moments for crowd engagement or move straight into the next tune.

Leave Space for Improvisation

Along with knowing your song lengths, leave space in your set list/performance timeslot to experiment on stage. As you are attracting more and more listeners, you want to consider that people will see your shows more than once. Time for improvisation or experimentation with your songs will add variety to your shows because no one wants to see the same thing twice. This might mean reorganizing your setlists or rearranging the composition of a few songs to keep your show fresh and exciting.

Want to learn more? Take a peek in another ‘How To’ Series article here titled- “Get The Right Tools For Live Streaming As Artists.”

 

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Kai McDaniel is a Los Angeles-based writer, lover of entertainment, art, and film.