This is always a very touchy topic when it comes to the electronic dance world. Which in my opinion is probably one of the hardest tasks you can ask an artist. How to have a rocking set but not overstep your boundaries. It may come as a shocker but the opener is there to “OPEN” not play all the number one hits! Over the years of traveling with artists, I have seen it all. This goes back to the traveling with vinyl days till the present day.

Here are some inside tips from me:

  • Know what kind of music the headliner is currently playing and producing.
  • Do a little research before the gig on the headliner(s) you are playing with at the club. A lot of artists from time to time change their style or sound. Some may have done a drastic change while others make smaller changes. Check out their latest productions and live sets. Don’t go to the gig with a “specific” setlist set in stone.
  • Stay within your specified set length.
  • I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve been on the road and the opening DJ’s tells me/us “hey man they were running behind and we got on to play 45 min later”… While this happens from time to time for whatever reason it may be. REMEMBER the crowd is there for the headliner(s). If there are enough running event hours and the EVENT ORGANIZER tells the headliner or tour manager otherwise it is not your call.
  • Please be aware when the headliner is in the DJ booth or on stage, let him or the tour manager know that your about to end the set. Mention “two or three more tracks” or something of the sort so they can start to prepare to get ready. Sometimes they might be enjoying your set and ask you to play a few more tunes.
  • Don’t play tracks the headliner produced! This is something that happens way too often. While some artists may look at this and do this in a form of praise.. DON’T DO IT! There is a good chance that the headliner wanted to play that track! A lot of artists have made their names by amazing productions that took them hours in the studio to make so they like playing their tracks to their fans.

In conclusion, it is no easy task to be the opener but if done properly it can open many doors. I’ve seen many bigger artists take smaller acts on the road with them to open and next thing you know that smaller act is headlining many venues and events and being exposed to the headliners’ fan base.

Angel Matos
East Coast Director

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