Recording Live Concerts and Festivals - SOLVED

Windows 7 or 10; Audacity 2.2.2

Our radio station does a lot of remote broadcasts of music events and festivals, some of which are three to four days in duration. There may be as many as 15 to 25 bands, some of which may play more than once on the same or successive days.

We wish to use Audacity to record the performances by each of these bands. The catch is this: There are two different requirements for processing the recorded music.

Note: Please keep in mind that some of our volunteers doing the actual recording are not very experienced. Fortunately, these volunteers are willing to take on a 4-hour shift every day to help us record each set during the festival. For that reason, the steps needed to make the recordings must be very simple and easy to teach to relative beginners. Here’s what we need to accomplish. Hopefully Audacity can be used to do this:

  1. A band’s complete performance needs to be saved and later burned to a CD or stored as a seamless digital file, i.e. with no audible breaks. The recording in this case would be exported as a simple WAV file. This is easy enough to do, but the second requirement is where we have problems.

  2. The same recording also needs to be split into sequential stereo tracks immediately following the end of the performance, so that a different CD can be delivered to the band within, say, 10 minutes following the end of the last encore. This CD also contains all of the seamless audio but is separated during the recording into tracks based on “markers” that are simply added by the operator when he or she clicks on a button in the Audacity interface or strikes a key on the computer’s keyboard. This is done somewhere between the songs, but the insertion point is not critical. It’s up to the operator to pay attention and add the markers as needed. These invisible, unnamed markers serve the same purpose as “labels” when performing an “Export Multiple…” operation.

How can this be accomplished easily, or does a new feature need to be added to Audacity to make this process simple and easy to explain to our volunteers? Surely we’re not the only ones that need this capability.

Thanks a lot!

Dennis Brunnenmeyer, aka “dbrunnen”
120 Bridge Street
Nevada City, California

A band’s complete performance

So that we understand this, you used to set up and broadcast the performances in real time and now you want to record them as well?

An Audio CD will only hold about 75 minutes of music. You never get the 80 minutes it says on the label.

It’s up to the operator to pay attention and add the markers as needed.

Audacity doesn’t have “markers” and isn’t likely to get any because of design integration problems. You only have labels.

Labels are designed so they can be inserted on the fly into a live performance, including English words. So if Labels won’t do what you want, then that may be the end of the job.


That ought to work if the labels can be added on the fly. The description for doing this in the manual implies that labels are added after the recording has ended. In a seamless recording, it would not be practical to insert labels after the recording of the set has ended. There aren’t any quiet spaces between songs.

It’s not obvious from the user interface how to add a label at a desired point in time while recording. Can you please elaborate on that?

Does each label have to be unique in order to “export multiple” or can the same label be added repeatedly?



and later burned to a CD or stored as a seamless digital file, i.e. with no audible breaks. The recording in this case would be exported as a simple WAV file.

Audacity can have labels but a WAV file can’t have “chapters” or “song markers”. That feature is pretty-much limited to CDs and DVD.s. If you download an album from Amazon or iTunes, you get separate files for each song. But, with a [u]cue sheet[/u] you can burn a continuous CD with track markers.

  1. The same recording also needs to be split into sequential stereo tracks immediately following the end of the performance, so that a different CD can be delivered to the band within, say, 10 minutes following the end of the last encore.

That just seems crazy to me! If they want something instant I’d just give them a raw recording without the track markers. And, it might make more sense to upload the file to a file-sharing site where the band can download it.

Typically, you spend more time in post production than you spend recording… How long does it take to produce a simple 30-second spot? If the band wants to “do something” with the recoding, I say let them do it themselves.

I suppose you could write (or edit) a cue sheet in 10 minutes but it you make a mistake you’ll probably run out of time and 10 minutes isn’t enough time to find out you’ve made a mistake.

I’d recommend a solid state recorder. Lots of things can “go wrong” with computer recording, especially if you have several different volunteers doing it.

Really, the “hard part” is getting the microphones positioned correctly and getting the mix adjusted properly. But, if you’re getting a good-quality broadcast you’ve already got that figured-out.


You can also create labels while playing or recording.
To create a point label at the current position of the green playback cursor or red recording cursor, choose Edit > Labels > Add Label at Playback Position or its keyboard shortcut Ctrl + M (⌘ + . on Mac).

You should know there’s an extra step when the system pauses for you to add words. You can just press Return to go around that.


It’s not at all crazy to want to give the band a CD right after their set—one that they can easily review while they’re on the bus heading to their next gig. While their recent performances are fresh in their minds, they can easily go back and forth over any particular song in the set and critique their individual roles, timing and so on.

This CD is not intended for any other use. In addition to its utility, it’s a way to gain favor with the band. They appreciate the discs, which by the way have the festival logo, our station’s logo and the time and date of the band’s performance printed in full color on the top of the disc. The festival promoter also gets a full recording of each performance for their archives. For those, we save as FLAC files and add considerable metadata before turning over the files to them.

Personally I would use a hardware recorder.
Having very many years experience doing live sound, I’m aware of how many things can go wrong. Throwing recording on a computer into the mix adds a whole new layer of things to go wrong. Even with a very reliable professional quality hardware recorder, there’s still a lot that can go wrong - leads can go down, levels may not be right, recording media needs to be changed, recording media may fail, things can get dropped, or broken, or wet, or overheat …
Using a computer in a live music situation is probably about 10 to 20 times less reliable than using hardware.

It can’t. Even with good equipment and an experienced crew it is not easy. It is certainly not impossible, but I’d be amazed if you pull it off and get decent quality CDs for all of the bands within 10 minutes with an inexperienced crew of volunteers.

Personally, I’d record the whole thing on a hardware recorder (and a spare recorder in my kit), and collect email addresses from each band that wants a copy of their bit.

If you are determined to do it the way you describe, see these links:

This is what I understand based on your help. Please let me know if this is not correct.

Given that we are using an analog-to-digital USB interface with a laptop for recording and burning CDs for the band, it appears that pressing “Ctrl + B” on the fly while recording satisfies our need to add markers (i.e. labels with no text) without interrupting the recording.

Exporting the recording at the end of the set using the File > Export > Export Multiple should then give us the ability to immediately burn a multi-track CD for the band.

Exporting the same recording as a single WAV or FLAC as a separate operation should give us a continuous, seamless recording of the entire set.

I don’t see any immediate requirement in this application for us to apply labels while playing the file, as this would require listening to the set again in real time. If the set lasted more than 75 minutes, then perhaps someone with more patience than I would want to do this if they wanted to burn audio CDs.

Dennis, aka “dbrunnen”

Is this a correct summary?

That sounds about right, but do try it out before the start of the festival so that everyone knows what they are doing. So often we hear from people that have messed up on the day because they were not sure what they were doing, and often that has lead to problems that cannot be fixed after the event.

This depends on whether you’re wanting to insert a label on-the-fly at the playhead, or at a specified point in the recording.

If the former, use “Ctrl + M”, If the latter use “Ctrl + B”.

What do you mean by “at the playhead?” I assume by this expression that you mean “adding a label on-the-fly while playing a previously recorded track.”

Is that right?

Dennis…aka “dbrunnen”

Here’s information about the playhead:

I hate to say this, but I feel I must. I’m not getting answers that help us.

We desperately want to record a live music set seamlessly using Audacity 2.2.2 on a PC running Windows 7 or 10 while at the same time being able to split the seamless recording into individual files on the fly with a simple keystroke/command that any alert volunteer can issue when appropriate.

No, we’re not looking for recommendations on other ways to record the live music set, for example, using a hardware recorder. We do that already. We’re looking for way to do this on a Windows PC that we can use to record the entire set and also quickly burn a CD with individual tracks for each song in the set.

Pressing Ctrl+B at the beginning of a recording session and then subsequently between songs while recording a live music set with Audacity may in fact insert a “zero-character label” on the fly each time. However, exporting the recording using File > Export > Export Multiple… does not result in multiple files with each file beginning at the point where the label (Ctrl+B) was inserted. Instead, only the last exported file has any audio associated with it—the entire set.

Maybe we’re doing something wrong, or maybe some settings need to be made that I don’t know about.

If Audacity cannot do this as-is and if this feature will not be added, can someone please recommend a simple-to-use Windows application that can do this: Record a set of live music in real time, allowing us to export a seamless (WAV or FLAC) recording of the entire set and also export the same recording as separate audio tracks whose boundaries are created by simple key strokes added by a volunteer while recording in real time.

Please help me with this requirement. Thanks!

Dennis … aka “dbrunnen”

“Ctrl + B” labels the current selection / cursor position, NOT the current play / recording position. To add a label / marker at the current play / record position, use “Ctrl + M”.

Yes, thank you!! Pressing Ctrl+M seems to do just what we need.

Having said that, I believe I saw something in the documentation about a setting that would eliminate the need to press Ctrl+M at the beginning of the recording. That is, if Ctrl+M was only pressed “between” the songs in the set, the Export Multiple function would include the opening song as the first track in the set. Is this true, and if so, where does one find the setting?

Thanks again…

Dennis, aka “dbrunnen”

It’s in the “Export Multiple” dialog. Look for the option “Include audio before first label”.

Got it! Thanks. I believe this thread can be closed now.

Dennis…aka “dbrunnen”