How Many Songs You Need To Gig

When you start your band, not quite knowing exactly how many songs you will need to prepare before your first performance, look no further.

Today we will look at how many songs you will need to prepare and get ready for your first live gig.

In general, we say that 3 songs are an excellent number for a first performance. As a beginner artist, you will be better off kicking your career off by performing to a small group of friends or by opening for another band.

If you are experienced and more interested in knowing how many songs you will need for a specific set of time, you might be looking for my article called “Full Guide for How Many Songs Per Live Performance“, which you can find here.

The Reasons for a 3-Song Set

3 Songs is not a “set-in-stone” number. If you have a well-rounded set of 4 songs, or you are coming up short with time in order to reach a certain deadline, then 2 would suffice as well. It’s just important to get on stage and build experience as soon as the first opportunity arrives.

Here are a few reasons why I personally feel like 3 songs is a great number for your first live performance:

  1. Your set feels complete.
    • You have an intro song that gives the sound engineer a chance to recheck the sound with an audience.
    • You have a body song, that you can use to introduce the band and include interaction with the audience.
    • You have an end which rounds off your show, but still, leaves the audience while they want more.
  2. It will give you about 12-17 minutes of stage time.
    • It is just about enough to get the hang of things, reach your goals, and find some things to work on for the next performance.
  3. It offers enough space for minor musical variation.
    • Like adding a catchy cover made in your style.
    • You could also try a ballade to have a holistic performance.

Besides mainly focusing on your execution of the music, I would also recommend paying attention to your stage presence. Your charisma and natural interaction with an audience make people feel warm, welcome and happy.

I wrote a really helpful article with a few simple tips about What Makes a Good Stage Presence, which you can read right here.

My Personal Experience

My first performance as a band was as an opening gig at a birthday party. We played a set of 3 songs, and one of them became our first hit single.

I still remember this performance quite well. The party took place at a landing strip between the hangers and aeroplanes somewhere in the east of Pretoria in 2007.

The audience was just staring at us, not quite understanding our genre and image yet. It was truly a scary experience that I will never forget.

In the end, our performance went well. We were a little unsure whether the sound was good or not. The sound engineer was also quite inexperienced and perhaps that’s why we felt that our vocals-instrument balance was off.

We got the gig as an opening act for another Punk rock band, and we end up playing a couple of Battle of the Bands together.

It was great to know that our journey started while another group, more experienced, saw us, knowing our potential and seeing us gradually grow.

By the way, I love a good Battle of the Bands, where you can network, see other bands perform and have plenty of neutral fans to impress. I wrote an article about the Pros and Cons of taking part in music competitions which might be of great interest to you.

This post was written and posted by De Wet from on 07.05.2023. The content was stolen from me if this blog post is seen anywhere else.

Use the love and the energy of the crowd to feed from. (Photo credit: Canva)

Tips for Your First Performance

  1. Choose a nice balance of songs to form your setlist.
  2. Ask someone to take photos of your show.
  3. Video record your show. Not only for the archives but also to reflect and try to improve for your next performance.
  4. Ask the audience to use a “#yourband” tag to post to social media. As a new band, your social media might be quite empty. Use this chance to add content to your channels.
  5. Start building your following. Ask the audience that your goal is to reach x amount of followers, and keep them updated during your show.
  6. Consider methods to bond with the audience.
    • Do you have merchandise to share?
    • Try to interact and include a joke and some banter.
  7. Prepare a notable artist image.
    • This is how people will remember you the next day.
    • Have something unique that you stand for.
    • This could even be a little mascot or a neon colour guitar.

If your image is something that you are still working on, then look no further. I wrote a very interesting article about finding your unique image, but still being true to who you are. You can read Your Image As An Artist here.

Myth Busting for Your First Gig

As an artist, you are exposing yourself to a big world out there, showing a piece of your soul.

It is great to be positive and to pump yourself up, but remain humble and keep your feet on the ground because there are many aspects that will bring you down to earth if you have the wrong mindset.

The realities are that:

  • Success does not come easy
  • Not everyone in the room will like my music
  • The sound will not be great at all times

I can help you a bit with the sound check. Here’s an article about the sound check tips I prepared for you to have it as easy and fluently as possible.

If you can make peace with the fact that not all will be well and as expected, you will have a great mindset for the future as a musician.

So now that you’ve performed a small gig in front of some friends, it’s time for the next step!

I wrote a free guide on the various steps to take until you are a paid artist. Literally from Zero to Hero. You can read Steps to Reach your First Paid Gig – From Zero to Hero, right here.

Reach for your dreams!

Until next time…

De Wet

The dream started during a school tour at the age of 15 years old. One that might take a long time to reach. De Wet was 16 years old when he got his first bass guitar as a gift from his dad. The guitar was found, hidden under boxes. As if it was waiting for its owner to come by and pick him up. He practiced every day to improve and to teach his fingers to dance to the music. After finishing high school, he played in various bands where he collected valuable experience, before being signed by a record label as an upcoming band. He reached success at age 22 when he released two albums with his band, which also included televised music videos for publicity. By age 24, he co-started management, artist promotion, and booking agency for successful and upcoming musical acts.

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