Mixtapes: 5 Excuses DJs Always Use To Avoid Making Them


Is your mixtape still a figment of your imagination? You're not alone... here's a list of the top excuses DJs use to avoid just getting it done...

In Mixtapes: 5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Hitting Record last week, we mentioned that in a few days, we're going to be outing our new video course, the Pro Mixtape Formula. While making the course, we spoke to hundreds of you... and one of the key questions we asked was "what's stopping you getting started on your mixtape?"

So here are the top five answers. We're publishing them today so that if you've ever trotted one of these excuses out to justify your own inaction, you'll at least know you're not alone... and hopefully our words of encouragement can help you to finally hit "record" and do the right thing, You know you want to...

Top five excuses DJs use to avoid making mixtapes...

      1. "It has to be perfect!" - Perfection is the enemy of doing. If everything truly did have to be perfect, nothing would ever get done, anywhere. The point is you should do your best, and get it done, so you can then prepare to do it again, and again. That's how you get better. Striving for "perfect" is the biggest paralyser of the lot. Also, imperfections show people you're doing something! It's not about machine-perfect tedium. And anyway, there are ways and means to correct errors in finished mixes. Basically, as long as your recording is not distorted, everything else is fixable
      2. "I haven't got time to prepare / practise" - Once you realise that a mixtape is just a sort of "best of" what you're doing regularly right now, the pressure eases. Imagine the purpose is simply not to mess up - nothing more. You'd play it safe, do the mixes you know, save the tricks and experiments for another time - right? So this is how you "prepare" for a mix. Treat it as showing what you know up to this point, not pushing boundaries. Use old mixes you know well, and play to your strengths. There's time for experimenting elsewhere...
      3. "I get nervous when I hit record" - Here's something TV producers know: No matter how nervous people are on camera, they forget the camera is there in the end - without fail. It's what makes reality TV work. So use this fact. Treat mixtape recording sessions as just practice sessions, by religiously recording every time you turn your controller on, as an unbreakable rule. That way you'll soon forget you're recording, and your best work will flow out
      4. "I'm tired of fluffing a mix up right at the end" - It always seems to be the end of a mix when you mess up, doesn't it? Maybe it's a momentary lack of concentration after an hour of bossing it, or the excitement at getting something done you're proud of. Anyway, the good news is that there is a really simple way of editing a bad mix out of an otherwise good tape, using free software like Audacity. Once you know how to do this, you're past this one. And no, it isn't cheating. (Or - if it is, everyone does it. Do you think pro DJs go back to the start if they fluff up a mix at the end? Do you think singers do the vocal track for a song all in one take? Editing is a skill you need to know.)
      5. "My best is not good enough" - Your best mix might indeed be your first, or your fifth, but it's more likely to be your fiftieth. The point is you have to start getting mixes under your belt. And here's a comforting thought: Magic happens when you start. Things you couldn't have predicted before hitting "record" go your way. Sure, it's not always perfect, but just like you may lose a life at the start of a video game then go on to get your best ever score, sometimes the best mixes come out of thinking you're not up to it. Have faith. Keep doing it. Enjoy the journey. Hit "record"...
      6. "I've got no idea about levels, or EQ, or editing, or mastering, or burning, or track markers, or sharing, or branding, or..." - Well (shameless plug alert!), this is exactly why we've created The Pro Mixtape Formula - because we realise that knowing this stuff now will be invaluable to DJs who need pro results right away (don't worry - as long as you're on our list, you'll find out about the course in just a few days...)

So are you "putting off" doing a mix right now? Why? Have you ever taken ages to do one, and then wondered why you didn't do it way earlier once you finally got around to it? Please share your mixtape procrastination stories in the comments!

Learn how to make perfect mixtapes just like the pros every time, with the Pro Mixtape Formula video training course - find out more.

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  1. sunhammer420 says:

    7. Nobody's really interested in hearing it.

    • Is that your experience? Making it as good as you possibly can, and then sharing in the right places with decent branding, tracklisting etc. can definitely help here. Mixcloud did a good article for us recently on getting more plays on their platform. Regularity is key here - a DJ who does a mix once a week/month etc for a year or so WILL have plays, shares and fans at the end of it.

      Plus of course, doing mixes for yourself is a great was of charting your progress as a DJ - and as soon as you "make it", you've got an instant back catalogue for your fans...

      • I disagree. I've had some great feedback on my last mix (link at bottom) - and even been provisionally offered a weekly residency off the back of it!! Was it the first mix I ever made?? HELL NO!!! I've made dozens. You just need perseverance my friend. Just keep doing it for the love of the music. If nothing else, you'll have a load of great mixtapes to throw on in the car/ipod that you KNOW you LOVE each and every track. Plus listening to them over and over yourself helps you spot those little mistakes you made.

        First and foremost make mixes for YOURSELF. If anyone else like it well, that's just a nice bonus :)

        link to that mix i mentioned... :)

    • Just to say, never posted before, but love mixtapes- used to do them all the time (on tapes, from vinyl!). Nowadays, it s easier, but in a way that just adds to a (false) sense of pressure. One of our selectors is an analogue freak and a recycling guru - we have had whole nights recorded onto old VHS tapes from charity shops! The important thing is documentation - listen to those old tapes back, I can tell who is selecting from our crew and every tune will be great - so useful, when you have those moments of panic where you lose your way mid set playing out or when you lose your way( in life) generally!! Actually getting them out there is a whole next mission and I'm really lazy (and cheap) - mostly just burn to cd for mates or give away after parties. Working on that. Slow burn - get it recorded! Slimting Si, Nicetime Reggae Soundsystem.

  2. 6. "When i have time, i have no lust, When i have Lust, i have no time"

    • That's a good one! Recording as soon as you get back from a club seems to be a favourite...

    • I experience this all the time. Coming back home very late from work almost every night and feeling tired just make me lazy to set up my equipments.

      But I still release mixtapes regularly. What I do is always pressing "recording button" everytime I play my sets, be it in the club or while broadcasting on the internet radio. Later on, I would listen to these recordings and decide which one to be released as mixtapes.

  3. The MAIN barrier to actually cracking on and making a mixtape for me is pretty much down to the fact I spend most my online time searching for and downloading music, looking for the next BIG track.

    I have a folder with about 18-20 tracks in ready to make a tech mix, but I keep on looking for more!! All this digital stuff makes it so easy to while away the hours on various websites.

    What I really need to do is just make that mix. THEN look for more tracks. No one person will ever have ALL the latest, biggest tracks at one time. Not one. So just play with what you got, hell - go for an "old skool" vibe or summin.

    • Exactly and when you listen back in 10 years, you'll have forgotten the tracks that were new and "old" (ie a few weeks older than the rest!) totally...

    • I try to set myself a deadline for digging for new tracks before going out to do a live show or record a mix. Anything I find after that time (listening to spotify or iTunes radio) goes into my 'music holding tank' where it waits until after the mix or show is over.

      I always process my tracks with platinum notes before adding them to my library, so it's an easy staging area to keep tracks until I'm ready to add them to my library, analyze and cue point them.

  4. 'I have not the best songs yet. I prefer to wait to get better songs for make better mixes'

  5. Finlay Stewart says:

    Best advice I was ever given was to record EVERYTHING.

    No stage freight, no worries about messing up, not interested if I miss a beat, couldn't care if the killer track isn't there...there is always next time and I gain invaluable experience in the mean time.

  6. I always read and never post, but I love making mixtapes so here we go:
    I agree with regularity being important, but I also think timing is a huge factor. When in the day (which Soundcloud loves to foil with multiple errors) and also when in the week can make a difference, at least in regards to initial traction - evening during the week or Sunday afternoon seem to work well. Proximity to relevant events also matters, and I don't mean X-Mas mixes... I DJ dub/reggae and you can guess when in April I get more plays (5x) if I release a mix :-)
    I'm not sure if length is really a factor - I've released 5min (for a radio station), 20min, and 35min mixes recently and they all have about similar plays now, so it's a reasonable argument that it's better to release shorter mixes more frequently rather than always releasing some epic 2-hour musical explosion.
    One final note, why do all mixes have to be recorded live? I make my mixes using Ableton (in Arrangement mode), precisely because I don't want them to sound live - I add additional effects, loops, samples, etc. that I simply cannot duplicate live (I play on CD-Js using USB). For me, mixtapes are a whole different musical palate than a live show - though I will post those occasionally as well - and I want to take advantage of that fact and truly have it sound "perfect." Thought it's funny how "perfect" can change!

    • You're right, they don't have to be recorded live, although that is a simple, easy and quick was of doing them, especially as it's what most DJs are used to, and it doesn't break our rule of "always record your mixes" - but true, Ableton is a good way to methodically build up your mixes too.

      • Maybe, and I'm not knocking it.. But that isn't "DJing" as what we've come to know it as.. It's sequencing and mixing down.. Which are still skills that DJs should know.. and yes, I have made mixes this way before.. but DJing, and making "mixtapes" is being imperfect.. It's absolutely possible to make a completely perfect mix in ableton.. But in the end.. it's not really your skill as a live DJ you are showing off. It's your skill at track selection and mixdown..

        While people have and continue to do shows using ableton and prepared tracks.. a lot of people will walk off the floor if they know that this is being done with mediocrity.. Not everybody is Girl Talk and last I heard Girl Talk doesn't even use ableton.. Point being.. I want to hear good tracks.. and to a point I even want to hear a track going slightly out of sync and the DJ working to push it back into sync. What I don't really want to hear is cold precise perfection.. There are another group of individuals that play perfect mixes while performing to massive crowds.. They are the ones that press play on a pre-mixed CD..

        No disrespect intended.. Props to you however you do it.. Just please, take to heart.. If you can't do those things Live using CDJs with music on USB sticks.. understand that there are people who can and do already do it with the equipment you say you can't do those things with. Practice religiously.. Record obsessively.. That is the way to greatness.

      • ericraffoul92@gmail.com says:

        hey phil how are you using Audacity to fix mixes you messed up at the end? just a basic cliff note explanation will work but that is one problem i seem to have. thanks in advance man

  7. Looking forward to this.

  8. It's been a while for me but I try to keep the juices flowing with a mixtape on a regular basis. I'm not that good but here is a collection of stuff that I've done in the past:


  9. My main problem has been time...but I'll agree I'm a perfectionist.

    For now it's down to juggling work and home life, but choosing to use the free time either to make a mix or write for DigitalDJTips...

    ...which is saying I'll be sending you content soon Phil. 😉

  10. Dj Durban says:

    6. I dont care for my music because i dont want to hear my own mixes.

    Many of my all time favorite sets are my own, not because im some super talented crazy awesome dj or some egotistical self involved person , but because every song i put in my set was hand picked, by me, after hours of searching through hundreds and thousands of songs. So i *love* every single song in every single mix ive made.

    Forget the promotional aspects, those are secondary if you love your music. Make mixes because you love your music!

    • i'm with you, i hate today's music but i play it and make mixes with them, but there is no joy by me doing it. the ones that i do where i handpick the songs come out better. the funny thing is when i mix today's music, the face that i put (it's of disgust). i love old school(hip-hop, reggae, 80s, garage, freestyle, ESPECIALLY house music.)

  11. johnnyVentis says:

    Nobody listens to mixtapes anymore anyway. If you can't produce the best song in the world, you will not get paid. You might make 100K but not 20 Mill

  12. Its been a long time since I made mixes available to the public. Its not out of laziness or anything like that, I want to take it to the next level and I will.

    But other things come first. Also my software is just the limited software (VDJ) and I can only record in wave format. I also can't put drops or anything else until I upgrade the software. While I have looked at other options, I will likely stay with VDJ.

    The site where some of mixes where available was taken down almost ten years ago now.

  13. I do mixtapes once a month. I search for music two weeks and stop. work in two sets and play(while download other non processed music)...then
    continue. I found on every mixtape a better way to mix two songs. Definitely the best you can do to improve.
    I always think the last is the best...so I share it with all of you.

  14. Thought I would add me 2p worth here: I have a simple way of doing it! I just record everything (something I remember hearing Chris Liebing say he does). That way I know if I am improving or whether tracks work or don't work! I'm not fussed if I mess up (well yes I am) but I won't let it stop me from doing another live set! I then upload the goodness to YouTube if it is good! It also helps recording everything if I ever do get the chance to become a "contender" and actually play out somewhere :)
    - https://www.youtube.com/user/RewindTheSoundz

  15. Yep, only way to get better at something is to keep at it; screw all the "naturally-talented" and child prodigies out there. Being recently diagnosed with a medical condition has kept me from weightlifting and now I'm taking all the lessons and principles I've learned from that domain into making my mixes. I know that if I keep recording mixes and improve upon my errors bit by bit I'll eventually get to a point where I can mix with my brain on autopilot.

  16. Soon, robot Dj's will be putting in small mistakes just to sound human...

  17. Great article! Got inspired and did this 20 minute mini-mix. Remember, mixes don't have be be 3 hour long epic sets (although it's cool if they are). Your mixes can be of varying lengths - whatever you have time to do. Also, it's a challenge on how to pack in what you want to express within a certain amount of time.

    Would love feedback on this one! https://soundcloud.com/dnorthrop/dj-daryl-northrop

  18. Ronan Dumont says:
  19. My previous comment was a bit of a quip, but there was a real point in it. We all worry about how we compare to each other and often it holds us back in our craft. But the future is already here and will soon be defining the only comparison that matters, that of an increasingly sentient, fully immersive and perfectly tailored digital environment to that which is simply human. See - http://www.djtechtools.com/2013/08/12/the-future-of-djing-outsourced-to-robotic-intelligence/. It will be the patina of small mistakes that will help define our work as our own, and (as Ezmyrelda said so eloquently above) those errors will become our way of identifying each other in an increasingly perfect world. So perhaps it is time to re-own our mistakes as the landmarks of accomplishment and identity that they are and remember that we're all on the same team, or soon will be. In a perfect world, the one-eyed Dj will be king…

  20. Amazing...truly felt like all 6 excuses were word for word how I feel-and good to know I am not alone.

    I have recently discovered that most of the underground deephouse artists record 60% of their podcasts and mixes are done via ableton or similar DAW software which really blew my mind and kinda let me down. Reason being,having spent countless hours listening to my favorite artists mixes, thinking all along that their mixing skills where so flawless but now realizing that wasn't the case bummed out.
    It always put that pressure on myself that my mixes needed to be this level of awesome and perfection. Good to know that isnt the case. As much as I love Ableton, I am sticking to my physical decks and mixer when recording my sets, call me a old school but that's how I think it should really be done.
    Here is a deephouse mix I did about a week ago that took alot of teeth pulling to get right, feedback always welcome.

  21. It's impressive that you are getting ideas from this article as well as from our argument made at this

  22. Mix tapes are so important in my opinion! When I first started it's what I would use to see how I sounded when I was in a mind set other than that of being the DJ. I listen to a lot of my favorite artist's podcasts and I listen to what I could be doing better or what just doesn't sound right. It seems like double the work but it has paid off for me!

  23. My problem is procrastinating not knowing which software for editing.

  24. Hi Phil Morse,

    This is my new Mixtape #DeepHouse

    Enjoy! Waiting your comments, Thanks for these post!.

    Best Regards,
    DJ Muzz

  25. i have a question for the djs here. usually the new jack djs do this, when did it become the norm to play a song for 2 minutes and put another one on, i find that so bad because people can't really get into a song if u keep switching it every 2 minutes. what i always say: it's not the quantity, it's the quality. one thing that happens when u do it is you run out of music to play. it's so annoying.

  26. BoogieGal says:

    OK I got one for ya: I've had a few mixtapes hijacked. I don't like to talk over my mixes so there's been a time or two when I've sold my mixtapes to people who then copied them and presented the tapes as their own when trying out for a job. In some clubs they don't have you try out live anymore, so these guys were getting gigs using my work. Of course they weren't anywhere near as good as me, but the tape got them in the door. There was one guy who copied my mixes and could do the set I did on the tape perfectly, but was rubbish after that, but in some places all you need is that hour long set, so there's that. Anyway, now I do party CDs with no mixes, just back to back songs of club favorites.

  27. Emanuel Langston says:

    i guess there is a place for the ultra perfect abelton mix, but i would prefer to listen to something done more traditionally. it could be all vinyl or any of the digital platforms, just as long as the person is using dj gear with the drama of screwing up riding on every mix ,fx or drop. people should not let being absolutely perfect hinder them. i've been making mixes since the eighties and i might have five that i would consider perfect. of course you don't want sloppiness or an out and out trainwreck on something you gonna listen to for all time, but the slightly off or awkward transition here and there gives the mix a little flavor and in today's thinking, let's people know you actually did it.

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