Your Questions: Should I Be Able To Tell Genres Apart?

Phil Morse | Read time: 2 mins
Last updated 3 August, 2017


How much does a DJ really have to know his or her genres to succeed? That’s the subject of our reader question today.

Digital DJ Tips reader Sharwin writes: “I am pretty much content with what I want to play or what I would like to play. But how do I understand the difference between genres? It’s very confusing. Are DJs expected to play precisely according to genre or just play what goes with the flow? I am planning to start playing at clubs. Any suggestion as to how to impress the interviewers?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

Wow, so much there Sharwin. You seem to be happy with your music. So why are you worried about genres? Let me give you my view on this.

“Interviewers” don’t care for five second what genres you say you play, think you play, or actually do play. They want reliable, polite, competent DJs who keep their dancefloors happy and busy. Genres are things trainspotters talk about in chat forums, they are things producers use to categorise their own music, they let music stores slice and dice their hundreds of thousands of downloads into manageable chunks. They’re useful, sure, to help you find what you want, but they won’t affect your quality as a DJ or ability to do the job.

Really, outside in the real world the “genres” recognised by most venues and customers are the broadest of the broad: “It’s an underground night”, “It’s a dance night”, “It’s rock night” etc. You’re a dance DJ, right? Great. Do you play commercial or underground? Commercial? OK, so you’re a commercial dance DJ. that’s it! Don’t worry about overthinking this. Really, that’s about as far as you have to go.

Now, as far as genres within your own collection go, my advice is always: Sort your music how it makes sense to you. If you think you play deep house, disco and funk, every single song in your collection wants to be labelled one of those three things (otherwise, why is it in your collection?). If someone says “can you play a disco set”? Bam! There’s your disco set, right in front of you. Remember, nobody really cares about genres.

Truth is, girls make dancefloors busy, happy and get you booked again. Trust me, 99% of girls really, really don’t care about genres. Worry about whether your tunes make girls want to dance. Worry about how you’re gonna get a foot in the door. Worry about doing a good job once you do. But don’t worry about genres. Years down the line, when you know all the genres, you’ll look back and realise they didn’t help you an awful lot to get the success you’ve enjoyed as a DJ.

What’s your take on music genres? Interesting subject? Important? Or a distraction to the real job of the DJ? Please share your thoughts below.

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