When organizing any concert, it is important for everyone on your team to be on the same page. This is especially true for long concerts, which involves a lot of changes and movement from one band to the next. One important document that makes sure that bands run smoothly is a set list. But if you're new to the industry, you might be wondering: What is a set list? And why is it necessary? Here's everything you need to know about the set list, and how to use it at your next concert.

Set List Defined

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A set list is simply a list of songs that the band decides to play before a performance. It can be handwritten on a piece of paper, or printed beforehand on multiple pages. Overall, it is usually kept on the stage for every musician to see and anticipate which songs are next.

Why the Set List is Important

The set list is a pretty important document for the performing band. It allows everyone in the band to know what song to play next, in order for the music to flow freely from one performance to the next. In addition, it also gives the band a way to organize their equipment and accessories. For example, a guitarist can organize their access to certain guitar pedals depending on the set list. For example, this set list from a Dixie Chicks concert in 2003 includes the key every song was played in, which helps the band members tune their instruments in the proper scale.

The set list is not only important for the band. It also plays an important role for the event organizer, promoter, and event crew. A pre-determined set list can help the event crew prepare for and stay on task during the show. For example, the stage manager can use the set list to make sure that the correct stage lights come on at specific times. The sound technician will also make sure that the proper audio adjustments are made for each song. In addition, an equipment manager can use the set list as a guide to determine which guitars should be tuned in which keys, or which drums or percussion instruments should be on stage at all times. Therefore, the set list needs to be accurate and organized for everyone, especially for long events.

After the show, the set list also becomes a promotional artifact and beloved document of the event by fans. Many fans will try to approach band members or roadies for the set list and will sell them or publish them online. Overall, the list becomes an important historic document that allows fans to remember the performance for years to come.

For the Promoter

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On the day or days leading up to the performance, it's important to collect every band's set list and distribute it to point people. It's helpful to have a printer or copier (or simply paper and pen) for bands to print their set lists and get a copy to every important person who is helping with the show.

Depending on the band and the manager's wishes, you might also want to collect the set lists afterward. Some bands like to keep their set lists secret, especially if they use the same list for the rest of their tour. Other bands might allow people to keep the lists, give them to fans, or simply throw them away. Just make sure you ask the bands so you'll know what to do with the lists afterward.

Overall, the set list is a great, important document for everyone on your crew and for every performer. Not only will it help keep everyone organized and on track, but it can also be a great promotional tool to draw new and old fans to your venue.

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