Why placing your backing tracks
to seperate areas of your iPod will
improve your performance
Most entertainers like to have some sort of set list when they
go on stage. This usually takes the form of a list of songs
written on a piece of paper in the order you'll be singing them
which you take on stage with you.
Some singers use the same set list in every venue they perform
while others will change the set list depending on the type
of venue, type of audience etc. Personally I go one step further
- I change my set list every night AND often change it
half way through the performance depending on how the audience
react to certain types of songs. If I see the dance-floor fill
up, I just play more songs of the same tempo/feel.
And no longer does your set list have to be written on the back
of a piece of paper (or the back of the proverbial cigarette
The iPod has a facility to memorize and organize set lists within
the machine...and does it with ease. The iPod calls them "playlists"
instead of "set-lists", that's all.
The iPod already has a couple of playlists already created for
you but making up a manual playlist yourself is by far the best
way to go.
To do this, open up iTunes on your computer (with your iPod
connected of course) and create a playlist on your iPod - call
it whatever you want, for example CabaretSpot or MySetList etc.
Then go to your backing tracks list and drag them in to the
playlist in the order you want to sing them.
Voila! You now have a playlist (set list).
A good tip if you have several different set lists, is to group
them together on the playlist menu by keeping the first few
letters of each sets playlist name the same eg MySetList1, MySetList2,
Another good idea is to change the "album" title on
the ID3 tag of each of your backing tracks to "Trax".
This way, if you have other music on your iPod, the other music
won't get mixed up with your backing tracks because all your
backing tracks will be together in one place in an album called
You can also make
up a few albums with background music to play during your break
if you want. The name of the album you use for background music
can be the actual name of the album if it is an actual CD album,
or you could make up your own compilation "albums" containing
a variety of music.
I have half a dozen
or so background music "albums" on my iPod, each with
about a hundred songs in each and I've called them:
Depending on the venue
I'm performing in and the age group of the audience, during my
break I simply pick and play the "album" which has background
music which will best suit the audience.
You'd be amazed how effective playing the right music during your
break can be. We, as entertainers,
can often let our egos run wild and believe that the only important
thing that constitutes a good nights entertainment is our
performance, but believe me, a good selection of the right background
music during your break can greatly enhance the evenings entertainment
for your audience. I've also found that I get less "aggravation"
during my break from audience members asking me when I'm going
to start singing again if they are sitting quite happy and content
listening to some good tunes during the break!
The iPod also has a cool little function called the "on-the-go"
playlist function. It lets you pick songs and make them in to
a playlist from the iPod itself rather than setting it all up
on your computer via iTunes.
The on-the-go playlist function is invaluable when you're away
from your computer, at your gig, and about to go on stage. Basically,
a minute before you're due to go on stage you can take a look
at the audience, see how busy the gig is, look at what type of
audience they are, their age group, etc and then make up a set
list there and then on the spot that will suit that particular
Even artistes or bands who don't pick music to suit their audience
(i.e. they only sing a pre-arranged list of songs in a certain
order and never detract from it) can benefit from on-the-go playlists.
Sometimes the venue will ask you to play a little longer - if
so, you can simply enter a couple of extra songs when you're making
up your on-the-go playlist. Similarly if there are other acts
on the same bill at the venue that night or you need to take a
couple of songs out because of time restrictions, then the on-the-go
playlist is perfect for this.
Rate a song
The iPod has a facility where you can "Rate a song"
on a scale of 1 to 5. At first you may think that this is just
some sort of gimmick and the Apple designers were thinking "Hey,
wey've got a spare bit of access memory for each song, enough
to input a single number, so let's call it song rating."
Well, actually it can have a good use for us singers. Most
singers have usually built up and been collecting backing tracks
for years, and will often have more than one version of a backing
track in their library (I bet you do). For some singers this may
be a couple of old backing tracks from yester-year, (perhaps copied
from your old cassette tapes!) but you still use them from time
to time, when the occasion is right. Or, maybe you're like me
and keep backing tracks of the exact same song but in different
keys so that you can sing the "high key one" on a night
when your voice is top notch, or the "lower key one"
when your voice is a little bit dodgy (or you're doing an afternoon
Well, now, instead of renaming the songs "My Way ver 1",
"My Way ver 2" etc, and then forgetting which version
is which, you can rate the songs so that you will
always know you are about to sing the correct version.
Just remember to give all your backing tracks that you bought
from MP3 Backing Trax 5 out of 5(!)...and if you still have old
hissy backing track copies from your cassette playing days, give
'em a definite 1 out of 5 rating...and shame on you!
Article Written by Kenny Campbell
(This article cannot be reproduced without express
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