Latest Tip for WCS DJ's
I get many questions about organizing music libraries and it’s a good one, because it touches on how much a set should be “planned” and how much should be spontaneous.
Firstly, I recommend you pack a “Bucket”, if you will, for every gig. This means having a playlist where you carefully comb through your collection, moving across songs you’d like to play on the night. You’re aiming for about double the number of tunes here than you’ll actually play. This helps you to focus and gets you thinking in advance about the set structure, the crowd and so on.
This kind of preparation is different to rigidly planning your whole set…
On the night, you’ll find it much easier to play from such a “Bucket’ while at the same time be able to be “spontaneous” in your tune choice, especially if you practice DJing using that folder for the few weeks building up to the set – you’ll start spotting good tunes with transitions you can use. This kind of preparation is different to rigidly planning your whole set, and means you’re unlikely to miss playing any of those “must-play” tunes.
Part of being a successful DJ is creating your unique DJ sound, Anything is possible in the DJ world. For you to have a chance at real success, locally, nationally or internationally, you’ll need to stand out from the rest and create your own unique style.
Many DJs you’ll see and hear when you go out play similar music to each other. There’s not much really wrong with this, as long as they’re making people happy and as long as people are dancing.
But if you want to be better and rise above the average DJ, get real, you need to step up !
Your music selection, the order of your tracks, the style of mixing and the blend should all be in your style or DJ sound. Your style needs to be unique to you. No one else can play in the way you do. DJs may try to copy you, but they’ll never do it, because only you know how to react and surprise people with your unique style. So, this is how we do it!
1. Find rare gems
First up, you need to get busy searching. finding random websites with solo artists, contacting bloggers that few others know of or digging into your own collection. The ideal way of creating your sound is to find the best combination of least known but most catchy and memorable tunes. The kind of tunes that have dancers on the floor staring at you and crowding around to find out what they are.
2. Be a punk
Go against the grain. You’re there so that people can enjoy themselves, but there’s nothing wrong with being a rebel with your DJ style. This doesn’t mean you playing a set for yourself, dancing away in your booth while everyone else looks at you in bewildered silence and disappointment. But it does mean you play against the grain. Drop surprises. Be a bit crazy.
3. Be eclectic
Being eclectic means changing your style. This style of playing reflects a unique DJ sound and you’ll be remembered far better for it. If you’re playing electro, then drop some pop and R&B, just to show people you’ve got gutzbah. Why not be crazy and drop in some old Eric Clapton. Vary within your genre, push the boundaries.
Get to know how to play various styles. As well as creating your own sound, you will get noticed and may even get more gigs as your style can be adapted to any venue, not just single-genre venues.
Practice mixing five different styles and then try it on a night out.
4. Mix old and new tunes
Why you should mix old tunes? Isn’t DJing all about the best new amazing tracks, hot off the block? No it’s not. And you’d be making a mistake thinking it is. Alot of the music you hear today is older music recycled. Loads of what you play right now is based on older tunes, containing samples from other tunes. Certain tracks may simply be direct copies.
When you make a shout back to old tunes people love it.
Likewise, there are a couple of Daft Punk tracks which sample heavily from old soul and funk. When I drop them, people still love it. It goes on..
When a certain style is fashionable, give a shout to old styles that are similar too. New music trends are a rehash of old ones.
Not only does it make people dance, but it shows you have depth. Also, you may have some older party animals in the crowd. They’ll absolutely love you for blasting out tunes of their young days.
1. Only admit to your DJ library the tunes you actually know you’ll want to DJ – and purge it of anything else;
2. Make sure your files contain the metadata that’s important to you – artist, title, any remix titles, year, genre and bpm
3. Know how to sort and filter your files and how to listen to them day-to-day – when you’re not actually DJing or practicing
4. Have a way of choosing a set of possible tunes for any particular gig – and of getting that set of tunes into your DJ software (and on a mobile device, Just in case!)
5. Regularly Back Up – not only your music files but any work done on them with any other software you use (ie; cue points, bpm adjustments, etc)
See the bigger picture – there’s always a bigger picture. The night is not about you. Your job is to understand and raise the vibe in your venue. It is about people coming together to have fun, of which music is THE huge part sure, but not the whole story – not by a long shot.
Good DJs, in their minds, should always be asking questions. They’re always observing, looking for ways to build excitement and pleasure for their audiences, This could also be things that are often not directly connected to the music,.
How about some random DJ questions:
What has gone on in your city today? Has the local football team won? Lost? Are people happy, angry, dejected?
Are they tired from a long holiday weekend, or raring to go at the start of a long-awaited one?
Is it cold outside? Is it cold inside? How can you literally warm your crowd?
Is the place filling up too fast, so people are uneasy? How can you soothe them, make the vibe more welcoming?
Can you get soft, red or softer lighting on the dance floor? Can you get control over any of the lights and start coordinating them with your music?
When did you last walk round your dance floor? You can do this even when you\’re playing. In fact, I’d encourage it.
Are there not enough people in yet? How can you bring those who are in the venue together “under one flag”, and get that atmosphere built? Is there a drinks promotion on that’s taking everyone’s attention away from the floor? (So what do you do? Fight it, or play incidental tunes until they’re a bit drunk, bored of it, and ready to dance?)
Are there too many boys in? Too many girls? How is that affecting the vibe? How can you react to it? Do you want to use a microphone? How? How can you use the volume in the venue to alter the mood? Do you even know how loud the music is throughout your venue? What is happening in other rooms in the venue? How can you complement that/vibe off it?
Talk to your crowd and find out the answers to some of these things?
Getting into the mindset of your crowd builds your enjoyment of the night immensely, and they’ll respond by talking to you, catching your eye, including you in their night. If you’ve got hands to shake, people’s eyes to catch on the dance floor, other DJs to bounce ideas off, you’re not just ‘there’, you’re having fun!
You can do more with either of the two pieces of equipment you have than a DJ with two decks. Equipment won’t make DJing interesting – music and people will. You could DJ with an iPod and done right, have an electric night. Concentrate on the art of DJing, not the science of your equipment. (Or, if you’re really hardcore, and venue permits, you could cover the BPMs on your screen, disable your sync buttons, and beatmatch the whole night manually. That’ll definitely give you something to do between tunes! )
Good luck, and have fun.
Interesting Reading: Some parts being shared here.
For full article please visit:
“After significant statistical analysis involving 102 different pieces of music and 26 different genres and sub-genres, the research team distilled those clusters down to the following: Arousal, Valence, and Depth. According to the study, every single piece of music — across any era, style, or origin — can be accurately described by using those three areas.
These areas are more fully described as follows:
(1) Arousal describes intensity and energy in music;
(2) Valence/Behavior describes the spectrum of emotions in music (from sad to happy);
(3) Depth describes intellect and sophistication in music.
Additionally, the research team also discovered that characteristics describing music from within a single genre(including both rock and jazz) could be accurately broken down by these same three categories. But on the edges of any ‘genre,’ things can be very difficult to classify, which is why most music fans have trouble defining their taste in music.
Indeed, the finding explains why most listeners prefer music that spans multiple genres, radically different styles, and divergent eras. As an example, a lower-intensity chill dubstep track might rank low on the Arousal scale, provoke a mellow emotional Valence, and offer only moderate intellectual sophistication. Those levels could match an acoustic style song, and help to explain why one person likes two seemingly-different styles. Even a laid-back trap song could provoke similar rankings.
“Genre labels are informative but we’re trying to transcend them…”
All of that suggests that genres may be outdated, but more importantly, tied to societal and surface factors that aren’t as directly related to the core music itself. “The findings suggest that this may be a useful alternative to grouping music into genres, which is often based on social connotations rather than the attributes of the actual music,” the research group relayed. “It also suggests that those in academia and in the music industry (e.g. Spotify and Pandora) that are already coding music on a multitude of attributes, might save time and money by coding music around these three composite categories instead.”
At best, genres are clumsy tools to describe music, though at worst they limit our ability to accurately and completely describe a piece of music. “Genre labels are informative but we’re trying to transcend them and move in a direction that points to the detailed characteristics in music that are driving people preferences and emotional reactions,”.
There is a transition between playing competition music from CDs, and the DJs ripping that music onto a computer to be played during the competition. In most cases the music played during a competition will be played from a computer.
My experience, at an Event: I received 26 songs from competitors across all the “competitor selected music” divisions. A total of 12 CDs were turned in, three of the CDs were not labeled in any way. Five of the CDs were not “audio CDs” and were burned as “data CDs” instead. Of the remaining songs, 5 had to be e-mailed to me – in most cases, the ONLY copy of the song the competitor had at the event was on their phone! Of the mp3’s, three are below 192kbps bitrate. This is a long way from the “desirable” method for getting music to the DJ for a dance competition.
Tips on editing music
BEFORE any editing takes place, convert any mp3′s (or other compressed format) to wav. Almost all music editing programs use the wav file format for actually editing the music file. Keep the music in wav format during the entire editing process. Note, this conversion will not magically recover the lost information, but it will help to minimize additional losses from converting to and from mp3 multiple times.
When the editing is complete, save the final edit in wav format and use that to burn any CDs. If it is necessary to convert the music from wav to mp3, use mp3 settings that equate to: “320 kbps CBR Joint Stereo.” There is NO reason to ever use a lower mp3 bitrate for music you will use in competition.
Preparing a mp3 for use in a competition
Almost all music played in a competition is played from a computer. In practical terms, mp3 is the “best” format to use when presenting music to the DJ for a competition. Of the existing music file formats, only wav and mp3 can be considered “universal” in terms of support. The mp3 should ideally be the highest bitrate available, 320kbps CBR is preferred. Even at this bitrate, the mp3 file will be just under 2.5MB per minute. This means that a 2-3 minute routine song will be between 5MB and 7.5MB in size. This file can be e-mailed in an “emergency.”
If possible, providing your music to the DJ on a thumb drive may be appreciated…ask the DJ about their preference. Be sure to update the ID3 tags to include the division, name(s) of the competitors, and special instructions (e.g. cue to start music, instructions about tempo changes, etc).
There is no standard way among the various DJs to put the tag information into existing ID3 tags. I prefer to have the “Artist” field contain the division, and the “Title” field contain the competitors names (lead first, follow second), dance position, and the “Comments” contain any special instructions. But, I am both flexible and willing to move tags to suit my preferences.
During a competition, the DJ booth is a surprisingly stressful and very busy place. Keeping your instructions to the DJ to a minimum is in your best interests – “Push play when we nod” is my favorite kind of “special instruction.” Everything you “need” from the DJ to give your best performance, is another point of risk in your routine: tempo changes, a complicated walk on to the floor, requiring the DJ to ride the sliders to level the volume during the song, and so on.
If I had spent $$$$ preparing for an event – on coaching, choreography, costumes, event passes, travel – not to mention the time invested in practice….I would want to control every point of risk that I could. If not getting the song played at +1% would make a difference to my performance, I would alter the song (in wav format) and burn a new copy to CD. If having a difficult time hearing the intro would put me off the beginning of the routine…I would increase the volume (using the wav file) and burn a new CD.
DJing is for many people a hobby, or at best a part-time pursuit. But a great thing about digital is that you can work on your DJing in lots of places. You can practice on your iPad or even your iPhone; you can buy tunes while on the move; and you can rehearse in your headphones on the sofa while the rest of the family watches TV. Using “downtime” to practice DJing is a smart move.
It pays to investigate ways you can access your library anywhere.
iCloud (http://djtips.co/icloud), Dropbox (http://djtips.co/dropbox), and Amazon Cloud Drive (http://djtips.co/cloud-drive), for instance, all will let you manage your music library from multiple devices. That way you can work out a system where you can buy music at work, and have it waiting for you on your other devices automatically.
As you progress into DJing and start getting DJ gigs, be aware of the pitfalls of juggling DJing and “real life”: tiredness, loneliness, schedule conflicts, motivation and even uncooperative bosses; all call for pre-planning, organization and sometimes sheer willpower, in order to fit your DJing career and “real life” together. But, I think the rewards are worth it… ,
Maybe the most awesome thing about waking up from a great New Year’s Eve DJing or partying is that we’re all given a fresh start. Having had time to fully recover from hopefully an excellent night out, we’d like to ask you: What’s your DJ goal for 2016?
If you still haven’t thought of one, now would be a great time to commit to at least one goal for the year that would take your career further. Maybe you’d want to learn more advanced DJ skills like editing or cutting music for competitions or competitors. Or maybe it’s simply to get your first public DJ set or your first paying gig?
Whatever, set a goal! Here’s how to set your goal and achieve it:
1. Choose a good goal
Make your goals clear, specific, and realistic (“I want to have played three paying gigs by 31 December” is better than “I want to start earning money DJing”). Another great tip is to break it into smaller mini-goals that will serve as your road map for achieving it, and put dates on each mini-goal. As far as realistic goes – well, playing Tomorrowland by Easter probably isn’t in your league, so set something achievable within 12 months. There’s always next year to build on your ambition…
2. Post your goal !
Next, let the world know. By publicly committing to your goal and having it in plain view, you’re more likely to stick to it because you’ve got your community behind you (you might even get some good tips from them. It’s a proven fact that making yourself accountable for your goals means you’re more likely to achieve them.
3. Do the work – and follow up on yourself to see how you’re doing…
You’ve got to do the work once you’ve set the goal, but also hold youtself accountable for your goal! Follow up with your goals in the middle and towards the end of this year by emailing yourself to check in on how you’re doing. It’s like a little bit of personal coaching! Then, at the end of the year, publish an article with some of your year’s success stories!
Successful DJing is not about you or your software, it’s only about the music!
I’ve been a music lover all my life, but I’m a relatively new digital DJ, about 9 years. DJing began when a friend asked me if I would be interested in playing some tunes at a local gathering, the Bass Club, in far east Dallas. In the process of preparing for My 1st gig, I fell totally in love with DJing.
Back in the day, about 15 years ago, I started with tapes then progressed to CDs. Just pure joy for me and a great way to learn genres, Artists, bpms, etc. This coupled with 15 years experience as a competition WCS dancer provided a wealth of knowledge about WCS music overall.That was some 15 years ago! This is what I know:
1. In a Club environment…. (My experience – Club 8 – 2-1/2 years worth) The DJ’s mission is to spin tunes, but the real mission is to sell drinks – The DJ is there to help the bar owner to make profit while people are having fun. A DJ is not like a band or a singer: The DJ is not the star of the night, music is. So it’s all about the music, not about the anyone in the DJ booth. The DJ’s mission in to entertain, not to get vain.
2. Music is more important than technical perfection - I believe that a great DJ must master striking a musical balance. One must know how to entertain dancers by offering current hits, popular oldies, some new stuff for them to get to know, but also some totally unexpected tunes; And while doing all that, try to avoid a change of musical style every three songs (and most importantly.. not playing the same style all night).
3. Proper preparation and homework are essential – I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of improvising a complete set live. My best mixes are the ones that I really work on, with cue points prepared and perfect timings practiced. It’s the difference between an OK set and a great one. You should force yourself to try different stuff until exhaustion, not settling for less that the best you can do.
4. Mixing is to DJing what a sub-woofer is to sound: You’re not supposed to hear it…. FEEL IT – I will always prefer someone who is using just an iPod playing the music I personally love to a technically perfect DJ who is boring everyone. Now, if I’m hearing someone play the music I love, while feeling totally smooth transitions, then I’m having a great time! And, above that, If I look at the DJ and see that he/she is also enjoying themselves, that’s when “good” becomes “great”.
5. The media used to DJ with is about as relevant as the color of the DJ’s socks - I couldn’t care less about the endless vinyl / CD / MP3 debate. I just care the final result. If digital gives me plenty more options then digital it is. The idea of a DJ using vinyl just out of personal preference, even if that means his set suffers, makes no sense to me: It’s pretentious and it lacks perspective. As in art, people who don’t manage to come up with brilliant ideas tend to try to compensate with technical skills.
A challenging part of laptop DJing for me is to manage to do everything I can think of using just a mouse and a keyboard. For me the hardest part is to build really good sets, and to get used to figuring out quickly which tunes work and which don’t. And lastly, never, ever allow yourselves to put software above the music.
Anyone can press play, but few can DJ…. Here are the 6 golden rules for DJs. Abide by these and you’ll be burning up dance floors in no time.
#1 BE ORIGINAL
Nowadays a lot of DJs are lacking originality. This comes from them wanting to have the best reaction to their sets, so what DJs tend to do is play the most popular tunes. They get the reaction they want, but at the end of the day you can’t tell them apart, and that’s corny.
#2 PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
Practice makes perfect! Plain and simple.
#3 KNOW YOUR ROLE
This is probably the most difficult for a new DJ to absorb! If you’re an opening DJ do not – I repeat DO NOT – try to play the most banging set of your life. You’re the fluffer of the party. Get them warm and ready to go for when the head DJ comes. Don’t take it as a bad thing either, I love not being the headliner sometimes because I get to play a lot of tunes and test new ideas out. Same thing goes if you’re the headliner – if you’re not known for being innovative and trendsetting do not play like it at peak hour. The dancers want to rave so give them what they want, and kick some butt!
#4 PAY ATTENTION TO THE CROWD
A good DJ knows his surroundings. If the dancers aren’t feeling what you’re doing, switch it up. Don’t force feed them! This is the most singular problem with DJs. If they know nothing about how to read “the floor” then the DJ can’t possibly know how to control the vibe of the room. Don’t be that guy!
#5 MODIFY YOUR PLAYLISTS WEEKLY
We’re all guilty of having our “go to” tunes and sometimes it’s needed, but sometimes you end up playing the same mix over and over again (I, too, am guilty of this sometimes). Refreshing your playlists weekly forces you to play newer stuff and in turn keeps your sets fresher and updated…what a real DJ is supposed to do.
#6 DON’T GET WASTED
And last but not least! Some DJs have the super power of being able to rock parties sober. These amazing humans are hard to find, but the rest of us need some liquid courage to get us on the same wavelength as the party. A couple of drinks gets you loose and you’re ready to be a rock star…but if you don’t know your limit, you can be a complete and total idiot. Know your limit!
Current Top 10
• JULY 2018 •
Side Effects Ft. Emily Warren – The Chainsmokers
Let Me – ZAYN
Rollercoaster – Calum Foad
Ladykiller – Maroon 5
He’s Good – Kate Stewart
Karma (Clean) – Years & Years
Don’t Panic – Years & Years
What Happened To Us – Jean Castel
Gimme Gimme – Johnny Stimson
More Than Friends – Jason Mraz & Meghan Trainor