Having re-edits, mashups and bootlegs in your DJ sets is a great way to stand out from the crowd. After all, when all DJs have access to all music (pretty much), it’s a great way get something truly original in your DJ playlists and sets…
But it’s more than that. Nowadays, making your own versions of tracks you love is another creative outlet for DJs. How awesome to be able to change songs to suit how you think they should be, or to actually make those “this would go well with…” mashups, rather than just thinking about them.
Read this next: Five Bootlegs & Mashups That Became Global Hits
How great to have a way of adding your own musical elements to songs, creating “bootlegs” that nobody else has dreamed of. It’s the first step towards actually producing your own music, too.
In this article, I’ll show you seven software apps that will help you to do just that: to quickly make your own re-edits, mashups and bootlegs on your Mac or Windows computer. The good news is you can get started for nothing with many of these options.
Re-edit, mashup, bootleg – what’s the difference?
A re-edit is where you take a song and change it by shortening it, lengthening it, or re-ordering its parts, by simply chopping it into sections and – basically – cut and pasting those sections. No other tracks are involved.
A mashup is where you take two or more existing tracks, and create something new out of them. Traditionally you’d take the instrumental from one song and the acapella of another… but there are no rules!
A bootleg may or may not contain elements of the above, but the crucial difference here is that you use this as a starting point, using music production techniques to add other things to the track that you “write” yourself.
Before we get started, a word on legality: If you own the tracks you want to use, it is perfectly legal for you to do this, and then play the results in your DJ sets. Of course you cannot sell the resultant tracks without going through sample clearance and all the rest, but for DJing with, you don’t have a problem – go right ahead!
Re-edit, Mashup & Bootleg Apps
Audacity is the free audio editor that you need to know about if you don’t already have a copy. DJs use it to tidy up their mixtapes, to build podcasts, to programme radio shows… and to make quick and easy re-edits and mashups.
Learn how to use Audacity: Pro Mixtape Formula
It is easy to load tracks, and cut and paste segments of them – to re-order them, remove them, extend the tracks, and anything else you can think of. You can save the project as just that (a project, that you can keep coming back to), and output when you’re ready.
Get it: Audacity website
2. Ableton Live
The most popular DAW (digital audio workstation) among DJs and DJ/producers, Ableton Live has been used to make everything from DJ mixes to number one hits. It is also a great tool for making re-edits, mashups and bootlegs, with more powerful features than most on this list.
The advantage with Ableton Live is that it is one tool that can stay with you from your very first tentative re-edit, through starting to learn how to add beats and instruments, right up to producing bootlegs and even your own productions.
Price: $99 (Intro version) – 90-day free trial
Get it: Ableton Live website
3. Mixed In Key Mashup 2
It’s a little like Audacity, but designed specially to make your own re-edits, and especially, mashups. Again, you can cut and paste sections of your tracks, and the Mixed In Key difference is that it will automatically make them “fit” the timing of your project, and also the key.
That means you can take parts from several tracks and know that it has half a chance of all sounding musically “right” when you’re finished. It’s really easy to add EQ and volume changes too, to make your mashup sound smooth.
Get it: Mixed In Key Mashup website
4. Serato Studio
Serato Studio started life, relatively recently, as a beatmaker app, but quickly developed into a tool that is equally good for making re-edits, mashups and bootlegs, too.
Watch this: How To Make Redrums In Serato Studio
Unlike Audacity and Mashup 2, you can “play” elements over the top of your source track or tracks in Serato Studio, making it suited for making bootlegs as well as re-edits and mashups.
You can also match tempo and key, like in Mashup above, and the workflow is easy – especially for Serato users, as it integrates with your Serato library.
Price: $10 a month (free option available)
Get it: Serato Studio website
5. Virtual DJ Home
Here’s a curveball way of doing this. Virtual DJ now includes real-time stem isolation software, meaning you can isolate a vocal from one track, a beat from another, a melody from another, and so on.
That means that when combined with quantised hot cues and the software’s key sync feature, it is perfectly possible to create full-on re-edits and mashups “live”. Hit “record” in the software, and you can preserve the results that can then be played as finished re-edits or mashups in your own DJ sets.
Best bit is that Virtual DJ Home is absolutely free.
Get it: Virtual DJ Home download page
6. Serato DJ Pro + Flip
When it comes to re-edits, Serato DJ Pro is another curveball shoe-in. The reason is Serato Flip, an add-on you can buy for this popular DJ software that lets you perform and keep “Flips” – versions of tracks that you “play” by setting hot cues on your track, jumping around the track by triggering the hotcues at the right points.
Next time you load the track, it gives you the option of playing the “Flip” instead of the original – complete with your cue jumps. Effectively, this is a live re-edit, saved to use again and again. If you give the MP3 to another Serato user, they can play your “Flips” too.
Price: $129 for Serato, $39 for Flip
Get it: Serato website
7. Logic Pro X
Similar to Ableton Live, this is the Mac-centric DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) that can be used for many purposes other than just straight music production. Recently, Apple has added a “scene” mode like Ableton has, that lets you load up loops, riffs, and so on, and “play” them all together, time-stretched and key-synced, as you jam away with source material for inspiration.
Once you have a rough outline for your mashup, re-edit or bootleg, you can switch to the more traditional timeline view to finish off your creation.
Get it: Apple website
As you can see, there are lots of routes if you fancy having a go at getting that re-edit, mashup or bootleg idea out of your head – some are basically manipulating the amazing features of modern DJ software, others using apps made for the purpose, and more still using production software – the latter is no surprise, as these are basically just a simple type of music production.
• One of the masters of mashups in the dance world is Laidback Luke, who takes you step by step through how he uses Ableton Live to make re-edits, mashups and bootlegs, in Laidback Luke’s Re-edits, Bootlegs and Mashups course, available exclusively from Digital DJ Tips.