5 Essential Tips for Performing with Ableton Live

Timo Preece Live Set

Performing electronic music is, in some ways, uncharted waters. Since its release in 2001, Ableton Live has sought to make performing electronic music easy.

Gone are the days of just “pressing play” on your productions, and gone are the days of bringing tons of synths, sequencers and drum machines to your gigs.

Live makes turning your productions into performances easy, but how do you get started? Fear not! Here are 5 essential tips for performing with Ableton Live:

Controllers Are Your Friends

ableton push

While using your mouse and keyboard is cheap and easy, it often restricts the speed at which you can launch clips and change parameters. Many companies, Ableton included, have solved this problem with Ableton-Optimized controllers. They all have different capabilities, but they are all designed to plug-in and play right out of the box.  3 of the most popular controllers are Ableton’s Push, Novation’s Launchpad, and Akai’s APC40.

Prepare Your Live Set

Empty Live Set

Many performers prefer to have their entire performance in one live session, as opposed to switching sessions between songs. This allows for seamless transitions between songs, as well as the ability to mix songs together. Because many controllers have 8 columns of buttons, it makes sense to utilize each column as its own “instrument”, if you will. Making one column for kick drum, one for snare drum, one for synth leads, etc, allows for an easy-to-understand interface, and one that can be quickly expanded with new songs.

Preparing Your Songs for Performance

Now that you have set up your Performance Session, you have to prepare your tracks to be put into the session. Stemming your tracks is the best way to do this. Because you’ll need to consolidate all your tracks down to 8, you’ll want to create stems with tracks that have similar functions. For example, bouncing all your kick drums as one stem or all of your synth pads as one stem will consolidate the number of tracks you use in your Performance Session, and make triggering parts of songs easier for you.

Chopping Up and Organizing Your Songs

While you can keep your whole stem as one clip, many performers choose to chop up their stems into song-sections (verse, chorus, bridge, etc.). There’s no formula here, just make sure that the chops in all your stems line up, that way you don’t get a verse lead playing during the chorus.

Full Live Performance Set

Once you have all of your songs chopped up, you’re going to want to organize them into a set that makes sense. Organizing songs with similar tempos, as well as “peaks and valleys” in terms of energy can only help your set. There isn’t really a formula to this, either. Experiment with organizational methods and set lists until you’ve found a set that flows and is easy to get around in.

Playing Your Tracks “Live” with Effects Racks

Ableton Effects Racks

For some performers, launching clips isn’t enough to consider it a “Live” performance. There are many ways to to take you performances to the next level, but a simple and effective one is messing with effects racks.

Beat Repeat, Delay, Reverb, and EQ are fantastic effects to use in conjunction with launching clips. Try beat-repeating your drums, or drenching your vocal tracks in reverb. You can even map some parameters of the effects to a knob on your controller and go nuts with it during a performance. Using effects in this way ensures that no two performances will be exactly the same.

Whatever way you perform your tracks, remember to have fun with it. You can consider this a “Bonus” tip, but an enthusiastic performer makes for a night that no one will forget.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

We are having a huge sale on Ableton classes this coming Cyber Monday. To get the deal, you have to put your email in here, or click the picture below.

Cyber Monday Sale

Rodi Kirk Push Performance with Space Echo and Juno 106

Ableton has recently released two videos of New Zealand producer Rodi Kirk playing his song “Underwater” on the Push and explaining how he adapted his studio production for live performance.

In the explanation video, Kirk explains how he consolidates his tracks in the studio for clip launching, how he plays guitar melodies with the Push and how he uses the Push to control and perform with the Juno 106.

It’s amazing where a little ingenuity and a copy of Ableton Live can take you. Learn all about Ableton this Friday for free.

Interested in learning more about Ableton and live performance? Check out Mmmmaven’s Production Courses!

Akai Releases APC40 mkII, APC Key 25 and APC Mini


The Akai APC40 was released back in 2009. It was a revolutionary controller in that it was fully compatible and set up to run with Ableton Live right out of the box. You could get your own setup going but you could also just plug it in and go. Recently, the Push has garnered quite a lot of attention (for good reason) and has overshadowed competing Akai and Novation products but Akai is making a resurgence with this new line of products.

Announced at Musikmesse 2014 and now available, the APC40 mkII is the result of five years’ worth of user feedback and promises “extended functionality, countless musical capabilities, and improved workflow”. It is definitely a lighter, more attractive and portable device than what came before it. It features a 5×8 RGB LED clip-launching matrix, an assignable A/B crossfader, eight rotary knobs, eight channel faders, and a send button for quick access to send busses. Watch this video for a little preview/tour.

That is not all however, as Akai is also releasing a keyboard. An Ableton Live-compatible 25-note mini keyboard with a clip matrix and assignable knobs – and the APC mini. The latter product features an 8×8 clip launching grid, eight channel faders and a master fader. All products come with Live Lite included and are USB powered and class compliant.

Commenting on the launches, Akai Professional Product Manager Dan Gill said:

“The APC40 was the original performance controller designed for Ableton Live and has become an essential instrument for Ableton Live users. Now we are able to deliver three new APC instruments for musicians, composers, and mobile performers that allow comprehensive, hands-on control of Ableton Live in any performance or production environment.”

Visit the Akai website to learn more about these new controllers.

Learn more about Ableton Live by taking our music production classes!

MMMMAVEN @ Together 2013 Schedule [5/13 – 5/19]

During the week of the Together Festival (May 13th – 19th), MMMMAVEN will be hosting FREE workshops, demonstrations and seminars. Come check out our instructors, friends, and experts from AbletonIzotope, & Steinberg.

Haven’t had a chance to check out the studio? Stop by during one of the Open Housesto find out more about classes, play around with the equipment or just stop by and say hi!

Everyone who comes to the MMMMAVEN office during the fest will receive special discounts on classes!


12 – 5 MMMMAVEN Project Open House
5 – 6 Music Improvisation in Ableton Live –Danny Satori
6:30 – 7 Pioneer Rekord Box – Matt McNeill
7:30 – 8 Intro to Mixx.org – Owen Williams
8 – 9 Performing w/ Max – Ed Guild


12 – 5 MMMMAVEN Project Open House
5 – 6 Mashups, Remixes & Bootlegs – Peter O’Karma
6 – 9 Ableton Live 9 & Push Open House


12 – 1 Steinberg Demo: Creating the Perfect Beat – Sal Paleaz
1 – 2 Steinberg Demo: Vocal Tracks – Sal Paleaz
2 – 6 MMMMAVEN Project Open House
6 – 7 Steinberg Demo: Mastering with Wavelab – Sal Paleaz
7 – 8 Steinberg Demo: Using Cord Track for Composing Songs


12 – 4 MMMMAVEN Project Open House
4 – 5:30 Izotope Demo: Mastering Class – TJ Jordan
5:30 – 7 Izotope Demo: Stutter Edit Master Class – TJ Jordan
7:30 – 9 Wicked Easy Synthesis in C++ – Morgan & Nick


1 – 2 Ableton Workshop: Collaboration Possibilities in Live 9 – Soul Clap
2 – 3 Ableton Demo: Live 9 – Encanti
3 – 4 Ableton Demo: Push – Loudon Stearns
4 – 5 Ableton Demo: Max for Live & Audio Reactive Visuals – Synnack & 0xf8
5 – 6 Ableton Demo: Taming Basslines in Live 9 – Leon J
6 – 7 Ableton Seminar: Advanced Sound Design in Live 9 – Wiggz
7 – 9 Creative Coders Meet-up – Morgan & Nick


1 – 2 Traktor – Eric Levine
2 – 3 Internal Mode – Erik Pearson
4 – 5:30 Logic: Deconstruction of a Track and Workflow – Blake Harper & Kerry Leva
5:30 – 9 MMMMAVEN Project Open House

Check out the complete Together Schedule including panels & nighttime events.