Digital DJ Tips reader DJ MT from Vietnam writes: “Recently, I’ve been to a local electronic music festival, and saw some DJ gigs there. There’s one guys who mixes using his CDJs, and his mixing was really not so good at all. The transitions could be easily detected, and sometimes were just a simple drop, which made me (as a DJ) feel pretty annoyed. Still, his music was really good. After the show, I asked some friends of mine of mine for opinions on the mix. Strangely, they said it was really good and enjoyable.”
“I asked: ‘Didn’t you feel that the transitions were too abrupt? His mixing techniques weren’t so good?’ and they replied, ‘No, I think he’s fine. His music was great anyway. And after all I’m here to dance, not to analyze some DJ techniques I’ve never learned myself.’ So it makes me wonder if generally, audiences really care about how you mix? Will a DJ’s poor mixing techniques annoy them? Or are they just there to listen to the music, dance and have some fun, and happy to forgive a few mixing mistakes from the DJ?”
Digital DJ Tips says:
Great question! Firstly, we always teach that music and programming are far more important than mixing. The right records, in the right order, for the audience in front of you is truly 90% of the battle. I have known DJs who simply can’t mix to have successful careers, and likewise I’ve known (many more) DJs who can mix impeccably who got nowhere due to their music simply not engaging their audiences.
On the point of whether your mixes can be noticeable, I actually think it is a good thing sometimes for people to hear beats being thrown together – it shows you’re doing it live, and an over-polished performance can in itself be tedious. It’s a bit like going to hear a live band who don’t sound any different to their recordings – we actually want to hear a bit of friction sometimes.
That’s not to say mixing isn’t important – it is a great skill and can add immeasurably to a DJ performance, but in most circumstances, it’s a clear third behind music quality and programming.
So – over to you! How important do you think mixing is nowadays? How much do you think the average audience really cares about the DJ’s mixing techniques and style? Please let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.