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Photo: Helen Lam/Apt613

Laura Escudé at Shopify: The Art of Designing a Live Show

By Helen Lam on August 8, 2019


Laura Escudé has designed live shows for the biggest names in the business, including Kanye West, Jay-Z and American Idol using her software of choice, Ableton Live. She’s played in the entertainment capitals of the world, living the ups and downs of a modern musician in the technological age. Laura recently came to Shopify to share her experiences with the Ottawa community in her performative talk, The Art of Designing a Live Show.

Photo: Helen Lam/Apt613

Drawing from her trove of experience with top artists, Laura took the keen audience through her process for designing live concerts, and the equipment she uses to take an event to the cutting edge of musical performance. Lucky for us, her experiences with music, technology and entrepreneurship are applicable to all forms of art. So, artists, gather around as Apt613 has some insights to share:

  • First, professional artists need to be ready to embrace a non-linear career path. They have to learn to wear many different hats, whether it’s as a creator, entrepreneur, or business manager, and this often means running multiple businesses.
  • Modern artists use their skills to help others fulfill their visions and goals, but they need to find a way to stay true to their own style. They also can’t be afraid to experiment to keep their work fresh for their audience, and more importantly for themselves.
  • Lastly, building community is essential for artists, not just through collaborations, but by mentoring and teaching each other.

An artist’s work grows from who they are, and how they discover their voice. Technology plays an ever bigger role in helping the artist find an identity that defines their work. For a DJ, singer, or producer putting together a set for performance, Laura’s process begins with finding your personal inspirations. The decision of what equipment best serves them comes after.

Photo: Helen Lam/Apt613

“Connecting directly with the audience is the future of live shows.”

She’s taken a particular interest in helping musicians discover their identity and performance style with the help of technology. “It’s cool to connect with someone that can really help,” says Cedrick Colas (@sweetscale), a local emerging artist looking to use music software to integrate instruments for his live sets. Concert programmers are beginning to blend virtual reality and augmented reality into events, allowing the audience to interact in real time with the artist on stage. Zara Ansar (@zarastillsmotion), a video artist, says, “Connecting directly with the audience is the future of live shows.”

Some musicians believe that software and digitalization obscures rather than reveals the artist. A key theme from this talk was that technology can be a vehicle for authenticity. It can give you control over your own output. It gives you ways to transcend your physical limitations to find new ways of expressing yourself. It lets you collaborate with people all over the world. Laura’s message of artistic empowerment through technology is a timely one. Instead of technology overtaking artistry, creators in any medium can figure out how to blend their artistry with new tech to amplify their voice. Now, the question is: what does your show look like?

Laura Escudé is a certified music technology trainer, entrepreneur, and live show designer. You can follow her work at @lauraescude (Instagram), @thelauraescude (Twitter). This event was organized in collaboration with Possible Worlds.