If you’ve been following our series on playing pop music DJ sets, you’ll have learned how to 1) come up with a set that hooks your audience, and 2) master your transitions so you keep your audience interested throughout your set. This should give you a good foundation for playing pop style music, but if you really want to blow your audience away, you can go all out by learning how to make a mashup.  This is the final element that will help you play a pop music set that not only captivates your audience, but also gives them something new and leaves them wanting more.

Why Mashups?

Why should you bother learning how to make a mashup? This is an advanced technique, but if you can master it, you’ll give your audience two things: 1) a total surprise in hearing something they’ve never heard before, and 2) something to remember you by. Especially with pop music sets, learning how to make a mashup allows you to think outside the box for a minute, and if you do it right, your audience will love you for it.

What Makes a Good Mashup?

If you’ve experimented with making mashups before, or even if you’ve listened to a lot of mashups, you’ll know that not all mashups are created equal. So what separates the good from the bad? Of course, as with any form of music, judging mashups is a subjective exercise, but one thing that seems to really separate the good from the bad is the overall “flow” of the song. In other words, there are lots of ways that you can stick two songs together, but there’s something really magical that happens when two songs just fit perfectly from start to finish. This can be especially interesting when you take two songs from different genres and fit them together as if they were meant to be that way all along. Remember that video that perfectly matched up Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” with that 80’s dance video? That’s basically the vibe we’re going for here. 

How to Make a Mashup

Making a mashup involves a few advanced DJ skills, but once you’ve mastered them, you’ll have unlocked a huge world of possibilities. To start, you’ll need some sort of digital audio workstation (DAW) to manipulate your audio files. This could be something like Audacity, which you can download for free, or a paid software program like Mixed in Key, or even something more advanced like Ableton. You’ll also need to get your hands on the right audio files, namely a full version, instrumental version, and acappella version of each song you want to use. That way you can experiment with dropping in different acapellas over different instrumental tracks to find a mashup that works perfectly.

To get started making your mashup, you’ll need to master a few key skills: beatmatching and mixing in key. To get started on beatmatching, check out our tutorials on beatmatching with various DJ software programs. Then, once you’ve mastered that, check our lesson on mixing in key with Mixed In Key.

Learning how to make a mashup is something that can turn a good DJ set into a great DJ set. It can also be a good way to bring some outside influences into your pop music sets. Why not experiment with matching up a pop vocal with a hip-hop or R&B instrumental? Or you could even try bringing in an element from a well-known folk or indie song. With mashups, your options are virtually limitless.

For more tutorials on everything you need to know about being a DJ, sign up for our online DJ school at SpinAcademy.com.