DJ Set vs. Live Set: What’s the Difference?

At a festival, nightclub, or other venues, you may see a DJ’s name on the lineup with a marker they’re either playing a “Live Set” or a “DJ Set,” but what does that mean? In our guide, we’ll explain the meaning of a DJ set and a live set and where they differ.

Comparing DJ Sets & Live Sets

Typically, the significant difference between live and DJ sets depends on the available equipment for the performer on stage. A live set, as you can probably guess, means the DJ is performing their music live and includes live instruments and other musicians performing like:

  • Sequencers
  • Synthesizers
  • Vocal performances
  • Drum machines

A live set requires a lot of equipment, but not every venue or stage has the room or capability to host the setup for a live performance—in that case, there are DJ sets. A DJ set involves the DJ playing pre-recorded music and curating the set for the crowd.

If you’re playing a live set, you’ll likely do a longer show in front of a bigger crowd. Transporting and setting up all the equipment for a live set is expensive and time-consuming, so promoters want to get their money’s worth.

Other Types of DJ Sets

Nightclub Set

A nightclub set is the most common way for DJs to start playing in front of crowds. A nightclub set is typically a DJ set, as most stages don’t have the capability or space for much equipment or instruments

There’s also a different expectation for the DJ at a nightclub than if they were performing a live set. Nightclub crowds are different than festival or venue crowds and will respond to a different type of music—typically more mainstream and conventional.

Festival Sets

Another common show for DJs is the festival set. DJs typically have more freedom and space to work at a festival in terms of set time and stage space, so they have more opportunities to show their stuff.

It depends on the festival and the venue, but most festival sets take about an hour and can either be a live set, a DJ set, or a mixture of both as the artist plays their creations and samples others. A nightclub and a festival crowd are very different, so you wouldn’t expect to hear the same set from an artist in either location.

Tour Sets

Finally, the tour set is the ideal show for many musicians. On tour, the DJ has total control over the type of show they want to perform and can bring whatever kind of equipment, instruments, and machines to perform it.

Since the crowd paid to see that specific artist, they have more freedom and leeway to play whatever type of show they desire.

Do you have a set coming up? Get to practicing in a DJ rehearsal studio at Band Barracks! We’ve got the equipment you need to fine-tune your set at an affordable rate.