This will be the first instalment in a number of articles on choosing music for your DJ sets. Our first article will start discussing what kind of music to look for, for opening DJ sets. Later articles will look at what kind of music you want to find for other times in the evening or events. But we will start out talking about what kind of music you want for your opening sets.
The opening DJ is an often underrated position, not being the headliner sometimes people look at the opening DJ as an inferior position when this couldnít be farther from the truth, many famous house DJs are quoted as saying they often prefer opening a night then closing it. An opening DJ gets to be creative with their music choices. Opening DJs get the chance to raise the energy of the room, and most importantly build the dance floor.
I will talk about two important elements of what kind of music you want for your opening sets, addressing actual sound as well as style of music you want.
What should it sound like?
The best advice I can recommend is strong bass and drums. You will often have to play music in opening sets that is lower energy or less people might know, but with all that aside, people will still groove or better even, dance if the music has a very solid kick to it. This also means not music with a lot of highs. Stuff like really high energy progressive house with lots of high/mid sounding synths is way too hard on the ears early in the night, save that for the headliner.
Even more important is tempo. Tempo is critical as it is your tool to control the energy of the room. You want to start the night with very low tempo (if youíre playing house 118 is a good example, really take it down to start). This give you room to ramp the energy of the room as your set goes on. So in this regard you want to look for music that is in the lower tempos of your genre and build up from there.
What style of music do I want?
For the most part you want simple sounding tracks. Like I mentioned above stay away from things with a lot going on with the high end.
Remixes work awesome. When you are searching around for your music and you find those remixes of songs that seem to be lacking energy, they are perfect for opening sets. I used to skip over these kinds of remixes but now they are total gems, for example,
This is a staple when Iím opening a top 40 night. It still has the important lyrics, but I can play it slower and it has those really heavy pounding drums.
Another example is this remix of blurred lines,
Again we have the very heavy drums, but very little lyrics, I can pitch it down and itís fairly simple track but still has that break down with important elements of blurred lines so itís still recognizable.
In conclusion keep with music with strong drums, but no long breaks. Make sure its simple but still has some groove to it. Make sure not to burn the headliner whatever you do, and make use of lower tempo tracks to build the energy of the room. Keep an eye out for the next instalments of this article to cover what kind of music to look for later in the night.
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.