5 DJ Resolutions For 2013: Tell Us Yours

2013

Start this year right by telling us what your DJ new year’s resolution is and then sharing this post – it’ll help you to stick to it!

Even though resolutions are always a challenge to keep, and it’s often bemusing to watch others quit them months to minutes after making them, it’s good to attempt to improve yourself in some way, shape, or form each time January 1 rolls around.

Based on common topics here on Digital DJ Tips (both in the articles and the forum) and many other DJ sources out on the internet, here’s a handful of resolutions I’d say everyone calling themselves a DJ should think about. Once you’ve looked at them, please use the comments to tell us yours.

5 DJ Resolutions For 2013


 

1. Get out of the bedroom

This is the usual one you’ll see every year. If you’ve already gotten out of your bedroom, seen it all, done it all, and now are regularly playing… then you’re dismissed. For the rest of you who perhaps purchased your first set-up in 2010, 2011, or 2012 and have not played an actual gig, your goal then is to play your first public DJ set.

It could be a high school dance, someone’s office party, a bar, a club, a rave, whatever. If you want to start smaller and play a radio or online show, that’s fine. You should simply make it the goal to play live to a crowd.

If you’re not sure of your skills or have no idea where to start, then dig through this very site. We’ve put a lot of time and energy into these articles mainly in the hopes of helping you avoid the hard lessons we had to learn in our respective pasts. (We also have How To Digital DJ Fast if you’re serious about doing it quickly.)

2. Be more inclusive of other DJs

It’s now been 13 years since Traktor first appeared, and 12 since the first digital vinyl system. And yet there are still DJs writing blog posts, taking social media pot shots, and finding other ways to rubbish digital DJ and new DJ technology.

Final Scratch

Final Scratch ushered in the digital vinyl revolution over a decade ago, and we’ve come such a long way since then…

But the truth is that vinyl is not the most popular medium for DJs any more. You look at all the major headliners and we’re even seeing many abandoning any kind of “decks” for Midi control.

The technology animosity also goes to anyone who chooses to see someone as “inferior” because they didn’t buy a certain brand of gear or didn’t spend loads of money on said gear.

So you see a kid walk in with a $200 Midi controller and an iPad, or a $500 Windows laptop. Give him a chance first in his set before you judge. Judge what you hear, because that kid on his cheap gear just might blow your mind. It’s all DJing. So why not make a conscious decision to explore other ways of DJing, whatever they are, rather than judging them, in 2013?

3. Learn something new

Why not make 2013 the year you learn some new trick with your current set-up? Make an attempt to use those Remix Decks on Traktor even if you don’t have an F1. Do something cool with the sampler on Serato or Virtual DJ. Try making a live remix and set it up so you could perform it in an event. Maybe attempt to do a short set totally using samples and loops.

Go beyond just DJ stuff. Try to learn production if you always wanted to create music. That or learn some basic design and web work so you could more easily make promotional materials as opposed to paying someone. (My normal career as a web designer/developer came out of this DIY ethic.) The key point is to not get comfortable, but push to do more with yourself as a DJ.

I’ll look at even the successful local residents and compare them with middle-level headliners who get to play all over in smaller clubs, and those headliners are always playing in a way that goes beyond just tracks. They’ll toy with samples, loops, they’ll remix and produce on the fly. They’ll make a show out of their set, so no one forgets them.

4. Explore a new genre of music

If you’re really not interested in learning new DJ tricks, then at least challenge your mind by exploring new genres of music.

House genres

Why not pick a related genre that you think might be able to spice up your DJ sets and try and incorporate it into your gigs?

For example, I see loads of kids saying how they play electro-house and dubstep, so why not look into techno, deep house, or even hip-hop? You might dig in the more underground side of hip-hop and find some great combinations with the dubstep you normally play. That or you’ll end up liking tech-house when you’re feeling uninspired by the bevy of electro-house you’ve been playing.

The best DJs in the world might be known for a certain genre, but they all still push to broaden their sound, and when you get out of the DJ Mag Top 20, you’ll see how many lower-level headliners can play a variety of music. Make 2013 the year you’ll try out new flavours.

5. Find musical balance

Another hot point of 2012 is the large amount of animosity that has been thrusted on the mainstream music industry. Many of us have become sick of the Guetta / Harris sound, and how it seems one can’t go play anything other than that in a club. We were angered when headliners like Mark Farina and DJ Shadow were pulled off the decks by high-rollers who wanted mainstream pop music.

I’d love to simply advise you all to say “f**k it!” and just anger a crowd by refusing to play their requests, but I’ll instead toss another challenge to you – find a balance.

So you’re sick of playing all the tired tunes, but you are stuck with crowds who will instantly run up to ask you to play more of them the moment you play something else. I say rather than grumble, take a chance. Educate and entertain. Play two or three familiar tunes, then hit them with one tune that you think rocks, sounds similar to the mainstream you have to play, but the crowd hasn’t heard it.

Granted you might just end up with an empty dancefloor, but stick to your guns. This is how you build a crowd into your following. Right now they’ll reject the one tune, but over time, they’ll stay, then love you for it. The most stubborn will hate anything unfamiliar, but others won’t. If a promoter or manager gives you flack, point out how all those who left the floor are now buying drinks, you’re working to make the bar more money, and you have a big anthem ready to bring them back to the floor in a few minutes.

The goal though is to find a balance where you can love what you play and love your sets. If you walk into gigs hating what you play, then you’ll never play well. Even the most mainstream of DJs who hold residencies will “educate” with old school anthems or other goodies. They end up rocking the crowd because they already earned their trust.

6. Build a scene

For those who never want to play mainstream, your resolution might be something I keep mentioning on the forum – build a scene.

We’ve posted many articles on how to plan and promote events: now is the time you follow through. Find some friends who feel the same way as you, make a plan, and throw an event. Take over a night somewhere and seek out all those “lost souls” who dislike the usual club scene. Make them into your following. Network with DJs in nearby towns and perhaps take a chance on something beyond the clubs.

The underground scene didn’t just magically and easily happen. It took the courage, drive, and ambition of some DJs and other folks to throw events and make it happen. Danny Rampling didn’t just magically walk into an underground scene, he made one with his Shoom events.

Underground club

Barcelona’s Apolo Club, on a Tuesday night that plays indie, electro and Burlesque. If your city doesn’t have a club playing what you believe in – start one.

Manchester didn’t even have a house scene until the Hacienda, and even in the beginning they had an empty club for a long time. The BBC didn’t even toy with dance music until the pirate radio stations of the 80s and 90s pushed dance music into the spotlight.

I’m digging back into time here, but you look at any successful underground scene, and it started by people taking a chance, making mistakes, trying again, and then finding a niche that brought them success. For all you dubstep DJs out there… you think the sound would have grown without all those DJs and producers pushing it in the underground?

If you want to play underground, or want to be bigger than the local bar, or just make more money in the long run out of DJing, then you have to build a scene… not just play in one or hope to convert one.

7. Stick to something regular

This will always be one especially for myself. I’ll admit I fall into the trap where I’ll be busy with work and normal life, thus my most recent mix was made in the summer. For me, my personal resolution is to make and post a mix at least every two months, if not more often.

What about you? Have you tried podcasting, but gave up after two months with few listeners? Or made mixes every month and then grew bored, thus now it’s been months since your last demo? Did you toy with Mixify or some other streaming service, but found yourself lose interested when you felt like no one’s tuning in? Did you try blogging, but can’t get excited about it?

You’ll never grow as a DJ unless you do something and stick with it. I remember sites like Proton Radio and DI.fm where it was just a few guys playing, but they later became household names.

Even this site started off as just Phil posting some articles, but it grew into a recognised name in the DJ world because of his dedication to building it piece by piece into something bigger. Nothing comes overnight, and you have to be ready to stay dedicated to your efforts if you want to grow from a few followers to a large number of people.


It’s a fresh start…

2013 could be your year. This could be the year you suddenly land your first gig, or your first residency, or even grow from the local bar into a larger club. This might be the year you take a vacation and yet slickly land yourself a headlining spot at a club in your destination. This might be the year you get a track up on Beatport, or build your own personal website, or make your Facebook following grow. This might just be the year you learn to scratch.

Whatever happens, please set resolutions and/or challenges for yourself, and we’ll all meet here again this time in 2014 to see how we’ve all grown as DJs…

• OK, OK. So you’re reading this through bleary eyes with a dodgy tummy and a head that’s throbbing too much to commit to anything just yet. If so, come back and do this tomorrow. For now, we’ve got this for you from last year: 7 Proven Cures For A Hangover. Happy 2013!

So tell us what your plans for 2013 are, and share this post by clicking Facebook, Twitter etc below to tell as many other folks too. Good luck!

Comments

  1. Well, I already got my first important gig, so my resolution is to keep playing! Also to learn more new tricks (I’ve mapped my Kontrol X1 as a standalone controller/mixer, but 10 buttons are still without any function, so I have plenty of room). I already play some Techno and Bass Music stuff in my House sets, so not a lot on that.

    Btw, I followed your advice of not planning the whole tracklist for the gig. I had the order of tracks and everything, but the crowd didn’t react as I wanted to for the first 10 minutes. They required something more danceable and since I’m a Deep House/Electronica DJ, I shot ‘em up with mr. Maceo Plex and a lot of groovy tunes afterwards (even though I wanted to get a little bit more “artsy” and introspective).

    They loved it! The bar owner, the promoters and organizers said they enjoyed the set. Even a DJ with some years of experience (and a nice fanbase) was surprised about the fact that I just used the X1.

    I know that this doesn’t have to do with this article, but I just wanted to say thanks for your advices. I haven’t even finished the learn to DJ free course and I got the first gig. Thanks a lot.

  2. Phil thanks for all your advice and sharing other bloggers with us all. DDJT has been a great resource for me this past year. My resolution is to create remixes and mashups in Ableton. Im well on my way after making one track today which is online. Its rough, the vocal effects are a bit sketchy and I didnt fade out the ending, but I was just surprised I was able to do as much as I did. Here is the link to the track as is;

    http://djpossessofchicago.podomatic.com/entry/2013-01-01T11_38_28-08_00

  3. As always great advice and a dam good read , thank you D-Jam.

  4. Starting my producing career! Started DJing events this year and throwing EDM parties with multiple DJs that had never had true outside gigs. Growing. More practice and producing … This will be a big year!

  5. Pro Audio & DJ Tutor says:

    Buy less music to make it easier to manage

  6. I’m looking to upgrade my laptop to an Apple, midi to the Denon MC 6000, and doing a public event or two or three. Getting a residency would be the cherry on top. I’m fairly new to the DJ scene but really liking it!

  7. Everyone, when setting goals you actually want to get met, it needs to be more concrete than “start DJ out more!”
    I needs to be specific, instead of “I want to DJ in public this year!”
    Make it, “I’m going to hit up every bar in town and do it for free if needed to play a gig outside my bedroom. By February.”
    I needs to be a smart goal.
    1. Realistic
    -Make it something you’ll actually do, you wont be headlining festivals your first year.
    2. Time Bound
    -Have deadlines! Break your goal into small chunks, and set workable time tables for them. FOr instance, “I’m going to go to three bars and offer to DJ, by friday”
    3. Baby steps
    -It’s real important to have the big main goal, “Start Producing!”
    But it is even more important to break down your goals into baby steps and knock them out. Those small wins will give you the satisfaction and motivation to make it to the next baby step, and before you know it you’ll be hearing your song when you go to the club.

    February of last year I begged a local hookah lounge to let me play, for free, using nothing but the Djay app on an iPad. THERE ARE NO EXCUSES!
    Now? I get paid to play twice a week and my DJ earnings have gotten me 2 CDJ-900s with a Traktor Kontrol Z2.
    10 months. I never would have dreamed the first crappy night on an iPad. But keeping motivated, love the music, and wanting to share that music high with others is why we do what we do. Good luck! If anyone is producing, and wants to get their tracks some exposure, I’ll slip them in my mixes for sure, along with a shout out.

    • Great response…especially this part:

      “February of last year I begged a local hookah lounge to let me play, for free, using nothing but the Djay app on an iPad. THERE ARE NO EXCUSES!”

      This idea that you’re not “ready” until you own a Macbook and some $1000 controller is ridiculous. Many in the past would be out there on cheap belt-drive turntables…just to play.

    • Excellent comment! Great advice and well put. I should have this on my wall.

  8. Just looking to keep doing what I’m already doing; mixes uploaded every week and getting new music in various genre’s.

    I want to throw a house party this year, so I need to get a PA.

  9. I’ve been playing two sub-genres that fit one tempo too long, time to mix it up as I have enough 140 that I like to break the mold of my normal sets. I set that as my new years resolution a week ago and am determined to dig deeper to find great tunes across the 140ish to breakbeat range that I’ve slept on or wouldn’t other wise have found. No need to be a dnb snob any longer :)

  10. Never take request that you don’t like

  11. What I would like to achieve this year is Perfection or at least move closer towards it. Also I would really like to find a mentor here in Jacksonville,FL (any suggestions or recommendations?) other than that I just wanna play music for anyone and everyone! My words of wisdom would be, Share the music (not as in pirating but) as in let others know what your playin and where to find it if they are interested! Music is ment to be heard not concealed because your scared another DJ might play it. Its not about the tunes you have so much as its about how you play those tunes. There are probably a thousand + ways to mix a single tune so please don’t be stingy. And by doing this we are able to provide the listeners with MORE VARIETY and LESS MSINSTREAM! Thanks for the artical Phil, top notch as always.

    • I actually live in Jax too! I’m not good enough to offer advice but I found the local DJ’s pretty helpful in getting started.

      • Thanks Dennis, also a heads up, not sure if you know but mellow mushroom at the beaches is having a DJ battle contest every Thursday night of January starts at 10pm. Anyhow, thanks again for the insight.

    • B.B. Koning says:

      Well, ten years ago I would have told you to just get the hell out of Jacksonville, since it was nothing more than a smelly paper mill with awful beaches and no scene beyond Five Points record stores.

      But it sounds like between yourself and the poster below you, there is hope.

      Maybe get a bundle of guys together and start a night?

      • Thanks for the reply B.B. but there’s actually quite a bit goin on here in J-Ville. The beaches aren’t much better though. Happy New Year to All. 2013 Keep the Platters Glow’n!

  12. celtic-dj says:

    very good article and discussion …thanks alot

  13. dennis parrott says:

    resolution #2:

    “So you see a kid walk in with a $200 Midi controller and an iPad, or a $500 Windows laptop. Give him a chance first in his set before you judge. Judge what you hear, because that kid on his cheap gear just might blow your mind. It’s all DJing.”

    How I wish all of DJ-dom would take this to heart.

    The hate I hear from time to time about the kind of equipment someone uses and how it does or doesn’t make him/her a “real DJ” is just the most pathetic crap.

    When I signed up for Dubspot’s digital DJing course, I did so because it was Traktor-centric. I figured I would learn my way around the program and be able to use it reasonably well. The MOST IMPORTANT THING I LEARNED was that DJing is NOT about the program, the MIDI deck, or any other bit of technology. DJing is about the music and the audience and how you interact with both of those. The program, the tools are just ways to interact with the music.

    If you take the DDJT course, Phil tells you that he DJ’ed just using the keyboard on his laptop for quite a while. I suspect that had Phil not been able to get the butts shakin’ on the dance floor, he would not be here today publishing DDJT. Ladies and gents, NEWS FLASH!!!, IT AIN’T THE EQUIPMENT! We need to quit focusing on the equipment and focus on the music or the techniques or … and quit worrying about which technological trinket is getting used. That trinket doesn’t choose the songs, sequence the songs, read the crowd, … those kinds of things are the “brain-powered” part of DJing but still we get lost talking about, arguing about tech trinkets.

    D-Jam, my respect for preaching the truth. We should all live that truth so that everyone can just DJ and not worry about haters ripping on them because of the equipment they use.

    • Papa Sinist3r says:

      Well I am in my 40s and spin dubstep and drum & bass. I could give a rat’s ass what another DJ thinks about what gear I am using. I have been spinning 28 years longing than most of them been alive and I Can beatmacth, scratch where it’s vinyl, CDJ or the controllers I now use. DJs are more worried about what other DJs think than the crowd. Trust me the crowed don’t care as long as you rock the house. Have fun brothas and use what inspires YOU what ever that may be. Have fun, play the music you love and the crowd will respond. Vinyl, CDJ, iPad or controller… ALL GOOD

  14. Resolution 6, “Building a scene”, is my ultimate aspiration as a DJ. Deep House, Electronica, Indie Dance, Nu – Disco, Tech House, and Techno are my passion, but locally House and its Electro / Progressive derivatives are the standard. In 2013 crafting sets that appeal to myself as well as those in attendance is paramount.

    Aside from that I’d like to work on my foundation, so learning more about DJing, music, and production in general will be instrumental too.

    • Play some House, then, and add a little bit of your stuff. It’s not so hard to find some good House tracks. Play those and add your Deep House/Tech-House tracks and you’ll be good.

      I had the luck to get my first important gig on a local EDM festival and playing my style (Deep House/Electronica/Detroit Techno/Chicago House/Bass Music), but the owner of the bar I’ll probably be djing soon will definitely want some Nu-Disco/Indie Dance thing, and I don’t like those genres that much. Anyway, there are some lovely tracks, so I’ll be playing some familiar stuff with my personal taste.

    • B.B. Koning says:

      Well said, my friend. Well said.

      In this city of around 8 million people, there is nothing related to these beloved genres going around. Just dubstep and badly derivative prog house over and over again in bourgeois fake bottle service joints.

      So it looks like we’re going to have to figure a way to build a scene of our own, eh?

  15. Building a scene/night is where I’m heading this year! There is no room or club that supports dubstep or house here in Southern Maryland. So I have a space picked out that’ll hold 50-100. I just need to figure out who to connect with crowd wise so I can have more than close friends there. Just picked up my speaker stands so all other elements are in order! Thanks a bunch to everyone here because without Phil’s course & your participation I would never be this close to seeing this through! Happy New Year…’

  16. My resolution is to keep playing out. I already got my first gig, and have even been paid to play. Nothing regular yet. I want to start pushing out mixes (online)about once every other week (Resolution #7). I’ve published some stuff already on mixcloud, and mixcrate but nothing on a consistent basis.

    I also want to publish my first remix/mash-up on soundcloud by the end of the year. I want to try my hand at producing. I don’t have a copy of ableton yet, but I’m always collecting samples and getting my building blocks together.

  17. Music / djing related Resolutions
    #1) Get a seperate bashable controller (Probably the F1 or X1 or APC20) and get into the controllerism groove.

    #2) Be on top of my music library. Spend more time crate-digging, get and introduce more new music to people.

    #3) Take up vjing. Already getting videos, re-configuring software & modded my mixer to do this.

    #4) Learn how to play the guitar.

    dj SoniQ

  18. My resolution is to set up my own web site and also a DJ slot on an online radio station. Catch me on mix cloud – DJ Bala

  19. Generous article full of great tips.
    Thanks

    (So generous that after planning on giving 5 resolutions ideas (cf. title) D-Jam gave us 7 (cf. article) !!!)

  20. my resolution for my DJ’ing is to keep up with producing and releasing my podcast / cloudcast, and to gain more of a following for my sets.

    http://www.mixcloud.com/djrickdawson

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