Hopefully by now you’re recovering from all of your holiday parties and taking some time to get ready for the year ahead. Or maybe you’re preparing to play a great New Year’s Eve set in a few days. Whatever the case, taking some downtime over the holidays is a good way to reflect on what’s changed over the past year and to prepare for what will change in the year to come. It’s safe to say that the world of electronic music has changed a lot in 2016, and will probably change even more in 2017, so if you’re looking for some 2017 DJ tips, here are a few predictions for what the next year will bring.
Prepare for More Diversity in EDM
While EDM hasn’t quite gone the way of disco yet, the charts are telling us that audiences are ready for more diversity in dance music in 2017. With blockbuster movies about EDM starring the likes of Zac Efron, and celebrity DJs charging $1,500 for ultra-VIP tickets in Vegas, it’s safe to say that EDM has not only broken into the mainstream, but become a culture of excess. And while there are plenty of underground scenes still running strong, most mainstream audiences are beginning to experience overexposure symptoms when it comes to EDM. That’s not to say that EDM won’t be around in 2017, but look for new genres to emerge into the mainstream that bring more diversity to the pop-EDM sound that top 40 radio listeners have been oversaturated with in 2016.
Look for a Move Towards More Hardware and Vintage Technology
With so many advances in digital and wireless technology, it would seem logical that DJs would be moving towards these types of un-tethered tech tools in 2017, but the trends appear to be pointing in the opposite direction. Just look at vinyl sales in the past year: while digital download sales were on the decline in 2016, vinyl sales actually grew. Now, the same trend is emerging on the music production end as well: sales of MIDI controllers have been on the decline recently, while sales of standalone hardware like CDJs and mixers are starting to climb. Look for this trend to grow in 2017, but watch as well for new innovations to occur as DJs combine the best that both hardware and software have to offer in their DJ setups.
Get Ready for AI Music Creation
With self-driving cars set to take over our streets and tech companies in Silicon Valley investing in all sorts of new artificial intelligence (AI) technology, programs that harness the power of big data and machine learning are becoming the way of the future. This appears to be the case for the music world as well – there’s already technology like Landr that (sort of) does the job of a human mastering engineer, and Alex Da Kid even released a single last month co-written by IBM’s Watson BEAT computer program. While AI in the music world seems to still be in the novelty stage, with the possibilities opened up by this kind of technology, one of the best 2017 DJ tips for anyone who wants to stay ahead of the curve is to harness the power of AI for their own music creation.
To stay on top of all of these trends, your best defence is the power of education. Technology and musical trends will come and go, but a solid foundation of technique and knowledge will never go out of style. To stay on top of your game in 2017, consider joining Spin Academy’s online DJ school for only $19.95/month to get access to all of the best tutorials and 2017 DJ tips.
Because of its minimalistic structures and repetitive patterns, techno gives DJs lots of room to play around, making this one of the most creative EDM genres to mix. So if you want to know how to DJ techno, especially at a professional level, having some advanced techniques in your bag of DJ tricks is a good place to start. Here are some skills and techniques that would be useful to anyone who wants to learn how to DJ techno.
Know Your Effects
While every DJ has their own style, most techno DJs these days rely heavily on the use of effects like EQs, filters, and delays to create smooth transitions, interesting cuts, and rewarding build-ups. For example, filtering tracks during transitions by taking out the low end of one track and the high end of the other is a great way to cut out the muddiness that often occurs when mixing two tracks together. It also creates a sense of anticipation as your audience waits for the filter to finally come all the way off of that second track so they can hear it in its full glory.
EQs can be wielded in a similar way during transitions. For long transitions, which are common in techno music, keeping a sense of clarity to both tracks over a 16 or even 32 bar transition can be a challenge. This is one of the main reasons why mixers and software applications give you EQ knobs. Instead of allowing frequencies from both tracks to overlap and crowd the mix, experiment with EQing out some high or low end frequencies from your tracks. This works in much the same way as the filtering technique, but with EQ, you’re able to boost and cut certain frequencies more accurately.
Another effect to consider for techno transitions is delay. With the right delay settings, you can add a delay tail to a track as it’s fading out, or even after a quick cut. This gives the impression that the track is running longer, which again leads to smoother transitions.
All of these effects can be useful not just for transitions, but also as ways to add more interesting elements to a track. For some inspiration, take a listen to this effects-heavy set from techno DJ Derrick May:
While clever use of effects will help your transitions, all of these mixing efforts will be lost if you’re not mixing harmonically. This means mixing tracks with other tracks that are either in the same key or in a complementary key. It helps to have some music theory knowledge if you want to master this skill, and using software like Mixed in Key can also make this easier. For more on mixing in key, check out our tutorial video on using Mixed in Key software by DJ Roshan.
Know Your Material
There are so many mixing tricks and effects you can use when learning how to DJ techno that it can be a challenge to know when to apply each of these techniques. The best way to figure this out is to get to know your material well. By listening to other DJ mixes and building up your own library of techno tracks, you’ll get a feel for which styles lend themselves well to which types of transitions, which types of effects work well with which tracks, and so on. You won’t become a master at this genre overnight, but with some practice and lots of attentive listening, you become the one who teaches your friends how to DJ techno.
For more DJ mixing tips and tricks for all genres of EDM, check out Spin Academy, where you can access tutorials by professional DJs as well as interviews with celebrity DJs like Morgan Page and ill.Gates, all for only $19.95/month.
When preparing for live sets, performance technique is often one of the last things DJs think about. But even though DJs don’t inhabit the same space as, say, a live rock band, that doesn’t mean things like stage presence and audience rapport aren’t important – in fact, having a good stage presence can help set you apart from other DJs who are technically proficient but have no idea how to engage an audience. So in the spirit of improving your live gigs, here are 5 DJ performance tips that will help you play better in front of an audience.
Invite the Audience Into Your Set
Control Your Energy Levels