Live performances are important. They’re an opportunity to gain fans and showcase your music to the world. So, it’s in your best interest as an artist to nail down a solid plan of action before walking out on stage. With Sound Collective’s “Live Performance Music Direction” course with pro music director, Grant Zubritsky, you can learn to create your dream performance using Ableton Live.

Get started with a 30-day free trial to Sound Collective by using promo code SCNOW30 at checkout!


Despite being known as one of the most popular DAWs on the market, Ableton Live was originally created to be a live performance tool. With it’s powerful abilities to trigger samples, loop scenes, compose arrangements, and automate tracks, Ableton Live still is the go-to software for many artists who perform live with a minimal production set up. Ableton Live puts the all power in your hands by letting you be the drummer, vocalist, guitarist, keyboardist, light technician, and performance director all at the same time.  Let’s take a look at some features in Ableton Live that can help you create your next live performance. 

Creating Scenes

Ableton Live allows you to create different scenes which are great for moving your performance along from one part to the next. Scenes, or “Clips”, are pieces of music like drum loops, chord loops, or vocal loops that can be triggered to play in a predetermined or random order. These scenes could hold the backing tracks of an entire song or just a short segment. Scenes are also great for live remixing as you can activate or deactivate them at any point in your performance while also adding live effects like reverb or delay, creating something unexpected for your audience. You can create scenes in Session View. Opposed to the traditional linear timeline found in Ableton Live’s Arrangment View, Session View offers a non-linear style of creating which is excellent for live performance. When putting together you next live performance, try using scenes in a creative way to deliver something your audience hasn’t heard before.

Follow Actions

When using scenes in your performance, Follow Actions will help you create larger arrangements without having to manually re-trigger old scenes or trigger new ones. With Follow Actions, you can automate the order in which scenes get triggered or you can create infinite evolving loops depending on your settings. An example of when you could use Follow Actions is when you’re planning to perform a song live and your verse and chorus have different drum parts. Setting up a Follow Action to trigger the drums for your chorus after the scene containing your verse plays for a certain amount of time can remove any margin of error there would be if you decided to trigger the new scene manually.

Some of the commands you can automate using Follow Actions include stop, play again, play previous, play next, and several others. Use Follow Actions to create interesting compositions and keep your audience engaged.

Live Tempo Synch

Ableton’s newest update, Live 11, came with a lot of new and useful features. One of the most useful features for live performers is Ableton Live’s real-time tempo synch ability. Tempo synch is perfect for when your performance incorporates live instruments like drums and electronic instruments like synths. Because of human error, it is impossible for drummers to be exactly on time throughout an entire performance. This can lead to issues when playing along with electronic instruments that use fixed tempos and can stay on time perpetually. Ableton Live’s real-time tempo synch fixes this problem though. By listening and analyzing input audio from live instruments like drums, Ableton Live determines the BPM in real-time and continuously adjusts your sessions tempo and in-turn adjusts the tempo detected by your electronic instrument allowing your live and electronic instruments to work together.

Lighting Control

Lighting is a key component to any great live show. They can make or break the overall tone of your performance. Thankfully, Ableton Live has features that can make you your very own light technician and customize an amazing light show to match your set. Once you’ve collected the different lighting rigs you’d like to use during your performance, you can begin creating your light show. You’ll first need an Enttec DMXIS. This device works similarly to an audio interface but instead of turning sound into a signal your computer can read, a DMXIS changes your midi signal into a language your lights can read. The DMXIS comes with a VST plugin that you’ll need to install and launch in Ableton Live. Once you’ve opened the DMXIS plugin and connected your lights, you be able to use the faders on the plugin’s interface to begin controlling your lights. After you’ve set your faders to control the specific aspects of your lights that you’d like, you can begin automating them! You can automate these faders just like you would with any other parameter on a regular VST. This means you can cue different lights and effects to trigger when certain clips are activated. You can also synch your automation to the tempo of your track so your lights correspond to your sounds!


To learn about courses at Electronic Music Collective please visit our course page. Email us at [email protected] or call 646-747-0144 for additional information. Follow Us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube: @makemusicemc

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