Creating the Perfect set list for live performance

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Part of being an artist is performing live. I found this post awhile back by Wade Sutton and he explained how to design your set list. Below is some of the main points he shared to designing your set list of live performance.


Website link: http://www.rockettothestars.com/#!creating-the-perfect-set-list/c1io3

  1. Make a list of nine songs you perform at your shows

  2. Now rate each song from 1 - 5 base upon tempo.

    • 5 being extremely fast and energetic

    • 1 being slow emotional ballad.

    • 3 would be in the middle.

  3. Take a look at the ratings you have done. If all of your songs have similar ratings you have major problem because your set lacks variety.

  4. Create moments in your set. Meaning the thing that you do that fans remember you after you finished performing. It can be anything.

    • swinging from a rope while singing a particular song

    • musical solo

Picking your songs in the right order

This is where you’re gonna control the emotions of your fans

  1. from your set list pick a song that is rated 3 for your first song

    • it must be short 3:00 - 3:30 in length.

    • no extended breaks or solos just get into the lyrics quickly

    • this song is the icebreaker and builds relationship with your audience.

    • end with a trash can ending. this is where everybody ends at the same time.

  2. After the song ends do a quick introduction and thanks everyone for coming. Keep it short.

  3. for the second song choose a song that has a 4 rating from your set list

    • ensure it doesn't sound similar to your first song. If it does people will start to tune you out.

    • get into the lyrics as quickly as possible

    • end with the trash can ending

  4. For song # 3 choose a 3 rated song.

    • ensure its very catchy so people can get into it and sing along

    • you can use a cover of a very popular song  because it draws more people into the show

    • no talking between songs

    • After the songs ends thank everybody and point out that you have merchandise at the back of the room for sale. Word your free off like this:

    • “I am actually giving away some of my music for free and I would love to get it out to each and every one of you here. For me to do that, I need you to go to the merch table and write down your e-mail address so I have a way to get that music to you.”

  5. 4th song you slow things down this is where you choose a song that is rated 2.

    • this is where you ease up before bring up the energy

  6. 5th song is where you start to build excitement. Choose one of your stronger songs rated 3 - 3.5

    • this is where you include your musical moment. something you can have fun with

  7. 6th song is when you increase the energy with a song rated 4 or 4.5

    • choose a song you can include the audience in.

    • a sing along, a call and response but it has to have a moment where the audience is having fun.

    • This sets you up for thanking your fans and reminding them of your merch table and email list sign up.

    • be sure to introduce yourself again for new people entering the venue. Introduce the band members as well

  8. 7th song this is when you slow things down. do something acoustic to create an intimate touching moment with the audience. A song rated 2 or lower is best.

    • different perspective musically

  9. 8th song: this song should bridge the gap between the previous song and the finale.

    • Thank the venue for having you and thank the audience for coming out.

    • Never mention that the next song is your final song

  10. 9th song: This is when you break out your # 5 rating song to end with a bang.


The ultimate aim of this is to let fans enjoy your live performance and want to see you again. These tips are very helpful in planning the show to ensure this happens.

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