Your Questions: How Can I Stop Myself “Freezing” When DJing?

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reader questions
Last updated 29 November, 2017

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So what are you going to play next? Less is definitely more when it comes to packing your virtual \'crates\' in digital DJing. Pic: hypebot
So what are you going to play next? Less is definitely more when it comes to packing your virtual ‘crates’ in digital DJing. Pic: hypebot

Reader Kaegan writes with this question: “I sometimes freeze up when playing… meaning I forget music… the crowd is still moving but I reach a point where I just can’t put my finger on what song I should play next. Please, please can I get some feedback on this? It actually is a very common problem, and of course it cuts to the heart of what DJing all about, more than anything else – tune selection. Read on for our suggestions to Kaegan, and please join in if you’d like to add your own advice in the comments.”

Digital DJ Tips says:

In our experience, the biggest cause for “next tune freeze” is too much choice. If you have too much music to choose from, you’re less likely to know what to play next. This is definitely a digital disease, because in the past you simply couldn’t take more than 150-odd records with you; as you played your set and piled up the “played” tunes, the choice you had left was getting less and less. Nonetheless, I have fond memories of DJing with vinyl when I’d try 4 or 5 records “next”, even though I only had a box or two to choose from!

What I mean by that is, I’d get them on the deck, cued up, beatmatched, and running in the headphones before I though “nah, I’m not feeling it” and throw another tune on instead. I always seems to be changing my mind with 30 seconds left to go on the current tune, too!

So I completely understand your problem. Apart from simply limiting the music you take (and knowing that music really well), here are some more tips:

  1. Have little groups of tunes you like to play together – Work out mixes you like, nice links and stuff that makes sense in sequence, and treat your tunes as building blocks rather than all individual tunes. Helps you to structure your set better, too
  2. Tag your tunes properly – Doesn’t really matter how you do it, but have your tunes organised into anything from early/mid/late set to crowd-pleasers/new/specialist, to vocal/instrumental, to old/new, to pop/experimental, and of course in all the genres that make sense to you. Use folders, comments, playlists – whatever, but just get some organisation in there
  3. Have a plan B – Have one or two fall-back tunes that you know you can throw on if you really get stuck, that will please any crowd. Obviously you need to pick these well, but knowing you have something put aside in case of “next tune freeze” can itself loosen your thinking and stop you panicking, things which can otherwise only make the situation worse!

In the links below are some articles that may help you from the blog archives. Good luck!

Can you help Kaegan by adding to these tips? Please feel free to join in in the comments.

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