Over To You: How Do I Get People To Listen To My Mixes?

mix crate

DJ mixes on the Mixcrate site. But, our reader wonders, how does he get more people to listen to his online mixes - and to listen to them to the end?

Digital DJ Tips reader Westage asks: "My problem is to get my audience listen to my sets. I mean, I am constantly producing new mixes with a big time investment but many of my followers are only listening to parts of them, something my stats show. I think getting your followers to hear your stuff is very important for a DJ's career because it is your business card, sort of. In other genres like photography of course it is very easy because you only have to pin your photos on your Facebook wall and it is done, but listening to a DJ set is much more time-consuming. I know there won't be a universal answer that applies to all DJs but I would really like to brainstorm how to make mixes more attractive to people."

Digital DJ Tips says:

I've never really thought of it like that before. I think really your mixes are what you pour your heart and soul into, and it's kind of in the hands of faith whether people actually listen to the end of them! Maybe the best you can do is work on your craft and slowly improve and trust you'll get more popular as you slowly earn that right. Then again, there are a couple of practical things I can think of. Using an online service that makes it attractive / easy for people to listen to your stuff helps. Giving your mixes to public venues can work too (for instance, I DJ in places that play my mixes when there's no DJ playing, as background music).

Maybe though, your "business card" is the live DJ sets you play. While there's definitely a place for mixtapes, recorded mixes etc, that live dynamic may ultimately be what really allows DJs to show what they're made of. That, of course, and your own productions...

Over to you, guys: How do you get people to listen to the end of your mixes? What services present mixes to the audience in the best way? Or is the importance of mixes overrated? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. I agree with this as I've noticed with the advent of both time and technology and then separately data plans on phones or access to the internet in general, people have shortened their attention spans to where they don't appreciate the mix itself, just the compilation of songs you've put in it. This is where my pet peeve also lies because some people, as was mentioned in the article that we have to have faith in them, just skip around the mix for the content and not the actual segue of chaining songs together, whether you scratch them in or blend them in. I like to call this the iTunes or more specifically the playlist effect, wherein listeners just like going song to song and not really staying within the whole song sometimes. I do agree that we have to have faith in the listener but what I do with my mix sets is that I make the whole thing one track and don't separate it into individual tracks. You're already spending the time to make the mix, and then hopefully loading it into an audio program to normalize your levels and what not. The extra time taken to have to separate the mix into tracks is overburdening and will be a variable in people possibly not listening to the whole mix. It's bad enough that if you give it to them as an audio file that they can jump around to different parts of the mix as they please. I just don't give them the opportunity to easily get around the mix and feel that if they're going to treat my mix as a compilation that they're going to have to work for it, whether holding the fast forward button or clicking around in their media player of choice to find when the song they like begins. It irked me the other day when I gave someone five whole mixes as MP3s on CD and she texts me back thinking it was a 5-track CD and I had to tell her that if it only took you 20 minutes to listen to the whole thing then you’re missing out on the other 2 and a half hours of music and then she felt silly. When I give out mixes I disclaim to the person receiving it that you better not fast forward through my mix like it’s some playlist you made on Spotify or whatever or I’m not inclined to make any more mixes. It’s like taking a dish made by a chef, and then only eating the parts you like because you can’t understand that the dish is a marrying of flavors that needs to be enjoyed as a whole, not its individual parts. That’s how I explain my mixes to the uninitiated.

    • This is a good point! But I don't really know if it is a good approach to make it harder to jump to the songs they like or to fast forward. It could also cause that your audience is not listening anymore at all because it is too inconvenient for them.

  2. I often upload my mixes on youtube, but since I upload a video of me mixing instead of just the audio I get a lot more vieuws. People like to see what you are doing, just like a little liveset. For example see my latest vids on youtube.com/NewBeatEdit (haha little bit of non-subtle promotion here;)) Hope it's useful for you and good luck with it!

  3. Fair points above. I agree that it can be difficult but we need to ascertain WHAT you, as a DJ, are trying to achieve with your mix and WHO you are targeting with it.

    For example, I have had mix CD's played in-store at a designer shop as background music and also in bars during times I wasn't playing live. This is hopefully an approach you could take to allow your musical 'journey' to seep into the public consciousness!

    Don't be too 'precious' about editing your recorded mix as a single track. If it's for mates or a mix CD for your existing fans then fine. However, potential promoters or bar/club owners etc will want to get a quick feel of your style without persevering through a mammoth mix, no matter how good!

    I found that keeping mixes short, sweet and eclectic with edit points is usually best. I record them onto CDs that look like vinyl, spend time with unique artwork sleeves and give tracklistings. A little time and effort making them stand out goes a long way. I've handed some out free to people after recent gigs, taking care to have a chat about the music they liked and telling them to contact me (details on inlay) if they need a DJ in the future. Targeting pubs, bars or pre-club venues with 'your kind of music heads' and handing some out or leaving them on tables can interest people. Certainly makes for a better kind of flyer!

    Good luck and I hope some of this advice helps.

    • I agree, in specific genres like EDM/Electro it is really better to keep mixes short, like you explained, but if you're setting up a deephouse mix or something smooth to apply to a lounge or a bar, I would say it is more cumbersome to make a mix of let's say 20 minutes with four Tracks in it.

      Furthermore I don't know if promoters or club owners are really listening to CD Mixes at home, because the computer is the easiest way to listen to music in modern times. In most Cases, the speakers are connected to the computer and not to a CD player. Something that is also critical about that is that you are probably meeting the promoter/club owner at 12 o'clock and he is working hard to take care about all what is going on, I would be surprised if he still had the CD at the end of the event. 😀

  4. First off, how are you able to find out if people hear your mix or are just skipping around? On the places I post my mixes, I just get the numbers of listens or downloads. Am I missing something here?

    Ok, now here's my viewpoint on the topic:

    I think many of you are still wishing the average person would see the music the way DJs do (but not run out and buy gear to become DJs).

    I just watched some of Steve Aoki's set on the UltraLive broadcast. I see him all over the place, little to no blends, plenty of big buildups, all the things we DJs could bash on...

    ...but the crowd loved it, and wanted him to douse them with cake (some gimmick he does). Take this as the message of what average people want.

    You all cannot expect people to listen to your mixes from start to finish, over and over, the way you might. You post a tracklist as something to entice them to download. Maybe they'll only fast-forward to that spot over and over, but that's their choice.

    Here's the bright sides:

    1) They're listening to YOUR MIX...as opposed to the MILLIONS of other mixes out there.

    2) You're pushing the artists you're playing. Kind of what we DJs do.

    3) You scored a hit on your mix. Like it or not, 1000 half-listens still rings as 1000 listens. Better than just 2-3 full listens and thus the 2-3 number is there.

    Here's my advice:

    1) Stick to your style, but make sure your mixes are fun to listen to. Where you put in a good set so one might just hit play and forget to jump. Use tunes that stand the test of time. Stuff you would listen to over and over for years...not weeks.

    2) Don't crank out mixes like crazy. I've seen guys who make a new mix every week or month, and they wonder why their numbers are so low. You need to give people time to savor and enjoy what you gave them. I don't put mixes out often (mainly because of lack of time), but I also like that I put something out, let it sit, then replace it later.

    3) Try to not repeat tunes. So you pumped some great new Mark Knight tune on your mix, then next month you want to play it again. try not to. Make your mixes unique from one another so anyone who likes that tune will keep that one mix...not dump it for your new one.

    4) Invest in names, art, etc. If you look at my mixes (d-jam.com/passion), I try to make unique names for them and art. This can help in that when someone downloads the mix, it becomes unique. Having your mixes named "Bass Vibrations Vol 23", "Bass Vibrations Vol 24", "Bass Vibrations Vol 25", etc. won't make them unique. I know this is quick and easy, but it won't make them memorable.

    5) Stop worrying HOW people listen to your mixes. Be happy they are listening. In the end, this is your demo and your marketing pieces. If people are downloading even just to listen to one tune, then you've gone further ahead of your competition.

    • Hey D-Jam,

      no you're not missing anything. The text about the stats is a bit incomprehensible. I just spoke to my audience whether they liked the mix or not and in this talks I am often noticing that they just skipped though the tracks to get an general overview and forgot to hear it completely / are not motivated enough to do it.

      I agree, DJ's are seeing the whole music thing a bit different and it is fast forgotten by us. As you're explaining, these Kids in the US, jumping and screaming to aoki's show, I would be really interested to know if they are real music enthusiasts or just searching a second spring break or something. This year UMF, seems to be more music than party but I might wrong.

      But this leads me to another question: Are they really supporting what they love or is it just a one time fun?

      I like your advice! Easy to follow and good comprehensible and I already follow some of the ideas like an interesting naming, no repeating of tunes and I think I make mixes that proves the test of time. I will take the advice not to push out too much mixes in the future and promote those well.

      Thanks for your contribution!

      • Probably something got lost in the editing there 😉

      • it's allright Phil, I think it was my mistake 😉

      • "But this leads me to another question: Are they really supporting what they love or is it just a one time fun?"

        For most clubbers and even ravers, it's a one-time fun. They're young, less responsibilities, and thus they want to party. I'm sure the live stream on YouTube will only make more people think "man, I need to go to that next year!"

        This has happened throughout history. I'm sure Phil would attest to the second Summer of Love how many punters ran out to raves simply because the papers made it look like the ultimate party.

        Always remember that this is supposed to be about fun. We all go out clubbing, raving, dancing, etc for fun. The soundtrack is important...even to them...but in the end it's also about fun.

        Think of it this way, they went to see the top DJs in the world as opposed to some trendy party with let's say Pauly D on the decks.

  5. DJ Gerard says:

    Funny. I just took a ride today with a girlfriend. She picked me up. I handed her a CD. After 20 minutes we listened to track 5 the next hour and the whole way back later. LOL I don't understand but didn't have to. Glad she has a new favorite song!

  6. DJ Gerard says:

    Oh so sorry. Sticking to topic... The only way to get people to listen to your mixes is to keep plugging away and pick up a following. One new listener at a time. I sometimes contact a loyal fan and ask what they would like on my next mix. I find a way to incorporate it and let them know that CD is for them exclusive at this moment but I will be putting it up on a website soon. People like to know they are appreciated listeners and not dictated too. It is a 2 way relationship for sure!

    • Don't you think your approach is too much like a jukebox? I can barely think that the audience is pleased to hear your new Mix with their own ideas in it. But please prove me wrong! 😉

      • DJ Gerard says:

        Don't you ask people what their new favorite songs are? I am introduced to songs I never heard all the time by people. People have good taste in music. Not just us DJs. I keep an open mind and see what people are posting on their social sites. Wait you don't mean to tell me you know every new song that is released already and can tell people what they are going to like? Don't get me wrong. I know how to force feed a crowd a new song week to week until they are singing a song I introduced to the club. This topic is getting people to listen to mixtapes not live DJ sessions :) lol
        Let me clarify. I have a friend that loves house classics. I know his favorites. I make a mix for him. I allow others to enjoy it too. I don't think he is unique in liking good music! Hope that helps Westage :)))

  7. my experience: shorten your mix. start with 30 mins mixes. attention spam of people is very low. Some are working while listening, so you have not very often a complete 60 minutes or longer period without getting disturbed. And whats happening than? You have to start to listen from the beginning anyway. So why not making a mix shorter and divide it into different parts? I'm gonna start a new series now with 30 mins. mixes of "the saddest songs for now". Curios, how this works.

  8. I like the discussion and think that many of the points mentioned are really important. But for me there is a different question that comes first: how can i make people listen to my mixes without doing anything illegal. Please do not get me wrong, I have of course bought all the tracks i use for mixes, but as far as i know that does not grant me the rights to upload them anywhere (as mixes) without permission of the owner. At least here in Germany the rights are protected very well and i do mixes for fun, not because i want to pay high fines :)
    Is there any way to get around this?

  9. IMHO, if a mix isn't getting a lot of listens, it probably isn't good enough to reach a large audience. That's not to say that it isn't very good, its just not at the standard that results in high numbers of listeners. Normally a mix will gain a large number of mixes purely because of the person doing it, but if you don't have a big following yet, the mix has to be of a very, very high standard.

    I have found in the past that if the mix ticks the boxes of peoples expectations they will generally listen to it a lot or download it, and share it around. Normally in the early stages of a DJ's career, it pays to play what is popular. A big mistake I see often is a lot of new DJ's play some really obscure music that most of the listening public won't get and thus won't listen to the whole mix. If you want to play the obscure stuff, the key ratio is to play around a 70% popular music to 30% obscure mix of music, which is enough popular music to keep most people listening but also obscure music to educate and also show what you really want to be playing without alienating new listeners.

    The best advice I can give is to record a mix either by-monthly or quarterly, upload them to soundcloud, add them to some groups and share to social networks. You can then promote the mixes for the month after the mix was uploaded and then over the following month start promoting the next mix to create some hype. You could also gain a regular following by recording Podcasts so that people can subscribe and automatically receive the next instalment straight to their iTunes/computer.

    I think its massively important not to over promote a mix. I have seen some DJ's record one mix in a year and then spend the next 12 months pushing the mix everywhere. I think people get fed up with someone who continuously pushes something on to other people. If anything it will negativity effect the listens of the mix in question and future mixes as people may see the incessant posting as a sign of desperation.

    Another way to gain attention is to make the mixes special or unique. This can be achieved by either creating Mash-ups/remixes of popular tunes or make your own music or both, that way your mixes are unique because there is music that will only be on your mix and nowhere else.

    One last very important point is to always look for quality over quantity. Its all well and good having 1000 plus listens, but if they are all listens from people who are just trying to promote themselves or aren't your target audience, then all of those listens are for nothing. Try and post your mix in places where you think that the mix will get the quality listens, this way you know that the people listening to the mix will appreciate it and are more likely to either share your mix or so that a promoter who holds the night that you are looking to play at is likely to hear it. So its is worth while working out who your target audience is, fine tune the musical selection to that audience and focus your efforts to reach those people.

    • Please go ahead and make your own opinion of the quality of my mixes and report back! :) http://www.mixcloud.com/westage/

      The point with the automatic download to the computer is interesting. Is there a way to make an official iTunes podcast or do you have to be signed for that or something? But otherwise all Social Music networks are already providing such a service like Mixcloud or Soundcloud to get a notification of a new Mix/Sound out there.

      Thanks for your contribution!

  10. I believe we should be fair with the original artists when we label our mixes. Remember, “monetization” could be affected if we don’t correctly identify which part of the mix belong to which song. Exception to Mashups, because here we could have more than one song playing for a long period of time. If one wants to jump to the next track, what is the problem? We should be more creative with our mixes, so that people would be interested to listen to the whole thing. Yet another “non-subtle promotion”, check my mixes and original productions at http://www.miguelmilheiro.com

  11. I'm wondering what your guys thoughts are about handing out CDs. I still do it but I go back and forth as to the value of it.

    It seems that many people like getting a CD. It's something physical that shows you put time into them getting it. It's much harder than messaging a soundcloud link (although, you should do that too).

    My only CD player is in my car and I rarely drive.

    I've looked into handing out USB drives but they are too expensive.

    Any thoughts? Are promo CDs still worth it? Other cool alternatives?

    • The main benefit from giving CD's out is that you can build a rapport with the person you have given the CD to, which in turn will increase your chances of hearing back from them.

      I have been given CD's in clubs or when out and about in the past, but never listened to them because they have either been scratch up in my pocket or I lost them (by accident) or just never got round to listening to it. Its just the way it goes sometimes, and its not a reflection of the person who gave the CD to me.

      The main benefit to contacting someone through email or social network is that they can access it from wherever they are in the world at any time, and can listen to your mix or whatever via their phone, which opens up the opportunity for them to hear your work. The other plus side is that this is the most cost effective way of approaching someone, but you have to work harder to leave a lasting impression.

      If one way isn't working for you, do the other, TBH there is no reason you can't do both, its just is more of a time and money thing.

      • @realist Yes, I totally agree that you get to build a rapport with a person when you hand them a CD. Thanks for reminding me about that! :)

        Also, it often gives you an excuse to talk to someone.

        I usually have a biz card in the sleeve with links to SoundCloud etc. I never use QR codes though. I think it's easier to type in a URL. Also, I recently figured out that formatting a URL a particular way will open my podcast directly in itunes for someone using an iPhone.

      • On the same topic, has anyone tried download cards? Any success?

    • I think CDs are still viable. If you want to go further with digital, either look into making them "enhanced" so you can leave an MP3 and press kit with your audio CD parts.

      That, or put a shortcode link (like bit.ly) to the MP3, so if one wants it as a file, they can easily get it.

  12. One thing i have noticed is that people appreciate a tracklisting in the description of youtube videos if you choose to put mixes up that way, it let's people look for a song they like in the mix and want to wait to hear how its mixed in. On another note if you do video footage from like an electro concert or dj side pool party that helps too, it gives people something to look at while listening, this is easy enough to get vid files by using firefox download helper n the addons, and lastly I would encourage you to make your own website eith a free website/domain maker like mine I use weebly.com and you can post all your stuff in one location and put a link to it in the description of your youtube vids

    • I was actually going to mention that. Videos might be the way to go to get noticed.

      Think about how many people now are watching videos from this past weekend's Ultra Music Fest. I'm sure the local who does this might get some notice.

      I'd probably suggest setting it up where someone records a video of you DJing and at the same time you record your mix...then use the mix as audio as opposed to the usual distorted bass you'll see in these videos.

    • Yeah, I am also building a website at the moment. Curious how this is working out. I don't think there will be much traffic as they could use facebook instead for all functions of that.

  13. WOW! First of all, I have to say thank you to Phil and all DJ's who commented to give me an answer! The amount of responses is just overwhelming, I'd never thought that so much would comment on this.

    But let me explain my situation. I live in Germany and began to DJ with 16 or 17 Years and now I am 20. I have made serveral Mixes with different concepts like a weekly radio-show, a Mix with only Remixes of popular Songs in it, Mixes which are on slow BPM rates for chillout and high energy electro sets. I even did a featured set with one of my fellow DJ's, but all these attempts just result in nearly the same amount of listens and responses, no matter how much time I spend preparing or mastering the mix. See yourself http://www.mixcloud.com/westage/

    As I mentioned in the entry post, I think that Mixes are your Business Card, sort of. There is no other way to convince potential followers of your skills and originality. In other words, it is a time investment for potential followers to figure out weather they like your style or not. Sure there is also the impressions of playing live on an event but I experienced, that Guests barely go to the event's facebook/home page and check who has played there to support him and like his site.

    Maybe this is a more general problem of promoting yourself and get followers but I think the Mixes are a good point to start.

    You all mentioned good approaches but as you see, I have already tried many possibilities. Do you have a way to expand your audience, as this would also enlarge the number of listens to your latest Mix?

    I will go through your answers individually and reply to it. :)

  14. Dj possess says:

    Great discussion. I have a number of responses but will stick to one now as I'm on the train home. "We" need to figure out how to trick SoundCloud and YouTube. I spent an hour editing a mix only to have SC reject it for copyright. However this doesn't happen w some other mixes. But if I have current hits, it's denied.

    It takes even longer to make a video. I have a few but most again get rejected rom the audio analysis which just means I've wasted a ton of time. There's gotta be a way to trick the system.

  15. Haroon Khalique says:

    If you make your mix downloadable, please take the time to make sure the MP3 file is appropriately tagged. As these days I download mixes to to my phone to listen to/from work, so if I cant find it by the ID tags it aint gonna get get played. Not sure if services like Soundcloud preserve the tags or not. I also suggest mixes no longer than 1hr (broken this rule myself). Also provide track listing, it might get people wanting to listen further into the mix.

  16. Jcstudios says:

    Here's my mini mix, http://m.soundcloud.com/jmouse/mini-megamix-live-2012.

    Way I get more people to listen my mix is to listen to their mix and make a comment or feedback and nicely asked to have mine listened.

  17. Mixcloud.com/mekanikz
    27 tracks
    1 hour and three minutes
    All purchased
    Also make a beatport music page, it helps from my understanding .
    My mix is DNB / juke. So 27 tracks in one hour keeps em listening.
    My 2 cents

  18. Hey all,

    For what it's worth I think the new Soundcloud is going to kill Mixcloud and Mixcrate when it comes to getting ears on your mixes...and as someone who is returning to playing after a long break, I think Soundcloud is a great forum to show what you play and what you can do if you're recording your sets as you play. ( I've never really been impressed with Mixclouds format )

    I'm hoping that my sets will get me some gigs this year and that's where I get my interest at the moment. Having said that, there is really no substitute for getting out playing somewhere to get your mixes more listens!

    Anyway..here's my latest mix..gives you an idea of some of the tunes I'm into ...hope you enjoy!


    • Thats awesome man. Who woulda thought to pair the Beastie Boys with jazz. Really tight and works well. I can tell you use the "cue" button a lot in the remix decks instead triggering it and letting it loop. Really gave me some ideas I wanna try soon.

  19. What I like to do is give people something visually interesting to view while listening to my mix. Check out what I mean here -> http://www.youtube.com/petequesttv

  20. I find that if people can only stream, then shorter mixes get more traction in terms of listener numbers. If you can make them downloadable too, either on soundcloud or by providing a link to a mediafire/sendspace file, then people can choose how and when they listen.

    I'm basing that on my listening habits, and my experience of mixcloud vs soundcloud - soundcloud gets way more listens and I can also how many people have downloaded. I think this is because SOundcloud is more community focussed. Since Mixcloud abandoned groups, my listens went way down, whereas on soundcloud they increased, because I could share them to groups, and with other users.

    I've stopped wasting bandwidth uploading to mixcloud now, as soundcloud is much better in terms of getting an audience.

    The other thing I do is actively engage with my target listeners - I run a blog about the music we like, I champion up-and-coming artists, and I'm active on twitter. Seems to work, and I'm getting good feedback.

    I'm not a pro DJ, I've not played out for over ten years - I'm just doing it at home for fun, making mixes for my own amusement and hopefully others. Seems to be working for me, your mileage may vary.

  21. I'm really disappointed with Youtube, I noticed a lot of mixes and thought it would be a good way to showcase my mixes and gain some followers etc but soon fell foul of the copyright infringement on two of the tracks in my mix. Mixcloud is super easy to upload and add my tractor playlist, however most of my friends and potential "fans" have the barrier of having to download an app and great an account just to listen to my mix, which even though is pretty easy, the majority of people just won't be bothered to do.

    I'm going to try Vimeo and see what happens, I know Beatport has a mix section but you have o have bought all of your songs from Beatport which I don't.

    I do mainly use mix cloud http://www.mixcloud.com/ezrawolfe/ check it out :) and it's linked with my twitter @ezrawolfeuk but i'm still feeling like there is a barrier between me and my potential new followers who just want to listen to my mixes without having to have an account with a specific provider, this is one of the reasons why I think youtube is so accessible because you can just click the link and it plays.

    What other platforms are people using to promote their mixes and engage with potential listeners and bars/clubs that you want to play at?


  22. I am a very positive person with a can-do attitude but it is very discouraging when I make a mix I think is great, promote it on Facebook, mixcloud, soundcloud, beatport, and youtube only to have no one listen to it. I even paid to promote a mix on Facebook. 7,000 people saw it, a few people liked it. In real life I give a mixed CD to a venue and they call me back and hire me. Online I get lost in the "mix" of others trying to do the same thing. I read articles about how big DJ names get so many followers without doing much. That's because they're big names. For example, Lady Gaga doesn't need to promote her Twitter account because she's famous. And in order to be famous you need to be famous. I say building a fan base in your community is a great place to start. Have patience and keep at it.

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