How To Choose Songs For Your Live Band To Play

Billboard Hottest 100 Hits
Billboard Hottest 100 Hits

One of the biggest challenges of playing in a cover band is the simple act of song selection. This simple task can make or break any band. A well chosen song list can give your band the edge in a very competitive cover band market. So how do you choose a winning setlist for your live band to play?

I’ve learned the hard way over the years not to pick songs from the heart. That’s the biggest mistake that most bands make when choosing songs. They will pick songs that they love and assume that if they love the song, everyone else will too. That’s not necessarily the case because I can tell you that a lot of the songs I love and would like to play in a band have never been huge sellers. I like complicated, progressive rock music that most people that aren’t musicians just can’t grasp.   Continue reading “How To Choose Songs For Your Live Band To Play”

Playing Christmas Songs In Your Live Band

Playing holiday songs is a great way to keep your holiday gigs fun and fresh for the band and the audience.

Elvis Rockin' Christmas
Elvis Rockin' Christmas

The season is upon us and it’s time to play those holiday gigs that come to all working live bands. I don’t know if your band is like mine, but it seems like every year we talk about learning a Christmas song or two and we just never seem to get around to it. So the holidays come and we just play the same old stuff at our shows. That’s why I’m going to give you some tips on preparing some holiday songs for your live band so you can be ready for the season.

Obviously the most important thing is timing when to learn the song. It’s better to learn the song well before your holiday shows. So if you’re planning on playing some Christmas songs in December, it’s a good idea to start learning them in October. By learning the songs that far in advance, you’ll be able to iron out the rough spots and really do a good performance of the song when your holiday shows come. Believe me, your audience will be able to tell if you learned the song 3 days before the show.     Continue reading “Playing Christmas Songs In Your Live Band”

Beat The iTunes Price Increase and Download MP3’s From

Beat the iTunes price increase by downloading high quality MP3’s from

Download High Quality MP3's From
Download High Quality MP3's From

   As a live musician, one of the most essential tools of our trade is having a good collection of current and “greatest of all time” music. With the advent of the Internet, downloading great music has become as easy as picking a song and clicking on the download button. What’s really great for musicians playing in live bands is the ease of getting everyone in your band to download the same song. It makes things a lot easier when your band is learning songs to be able to send out a download link for the songs you’re learning. As you know, iTunes is currently the largest retailer of music in the United States. CD sales continue to slide as sales of music in downloadable digital form continue to increase.

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Build Your Set List With Live Musician Central’s Custom iMix

Build your set list with proven hits using Live Musician Centrals custom iMix set lists.


Live Musician Central Downloadable Set Lists
Live Musician Central Downloadable Set Lists

   Earlier on Live Musician Central I wrote a post detailing the benefits of using iTunes custom iMix feature to create set lists for your live band to learn. You can check out that article here: Creating A Setlist Using iTunes iMix. There are a lot of advantages to using the iMix feature to create your band set lists. The top reason to do it is so that all members of your band can get the same version of the song from the same place. That way you don’t have your bass player learning the live version of a song, your drummer learning a studio outtake and your guitarist learning the radio edit.

   Today I want to point you to the Live Musician Central Downloadable Setlist page that has links to all the custom iMixes that I have created. These setlists were created using the Top 200 dance songs of all time. I created the setlists to have a flow to them that will work very well in a club. If you’re looking for a starting place to build up your band set list then these iMixes are a great place to start.

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Playing Old Songs Versus New Songs With Your Live Band

Discusses whe the old songs fill the dance floor while the new songs sometimes clear the dance floor.

In Stereo Playing To A Packed Dance Floor
In Stereo Playing To A Packed Dance Floor

   In my many years of playing in a live band I’ve made a lot of observations about what types of songs fill the dance floor and what types leave people sitting in their seats. One aspect that has always fascinated me is how an old, well known song will pack the floor while a new song will sometimes clear the floor. It’s been something that I’ve struggled to define over the years. Having a new song clear the floor isn’t something that happens every time but it happens enough that I’ve thought about it quite a bit. So why does an old song such as Sweet Home Alabama fill the dance floor every time you play it while a hot newer song like U2 – Vertigo is hit and miss? They’re both excellent songs and have a great danceable beat to them.

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How To Learn A Cover Song To Play In A Live Band

Should I Stay Or Should I Go - The Clash

   One of the greatest challenges I’ve had as a live musician is learning new songs to play live with my band. I don’t know why I’ve struggled with it because I’ve been playing other people’s songs for as long as I’ve been playing music. Think about it, when you began learning your instrument you most likely learned how to play music that other people have written. If you took piano, I’m sure you learned out of basic piano books that had some classic folk songs or some great classical music. You probably learned how to play some pop music on the piano to keep things interesting as well. Well it’s a whole lot different when you’re learning music to play in a live band. To do it right, you need to learn to pick out and play parts by ear. That’s a real challenge for those of us that learned how to play instruments by reading music. It took me a long time to develop my ear to the point where I could play my parts exactly like the record. Here are some suggestions on how to learn a cover song to play in your live band. Continue reading “How To Learn A Cover Song To Play In A Live Band”

Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs Of All Time

#1 on the list: Chuck Berry - Johnny B. Goode

   I’m always looking for song selection ideas for my band In Stereo. One of the greatest challenges musicians face when playing live music is playing music that the audience knows and wants to hear. One resource I like to use is industry magazines. Rolling Stone magazine has been covering the music scene since 1967 and I believe it has some authority in the music industry. Rolling Stone Magazine has released several articles with compiled lists of the greatest songs of all time. Today I’d like to point you to their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs Of All Time.

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How To Keep Your Band Set List Fresh

Led Zeppelin Set List

   One of the most common problems I’ve seen playing in bands is the fact that bands don’t change their set lists often enough. Having a good set list and maintaining it is essential stagecraft. There are two common problems that arise with set lists. First, a band will learn 40 songs and then play them for the next 5 years without ever changing them out with new material. Second, bands will play the same songs in the exact same order every night for 5 years. The reason I say 5 years is because that’s the typical life of a band, especially when you don’t change up your set list. So how do you avoid these pitfalls?

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How To Approach A Cover Song

Elvis Presley Covers Blue Suede Shoes

   A cover song is a song that has been recorded by another artist and that your band will be playing. Some famous artists that have played cover songs are Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Van Halen, The Rolling Stones. A lot of current artists will play cover songs as well and go on to have big hits playing them. The good thing about playing cover songs is that the song has already been marketed to the masses and has been proven to be a well loved hit. So your chances of having success playing the song is very high. There are a couple ways you can approach playing a cover song.

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Play To Your Strengths With Your Song Selection

Click For Set Lists
Click For Set Lists

   Every band has it’s own unique talent level that comes from each individual band member’s personal skill level. I’ve played with guitarists that are just amazing with Jazz music but couldn’t play even the simplest of Rock-N-Roll music. I’ve played with bass players that could hold down a perfectly steady beat, until they had to play a funk bass line and then they struggled like crazy. I’ve had the same thing happen with bands as whole that I’ve been in. I’ve been in bands that could play classic Rock-N-Roll flawlessly but couldn’t even start to play any heavy metal. I’ve seen bands that play Country like nobody’s business but can’t rock at all.

Continue reading “Play To Your Strengths With Your Song Selection”

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