Why don't you play live shows?

Title says it all really. But to expand a bit… I’m just curious about the various reasons some electronic musicians might have for not playing live shows?

For myself (not a complete list, but just off the top of my head to get the ball rolling):

  1. Stage fright / anxiety.
  2. Not a big demand for electronic shows in my area anyways.
  3. Mainly compose in a DAW. Can’t be arsed to reformat entire songs on hardware. Can’t be arsed to buy a laptop.

*** Not trying to start a pity-party or garner encouragement to “c’mon, give it shot!”. I think I’m more comfortable with the idea of being a studio “mad scientist”, sound designer, and composer much more than an entertainer on stage. (and yes, I know some people can do all of those things.)

And yet, and yet… somewhere in the back of my mind I still harbor a tiny speck of a desire to play live at least once or twice, and if I’m brutally honest with myself - mainly just to say I’ve done it, or prove to people I can do it, not because I think I would have a great time in the moment.

Actually, what got me thinking about this subject is - looking at selling more hardware in 2018. I think I keep some of this hardware around my studio on the off chance I get crazy one year and decide to play an experimental music night at the local cafe. I find myself looking at certain pieces on my table, knowing I could use the money, but telling myself - yeah, but what if you want to play live? Keep it for now. Hmmmm. Perhaps I’m kidding myself just to have the occasional jam on certain bits of hardware when I know I do 90% of my best work in a DAW.

Anyways, mainly thinking out loud. Feel free to share your own stories and reasons for not playing live shows.


Feel free to share your own stories and reasons for not playing live shows.

For few years i don’t intend to… After one or two bad experience. I was playing in an After club with a lot of people i know. On the side i was playing with an RS7000 and one day i decided to bring it and make one track live… (when most of the gig was done and people already happy from what’s happened at the beginning)

Then i start the thing, i was tired and a bit of alcohol … all good until the break of the track, then a build up comes and people start to react on the snare roll… and i failed massively when release it… impossible to launch the Hats and the ride… it was a pitty, no so much light i can’t even understand what’s happening and why? Resulting in a shame inside me…

After that and another one a bit better but not really massive. And also, a demo i give on a festival in my town to two big names in techno in 2002 or 2003 one very known French and one from Philadelphia :slight_smile: i didn’t get anything in return and i start to get big doubts of my work.

I learned that it was not so easy to make great electronic music. Loop is one thing, construction and Live Performance way more difficult than Beat Making. After a while and few good persons meet who gives me courage and bring energy back i start a very long process of learning everything :slight_smile: Probably too long!!!

And as i’m a perfectionist i can’t make something progressively… (i mean release and things will start to get better with time : and that’s most people do…) I always see things the bigger it could be and always want to bring more on the table … without being pretentious it’s just my artistic training in Art-School i can’t do differently…

I’m still in Progress in my own things, but we ALL are i guess, even the one on the top.


You should play live shows. You aren’t going to make any money trying to sell your music on the internet. :sunglasses:


I retired after my last world tour and thirty years of touring. I am now focusing on trying to crack the 30 million album sale mark, hence back in the studio.

No really. It’s true.


dude, wtf , I didn’t even get an autograph!


Used to do it back in the day, fraught with problems almost every time, people messing with the gear, not getting paid, etc. then I decided to call it quits, same with releasing records, got ripped off so many times, decided it wasn’t worth the hassle - huge respect for those that do though.

About 10 years passed and youtube came along, so I used to do live jams on there, should get back into it at some point but as ever time is the problem.


Nooo! At least you were doing it live and not just pretending to tweak knobs and push buttons while playing back pre-made tracks! Most of the techno live acts these days are scams! Don’t be discouraged, everyone makes mistakes. Learn and move on, use a head lamp next time so you can see what you’re doing!

It’s all about planning the set and deciding which parts will be played live and what will be sequenced.


Seriously when I see some guy doing a “live set” and making all these exaggerated movements while turning a knob or pushing a button… it’s sad and ridiculous at the same time… many of them are just pretending to be doing something while playing back pre-made tracks on Ableton and maybe tweaking the EQ or the effects on a track… The dance music industry is full of fakers.


I think the main thing holding me back is fear. I spend time making music and always think of how I could improve it rather than just letting it go and progressing. I played a couple of live shows using Ableton and a controller but it felt a bit like cheating as I didn’t have much control over the live aspects of the performance.

Since I got Elektron gear (Analog 4 and Digitakt) I am realising a much more interactive format of making and working on tracks. I recently gave myself a deadline of a week to put some tracks together and then did a live-stream with the material. Of course there is a lot of room for improvement and I need to learn a lot more about the functions of the Elektron boxes but I think I have a very flexible set-up for putting stuff together.

By setting a date for the live-stream I was forced to get new material made so I had stuff to play. I have learned a lot and think I will do it again at some point with more tunes and a better format.


This is a good example of an actual electronic live set


I played a few times. People there seemed to really like it.
I played with Ableton + Launchpad and Nano Control first, than OT only.
I played finished tracks, broken down into some single tracks and sections. I had control over when something comes in and when I change to the next section, I could do transitions and used lot’s of fx, but I can’t call that playing live and I don’t like the term. I play in bands for almost 15 years and that is what I regard as live music.
I prefered to day, that I dj and mix my own tracks :slight_smile: It’s also fun, but not the real deal, so I stopped.

This week I started to really think about how to do a set starting with a blank sheet and “improvise” and build up everything from scratch. Watched videos how some modular dudes achieve this (mylar melodies had some videos on his live rack) and I want to try to get it done with few gear. OT, Ipad, Nord drum 2 and 0-coast are my plan at the moment. Will see how far I come and if it’s worth it…
But I like the idea :slight_smile:

But I prefer recording youtube videos, it’s more convenient :wink:


wow, 30 years of touring. I would be dead :smiley:

who are you? :smiley:


I used to do live sets with a Kawai Q80 sequencer ( it had a floppy disk drive :slight_smile: ), small mixer and some hardware. It always shocked me how different it sounded from when mixing at home and often I didn’t know what was going on as the monitoring was always shit, but it worked out alright most of the time. I did a short live appearance just with a laptop once, triggering scenes in Live, and it wasn’t very satisfying but it sounded better :confused:

Good Turntabilism Performance… now if you called that Electronic (probably ironic and i like hiphop a lot so…) i’m intrigue what you call techno then … ( anyway that’s another thread but David Guetta, Tiesto, Deadmau5, Calvin Harris are not inside… Resident Advisor Top 100 maybe a bit better)

Well yeah it is not strictly electronic but it is not relying on a pre-sequenced track. It could just as easily have been two MPCs. Techno is the 4/4 electronic stuff that sounds like a factory with a few minimal melodies thrown in :rofl: [joke- I like some techno]

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I’ve been working on a “live” thing with two Digitakts. In reality it’s just a take on a DJ set mixing between the two and doing pattern changes and mutes. Not for gigs just thought it would be fun to do at house parties with friends instead of mixing records.

I’ve seen many, many electronic live shows over the last 20 years and a majority have been reliant on heavily prepared material. I’d rather this than people making a hash of things in the club.

I will say though that I’m always blown away by Magic Mountain High. I’ve seen them a bunch and at least once a year at Freerotation. Never the same show twice.


What’s holding me back is that I haven’t produced enough music material to play a full set in a long time. Apart from that? Nothing. Can’t wait to start doing that again.

I did a bunch of live techno sets (MD, MM, Ableton) a year or 10 ago. Then I did some triphop downtempo shows with electronics and live band. In the past years I’ve done a lot of experimental audiovisual performances like this project:

Now I have a health issue that keeps me from doing extended computer work so I’m working on hardware techno stuff again. Hoping to take that live in not too long. Some sketches here:


I have been averaging one season or tour a year doing live music for performance or dance works but so far, with Ableton or Max & a Launchpad. It’s been nice to see how far I can go with just the one grid - sequencing, mixing & even doing cued lighting control under a user mode once or twice…

The last show was in near total darkness & I learned to play the set & cue from the stage action with the laptop screen off & layers of scrim over the launchpad. Heh, that’s art.

I tried out an OT but eventually let it go - it required too much attention to be effective for this kind of gig unfortunately. Fair enough

What I’m getting to is that unlike infrequent ‘club’ situation gigs (onstage with just an MPC or Roland SP) this kind of thing takes the focus off of you & can be a bit more relaxing than being the centre of attention - although there can be bigger consequences if you screw up :slight_smile:

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I play live once every month or so. For a few shows, I had a setup consisting of a few pieces of gear, eventually racked up into a nice case… but I’ve recently given that up, opting instead to take out just a gameboy and/or octatrack; it started getting a bit silly to take $4000 worth of gear to a venue, play a 30min set, and then get paid ~$20 (if at all), which only barely covers the uber/taxi ride home.

I really love playing just from a gameboy micro running nanoloop 2, seeing people surprised that such a tiny device is putting out so much bass always makes me happy :smiley:


Well I actually do live stuff but as a vocalist. I make industrial rock-ish stuff with this one other guy who plays the guitar. I do most of the composition and vocals live. The other guy gives feedback on the compositions, does the guitar parts and does his best to push me to be a better vocalist. :smiley: But we’ve just had one gig, next one is coming up next week. Both small gigs but it’s a start.

Before that I used to have another band like 7 years ago. I did compositions, vocals and played the keyboards a bit. We released 2 EPs and 1 album and then just kind of self-destructed as the members wound up in different cities because of studies.

I felt really discouraged after that experience and spent the 7 years either doing pretty low-quality half-assed solo electronics or no music at all. Doing lives was not even a consideration for me at that point. I did stuff mostly by just stacking stuff on each other on DAW. I didn’t even have controllers or anything.

Ever since I got Digitakt I’ve been having kind of an itch to try to do something more electronic but live-oriented. I feel like for the first time I have an electronic performance instrument and just not a keyboard to be played on top of something or a box that can make noises to be recorded with a computer.