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How to DJ Downtempo Sets Part 2: Basic Techniques and Artistry

Posted By — June 3, 2016

Last time we talked about how to DJ downtempo sets on the blog, we explored some of the different subgenres that make up the downtempo movement, and also talked about the general philosophy behind downtempo music. Now that you understand the basics of what downtempo music is all about, we can get into some of the nitty gritty of how to DJ downtempo sets. As we’ll see, however, being a downtempo DJ is just as much about artistry as it is about mastering the technical side of things. But first, to start off, let’s take a look at some of the basic techniques all downtempo DJs need to master.


Although downtempo music places less emphasis on beats than other EDM genres, that doesn’t mean the beats don’t matter. In order to create smooth transitions, you’ll want to make sure that your songs are beatmatched. Want a primer on how to beatmatch? Check out our beatmatching video tutorial series, which is included in every Spin Academy membership.

Mixing in Key 

Even more important than beatmatching when it comes to how to DJ downtempo music is the technique of mixing in key. Since beats are often secondary elements in this genre, that means melodic [...]


Social Media Strategies that Actually Work: Starting Your Own DJ Podcast (Part 1)

Posted By — May 20, 2016

For the average DJ, navigating the world of social media can be a major challenge. While some successful DJs seem to have mastered social media, for many new and developing DJs, social media can yield disappointing results, and often feels like a waste of time. The problem for many DJs is that they’re focusing their energies in the wrong places; while we all dream of having tens of thousands of Facebook and Twitter followers, we often neglect the other more direct mediums that will actually help us grow our fanbase more. Starting your own DJ podcast is one of the best ways to gain followers and get more gigs, and it doesn’t involve hours of tweeting and posting selfies. Here’s how it works:

 Why You Should Have a DJ Podcast

Sure, we’d all love to be invited to host a residency on BBC Radio 1 like Flying Lotus or James Blake, but that’s an opportunity that comes only to the most successful DJs at the top of their careers. The good news is that you can basically create your own radio residency by starting a DJ podcast. Hosting a DJ podcast allows you to [...]


Understanding EDM Subgenres: The UK Scene

Posted By — May 6, 2016

Electronic dance music, as a movement, is really an international phenomenon. Nowadays, music fans may not be aware of the international origins of the music they enjoy, as artists cross over genre boundaries as much as they cross over national ones, but there was a time when each region of the globe had its own distinct sound that manifested itself in unique cultural and musical scenes. One of the most important scenes was the British scene of the 1990s and early 2000s that gave rise to some of the EDM subgenres that dominate the electronic music landscape today like dubstep and drum and bass. So what was that scene all about? Here’s a bit of history on the rise of EDM in the UK and the EDM subgenres that developed out of that movement.

Oldschool Jungle

By the 1980s, the rave scene had taken off in England, with DJs spinning techno and acid house on a regular basis. By the early 1990s, however, partygoers were hungry for a new kind of sound. In London, DJs at rave clubs started playing music with faster beats (around 150 bpm – 170 bpm), incorporating more dark and eclectic sounds into their music, [...]


How to DJ Downtempo Sets Part 1: History and Basic Mindset

Posted By — April 22, 2016

As a DJ, there’s great fun to be had in getting everyone dancing and screaming at the top of their lungs all night to some heavy beats. As will everything in life, however, there’s beauty in the contrast. For some DJs, playing to a room of chilled out people or spinning in Ibiza as the sun rises is an even bigger rush than playing an EDM set at a Las Vegas club. Many DJs have built successful careers on the softer side of the EDM spectrum, and if you want to learn how to DJ downtempo sets, the first step is to understand the history of the genre and the basic philosophy behind it.

What Is a Downtempo DJ?

These days, we hear about downtempo DJs playing all sorts of styles – ambient, chillwave, chillstep, trip-hop, etc… All of these styles really came out of one movement: It began in the ‘90s club scene when people were looking for a place to relax after a night of partying without leaving the club. This gave rise to the chill-out room, where much of the downtempo music we hear today originated from. Electronic music festivals in places [...]


Beginner DJ Tips: Why All DJs Should Understand Basic Harmony

Posted By — April 8, 2016

One of the great things about DJing is that you can learn to DJ without ever taking a music lesson. That doesn’t mean, however, that DJs don’t need to be musical. In fact, one could easily think of a DJ rig as a musical instrument in itself – after all, it has the same capacity to produce melody, harmony, and rhythm as any other musical instrument. (You might even say that it’s the ultimate musical instrument.) If a DJ does the same job as any other musician, then shouldn’t a good DJ be musically literate in the same way that other musicians are as well? While studying advanced counterpoint may not help you very much in your career as a DJ, there is one aspect of music theory that all DJs should understand: harmony. For this post on beginner DJ tips, we’ll explore why harmony is so important to DJs and how you can apply harmonic theory to your DJ sets.

Why You Should Learn to Mix in Key

When most people learn to DJ for the first time, they start by blending two random tracks together to see what they sound like. Because humans have an intuitive sense [...]


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