Guide to Setlists

What is a setlist?

A setlist is the list of songs an artist performs at a concert. The artist often performs a "set" or group of songs without taking a break by leaving the stage, thus the "setlist".

Concert

A concert is loosely defined as an event at a certain date and time at a venue where an artist performs songs. Concerts vary in a number of ways but have those three attributes in common: a date, a venue, an artist.

On Setlisting, we also know that a concert really isn’t a concert if there isn’t an audience. See below for more information on other types of appearances, such as Radio, TV, Internet, etc.

Bill

A bill is the list of artists (or acts) that perform at a concert from the first artists (the opening acts) to the last artist (headlining act, headliner, or in some cases co-headliners). Bills right now are not in place on Setlisting, but will be available in the future.

Appearances

On Setlisting, concerts are kept separate from other types of performances such as on-air Television/Radio/Internet performances, live studio performances, and other promotional or private performances were audiences aren’t often present.

Sets

Sets are just groups of songs played by an artist at a concert. For opening acts that may only get a short amount of time to perform, they will only play one set. From concerts earliest origins, headlining acts often perform a main set or sets, followed by an encore (or encores). Sets and encores are distinguished by breaks – set breaks or encore breaks – where the artist generally leaves the stage before returning. There are different types of sets, let’s take a look at them all.

Main Set

Pretty self explanatory, the main set is the primary set of songs an artist will perform at a concert. It is common for an artist’s concerts to have a similar structure, and it is often announced beforehand. For example, the Grateful Dead traditionally performed two sets plus an encores. On Setlisting, this would be represented as two "main sets". The first set will be "First Set", or "Set One"; the second will be "Second Set" or "Set Two" and so on.

Encore

The word encore means "more, again". Generally they are shorter than main sets. Similar to multiple sets, and artist can perform multiple encores. The first encore will be "First Encore", or "Encore One"; the second will be "Second Encore" or "Encore Two" and so on.

Soundcheck

The soundcheck is when an artist will perform songs prior to a concert to allow the sound engineers to "check the sound" of the artist’s equipment in a venue so the audience gets to hear it as high a quality as possible. Soundchecks are an exception to the concert rule on Setlisting because they often don’t have an audience; but are recorded on Setlisting for a number of reasons. Fans often arrive at venues early for Soundchecks to hear if artists are practicing new material, jamming on improvisations, or simply to hear their favorite songs again. Soundchecks have also been known to be released live (see Phish, Pearl Jam).

Pre-Set

A pre-set is commonly an unscheduled appearance by an artist at a concert before the named acts are scheduled to start. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam often performs pre-sets of one to two songs solo prior to the opening act as a way of enticing Pearl Jam fans to come out early and support the opening acts.

Songs

At any given concert, and artist will perform a bunch of songs which makes a setlist. Seems like a simple concept, but there are different ways we collect this information on Setlisting.

Song

When an artist performs a song that they are credited with writing, this is what we simply call a "song". Yes, there are more details to songs such as musical and lyrical songwriting credits, but for the most part, when an artist creates an "original" work, this is a "song". On Setlisting, when adding songs on a setlist, you’re actually adding songs performed from the point of view of the artist performing the concert.

Cover

At Setlisting, we give credit where credit is due! A "cover" song is when an artist performs a song written by another artist. Covers are identified on Setlisting by showing the original artist next to the song performed if the performing artist differs from the artist who wrote the song.

Tags

Artists are creative, we all know that, and an aspect of creativity is improvisation. A decade-old trait of artists is to "tag" songs by performing a portion of another song before, during or after the full performance of another song. Huh? Let’s use an example: U2 fans rejoice when "TK" is played, and it’s played live often. Keen observes will notice that Bono will often add some lines from "TK2" to the end of "TK". This would be verbalized as: "TK" with a "TK2" tag. On setlists we represent this as: TK/(TK2). If it was performed prior to the start of the song it would be: (TK2)/TK. For Setlisting, we’re calling these things "tags", and are often called "snippets" or "teases" for other artists.

Medleys

Medleys are incomplete performances of two or more songs played together as one. Medleys exist for a variety of reasons. Artists with large song catalogs will often perform popular songs in a medley so the audience gets to hear "the best parts" of songs during the relatively short duration of a concert. E.g. Metallica often performs a "Justice Medley", which is parts of 2-3 songs from their album "…And Justice For All". These 3 songs played in full might take 21 minutes to play, but playing bits and pieces of them together as one song may only take about 7 minutes, allowing Metallica fans to seemingly hear more songs.

Adding a setlist

You’ve heard the expression "What came first, the Chicken or the Egg?" Who cares, really. But if you want to add a setlist, you first have to know the artist, venue and date of the concert. Once you add the concert, you can then add the songs performed on the setlist.

Are you adding a concert that happened in the past? When you add a past concert, Setlisting will check to see if that concert has been added already. If it has, you can go right to editing the setlist.

Are you adding a concert that will happen in the future? You can add future concerts into Setlisting a day, month or year in advance and they’ll be waiting for you to edit the setlist once that concert actually starts.

Some tips:

Artist – some artists, often solo artists, will change their name over time; but to you - the audience – the change is subtle. For example, Neil Young has toured as "Neil Young", "Neil Young and Crazy Horse" and "Neil Young with Pearl Jam". Based on the era, try to enter the exact artist – it will help keep things tidy, accurate and will also help with picking songs for the setlist.

Venue – venues also change over time – for better or for worse! Some venues open with fanfare then close a few years later, only to re-open under a different name. Venues also get renamed often in the age of corporate sponsorship. For these venues, search for the venue name that the concert was originally billed for. For example, if Bruce Springsteen played the Brendan Byrne Arena in 1980, search for that venue, even if now it’s called the Continental Airlines Arena.

Date – You can use the year, month and date picker to choose the exact date of the concert. Even if the artist started their performance after midnight (i.e. a new day), enter the concert date that was listed for the show. Also, if you don’t know the exact date of the show, enter the "best guess" and a future feature on Setlisting will help identify the concert as not being on an exact date. When done, click "Save and Continue". Now you’re ready to edit the setlist.

Editing the Setlist

  1. Add a set from the menu. Most common set is "Main Set" and use that if the artist just performed one set
  2. Once you add a set, you can add songs by starting to type the name of the song. For example, for a Dave Matthews setlist, start typing "Ants" and you will see "Ants Marching" come up as a choice. Once you select a song, Setlisting will automatically start another song choice for you.
  3. Repeat step 2 for as many songs in the set.
  4. When done, save the setlist using the "Save" button.

Here are some useful tips and other considerations when editing setlists:

Cover Songs

When an artist plays a cover song, e.g. the Deftones play "TK" by the Cure, just change the artist to The Cure by typing in "The Cure" in the Artist box and selecting "The Cure" when it comes up. Once "The Cure" comes up, type "TK" in the song box and it will be displayed in the setlist appropriately as a cover.

Removing a song

Did you add a song by mistake? No problem. Click the "-" button which will remove the song from the setlist.

Re-ordering songs in a setlist

Did you add a song in the wrong order? Also easy to fix. Just use the up / down arrows to move songs in a setlist.

Add a Tag

To add a tag, choose the "Add Tag" button next to the song that was tagged. In the artist box, confirm the artist or change it if is a tag for another artist. Once the artist is chosen, start to type the song and select the song from the returned results. By default the tag is added to the end of the song, but you can also add the tag to the beginning.

Add a Medley

To add a song in a medley, click the "TK" button next to an existing song in the setlist. You can then select artist and song. The medley of songs will be shown as one line on the setlist. Like Tags, songs in a medley can be re-ordered using the up / down arrows.

Edit the Concert

You made a mistake, it happens! You added a setlist for the wrong concert date and you need to change it. On the Setlist page, click "Edit Concert" and you’ll be brought to a simple form where you can change the date. Do you want to change the Venue and Artist? That’s a little trickier. Because we at Setlisting want to ensure the proper information is entered for our setlists, we don’t currently allow users to change the Venue or Artist. If you really need this information changed, create a new setlist with the correct information and TK contact us and we’ll delete the incorrect setlist.

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