3 female DJs you’ll want to know better

3 female DJs you’ll want to know better

Make room for the ladies. For reasons that aren’t worth going into, DJing is still a male-dominated profession.  But having taste and working hard to build on your fanbase is obviously not an issue of gender. And yeah, the web is saturated with lists of female DJs best known for being easy on the eye. But we thought we’d have our say on who the real tastemakers are with this list of the top female DJs. 

Hannah Wants

Creative behind the decks, commanding a giant audience and busy as can be. Does this just about sum up Hannah Alicia Smith, one of the UK’s most prominent house DJs? Also used to be a soccer player. Her monthly mixtapes showcase a range of influences from tech and soul to disco. All hail Hannah Wants, who embodies the type of go-getter, fans-first attitude needed in the scene today. 

Monika Kruse 

A veritable force in her adopted city of Berlin, Monika Kruse has shared stages with some of the leading names in DJ history. Her style is distinctly inspired by hard techno. Besides being a classically trained pianist, Kruse is a regular at Time Warp, Melt Festival, 18 Hour Festival, Eastern Electrics UK and Ultra Music Festival Miami. “My aim is to help people forget whatever is going on in their life and have a little holiday,” she says. In 2000 she founded charity organization No Historical Backspin with a mission to fight racism and homophobia. 

Jazzy Joyce

Yeah, the name is as 90s as it sounds. If there was ever a DJ who epitomizes hip hop block parties, the Bronx and the devil-may-care approach towards social media numbers, it’s Jazzy Joyce. For the past 30 years, Joyce Spencer has been bringing both the beat and a great attitude to the people. "If you don't like the music, create your own," she says. This one might just be ready for a lifetime achievement award.

It is mildly disappointing that female DJs are most commonly marketed on the basis of their looks (or even on their history as an adult film actress). But whether you’re a guy or a girl, one thing is for sure: you’ll need to raise the bar if you’re going anywhere. Get cracking on your next step by checking out some of the courses offered by DJ Courses Online today.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.

3 more ways DJs can build a name

3 more ways DJs can build a name

There are some mad people in the world. Risk takers, who care very little about how awesome they look on stage and way more about delivering their passion to an audience. For them, it’s about scratching that itch, not just popularity. These are the ones that attract the audiences that last over their career. These are the ones to follow, regardless of what’s in vogue at the time. Here are a few other ways to build your own name as a career DJ.

Be completely unique

There’s no rule that says you need to wear certain clothing or have certain accessories in order to be taken seriously. There’s no rule that says you can’t jam instruments along with your track, or tilt your tables outward so the audience can see what you’re doing. Or get a lighting foot controller to have control over your light show while you spin. Of course, avoid looking like an idiot. But make sure that you’re keeping the hype in check and the passion for music at the center at all times. 

Brand yourself

Want bigger numbers? Brand yourself. Yeah, you hear that all the time, don’t you? For career DJs (and all  entrepreneurs), branding is about controlling the perceptions that others have of you. Branding yourself as a killer DJ is more than having a Facebook page and a logo. Branding is most powerful in your behaviour at public events. Are you the outgoing, positive type or would you rather hang back in the shadows and let the people come to you? Does your set include the hot new stuff of the niche trendy stuff? Are you posing for photos or not? All of these decisions bleed into your overall image as a person first and a DJ second. Think about it, then act. 

Free stuff

Everyone loves free stuff. In fact, it’s how you get people’s attention to begin with. As a DJ, your primary freebie is a mix. If you’re not regularly creating and uploading mixes to your audience via your preferred channels, start doing so immediately. Curating and distributing the music is the difference between a professional and someone who has a set of decks in their bedroom. Make the music happen. Inform your friends what type of music you’re into by making mixes and mixtapes for them. First prize? Your own music. 

Giveaways, branding, uniqueness. These tools will all help you stand out and convince the public that you’re serious about your profession. But first, you have to convince yourself. If you’re still feeling uneasy about your ability to get the job done, you need to raise your overall skill level first. Sign up for a DJ course with DJ Courses Online today and get your career on track!

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.

3 ways DJs build their names

3 ways DJs build their names

There’s more than one way to rise. The DJs who manage to do so combine common sense, luck and risk-taking to further their DJ careers. But there’s no rule book that says you need to look, act or even sound a certain way. Make the right moves. Check out a few ways that DJs get to where they’re trying to go.

Have the best or latest gear

You know that guy who gets the gig mainly because he’s got the gear? The better off your audience is, the more impressed they are with measurable criteria like the shelf price of your sound system. This is why you often hear people number-dropping the rig’s value in order to justify how much they paid. If generating this type of value-based inquiry is an option for you, then by all means take it. It will allow you to rub shoulders with some elite folks, all the while having the best toys in the business. But do bear in mind that it won’t make you a better DJ. Only playing out will accomplish that.

Play the best new stuff

Having the dopest new stuff is standard operating procedure for most DJs. To pick up the fan and client numbers early, you’ll need to be spinning the tunes that are on everyone’s minds. Your track selection should always include a commercial set, with your most recent tracks never being more than about 4 weeks old. Subscribe to promo label lists and hit the charts daily.This is a great way to get the attention of the room and distinguish yourself from the potted plant in the corner. But bear in mind that commercial hype is really only an entry point. In the long run, you’ll want to build your own audience, either by selecting tracks closer to your own tastes or by producing your own.

Be active on social

There are doers, and then there are talkers. Social media is full of talkers, but really pretty thin on actual doers. Being super active on social media is the most common advice for independent artists trying to make a name for themselves. But quantity does not equal quality. Make sure that if social media is your game, you represent yourself more as a brand than as an individual. You need to give people what they want, not photos of your cat lying next to the mixer. Better idea? Be super quiet on most social media, but make sure whatever you post is super hot. Be above the noise by spending more time producing useful, quality work than posting on Instagram. Be elusive and then only release good stuff.

Making a living as a DJ can be a difficult path. You have to be serious and fun at the same time. You need to find a balance between conforming to a stereotype and creating your own image and offering. Get with the DJ program by checking out some of the DJ courses on DJCoursesOnline today.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ

Good DJ Paperwork: Part 2

Good DJ Paperwork: Part 2

Mobile DJing is the most common type. You’re expected to perform as a DJ, but often also wear the hats of event organizer, client liaison, sound engineer, roadie and even MC. The best way to avoid doing a bunch of work you didn’t sign up for is to have a clearly worded contract for you and your contact to both sign. Remember, this is probably your client’s first wedding and you likely have way more experience than them.

Music request form

Mobile DJs who perform different types of events (as opposed to residency DJs) need to be flexible and manage their client’s expectations. Make sure you have a music request form for the client. This will include the type of music that they expect, but also may include a list of banned music. Some of the most common banned music includes songs like YMCA, Macarena, Chicken Dance, Hokey Pokey. You get the idea. Presenting the client with a list of these songs will also make you appear more professional, with the added bonus being that you won’t have to play the songs should a special guest request any of them. Here’s the full list of most banned wedding songs.

Itinerary

As soon as possible, get a copy of the timeline of events for the day. Besides being your best way of knowing when to arrive and play, it will also give you a sense of what to expect. For example, if there’s a 15 minute slot for prayers or a Disney-themed duck parade, you’ll have a sense of the type (and age) of the people you’ll be playing for and be able to adjust your set accordingly. You can also get a sense for how long your expected waiting time is between setup and set. You could use the free hour or two to brush up on your skills with one of the online courses from DJ Courses Online!

Special requests

It’s pretty rare to perform an event with no special formal moments at specific times. Often, a specific track is required for first dances, punchline moments in speeches and toasts, prayers and other formalities. It’s obviously quite essential that you have these songs cued up and ready to go according to the timeline of events. Pro tip: make sure you’ve test played each special song at least once after downloading it. You can recover from a mistake in a dancefloor pop song by just skipping to the next track. But a balls-up during one of the special moments has the ability to make you the el primo idiot of the day. Get it right by doing your preparation.

You’ve got this! Mobile DJing is a fantastic way to cover your rent in a day’s work, allowing you to dedicate even more time to learning the art of track selection. Be smart about getting the gigs by remaining humble enough to entertain the host’s musical taste. Understand that the creatively free superstar DJ myth isn’t for everyone, and that you’re actually in this for the long run. Check out what our courses have to offer today and get cracking on your DJ career.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ

Good DJ Paperwork: Part 1

Good DJ Paperwork: Part 1

Having a residency at a single place is the ideal way to earn and progress your DJ career. You have an ongoing relationship with the venue manager. You know what to expect every time you walk in. You know what the crowd wants and you’re generally clear on the expectations. Having a residency is great, but before committing, make sure you’ve sat down with the manager and received a written and signed verification of the following expectations.

Type of music

Being clear on the type of music you’re expected to play will prevent awkward situations like running out of music, clearing the dance floor or being generally too broad or narrow. Forward a copy of your proposed setlist to the manager for their approval. You could even get them to initial it so they understand that track selection is a matter of taste and that you’re not a magic jukebox.

Time slot

For a residency, your time slot will generally not be very flexible. You’re getting paid by the hour, but you’ll want to get the times agreed upon up front to avoid last minute changes. For example, it’s common for a manager to call in an hour before you’re supposed to leave to ask if you’re able to rather start two hours later because the place is still ‘warming up’. Inconveniences like this need to be avoided, and you should be able to reply by saying ‘sure, but I’ll have to charge my overtime rate for the first hour.’

Overtime rate

Have an hourly fee. Then multiply it by one and a half and you’ve got an overtime rate. Or even double it. Overtime is an absolute privilege and luxury for a venue owner. They don’t need to know that you are free all night. For all they know, you could have another gig that you now have to cancel or postpone. Even if you’re having the best night and are feeling generous, stick to your agreed rates. Make sure the figures are in writing. It’s a really stupid idea to negotiate deals at events, when everyone is high and happy. You might have trouble getting the money after the fun’s over.

Damage

If you’re contributing any equipment to the event other than your flash drive, get an equipment damage clause in your contract. The most comprehensive ones even cover stuff like lightning strikes! Events and venues are a hard business to be in, fueled on passion with generally low margins and a high level of emotion involved. Venues will not easily part with cash for reparations if someone simply spills their beer down your sub, or if the building’s power shorts out and blows your motherboard. It’s not always fun getting down to brass tacks, but you need to be firm. Negotiating this terrain will be easier if you show the client your surge-protected multiplugs and guarantee that nobody shall be depositing drinks anywhere in the booth. Acting pro is being pro.

Having a contract is an essential part of being a professional DJ. You probably don’t need one for your mate’s birthday party, but if you’re taking your DJ skills to the bars and clubs, you’ll want your agreement on paper. To protect both you and your client from unexpected twists in the agreement, a good contract is the place to start.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ

Traktor DJ 2 is here!

Traktor DJ 2 is here!

Beginner DJs have a new way to get into the game. Just in time for the summer fun, Traktor has released a new tablet-focused app aimed at beginner users. Traktor DJ 2 is positioned to become the leaping off point for future developments by Native Instruments. From here forwards, it’s a brave new tablet-focused world with whole bunch of features that make playing your favorite songs easy, fun and mobile. Already got the gear? Get the DJing skills by signing up for a course today.

Overview

traktor-dj-soundcloud-640x485.jpg.optimal.jpg

The software is heavily focused on recruiting beginner DJs. The free app is currently available for iPad, macOS and Windows. The software can be used in either standalone or hardware-integrated mode. This allows you to DJ from either directly from your iPad/Macbook or by plugging in hardware controller devices like the Audio2, Kontrol Z1 or Kontrol S2 MK3. There are currently no MIDI mapping features, but it’s likely that the software will become more customizable as updates are rolled out.

Soundcloud integration

Good news for independent producers is that Soundcloud Go+ Streaming is integrated into the software! For the first time ever, Traktor has released streaming integration, allowing users access to an endless track selection for the price of a Soundcloud Go+ subscription ($9.99 / month). And while we’re on the topic, remember that the best new music is the stuff being made by independent producers, not necessarily the stuff at the top of the popular playlists yet. Make your name by being a pioneer.

Other exclusive features

Besides Soundcloud integration, a few features are available on the new software that aren’t even available in Traktor Pro 3. This move by Native Instruments seems to be paving the way for more cross-platform movement from their existing users, who will doubtless want to get their hands on the new stuff. Among these features exclusive to Traktor DJ 2 are:

Interface display improvements: Vector Waveform Mode will display waveforms at a good quality regardless of the screen resolution. Retina Support allows the high-density display to scale, retaining visual quality at any resolution.

Track Recommendations: the original Traktor DJ featured track recommendations, but this useful feature was never copied to the desktop app. But it’s back! Users of TDJ2 can once again find similar sounding tracks quickly and expand on their own sound.

Download the free app today from Native Instruments.

Read more about Traktor DJ 2 on the official NI product page.

Making waves as a DJ comes down to one simple question: are you listening to your audience? If the answer is yes, you’ll be asked to ‘handle the music’ at house parties and enjoy the added bonuses that come with having good taste. If you’re still getting there, you’re in luck! Level up your knowledge with a DJ Courses Online membership today.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.

Organizing your DJ track collection

Organizing your DJ track collection

Unless you’re just starting out, you’ll doubtless be aware that DJing is mainly about organizing your record collection and sourcing new music. Being organized is a skill that puts you right up at the front of your game. Whether you use Traktor, Rekordbox or an actual box of records, it’s up to you to put things where you’re going to look for them. Learning DJ tips and tricks like this is the essence of having a solid reputation. Let’s check out a few things beginner DJs should know about optimizing their live workflow.

Cloud storage

It’s a good idea to have a backup of your collection. There are so many heartbreaking stories of DJs losing their collections to external hard drive failure and spilt drinks. Fortunately, many online music stores offer you the ability to re-download any purchased tracks indefinitely, but you’ll always lose time (if not sanity) doing so. One solution is to purchase Google One Drive space and link your main music folder to back up automatically. This allows you to retain cloud copies of the tracks stored on your computer. You’re also able to then easily access your material on any device where there is a wifi connection. For a few bucks a month, you’ll be able to upload 200GB of your stuff. A worthwhile investment in any DJ’s books.

Be a librarian

Searching your software for a track is easier than ever, so fortunately we no longer have to sort and remember every track or artist name. You can often set the software to include other metadata such as genre, BPM and label or use an numerical or alphabetical filter to sort the BPM or label name. Kids’ stuff. So finding the music on your drive shouldn’t be any kind of challenge. Make sure you’ve already imported whatever collections you need before the event. Drag folders to a common shared location if needed. Whatever it takes, make sure that on event days, you’re not hunting for anything! Here are a few useful catalog tricks by a British guy in glasses.

Themed playlists

Make interesting playlists. The rookie error here is to group playlists by genre alone, as if your audience only ever wants to hear an hour of deep house or chillout. A ‘workout mix’ is lame. Any AI can easily assemble an infinite feed of generic music. The very nature of being a DJ is to surprise people with track selection in a way that works. Your job is to be better than that. If your game is making any kind of name for yourself, you have to take risks. To be bold. Come at it from interesting angles. How about playlists which mix genres around a theme? Songs including references to the weather? Songs which include a woman’s name? You’ll might surprised at how successful these creative approaches can be. You’ll also be surprised at how much you can get away with!

DJing is a game, and the rules are simple. Choose the right track for the people at the time. Make the mixes sound good. Not every song request is an insult! You can more easily focus on these rules when the preparation is in the bag. Don’t leave even small things until the day of the event. The less you’re worrying about whether or not your new M4A download is going to play on the Serato update, the more able you are to focus on having a good time. Keep up with the DJ lifestyle by checking out some of the DJ Courses Online programs today.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.

Using Shazam to find your people

Using Shazam to find your people

Insight into your data is the key to building a career in this age. Access to information has become the defining feature in the careers of DJs and producers of music who are looking to connect more deeply with their (often anonymous) audience. Shazam is one great tool for discovering who these people are.

Shazam your city

Touring DJs are gonna love this one. Using Shazam’s regional charts, you’re now able to view the 50 most looked up tracks in any given city. This type of data is of course super useful for any DJ who wants to know what’s currently being heard by the general masses, but also what’s currently hip in their area. Chart models (like Apple Music) don’t generally go deeper than top tracks per country. But geographic awareness by city is a game-changer, especially for touring DJs who need to keep ahead of the pack with local insight.

Lame results?

In defence of the haters, this tool is a very, very broad strokes approach towards finding out what tracks are in demand by niche audiences and tastemakers. The results of any given search are always going to be a by-the-numbers approach that fails to factor in underground interest. In other words, using this tool will only ever result in a list of the most pop-focused, heavily marketed hitmaker efforts. And as we’ve discussed many times over, being a long-game working DJ is about leading an audience, not chasing one. Hit up your own city and see if it’s working for you. Or check out the most Shazamed tracks right now in London, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Berlin.

Shazam for Artists

Producers of music will benefit from Shazam for Artists. Once signed up and verified, Shazam allows producers to access valuable insights into who is looking up your published music, where they are and more. These stats are slightly more valuable than stats on plays because they demonstrate active involvement in the discovery process rather than an algorithmically determined playlist that’s running in the background in someone’s living room. In other words, they tell you who is actually interested in your music. To sign up, you have to have already distributed your music to Apple Music and verified as an artist at Shazam for Artists. Follow the steps to claim your profile. Labels may also register and verify as representatives for artists, a useful tool for DJ collectives and communities of music publishers.

Using tech to your advantage is a crucial element in your DJ or production career. But always remember that these tools are just that - tools for making the actual work easier. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the statistics and reports are the product. The real gold is in interacting with real people at real events. Put that at the center and let the tools assist with the heavy lifting. Get onboard with one of our DJ programs with more on how to take your DJ job forward!

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.


Going from hobbyist to pro DJ

Going from hobbyist to pro DJ

How many events have you done? Include everything from house parties and weddings to event stages and bars. Twenty? Fifty? Most people DJ as a hobby, which is cool. You get to have some sweet gear, curate the vibe and meet some good people. Which is what it’s all about. But others feel the need to get deeper into the professional DJ lifestyle. To perform events that they sometimes don’t necessarily want to. Let’s check out where the professional DJ journey will take you if you decide to go pro.

Get your hands dirty

As a professional DJ, you sometimes find that the work undermines your self-image as a cool person. You might find that the money is in some corny corners, and that nobody else seems to share your self-image as a collector of good music. This is also the stage at which most amateur DJs quit. Doubt comes with the territory. Even the world’s most celebrated actors and musicians have to do work that simply pays the bills. For the longest time, you can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. You have to earn your own audience. So how do you get out of the whirlpool of weddings and kids’ parties and begin getting offers that suit your style?

Make a playlist

Right now, playlisting is where it’s at. In the past 20 years, the most successful DJs have morphed from public performers to producers of their own work. And now, we’re finding that the DJs whose audiences are growing are right back in their element as curators of content not necessarily their own. The rise of playlisting and the importance given to curation seems to have overtaken the need to create more original music. Simply put, there seems to be enough music in the world to last us a while. Now we require human beings to organize it by taste. Thankfully, we still have enough taste left to leave one task un-automated by AI. So make a playlist today. Spotify is a good start, but there are loads of other platforms which treat their artists more ethically. (Hey, a lot of people are saying it).

Do the time

Outside of brain data uploads, there’s only one way you get good. Practice, repeat. This means more than beatmatching. It means packing and unpacking gear. It means knowing which cables to take and which ones are deadweight. It also means knowing the average time an Uber takes to get you to the part of town where you earn most of your money. So get good by making it easy. Give yourself time. Be in a state of constant improvement. It can sound super-lame, but get in the habit of labelling and rolling your cables properly. Honestly, these are the steps required to be pro. Remove all barriers to easiness and you’ll quickly learn what DJing is really about.

There are so many things amateur DJs don’t associate with professional work. Keep healthy? What kind of advice is that for a party lifestyle? It’s the good kind. You’ll be doing this 5 or 6 nights a week sometimes. If you’re in it for the long haul, you’ll need to act responsibly. The results are all on you, and so are the rewards. So keep learning (a DJ program is a useful start) and give your crowds a reason to have a good time.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.




The short and long game of DJing

The short and long game of DJing

It’s pretty common to surround ourselves with images of what DJing should look like. Lights. Crowds. A shot from the booth. This is the inspiration for most of us to continue our hunt for the next great track. We want to get to a level where things are cool, easy and free. It’s an awesome dream! So keep heading for it. And while you’re learning to DJ, check out one basic rule about what to expect along the way.

Started from the bottom

Think of a career in music like a pyramid. At the top is the pure high art, written by celebrated artists for centuries. Also the most rare. The barrier to entry for this club is sky high. Only a handful join, ever. Most of us hang around at the base of the pyramid, where it’s easier to be. We’re not trying to make high art. We’re trying to have a good time with good people. So there’s no reason to complicate things.

But at the base of the pyramid are loads more people. This is where we start the climb. This is where we continue the upward trudging away from obscurity and into professionalism. Many of us are competing for a higher spot in whatever way we can.

And the rule is…

So here’s the general rule: the easier something is to do, the more people are able to do it. And, of course, the opposite is true: the harder something is to do, the fewer people are able to do it. This rule should guide you throughout any creative career you choose.

It should inform your track selection. The easier it is to find your tracks, the more people are finding the same tracks. Should you ever manage to fly across the world to go crate digging for obscure vinyls in an African village, you’ll likely end up with a cut that nobody else has. And DJing is all about having the music that nobody else has.

The short and long game

The easier it is to summon crowd of people in a busy part of town, the more quickly they’re going to disappear when the next act comes along. Conversely, if your small audience consists of people who make the effort to get out to your slot on a rainy night, it means they’re invested in you. These are the people who stick by you through it all.

The easy and the difficult approaches can also be framed as the short and long game. It’s up to you where you’d like to position yourself. The short game means more instantly gratifying success which can disappear just as instantly. The long game means deeper and more meaningful connections that may take forever to forge.

It’s entirely up to you how you want to go about making a name for yourself. What is essential to all paths, however, is that you’ll need to know how to work the gear. You’ll need to know what DJing is about, how to stoke a crowd and when to play it chill. Learn to DJ with DJ Courses Online by signing up for one of the programs and level up today.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.


The early days of a career in DJing

The early days of a career in DJing

Let’s face it. Being any kind of entrepreneurial artist today means understanding something about marketing and the process of building a reputation. If your game is to be a professional career DJ, you’ll need to own your own category. You’ll need to have your own story. You’ll need to do something to escape obscurity. Here’s how it works when you first start curating and playing good music for others.

Exclude some people

Dope music is the bedrock. Only the dopest, in fact. No room for average stuff where you’re going. When making decisions on what lands in your crate, it’s helpful to choose which audience to exclude. Not everyone must like it. Some people will probably hate it! That’s cool. It’s not for them. But who are the people left over? The answer to that determines the identity of the audience you’re looking to serve.

You don’t need more tracks

So you’d better start collecting. Set a target for yourself. Say, 250 of the best tracks? Contrary to Spotify’s core messaging, you don’t need access to millions of songs. Just 250 good ones. That’s a career. Stop looking further than that. Your access to millions of songs isn’t going to put your name on the map. Your taste in 250 songs will.

First steps

When you’ve got a selection of tracks you’re ready to showcase as your own style, the next stage is to start getting out. Here’s a tip: everyone except Paris Hilton starts DJing for free (link alert: it’s bad). Don’t be shocked to find that you don’t get paid for house parties, your cousin’s birthday, charity shows and the occasional club gig. But always get the benefactor of these events to reciprocate. Someone needs to agree to do 10 mins of video footage and an insta post. Or to announce your name and get a round of applause from the crowd. Or even to put a hat out to “cover the cost of the gear”. Just because it’s yours, doesn’t mean you didn’t pay for it. Have a sense of value about yourself and your gear. Turn down people who fail to respect that.


Your career takes a turn when people start asking you to DJ. Two things have changed. Firstly, you now have leverage. Secondly, who pays the piper calls the tune. In other words, whoever is paying you gets to decide mostly on what you play. That’s how it works. You’ll only confuse people if you try to change that. So use the money it to level up. Now you can afford to market yourself. Better videos and more fans means fewer mobile DJ gigs and more of your own style. Interested in learning more about a career in DJing? Check out the programs offered by DJ Courses Online today.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ

Finding success as a new DJ

Finding success as a new DJ

Being a career DJ is a different game to having a good time behind the decks on the weekend. DJs that are making a name for themselves have a few things in common. Here are a few things to remember if you’re into the name game.

Start small

Have good relationships with local producers. Play their stuff. Let them know that you’re playing their stuff. If they don’t reciprocate by retweeting or reposting your Instagram posts, move on to someone who does. A like is not the same as a repost. Status should matter very little early on in the game. It’s not just the quality of the music that gets you the heat anymore. It’s the overall brand presence of the artist and the DJ that create the perception that a song is good. The goal is repetition, to be known as the person who plays that fresh song that people like. You have to find good producers in your circle and form relationships with them.

Tell your story

You’re pretty good with tech tools already. You’re a DJ. So use YouTube, Steemit or Twitch to open up the field to newcomers. Share your journey. Even if you’re only a few steps into the game, start putting up videos sharing the new stuff you’ve learned. It’s about community. It’s about being humble enough to judge people by how interested they are in your stuff, not by their follower numbers. Even the best do masterclass workshops and stage and studio tours. Not everyone who is into DJing wants a career. Some just want to learn. Don’t be above teaching to build your audience.

Look for alternatives

The time-honored craft of crate digging is where all of a DJ’s power lies. You have a choice: follow the status quo and earn money (less satisfying) or find your unique voice (less prestige up front). If you’re after option two, it’s not enough to copy what’s trending on Beatport and call it your own. Renewable energy is only as clean as the source. A DJ’s collection is only as unique as the source. You need to find your own supply and filter out the gems, even if it means getting on a plane.

In order to make anything work in the long term, you need to remain inspired. This means papering the walls of your mind with the material that gets you going. DJing and clubbing documentaries are a good place to start. Put one on in the background while you’re at home and see if the lifestyle is for you. Above all, keep learning! Check out the DJ courses on offer here at DJ Courses Online. Keep spinning!

John Bartmann is a DJ and music producer.


Controllerism As An Artform In DJing

Controllerism As An Artform In DJing

Music is as old as people. In comparison to playing an instrument or singing, DJing is just a baby. Only as old as recorded music. But that hasn’t stopped DJs from getting creative with their performances and equipment. Learning new forms of DJing is a great way to grow as an artist. Here’s some stuff about controllerism, what it is and why it’s cool.

What is controllerism?

Controllerism is the use of music software controllers as instruments. It’s like turntablism, except with Akai MPCs, Novation Launchpads (or a dance mat, if you’re not that into normality). It’s an ability that must be worked on. There are some pretty skilled controllerists around, and there’s no doubt they’ve honed their craft in the same way that any lead guitarist has. Technically, using an S4 or CDJs makes you a controllerist, but the term is generally reserved for the ‘players’ of the controller rather than playback using the controller. There must, in essence, be some skill involved.

Who are the controllerists?

A few names come to mind. DJ Shiftee plays turntables, keys and a drum pad all at the same time. DJ Craze has a fairly dope selection of tracks to his name and likes to keep things very live. In the early 2000s, DJs like Four Tet and Girl Talk began appropriating live processing into their performances, creating a space for using laptops themselves to become a form of controllerism.

How do we be controllerists?

One awesome trick is using a hardware sequencer to layer the core groove of the track you’re playing. Hardware sequencers allow you to play along with the track by creating and editing patterns on the fly. Use Traktor (or your software of choice) to load up a track, match the BPM and then start finger drumming a live loop. Using devices with their own sets of sounds and samples will save you CPU and also bring a bunch of new sounds to the track you’re playing. Remember to mute the hardware sequencer playback during the track break so that the energy dips and drops line up nicely. One of the most underrated controllers on the market is the Synthstrom Deluge, made with love in New Zealand!

At its heart, controllerism says just this: keep busy. If there’s a gap between you doing one thing and another, fill that gap. Have a sampler next to your laptop. A third deck. A couple of MIDI pads. Anything to keep things lively. A fair amount of technical ability goes into both DJing well and into playing an instrument well. Nobody gets anywhere unless they’ve done their practice hours. It’s not all just about getting the room dancing. Sometimes you gotta show off a little, too. Learn DJing like a controllerist pro and get your audience talking about you.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ


Getting Real With Social Media

Getting Real With Social Media

Social media is a powerful force. As a DJ, you’re now able to create a mix in the morning and have people tweeting about it by lunchtime. If they’re up yet. The human network is a magnificent array of channels and traffic flow, and as a content creator of any kind, you’ll want to harness some of the flow. Here are a few tips for using social media to further advance your reputation as a DJ.

Reputation is all you have

The word ‘reputation’ should be treated with more respect. Using social media, it is indeed possible to convince some people that you’re a happening act right now. Import the top track on the Beatport Charts, copy it with a little modification and release it as your own. You’re guaranteed to get likes, because you’re tapping into the current culture. But you’re also gaining a reputation for being derivative, and not really having a voice of your own. It’s tempting to get the quick round of applause. But you’ll need to manage your short and long term goals better than that if you aim to build a reputation of real value.

Brands are people, too

Instabook (Instagram and Facebook) is a controversial beast. They’re really effective advertising platforms if your aim is to create hype around your work by convincing gatekeepers that you’re into buying popularity. The music industry is mostly powerful people finding and tapping into the eagerness of younger people desperate to be noticed. The quickest cut for the artist is to buy fan engagement by boosting posts (or outright buying likes). But just be warned! So much online engagement is automated that you run the risk of creating a brand that is hugely popular online, but doesn’t sell any tickets because it doesn’t exist.

A real moment beats a post about it

If there is one message to get tattooed on your forehead in mirror writing, it’s this: social media captures -- not creates -- awesome events. Those photos of your West Coast tour on Instagram are popular because you actually got it together to DJ in California. The party is lively because you actually got some people there. The beats are fresh because you spent the time collecting and prepping them. None of these things happen automatically because of the photo filter you chose while uploading. A winning moment with even poor production quality still kicks the pants off yet another ‘high-quality’ model selfie. When there’s nothing awesome going on, resist the urge to post for the sake of your social media schedule. There’s enough rubbish out there already. Be real by creating life moments, not just posts about them. That way, you attract real people.

So get your act together! DJing is a particularly hard skill to capture on social media for a few reasons, loud audio and poor lighting among them. As you continue your DJing career as a ‘vibe curator’ keep thinking about how you’re able to effectively create and then capture good moments for your social audience. Not the other way around.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.

21 Tips For Beginner DJs

21 Tips For Beginner DJs

Getting into DJing? It’s definitely one of the coolest professions on the planet. Whether you’re hoping for a career in DJing or just want to have some fun on the weekends, you’ll need to get to grips with the basics. So here are the starter tips that are going to help you find and build your audience.

Before you hit play, pull the track fader down. Every time. For the rest of your life.

Keep the meters in the blue. If you ain’t redlining, you have a better shot at headlining.

Gain and trim are the same thing.

If the floor is empty, don’t keep playing loud bangers. Adapt.

Plan your set in threes. Three tracks that match a feel at a time.

Know your audience. Identify them by their age, what they’re wearing and how much the event cost them.

If they’re sober, play the stuff that makes them tipsy. If they’re tipsy, play the stuff that makes them sloppy. If they’re sloppy, mission accomplished.

Keep an open mind. You don’t need to crossfade every track and most audiences aren’t technical purists. They’re just there for a good time.

Practice at home during the day.

Keep a positive attitude without being too full of yourself and your position. It’s about the music.

Your time slot determines what you’re going to play. Know how to pace the energy during the night.

Keep your EQs neutral and centered.

Beatmatching is a useful skill, but collecting and playing good music is a much better one.

Don’t overdo effects. Definitely less than 10 times an hour.

Bring a backup of your set. At the very least, have a 60 minute mix on your phone in case of laptop failure.

Don’t tolerate rudeness from your audience. Get to know an enforcer (bouncer, venue owner) before you start. Don’t be afraid to threaten drunk idiots with eviction.

Play instruments, if you dare. Nothing better than a little keyboard solo or some percussion over a nice groove.

Fail fast. Don’t think too much about your next couple of tracks. Make quick decisions. Be wrong a lot. Learn from it.

DJs who think auto-sync is the devil are threatened by their own lack of ability.

Most of the time, you’re not doing anything. That’s fine. You’re paid by the hour. Learn to bob your head well.

Make eye contact with your audience. Let them know you also love it. Don’t let them feel you’re just there for the money.

It’s really rewarding when you start making something out of your DJing. It might be a solid reputation or cold hard cash, but one thing is for sure: it takes time. So give yourself a head start and head over to one of the awesome courses at DJ Courses Online.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.

DJing On A Zero Budget

DJing On A Zero Budget

Believe it or not, DJing is about music. Not just music, but also not just fancy equipment, crowds of adoring fans or having dope headwear. It’s about getting a room of people going with music that speaks to them. If you’re learning to DJ, that’s all you really need to know and everything will follow on from it. Here are a few ways to get the room going without the budget for flash.

Promotional downloads

So it turns out that the value of music being sold online is often pretty arbitrary. Labels look at what other labels are charging. Then they look at the follower numbers of their big acts, do a bit of math and make up a number. The point is that no market has never had a monopoly on the price of music. Plenty of good music exists which doesn’t have that dollar value attached to it. This comes mostly in the form of independent producers looking for a toehold in a saturated industry. Find the DJs promoting their freebies and listen critically, regardless of the lack of a price tag. You’ll find some gold. You’ll also make some friends. A direct message on Soundcloud is the best free option (and it’s how I got this track signed).

Free downloads

Sites like Noisetrade thrive on the exchange of music between independent artists and their listeners. Artists happily part with their work in exchange for email addresses and tips. The logic is that rather someone heard it than no-one. These platforms generally don’t host a top-tier catalog. It’s more raw, independent and therefore hit-and-miss. Sifting through your starred albums to find the good work can be a challenge, but along the way you’ll also find out a lot about your own taste. Which is really what it’s all about.

Keep it aural

Live events have a tendency to be very, very visual occasions. Nobody buys concert tickets without the promise of motion lighting, giant LCD screens and artists you actually want to look at. Throw in projector mapping, drones, and other event lighting draw cards and suddenly the music seems to be part of a much bigger, more ocular picture. But some artists in Manchester are putting the focus back on the audio experience by deliberately removing swish lighting elements. Make it known to your friends and fans that the spectacle isn’t really the reason you’re into DJing. It’s about the music. Make it known that your taste is classier than the rest. And go the extra mile to let your setlist reflect your musical discernment.  

Get off the Traktor

Allow this message to be broadcast from the mountains: there are alternatives to Traktor! Traktor is certainly one of the most popular platforms. It’s easy to use, ubiquitous and has a healthy support forum. Why make things difficult? For starters, it’s pretty expensive. And even if you did crack it, there’s more to DJing than song playback. DJing is a type of vibe curation. The software isn’t everything. There are free alternatives. And learning more than one program will give you the broad overview required to make it in the game.

Don’t let your financial circumstances stand in the way of your passion. We live in a time when powerful options are available to independent creators. Be motivated and inspired and start collecting the music that gives you goosebumps. Chances are it will do the same to your audience. Get cracking on your professional skills by signing up for a DJ course today.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.


3 Music Industry Scams

3 Music Industry Scams

Ah, the music industry. Home to both the coolest and most shady players on the planet. The music industry can be an incredible, exuberant triumph of the human spirit. It can also be a dark, shifty place where scammers take advantage of small fish eager to make a break. Here’s a rundown of music industry scams to avoid as your continue your DJing career.

Email scam

You get an email from someone in ‘the music industry’. It says that you’ve been found or chosen based on your work. Yeah! You should immediately get in touch to discuss further. Hmmm. Firstly, as an artist, you ARE the music industry. Someone claiming to be ‘from’ the music industry is already a little suspicious. The music industry isn’t some centralized establishment anymore. There is no mountain top to which everyone is unanimously climbing. It’s a whirling galaxy of accountants, management figures, unglamorous office workers and the very occasional artist. Secondly, deals that sound very general usually mean that the sender hasn’t wasted any time tailoring it to you. How good can it be? Aside from listing one or two of your tracks or mixes, there’s nothing special or specific about it. It’s a scam. Don’t even send a reply email. If they’re serious, they’ll find out something about you and get back to you with more detailed information.

Inflated play counts

All scams rely on the desperation of the victim. In music, it’s the desperation for recognition. You so badly want people to know how awesome your latest mix is that you’re willing to ignore the red flags. It’s common to inflate stream counts using bots and generate fake engagement using click farms. Even major players like Spotify certainly have some things to answer for with regards to stream counts. The reality check? You will not succeed overnight by buying fake engagement. You will have to do the work that others don’t seem to be doing. You will have to do something 100 times before you get noticed. Whether that’s releasing 100 mixes, producing 100 tracks or doing 100 shows, people generally start to notice what you’re doing when it’s clear that you’re not going away. Replace your desperation for recognition with work hours and you’ll dodge this one by a mile.

Large audiences, celebrities, A&R reps

We all want to believe shortcuts are an option. So DJs fall for it when we get approached to perform in front of celebrity judges, large audiences and A&R reps for a small fee. The small fee might open doors, but the overall effect is that you’re building a house on shifting sands. Auctioning your career and fanbase to the highest bidder is no way to build a lasting audience that follows you for what you do. Chasing fame and approval has killed more than one DJ. The careers that last are built on solid interaction with real people (not insta numbers). Stay away from mindless, fake entertainment shows that promise to boost your career. There are enough imitation artists out there. Surround yourself with a smaller number of real fans and you won’t be as susceptible to the pitfalls of hype.

Basically, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The less they they know about you, the more likely they want something from you. Your email list, your music files, your money. Be wary when someone finds you online without first demonstrating that they know something about you. Make sure your DJing career doesn’t get derailed by unscrupulous operators. Take a look at a few DJ programs you can sign up for today to keep things on track!

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.

More Ways DJs Get Noticed

More Ways DJs Get Noticed

So many DJs give up when they realize what the game is really about. The ever-present photo of huge crowds thrumming along to some superstar’s choice picks doesn’t help. The first few years are more about house parties and lame requests than anything else. And if Soundcloud has taught us anything, it’s that the market for bedroom DJs and producers is totally saturated. So if you’re still getting into DJing, how are you supposed to get your name out there?

Be in the right place

The tough truth about reaching new heights is this: it’s mostly to do with your actual location on earth. Even in a time of super-connectivity, people up the chain make decisions based on who is in their face all the time. You can’t expect breaks without first taking the risk. So you might want to consider moving to a larger city. If the reputation is what you’re after, making a career move to a more happening place is a good way to earn respect.

Get the gig

If you’re just starting out, make sure you have a broad collection of crowd-pleasing music. It might not be exactly what you want to play, but it’s your way onto the ladder. You need to get the gig. You need people to think of you when they think of local DJs. You won’t remain here forever, but start by being at the party every time and making sure people know you’re up for a set anytime. Keep the floor busy.

Narrow it down

Always remember the long-term aim: to earn a reputation as someone with a very specific style. Ideally one that you actually contribute to creatively by writing your own material. But failing that, slowly build a strong collection of material that doesn’t sound like anything else. Being good at something is often just a case of being distinctive at it. To be distinctive means that you stand out, that what you’re doing is obviously the result of much effort having being put into one specific thing. To be risking it all on what you consider worthwhile. Being specific and proudly excluding some is the best way to attract loyal followers.

Be good

Ah, the old topic of being good. You see, there’s being perceived as being good. Then there’s being in vogue, and good at the time. Then there’s being good, which is really just being consistent. How do you achieve this? You do a lot of work up front at your own risk, and along the way you learn to hear and trust your unique voice. The longest lasting names on the planet often played for ten years before being noticed. Being good is about committing to the path, be it DJing or other.

So many of us are dying to hear how we can take a shortcut to achieve something worthwhile and lasting. Hopefully you’re not one of the ones that needs fame and success right now. These things need to be earned. If you play enough spots and meet enough people, you’ll realize the difference between a pretty cool guy behind the decks and a career DJ. The core difference? The school of life! There’s always a way to level up. Start by picking one of the series of DJ Courses Online courses and accelerate your career today.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ


3 Ways DJs Get Noticed

3 Ways DJs Get Noticed

DJing is awesome. The platters under your fingers as you search for the sweet spot. The backspin in one ear and the room in the other while you flip through the library for the next one. The hum, chatter and roar of the crowd or group. There’s a good reason we aim to enhance our knowledge of the subject. We want to be good. How do you get good, and how do you get noticed as a DJ?

By being technically able

Step one: do the hours. This step is the reason that everyone in the world isn’t a DJ. There’s a time commitment involved. There’s a sacrifice to be made. You need to learn DJ software like Traktor and its alternatives. You need to learn the behavior of a pair of decks, an Ableton Push or whatever your weapon of choice is. The more skill you have across manufacturers and platforms, the better. Whatever it takes, make sure you’re able to plug in RCA cables without an ear-popping buzz. To get in the learning headspace, imagine you’re on before your idol in two weeks and need to get up to speed. Fast.

By being intuitive

Read the crowd. A smooth night with zero requests should be your goal. Make sure you know what the people want to hear by being up to date with both hot pop tracks and classics. Look at what they’re wearing, where the event is being held, how old they are and where they fit in. This is a good chunk of the job! Smooth transitions between tracks are a total necessity. Be invisible if that’s what’s required. Be enthusiastic if that’s what’s required.

By being enthusiastic

The crowd are sheep. They generally look to the music as the source of the energy for the night. But they can’t see the music itself, so they latch their attention onto you. Your mood needs to accurately reflect the tone and feel of the track if they’re going to leave their seats. It doesn’t all have to be arms flailing and over-the-top clowning around. Allow yourself to just enjoy the music! Stand up. Nod your head. Maybe you’re on a mobile DJ gig and actually don’t enjoy what you’re playing. That’s OK. Smile anyway, because it will make your life easier. Whatever you do, just don’t appear to be bored.

You get new jobs by having conversations with strangers. You have conversations with strangers by being approachable. Every human being has a need to dance, move around and experience the joy of music. You’ll get noticed when you address this need by playing what they want and being happy about it. Overcoming your own superficiality might take some work, but the results are worth it. Get on board with a career in DJing by signing up for one of the awesome courses offered by DJ Courses Online.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.


Where to find good music for DJing

Where to find good music for DJing

Music has never been easier to find. But good music has never been more buried! DJs only develop their taste and learn to get better in one way - by listening to an insane number of records. So if you’re finding that your setlist is being pigeonholed by your sources, it’s time to broaden your point of view. Here’s our take on the leading online stores for today’s most happening tracks.

Bandcamp

Bandcamp has been one of the most consistently reliable sources of income for artists since its inception in 2008. The selections that make their carefully curated weekly mix are always on the pulse of the British underground. Fans and DJs benefit from being quickly and easily able to download tracks at prices set by the artist, and artists benefit from choosing their own pricing structure at some of the best revenue share in the market, and by selling merch. The front page Bandcamp Weekly is a good place to start.

Juno

Juno Records is another British retail store and started in 1996 as a dance music outlet. It has since expanded but continues to offer daily releases of (mostly) dance music. The store’s focus is on vinyl releases in basically all dance music genres, but also offers soundtracks and DJ equipment. Juno is the first stop for many professional crate-diggers. Music can be filtered by daily popularity, allowing users to see what’s hot today. Like this African inspired Belgian 12”, for example.

Beatport

Not much more needs to be said about Beatport. The mega-store has long been an industry leader for electronic dance music in all available formats. The past decade has seen an increased emphasis on delivering stems to dance music producers looking to make their performances more live and improvised. Beatport is a super easy place to navigate and familiarize yourself with electronic music, but soon enough you’ll want to get off the charts and start looking elsewhere. After all, DJing is about having music that nobody else has, right?

Traxsource

Traxsource is another place to get a good, broad overview of what’s happening in the global charts. The foundation is house, but they’re not shy of listing somewhat leftfield genres like “nu jazz” in their catalog. The Top 100 Chart is full of fresh stuff, with soulful house apparently in the lead at the time of writing. They’ve also got a useful Top 50 Sounds and Loops section that might open your eyes to what’s trending on the deconstructive, stems-based edge of playback.

Generally speaking, the busier and more in-demand DJs have multiple sources for their music collection. It’s OK to hit the Beatport Top 100 when you’re starting out. But the challenge with DJing is being a curator of good music that hasn’t seen much of the light of day. Learn little tricks about DJing by signing up with DJ Courses Online today and taking your music forward.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ