My live performances consist of a mix of pure acoustic performances and a large number of mp3 backup tracks … mostly bass and percussion tracks … to which I add live guitar and vocals. A few years ago, I upgraded my live performance setup to incorporate the latest technology in stage lighting, effects, and music playback devices.
I was interested in automating my stage lighting system so I could get rid of at least one bank of footswitches. My instrument and vocal effects devices were computer controllable, so I could potentially eliminate some foot switches there, too.
It wasn’t just the footswitches, which were often distractions, causing me to look down to find the right one. Just as much, I wanted to eliminate stage clutter and extra setup and teardown time. Music is a labor of love for me. At the same time, I treat it as a business in the sense that, the less time I spend doing the infrastructure of the business … setting up and tearing down before and after gigs … the more money per hour I make.
Plus, this makes my whole act look less like a troubadour, and more of a show.
So automating my system is giving myself a raise.
I wanted an all-in-one package … a way not only to easily find, select, and play my backing tracks whether doing this on the fly or structured in sets / shows … but also a way to control my stage lighting system and instrument and vocal effects devices … and synchronize those with my backing tracks.
I couldn’t find a low-cost combination of tablet and software that had the features or interface I needed to efficiently operate my show.
So I wrote my own program that would:
- run on low-cost touchscreen tablet computers
- keep track of my entire playlist, music library, and lyrics library
- play my backing tracks
- allow easy selection of individual songs as well as creating sets for automatic song selection
- scroll lyrics
- control stage lighting synchronized with the music so I wouldn’t need footswitches or manual dedicated lighting controllers
- control my effects devices for guitar and vocals, eliminating the need for footswitches
- provide break music
- be exceptionally easy / intuitive to use
- be mostly invisible; i.e., not be a distraction itself
- be as close to one-button operation as possible
So I designed this software for myself. Along the way, it occurred to me that I may not be the only one using this kind of setup out there.
The result is UTT Pro — to help your small act put on a big show!