Latest Tip for WCS DJ's
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.