DJ Set

How to write a set list: Choosing a song order for music gigs

Choosing your song order when learning how to create a set list for your next big performance can be difficult. Here are some useful tips to help…

Song order on your set list is a crucial part of the success of a music gig, cabaret, concert, or recital. You want to engage your audience immediately, keep their attention throughout, showcase the song list and your talents, and be entertaining and memorable. Some musicians ask a writing service or even an essay writer to do this task for them as they know how to organize information and set a list. Let’s look at some ways to achieve this:

Opening Number

Choosing your opening number is particularly important. What kind of initial impact do you want to have on your audience? For most performers, singers, and musicians, the answer is a ‘charm’ song: something that introduces your audience immediately to your style and your music, and wins them over straight away.

Audiences are often feeling anticipation but also unease when waiting for a performance to start, as they do not know what to expect. Your job is to flag this to them at once so they can relax and enjoy themselves.

Choose an opening song that is catchy and attention-grabbing, and that you know and perform particularly well. This reassures the audience the quality of the gig will be great, they will continue to like the sound and style they’re hearing, and that you’re going to be appealing and easy to enjoy artists.

Middle of A Set

The middle of your set list is about variety. Having won the audience over, you now want to surprise and impress them with your versatility and continued excellence. Think about what songs work well together, such as ones that flow on well from each other, expand upon a mood or theme, or completely change the subject musically or emotionally.

Think also about what songs need to be kept separate, such as those that are too similar in style or emotion (your audience will get bored) or too disparate or contradictory in theme (a romantic song followed without pause by something violently anti-romantic spoils the effect of both songs upon the audience!)

Use concepts such as color, shape, light, shade, and pace to help establish a flow and feel for your set list. However clichéd, you are taking people on an emotional and musical journey at a gig: what do you want them to experience and feel from your performance at every point along the way?

Bookend weaker, newer, or more experimental numbers with solid and secure material to ensure if anything goes a little wrong, it’s not going to be for long.

Consider your stamina as an artist too. In this case, an online essay writer can help yon not to load a set list with exhausting or similar songs all in a row, because you want to ensure you always have enough physical and emotional energy for your finale. Moreover, a whole row of showstoppers diminishes each song’s impact.

Showstoppers are great because they are the high point in a gig as a contrast to other moods and music. Without these contrasts, an entire set of power ballads or high-octane songs (no matter how exciting on their own) can get tired very quickly for you and your audience.

Closing Number

Your final choice is as important as your opening number. It’s what your audience will remember you by it sums up the journey, rounds off the emotion and the music, and leaves the room still buzzing with the chosen atmosphere you’ve created.

Always end strongly with something familiar, well-rehearsed, and guaranteed to be popular. Consider how you want everyone to be feeling at the end of the gig, and choose accordingly.

If you give an encore, be prepared to up the stakes: it must be a crowd-pleaser, so even holding back a corny cover or your signature tune to be your encore song is worthwhile. Also letting your hair down a bit musically and physically by appearing more relaxed, casual, and accessible by this stage and with this song choice is a good idea.

If your song order is well-constructed from solid material, your audience will stay engaged and stay with you for the entire set. Don’t be self-indulgent or self-aggrandizing in your choices: your job as a performer is to entertain first and foremost, which means it’s not about picking the songs you want to play or sing, but about performing the numbers your audience will want to hear and enjoy.


Image Credit: Gabriel Barletta on Unsplash


Acting as the CEO and founder of the site, the highly successful entrepreneur soon saw his team grow meteorically under his stewardship, amassing more than 1 million followers across the brand’s platforms. In addition, working with esteemed global entities such as Tomorrowland, AMF, EXIT Festival, Ushuaïa, Hï Ibiza, Parookaville and many others festivals and clubs aswell as some of the world’s most reputable record labels, artists and agencies.

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