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Why Your Setlist is More Than Just a Souvenir

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1 minute read

As an artist, sharing the hard work you’ve put into your songs is just as important as the songs themselves. You have so many options when it comes to connecting with your community — digitally on streaming platforms, visually through music videos, and publicly through gigs, to name a few. 

While you typically get paid through pre-negotiated deals with venues, did you know you also earn performance royalties from songs that you perform publicly? This happens through your setlist, the handwritten or printed document that lists songs in the order you plan to perform them. After submitting your setlist to your Performing Rights Organization (PRO), your hard-earned royalties will be distributed to you.

Not many artists know how important their setlist is. It’s not just a record of all your public performances — it’s something you and your fan base will look back on as a treasured souvenir. While some artists use the same setlist for every performance, that’s not always the case. It’s important to know how to create an effective setlist and how/where to register them to make sure you’re earning the money you deserve.

Creating an Effective Setlist

Your setlist should tell a story, walking your fans through your journey and showcasing your highlights along the way. In order to tell an effective story, there are a few things you have to consider: the setting and audience, the flow, transitions, the length of your set, and unexpected situations. You want to craft a sophisticated setlist that takes into consideration the venue you’re playing at and the mood you want to set for your audience. Being prepared for transitions and lulls can keep the momentum going; a well-crafted setlist can be the difference between an inexperienced performance and a professional gig.

Reach out to other artists for advice on how they craft their setlists, create a playlist of your own, share with friends and family to see if it makes sense, and be prepared to describe the story behind it if someone asks. 

Registering Your Setlist

Registering your setlist is fairly simple, but may vary by PRO/CMO. There is no one standardized list of requirements for submitting setlists and it can totally depend on the territory the performance took place in and that specific society's requirements. Check with your PRO or CMO on their setlist policy, including the timeframe in which you have to submit for royalties and how they prefer to receive your setlist. You can use our Collection Society Database to find your society's information if you're unsure where to start. 


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