From The Forum: Your Song Choice & Set Programming Tips

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 2 mins
Last updated 11 April, 2018

Record box
We might not pack a real record box any more, but packing a virtual one can make set programming easier.

When it comes to programming a DJ set, my number one tip is to sort out a crate of music for the gig before you set off. In other words, do exactly what vinyl DJs used to do. Decide what’s “going with you” and what isn’t. This process will help you to focus on the night in advance, building your confidence in your tune selection. The old adage “less is more” definitely applies here: The fewer tunes you’re looking through between selections when you’re DJing, the easier it will be to pick a good next tune.

However, our readers jumped on the chance to add their tips when we discussed this over on the forum, so I reprint some of the best ideas below. Would be good to hear your tips too!

To get us going, Steelo says: “Don’t play all your bangers at once. Start more mellow, tease the dancefloor with a few familiar samples but make them wait a bit. When you do drop something big, it will tear the roof off.”

Speaking, it seems, from experience, actionPak says: “Always intersperse your set with some songs the crowd knows (ie, radio friendly, commercial remixes) or else they will all leave the dancefloor…”

“Never underestimate the ‘power’ of a mediocre track as an intro to one of your ‘bangers’. In order to get the audience ‘high’ you first have to pick them up from ‘low’,” says Softcore.

Rodders warns: “Be prepared to change the direction of your mix if the audience seem so inclined, regardless of what genre was expected beforehand.”

And Mike Stead advises: “No matter how many times the most drunk person in the venue asks you for the most mental tune in your collection at 10pm, do not bow to the pressure – you will have nowhere to go afterwards!”

What’s your best programming or song choice tip? Can you recall a time when you’ve done a really good job of a set, or alternatively, when you’ve messed up? Please share in the comments.

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