All digital DJs should make a point of recording their mixes regularly. That means hitting the “record” button, and forgetting about it until the ends of your practice session. It’s not important to “try” to get everything you do bang-on because you know you’re recording – that’s not the point. Indeed, instead you should be thinking about it as a default “set and forget” action – a bit like the cameras in reality TV shows like Big Brother.
It’s there to record what you do in case you do something good, not to force you to do something good or else. You can then extract the parts you think were worth keeping later on. Here are some of the reasons why it is important to get these edited mixes down onto CD or online:
1. To let you hear how good you really are
I look back with amusement on one particular night near the start of my DJ career.
We’d thrown a party in the bar of a hotel, that had been roped off for the night for our purposes by the management, and had attracted a crowd of a couple of hundred who’d come to this, our opening night. Excitedly, we taped the whole thing (good old C90 cassette tapes…).
Afterwards, my DJing partner and I dashed back to someone’s pad for a relax and a listen, convinced the world had just witnessed the launch of two major new DJing talents.
Jeez – to say what we heard was shocking really is an understatement. The levels of the audio between tracks, the excited mixing, the programming – there wasn’t much that WASN’T wrong about those recordings. You learn quickly when you mess up, and that single taped DJ night taught me so much about all of these things that the next time I dared record a performance, I was immeasurably better. Like a footballer watching a video of his performance in a game, you simply really have to listen to yourself DJing in order to improve.
2. To have something to give to the public
You’ve searched hard for your music, right? You’re proud of what you play and the “sound” you’re chasing. So when somebody approaches you at a gig to tell you how much they enjoy your stuff, to not be able to hand them a mix CD is unthinkable.
Your CD will get played in their car, at after-parties, probably get ripped and iPodded around, and all the time your name is getting spread nice and wide among people who will support you as time goes on. (Just bear the first point in mind before you release anything past your own ears.)
3. To give your venue/s something to play when you’re not there
This is the DJ’s secret weapon, especially if you play in a bar or lounge. Giving the owner something they can play on the nights you’re not DJing is a very good idea: You’re cementing your hold on the place, getting the regulars familiar with your music, and making sure that when you do turn up to play, there’s more chance the crowd (and the bar staff and owner) are familiar with your music.
Having your crowd know your tunes really is half of the battle won, allowing you to develop anthems for your venue quicker and giving you a ticket to more adventurous DJing without having to fall back on radio anthems and oldies to get a crowd reaction.
4. To document your musical growth
There’s something nice about listening to a mix a couple of years on and having some distance on the mixing, the tunes selection, and the events around when you were playing those tunes out. It’s nostalgia, mixed for you, by you.
Collecting your DJ mixes like you collect photos and keeping them for posterity is one of the joys of being a serious DJ; my advice would be not to pass up on the opportunity.
5. Because you pay more attention when you’ve hit “record”
And the harder you’re trying, the quicker you’ll get better…
Do you record your mixes? How do you do it? What do you do with them once you’ve recorded one? What’s the longest amount of time you’ve ever attempted to get a mix perfect? Is it important for mixes to be recorded “live”, or is it OK for DJs to piece them together with software? Let us know your thoughts and opinions.