Crafting The Perfect Set List

There are no absolutes when creating the perfect setlist.

It must be adaptable, keeping in mind factors like the audience, the venue, and time limit.

A perfect set list should have an ebb and flow.

Songs should follow each other in some sort of meaningful progression that enhances the audiences’ enjoyment of the show.

There are a few major factors to think about when trying to create a perfect set list.

The Venue

Think about the venue you will be playing in. Is it a coffee shop or stadium? Grungy rock bar or wedding hall?

The type of venue should determine your volume levels as well as your song choice. In small, intimate venues, lean more towards acoustic-based songs with a laid back vibe, while cavernous clubs need a mix of loud songs with a beat.

Your Audience

Although you generally want to play on bills with other bands that fit your genre, sometimes this is out of your control. Check out which other bands the promoter has booked before leaving for the show.

The music of the other bands will give you an idea of the audience you will be playing to.

So, who makes up the audience?

If you’re playing a show with a set of hard rock bands, you’d want to stick with your hardest songs, while if it’s a folk night, you might consider stripping it down and matching the style of the show.


Do you want to create a night of music that starts off with a bang and then ebbs and flows? Or do you start off the night acoustically and work up to a huge spectacle ending?

Maybe you want huge impacts for your intro and ending, with a breather in the middle of the set in the form of a slower, quieter song or two.

It’s really up to you at this point.

Similar, to a album tracklist, your set list needs to create maximum impact, without any lulls or chance for the audience to become disinterested.


Perhaps you want to maximize your audience participation. In that case, the perfect set list might be one where the audience calls the shots.

Enable fans to use your website to vote for setlist songs, or just have people call out a song they want to hear sometime during the show.

This is a great way to get the audience involved and make the show a memorable one.


Perhaps the best set list for a specific night involves an encore between you and one of the artists you’re on tour with.

This is usually a great way to end the show with a bang as well as create meaningful relationships with other musicians while on the road.

This is by no means a be-all end-all list. There are plenty of other things to consider which might affect the perfect set list.

How do you create your perfect set list?…

Choosing A Recording Studio That’s Right For You

Even with the prevalence of home-based recording these days, sometimes there’s no substitute for the experience of recording in a professional studio, with an experienced engineer.

A talented sound engineer can hear things in a track you can barely distinguish, and watching them work will only help to make you a better listener.

When choosing a recording studio there are a few things to look out for which will help determine the one you ultimately choose.


While you should never choose a recording studio on price alone, it’s smart to start your search by looking at studio rates and seeing if they fit into your overall budget. You don’t want to blow your budget on an expensive studio, leaving you with only one half-finished recording by the time your money runs out.

At the same time you don’t want to choose the cheapest studio, because although this will give you the greatest recording time possible, it’s more than likely that the person recording you is not very experienced or knowledgeable (in which case you’d be better off recording in a home studio).

The Room

When you’ve figured out your budget and narrowed down some studios in your area. It’s time to take a tour. Never book a studio without first going for a tour of it.

Take a few minutes to look at the space and decide how you feel in it. Is this a room where you feel in?

Make sure you get the full tour, including the control room, the live room and any overdub rooms, as well as the various facilities the recording studio might have.

Can you envision yourself, and your music being made, here?

The Gear

While an experienced engineer can coax great sounds out of even the worst gear, more often then not, these same engineers will have spent a good deal of their time hunting down vintage equipment to make their sound even better.

Make sure to take into account the available equipment in the recording studio. Is it a cheap computer with a protools rig, or does the studio offer many different recording formats and microphone options.

Does the studio include piano’s, guitars and other instruments for your use, or are you required to bring everything yourself? Find out before hand so that you aren’t surprised when you go to record your piano piece, only to find that the studio doesn’t actually have a working piano in it.

The People

When you go on a tour of the recording studio, try to set up a meeting with the producer and engineer to discuss your project. It’s important to get to know these people and get a feel for their style before you start working with them.

A recording can quickly go downhill if the producer and artists have totally different visions for the music.

Get to know the people making your recording. Do you feel comfortable with them? Will you be able to spend hours at a time working with them? Do they seem knowlegeable? Are they excited or eager to work with you? Have they worked on any music similar to yours?

You’re working relationship with the producer and engineer is a huge factor when determining the overall success of your recording.

While recording at a professional studio may not be right for you at this time, it’s something that all musicians need to experience. At the very least so you can compare the end result to the home recordings you’ve been making.

Have you ever recorded music in a professional studio? What was your experience?…