Preparing your DJ set for a gig

In today’s world this may seem like an easy thing to do, considering the technology and accessibility of the music you need as a DJ. But is this actually the case?

Why do some people embrace the easy way of getting things done, rather than do things properly? Sure, you can get bunch of banging tracks to smash the floor and go home a hero. However, isn’t your role as a DJ to also educate people and bring original sounds to the dance floor?

As someone who is active in the music industry for over 20 years (go here to download sets and tracks for free), I have witnessed various artists in the scene coming and going. The ones that are short-lived are usually the ones putting less effort in their music related activities. If it’s about the track selection, they usually browse through someone else’s playlist and pick up the tracks. Which is actually a pretty shitty way to choose music for you set..

When performing, if they have a peak time slot, those kind of self-named DJs tend to play a ‘Bravo Hits like’ selection of tracks to get the immediate response and short-lived fame. Again, reaching for the easiest way to do the craft.

But, what value do they add to the music scene as a whole? Will their music stand the test of time? Are those sets remembered?

Are they creating anything of substance in general. besides just playing some music tracks? Are they maybe writing a blog, producing, recording podcasts, or have any other form of presence..? The answer to most, if not all, of the above questions: probably not.

Selection of music is super important for a DJ

It has always been one of the key components, but nowadays it is getting even more attention because everyone has easy access to a lot of music. I will be playing some shows here in Berlin in the coming weeks ( @ Arkaoda 03.05. and Bar 131 18.05.) and I wanted to make a blog post of how can you prepare your DJ set properly, at least in my opinion.

So, let’s get into it:

Like I mentioned before: (standard) playlists…; avoid that shit. It is pre-selected anyway and contains other people’s taste in music. Rather, go through:

  1. Your own selection of music and see if some of the producers have new releases, collaborations etc. This is music you already know meaning you have selected this in the past for some reason. Check if there is something new.
  2. A random search. What is a random search? This is when you search for music without a plan on where do you actually want to search. Open any search engine and start typing anything related to the style, scene or artist you prefer. Go deep into the results, you will be surprised.
  3. Make you own edits. Yes, invest your time and energy in originality. Open that software, do some remixes. People will ask for the track ID and you will have additional promotion on top of everything,
  4. Pick some of the same tracks you already played in the past. Not all, but some of them are just classics or define you style in some way. You need to have a signature.
  5. Search for the artists whose live sets you liked. When listening to somebody in the club environment it is totally different then at home. tracks presented there give you possibility to see immediate reaction from the crowd on the floor and yourself. This angle can be very useful.

There is an unlimited number of ways how you can compile your DJ set, and the above are just some of the methods I use. What I do not use is: playlists, compilations, suggestions, feedback from other people etc. You do not want to use the same tools as other DJs. If you do, you will lose in the long run, as there will be no originality; you do not contribute to the progress of the subject you try to represent.

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