Over To You: Where Can I Find A “Standard” DJ Playlist?

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Last updated 3 August, 2017

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Is there a standard set of tunes a new mainstream DJ can use to get in front of an audience? Today’s Over To You asks you to help our reader with this question.
Photo credit: DreadM Skin

In stark contrast to yesterday’s question about building a unique music collection, today Digital DJ Tips reader Sabri writes: “My goal is to begin DJing part time as soon as possible. I took your How to Digital DJ Fast course as well as went over your YouTube channel content. I think the only way I can begin my DJing business / career is to become a mobile DJ (school events such as dances, and bars around the region) and then expand into the scenes I aspire to be in (remixing, becoming a club resident, promoting events). However, I do not want to buy every track that made it to the top 40 since the 60s just to have it there! Is there a good current starter playlist for beginner mobile DJ you could recommend or point me towards? Once I begin, I am confident that I will get a better understanding on what I need.”

Digital DJ Tips says:

I actually took exactly the same route (mobile DJing as a 17-year-old, bar DJing by 21, club DJing by 24) so I think there’s a lot of worth in doing it that way. You’re going to need to have the best pop/chart music for the last, say, two to three years, then some carefully chosen “classics”. Best way to find these is just to listen when you’re out and about, and watch what people dance/sing to, and if you like it too, buy it. At the same time, get used to saying “I’ll see what I can do!” when someone asks you for something you don’t have, and understand that you’ll have to often find something similar to keep them happy instead.

True “mobile” DJs do indeed often have massive (tens of thousands) record collections, but you can get away with having far, far fewer. Apart from weddings (where there really does seem to be a pretty standard tune selection – the full list is part of our Complete 21st Century Wedding DJ guide), there’s no “standard” playlist for more general mainstream gigs, as this is completely dependent on where you are and the exact types of crowds you play to, and any “standard list” is going to contain lots of stuff you will never play.

However, I’d like to throw this open to the readers to see if they can assist you in your strategy of getting a highly useful, lean tune collection to get you started in mainstream DJing.

So, how would you advise Sabri to proceed? Have you built a “starter” collection quickly in order to start playing gigs? How did you go about it? Please share your thoughts in the comments.