How to Make a good set list

Tuesday September 15, 2015
The Music Factory OC

How do you make a good set list? 

Danny Thompson, The Music Factory OC, CEO
So the other night, about 15 minutes before we were playing a show, Trever decided to finally make the set list. Normally we are better prepared but this show was a party for our good friends at luck 13 clothing so we were taking a bit more relaxed approach. They asked face to face to play and were more than willing to oblige. As we were talking about the set list I came up with this topic idea for a blog post.
It seems like it would be really simple to make a good set list but it’s actually a bit tougher than it seems. There are multiple factors to consider depending on the situation. So below you will find some tips on making a decent set list. Enjoy.

How to make a good set list:

1) Consider your circumstances. Are you headlining or opening? If you are the main band for the night you may have to fill a 90 minute time slot verses 30 to 40 minutes if you are opening. At a pro gig the time allotments will pretty much be set in stone but at a local club gig it will be much more flexible. This does not mean that if you are a local band you should violate one of the golden rules…..
Golden rule for opening bands..8 songs or 30 minutes tops! Hit them with your best material. Do it like a pro with some good transitions and don’t lolly gag around talking for 10 minutes between songs. Leave them wanting more, not wishing you would get the hell off the stage. It’s amazing how many bands mess this up.
2) Open strong but not to strong. If you are playing early in the day or night you don’t want to blow your best stuff to soon.
3) Put a great song at the #3 spot on the set. Again, if it is early in the day or night you want to play a couple of songs so that people realize a band has started playing. This is huge at a festival where you need people to move from another stage over to your stage. Get them there and then by song number 3 hit them with something that will keep them there for the duration of the set.
4) It’s got to flow. have good transitions between the songs. What note are you ending song #4 on and what note does song #5 start with. Make sure it works. We are even doing this for our recitals at the Music Factory with our Rock band classes.
5) If people don’t know you, don’t try to get them to sing and participate with you. It can be embarrassing. Some bands and front men can pull it off but they are experienced and know when and where to try it. European crowds love to chant. Watch a football game and you will see. If you can give them something easy to sing to you will have a better chance of making this happen

6) Split up the tempos. Don’t put 5 fast songs together and then 5 slow songs. Think about the pacing. The fast songs don’t sound fast if that’s all they hear etc. Take them up and then bring them down. You are in control.
7) Don’t get mad that a crowd doesn’t come up front to watch you. Berating them does nothing to help you. Play a great set and win them over.
8) Note on your set list where tuning breaks, guitar changes and talking points will be. Do not wing it.
9) Close with your hit .
10) Know when you will get an encore and when you won’t. If you know the market and know the show will go off, plan for your encore. If you are not getting a huge response, don’t walk off and come back on. Just play the encore song right away if at all. Do not go over your set time!!! That’s an rookie move!!

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