March 24th, 2013
Everyone’s happy, the floor is full. So what do you play next? That’s where art and science meet, and it cuts to the heart of what DJing is all about.
Digital DJ Tips reader Robert writes: “Was curious as I’m trying to get a better grasp of DJing. Is there a method you use when grouping songs together to play, to make sure they go together? Is there any software out there that allows for you to go through your library and say ‘this would go well with this?’ or maybe ‘consider this one with this?’
“What I’m trying to create is mini five-song sets that go well together. Do you think that is a good idea?”
January 5th, 2013
Software such as Mixed In Key has popularised harmonic mixing for DJs, but it’s not the only way to slice and dice your music for your DJ sets.
Digital DJ Tips reader David writes: “I’m confused! I’ve spent the past few months researching the art of digital DJing, having followed your Learn To DJ Free email course and purchased the How To Digital DJ Fast video learning. I have also catalogued a lot of my collection using Mixed in Key, and have worked on small mixes using djay.
“I have a lot of chilled Ibiza-style tunes and was thinking of moving through a set from say a Crazy P tune (Sweet Feeling) taking in some old skool soul (George Benson, Soul II Soul) and then moving onto some funkier Fred Falke/Louis la Roche, then slowing down towards the end of the set. I guess I need to get the structure of the set sorted in my head! But in particular, I think I’m focusing too much on getting the key changes right, whilst wanting to get some specific tunes in… am I over complicating it? Should I just let the music do the talking?”
June 24th, 2012
We might not pack a real record box any more, but packing a virtual one can make set programming easier.
When it comes to programming a DJ set, my number one tip is to sort out a crate of music for the gig before you set off. In other words, do exactly what vinyl DJs used to do. Decide what’s “going with you” and what isn’t. This process will help you to focus on the night in advance, building your confidence in your tune selection. The old adage “less is more” definitely applies here: The fewer tunes you’re looking through between selections when you’re DJing, the easier it will be to pick a good next tune.
However, our readers jumped on the chance to add their tips when we discussed this over on the forum, so I reprint some of the best ideas below. Would be good to hear your tips too!
February 12th, 2012
2 Many DJs: They've made a name for themselves by being eclectic. Pic: Wooz
Digital DJ Tips reader Luke writes: “I have been both a mobile DJ for over four years and over that space of time have played every genre there is. The problem that I have had is that when it comes to wanting to put together a mix for a club gig it’s generally expected to be all in the same genre, which for me is quite boring as I love mixing it up.
“So my question is can you create a DJ set for a club gig that covers different genres, or am I destined to just make the mixes I really want to play for SoundCloud?”
November 27th, 2011
Set planning used to involve putting 80 records into one of these...
Reader Grant Johnson writes with a problem that we hear in some shape or form pretty regularly, especially from DJs who don’t gig frequently. Here’s his question: “I’m a college student and up and coming DJ. I’ve played three gigs now and I really enjoy getting the dancefloor pumped up. However, I come to you with an interesting problem.
“I usually spend 20 full hours getting ready for a gig before the night of the event, which is quite a long time I think. Worse than that, however, is that most of this preparation goes out the window when it comes time to perform! Any tips?”
August 29th, 2011
Cratedigging is an essential part of creating your own sound. It could mean finding old vinyl and learning to rip it so you are playing unique digital files, too.
Part of being a successful DJ is creating your unique DJ sound, an idea we touched on in Why Smart DJs Play More Than One Style Of Music. Anything is possible in the DJ world. For you to have a chance at real success, locally, nationally or internationally, you’ll need to stand out from the rest and create your own unique style.
Many DJs you’ll see and hear when you go out in bars and clubs play similar music to each other. There’s not much really wrong with this, as long as they’re making people happy and as long as people are dancing.
August 18th, 2011
Elastic beatgridding in Serato ITCH: It's one of the most flexible programs for beatgridding non-static tempo material which is a real help when mixing multi-genre sets.
Last time, in Why Smart DJs Play More Than One Style Of Music, we explored why you may want to push your boundaries and start playing multi-genre sets. Today we’re going to look at the practicalities of doing this.
By working on the following elements, you’ll be able to play confidently in situations that maybe you currently find daunting, or if you’re already playing this kind of set (as a wedding or mobile DJ, for instance), you’ll be able to improve the way you do it.
August 15th, 2011
How many of these genres do you play? (Click the picture to take a look...) I've got news for you too - music doesn't start and end at the EDM stores online...
It’s easy to fall into the single-genre trap when DJing. I’m a funky house DJ, so I play funky house. I got into dance music through dubstep, so that’s the style I’m going to play. I am a pop DJ, so I’m not going to play rock or hip hop. And so on.
That’s fine to a degree, and I certainly encourage you to go with what you love. But you should also put some time into making sure you can at least play a passable multi-genre DJ set when you choose to. Here’s five reasons why:
June 22nd, 2011
Knowing when to drop your peak-time floorfillers is an important part of successful DJing. Pic: Rob Wilder
One of the thoughts that usually races through a DJ’s mind at a certain point when playing an important set is: “What do I do about playing my best tunes? Do I start with them now, or is it still too early?” Knowing exactly the right moment to unleash musical fury onto the dancefloor (or foot-tapping, sing-along music in a cocktail bar) requires a combination of intuition and experience, and is something that can separate a good DJ from an average one.
That’s why I always tell people on the floor who come and request a peak time track at the very start of the night that DJing is much like having sex! You should never release the energy too fast at the start of the act…
May 15th, 2011
Our reader wants to know whether his practised mixes and cross-genre style is going to rock or bomb when he plays it in front of a crowd.
Reader Diogo Ferreira writes: “I’m just starting in DJing, but some doubts are starting to annoy me. I’ve got no problem with mixing techniques, and no problem with harmonic mixing, which I love and with which everything sounds perfect (at home, at least).
“But my problem relates to this: I’m taking DJing seriously, and I want to get recognised for my own style. My concept is to play highly melodic electronic music (mostly lesser known but great tunes, the kind of tunes I would love to dance to) in many different styles: techno, IDM, tech house, experimental, minimal…