Itís obviously important as a DJ to keep new music flowing into those crates and to stay ahead of the curve, here are some tips to do that.
Keep a ĎHot Boxí of Records
I have a special playlist in my iTunes called the ĎHot Boxí list. I can only keep 15 songs in here and itís a mixture of two types of tracks:
1) Songs that are really hot right now. These are songs that I get in there because I know they have a good reaction right now. When I stop getting this effect from them they will be retired to make more room for the second type of record I put in.
2) New bangers. These are tracks that Iíve found that I think will really make the room go off. Sometimes they won’t, maybe not the right crowd or just doesnít have the desired effect. If they do well they push out dying tracks. If they donít they wonít stay in there for more than a week or two.
This helps me keep track of songs I want to play in a night, in case there’s something new I picked up and forgot about as well as a quick reference for some of the songs I should be dropping in a night because I know theyíll set the room off especially around the end of the night.
Make digging for tracks a routine
When I get time over the week Iíll look for tracks. But every Saturday before I go to my gig I budget two hours to do a couple of things, in this order:
- Itís always great to look for new sources of music to add to your regular places.
- Buffer whatís been working, if youíre playing a lot of trap lately get some more stuff to add to your collection.
- Dig for new music, always try and find somthing weird to throw in there itís important to try and take risks when you can.
- Go over my play lists see what’s not fresh anymore and take it out to make room for newer stuff I just downloaded.
Go over your history !
Centered at computer users but this seems like a given I think a lot of people donít do. This is great especially right after a gig when itís still fresh in your mind. Go over what worked and what didnít. Look back a couple weeks and see if there are a couple tracks youíve been playing every week and just donít play them at your next gig. Youíll probably be pleasantly surprised by forcing yourself to try some other tracks in their place. the main purpose of this though is addressing what worked and what didnít for you at your previous gig.
Try to stay ahead of the curve
Follow genre music blogs. Look for emerging trends and try to be the first one to try them out. If they donít go over great the first week give it a week or two and try again. Try and follow what’s coming up and get ahead of it. Always remember to try and take a risk.
If you want to learn more about DJ’ing and gear we highly recommend you check out our online DJ School here at Spin Academy.
Grooveshark has been in a entangled in legal battles over their service for the past few years.† Google has now apparently taken a stance on the issue by blacklisting the streaming service from their search engine.† Read more hereÖ
The DJ Mag Top 100 DJs voting has now opened, but not everyone is jumping on board.† With news of certain DJs spending big cash to campaign for votes as well as other rumors of general corruption throughout the competition, is the list an accurate representation of the worlds best DJs?
Gareth Emery has already spoken out against the awards, basically telling everyone not to vote for him.† Will other DJs follow suit in a boycott?
Funny or Die has made a great video that shares this viewpointÖ
Serato unveiled their new iPad app, Serato Remote.† For $19.99 in the iTunes app store it could be worth a look if you are a Serato user.† They are a bit behind the curve, as Traktor has already released itís iPad app as well as itís FREE iPhone app, but itís good to see them join the party.† The big difference between them is Serato Remote looks like it is meant to be integrated into your DJ rig, while the Traktor app can function as a standalone all-in-one DJ rig.† What do you think?
Fact Magazine brings a great summer mix from Gerd that starts out a little bit disco and morphs into something bordering on tech-house.† Definitely worth a listen while out in the sun.
Boeboe is a new producer coming out of Amsterdam that just dropped his El Dorado EP.† XLR8R has a stream and download of the track ďAmazon BasinĒ, which is a great listen for hazy summer days.† Check it out below and pick up the EP at his Bandcamp page.
If you want to learn more about DJing and gear we highly recommend you check out our online DJ School Spin-Academy.
Iíve met a lot of DJs who use set lists, and a lot of DJs who are absolutely against them, so Iíve seen either side of the spectrum. That being said I want to provide a fairly objective look at setlists and when they can be useful and why you might want to avoid them.
What is a set list ?
Bands are pretty synonymous with set lists since a lot of the time bands will have a pre planned list of songs they are going to play. As a DJ having a set list is walking into the club on any given night with a set plan on each individual track you plan on playing over an hour or two hour span. Lotís of DJs will stick hard to a set list and not adjust at all. Others will take it as a basic outline for what they want to play for the evening and work within it.
A shorter version of a set list I call a routine. A routine, as an example for an open format DJ would be say an old school classic hip hop routine. Itís 3-5 songs you know will work well together. If it goes over really well you can keep pulling out deeper songs in the genre and perhaps a similar routine. If it doesnít you can switch to something else, maybe another routine. It can be songs of a similar genre or sound, or a couple songs that just work really well together.
Why are many DJs against set lists ?
You want to be able to play for the room, it takes a special situation to know exactly what the crowd wants in advance and itís important to be able to adapt. Let me paraphrase from two big name DJs to illustrate this.
To paraphrase one thing Mark Knight has said is, for him DJing is 10 percent technique, and 90 percent song selection. Knowing what tracks work and how to read a room is monumentally important to DJing. Technique can be used to better present good songs, but ultimately you need to be playing good music that fits the mood to set the party off.
A-Track has also said he can teach DJs to scratch but thats only half of DJing the other half is knowing what songs to play when. What does this have to do with set lists ? You need to be able to know what works off the book sometimes and try new tracks to test the reaction. Thats some times the only way to find songs that get the best reaction. Different songs will set different rooms off, at different times and itís important to know which situations you can get away with what. Put Your hands Up for Detroit by Fedde le Grande will still get a good reaction. But It wonít if I play it too early or to the wrong crowd itís important to experiment with what works where.
When is a set list appropriate?
Although as I mentioned many DJs will just play off a setlist, their are a couple situations you almost must go off a set list, here are two examples:
DJ Competitions: Although Itís important to still be aware of the crowd when playing a DJ Competition, whether its for song selection or turntablism, hopefully youíve prepared enough to be aware of the crowd. To keep your set rock solid itís important to know what you are going to play.You have to have practiced technique and in most cases you should know the songs you are going to play as well.
Large Festivals: You have a thousand plus people there to see you for the first time, itís important to do a couple of things. Represent yourself properly. This is less playing for the crowd as it is representing your brand. This is the type of event you should know exactly what type of music to expect.
So whatís the best way to go ?
Many people will argue one way or the other but I think the best thing to do is play in the middle. This is why I brought up routines. Routines are great, because it allows you to have some practiced technique for a couple songs. I think showing up to a venue knowing exactly every song youíre going to play is narrowing yourself too much, that being said itís important to have an idea of what youíll be playing for the night especially if you are playing a long set, but be flexible. Make sure you find your happy medium between free styling every song, and having a hard set list.
If you want to learn more about DJ’ing and gear we highly recommend you check out our online DJ School here at Spin Academy.
1. Genre and BPM Range
The type of show you are playing will provide the framework of your genre and BPM choices for the night. Some shows leave you to decide on your own what to play, some might need a wide variety of genres and BPMs (i.e. Top 40 clubs), while others might have a very specific genre and style that you need to play (i.e. opening for a well-known producer). You should do a little research into the club you are playing and the other DJs you are playing with to get a general idea of what kind of music will go over best with the crowd.
2. Key Analysis
There are a few different software options for key analyzing your songs. One of the favorites among DJs is a program called Mixed in Key. Programs like this analyze the audio waveform of each track and determine what key they are in as well as their tempo. Results can be displayed in their traditional key form (i.e. A Major) or in a custom system called the ĎCamelot Systemí that shows the key as a number and letter combination that is easy for DJs to use (i.e. 1a, 5b, etc.). Mixed in Key gives you the option to write this new info into the metadata of the digital file so that music programs like iTunes, Traktor, Serato, etc. can display it. This information can be very useful when creating playlists and also when you need to quickly throw on a track in a mix without being able to fully preview because you know that it will sonically fit with the rest.
3. Playlist Organization
In a previous article, I discussed creating ďsmart playlistsĒ in iTunes and how you can integrate them into your DJ workflow. A huge part of learning to how DJ is this type of song preparation that takes place well before you get to the club. You canít (and some would argue shouldnít) always play out a set as a rigid playlist. Vibes on the dancefloor can change quickly and you need to be able to adapt to these changes equally as fast. Having all of your music categorized into sub folders of genre, BPM, ratings, color, etc. will help you tremendously in these situations.† If you think that you suddenly need to switch from a dubstep song in A minor to a trap song that will fit in key, a little playlist organization can make the search a lot easier.
4. Improvised and Transition Material
One topic that sometimes gets passed over is the issue of having song material that you can use to improvise with and/or transition out of an area that isnít working. This can take many different forms depending on your personal style. Here are a couple of examples;
- A big melodic wash out without any drums or percussion to give the crowd a break.
- Playable drum kits, synths, or other hardware to break down the flow and give the crowd something tailor-made from your brain.
- A capellas (either from songs or spoken word) to transition between genres and/or BPM ranges.
This cannot be stressed enough; PRACTICE. Practice as much as possible. All of this preparation might not seem like itís needed on a night where youíre running smooth and everyone is dancing, but nights like these are not common occurrences. Very rarely will you be able to play through a set exactly as you laid it in your iTunes playlist or in the mixtape that you made. Maybe the DJ before you played 3 songs that you were going to play. Maybe there was a fight on the dancefloor and the vibe of the room changed. There will always be unexpected twists and turns, and you have to be ready to deal with them. The best way to prepare for unexpected events is to have a complete handle on all of your equipment and songs so that you can react as quickly as possible.
If you want to learn more about DJing and gear we highly recommend you check out our online DJ School here at Spin-Academy.
Another month, more awesome music coming out. This month I wanted to focus on the rowdy records that are being played at all the big summer festivals, as they really bang prime time at the club. I wanted to introduce a more progressive sound thats coming from tracks like Fedde Le Grande’s remix of I Choose U by Timeflies which I’m absolutely addicted too. Hope you enjoy !
1. David Guetta & Glowinthedark feat. Harrison – Ain’t A Party (Original Mix)
2. Primitive – Richard Vission vs Luciana (Richard Vission Remix)
3. Afrojack feat. Chris Brown – As Your Friend (Sidney Samson Remix)
4. Timeflies – I Choose U (Fedde Le Grand Remix)
5. Axwell – Center Of The Universe (Remode)
6. Fedde Le Grand and Sultan + Ned Shepard – No Good (Extended Mix)
7. Donít Stop – ATB (MadeIn82 2013 Remix)
8. Duck Sauce – It’s You
9. Ralvero – Fuck What U Heard
10. Jesse Marco – Who Go Deep (Wax Motif & Neoteric vs. Tujamo & Plastik Funk Bootleg)
If you want to learn more about DJ’ing and gear we highly recommend you check out our online DJ School Spin Academy.