Digital DJ Tips reader Makis Kav writes: “I am a music producer with quite a few releases and I am just making my first steps into DJing. My problem is that I am approaching DJing as a live musician thing, I tend to make a playlist from home and stick to it rather than being more spontaneous and communicative.
“How could I change this and communicate with the crowd? I’ve tried switching among mini sets (three to four tracks of the same ‘concept’) but they don’t always work, let alone they sometimes ruin the atmosphere of the evening.”
Digital DJ Tips says:
Credit to you for realising that DJing and producing are different skills, Makiv. Too many producers do exactly what you say when booked to DJ, which may work at a 45 minute festival appearance but is not what DJing is about. DJing, for us, is about “the right track, for the people in front of you, right now”, which is a noble aim indeed, and worlds apart from playing a pre-defined set.
My tips are these: Firstly, have a well thought out music collection for DJing, with plenty of variety in it for the audiences you think you’ll be playing to. This is a dynamic, constantly evolving thing.
Secondly, think carefully about every gig you play. Who will be there? What is the venue like? What music may or may not work? How do other DJs play in that venue? How do you want to play it? What would your plan B be? With all these questions in mind, start making a playlist for that gig alone, of approximately twice the number of tunes you will need to play your set. This gets you away from the “pre-determined” set idea, but keeps you focused. When you get there, only play from that playlist.
Finally, something you’re already doing: Plan little “mini sets” within those tunes. Work out the tunes you may want to play beginning, middle, end. Think about alternative “routes” through that music depending on how it’s going down with the audience. And remember too that it’s OK to change the atmosphere sometimes, and you’ll rarely ruin the evening by playing something a bit different. There’s a bit of a lag between playing a tune that changes the energy, and the room “catching up” with you. You may find you rotate your audience on the dancefloor a bit, which is actually a good thing for keeping the overall energy in the room up.
Many producers have successfully taken our Digital DJ Masterclass training to move from production into DJing: Check it out here.
Have you made the switch from producer to DJ? How did you find it? How did you deal with the challenges? Please share your thoughts below.