We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog talking about how to play great DJ sets, and for good reason – knowing how to perform well is a big part of becoming a successful DJ. Today, however, I want to talk about another aspect of DJing – releasing your music online – and how this can be one of the best ways to make money as a DJ, but maybe not in the way you thought.
Sites to Help You Make Money from DJ Mixes
Since Beatport launched “Mixes” – a platform that allows DJs to legally sell and share their mixes online – it’s become easier for DJs to sell their mixes without worrying about copyright infringement. In addition to Beatport, DJs can also release their mixes through other sites like Soundcloud, Mixcloud, MixCrate, MixDJ, and others. If you’re worried about copyright, Soundcloud appears to be the most notorious for generating cease-and-desist orders from record labels, although this only really seems to be a problem if you’re trying to make money from DJ mixes directly on Soundcloud, which, as we’ll see, isn’t actually be the best strategy for making money through this type of site.
Why the Best Way to Make Money from DJ Mixes is to Release Them for Free
In today’s music economy, the most successful artists are the ones who understand how to harness new technologies and think outside the box. And that’s why the best way to make money from DJ mixes is to release them for free.
How can you make money from something by releasing it for free? Perhaps the best explanation of this concept comes from Jay-Z’s DJ Young Guru in this video:
Did you catch what he said at the end? “The biggest thing is not to go for the quick buck, but to go for things that will sustain you and will add on to your legacy and allow you as your brand to build.”
How DJ Mixes Can Help You Build Your Brand as a DJ
In this case, trying to make money from your DJ mixes directly through a site like Mixcloud would be the way of going for the quick buck. Not only are the profits for mix sales through sites like these typically pretty low for most DJs, it can also be a major headache to make sure you have clearance for every track.
So instead of going to all that trouble, why not release your mixes for free and use them to build your brand as a DJ? As Young Guru says, “The artist now adds value to themselves.” Your DJ sets shouldn’t be something that you hang on to and try to squeeze every buck out of; instead, they should be a tool you can use to build up your brand and your online following.
With the way the music and entertainment industry is going these days, those who are trying to hang on to the old model are quickly getting left behind. If you want to stay ahead of the curve and build a sustainable career as a DJ, you’ll have to come up with new and creative ways of making money, and often that involves giving things away for free.
Stay tuned to the Spin Academy blog for another post on this subject in the coming weeks when we’ll talk about some more specific ways of making money by giving your music away for free. Also, be sure to check out our online DJ school, where we’ve got plenty of lessons on how to promote your brand and build your DJ career.
In our last post on playing pop style music we talked about how to decide which songs to use for your set. This week I want to delve deeper into some of the methods of how to DJ pop music sets and talk about how you can use transitions to give your sets more flow and keep the crowd interested.
Give the People What They Want
Modern pop music typically follows a standard flow of intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-outro. If you read the first post in this series, you should be up to speed on which parts of a pop song are the most important for DJs. Now we can apply that same strategy to your transitions. Simply put, this strategy is to give people more of what they want and less of what they don’t want.
So what is it that people want from pop music? Choruses, choruses, and more choruses. The key to creating a hit pop song by today’s radio standards always depends on a great chorus; while other elements like verses and intros can help draw listeners into a song, you can generally get away with a less-than-stellar verse in a pop song as long as you have a really banging chorus.
Mixing with the Chorus in Mind
What does this mean for you as a DJ? Since the success of a pop song depends on its chorus, you should always pay more attention to the chorus of a song than any other element. So when it comes to how to DJ pop music sets, this means always mixing out of a chorus, and never mixing out of a verse or bridge.
Imagine you’re on the dance floor and you hear a verse you recognize. You’re anticipating the awesome chorus that’s about to follow, but then suddenly the DJ flips to the intro of another song. That’s not the way to keep people happy!
Instant vs. Delayed Gratification
When thinking about how to DJ pop music sets, there are two basic philosophies for transitions: the instant gratification method and the delayed gratification method. Since the chorus is the most important part of any pop song, instant gratification would be an instant cut from the chorus of one song to the hook or chorus of another song. Mashup DJs do a great job of this, sometimes even combining the choruses of two or more different songs at once. This strategy can be great for a high-energy set, but after a while this approach could get draining for an audience as they’re being pelted with chorus after chorus with no real breaks in between.
The other approach is the delayed gratification method. You know that feeling when you know a great chorus is coming up: As you’re waiting for it to drop, your energy level keeps going up and up and up until finally – bam! – there it is. Talk about a satisfying feeling.
You can achieve this type of effect by using slower transitions between songs. Say you’ve got two pop songs on deck – Song A and Song B. By giving a hint of Song B during the first verse of Song A, but waiting until the end of the second chorus of Song A to bring in Song B, you give a feeling of delayed gratification. Then when you move into Song B, don’t go straight into the chorus. Instead, start with the intro, or loop the intro a few times to create an extended play version of the song to enhance the delayed gratification effect.
Which Approach Is Best?
If used well, both approaches can have positive effects. Usually the best thing to do will be to use a mix of both methods to keep your audience interested without overwhelming them.
That should give you some ideas to play with next time you’re DJing a pop set. Keep an eye out for our next feature on how to DJ pop music where we’ll offer some advice on how to step up your creativity and take your pop sets to a whole new level.