General tips for track shopping

General tips for track shopping

How do you go about shopping for your new tracks? Like many professional DJs, it might be a case of responding to what the client wants. But if you’re doing your own thing and have an opportunity to showcase your style, there are ways to be smarter about your haul. Finding that banging track that nobody else has is worth the effort. Let’s check out a few ways to shop better.

Avoid the hype (sometimes)

Some tracks belong in the crate because they’re the happening thing. Better grab a few of those. But when you’re done utility shopping, it’s time to start exploring. Just because everyone else is spinning it, doesn’t mean that you’re obliged to. Get away from the ‘most played’ section and head down the charts. The aim is not always to find what the people want. The aim is also to find you.

Browse multiple sources

Browse different sites when shopping. Beatport will only get you so far. Spotify is great when the playlists are put together by tasteful humans. You can win on Soundcloud if you find the rare underground talent looking for more spins by DJs like you. While Traxsource and Juno only allow limited play time per track, they’re good places to find vintage reissues. The key is to avoid getting locked into one source of music and buying only what everyone else appears to be buying. This journey requires your own personality. 

Plan your timeline

Have an idea of exactly how many tracks you’re shopping for. Give yourself enough time to find good stuff before the event date. Always have a shortlist and a longer list of candidates. Both of these should be dynamic and in a state of being constantly refreshed. That way you don’t have to start from scratch each time. Listen to the tracks on repeat and make sure they give you some kind of kick, even after repeat listening. That way, you’ll enjoy them when you play live, and the audience will pick up on that energy. 

The most valuable thing the online stores offer you is the chart section. There you’ll have a bird’s eye view of what’s trending over time. Some see shopping as a chore, while others love it. Over time, you’ll develop a strategy for getting the tracks you need without wasting time on the duds. Remember to enjoy the journey - it’s not all about the glamor of stage time. Get in the zone with a membership with DJ Courses Online and succeed as a career DJ. 

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ

Native Instruments begins costly 2020 restructure

Native Instruments begins costly 2020 restructure

Most of us are familiar with Native Instruments, the German music software and hardware behemoth responsible for beloved products like Traktor, Maschine and some of the best film scoring tools available. The big news is that Native Instruments is restructuring, and has already confirmed that 20% of their staff has been laid off. Here’s an overview of the damage and what professional DJs can expect going forward. 

Going mono

Native Instruments is the global leader in computer music production. So why are they restructuring? According to their press release, Native claims that “customers today are expecting a seamlessly integrated experience when consuming and accessing creative goods and services.” The aim, then, is overall consolidation of the user experience. This means that users will depend more heavily on their allegiance to Native Instruments, which will result in higher switching costs to other services. In all probability, Native Instruments will come to resemble a closed standard vendor lock-in. In other words, greater market loyalty to the brand by customers will be required. 

What does this mean?

While Native Instruments does provide an endless waterfall of software instruments and samples to us, the end-of-the-line result of this type of lock-in is a certain conformity in the sound. Those who continue to ride the Native Instruments train will produce work that sounds a little more like everyone else using Native Instruments. The toolkits made available to DJs will likely be ever more homogenized. In other words, it will become increasingly easy to identify the samples and sounds populating hit songs and increasingly demanding on DJs competing for attention who look elsewhere for their unique sound. 

Boomtown for DJs

But that’s a long-term dystopia. Native Instruments is equipping itself to capitalize on its market leadership by creating one of those ‘walled gardens’ we’ve been hearing about. This time, one that owns and licenses music tools in the same way that iTunes owns the MP3 sales and distribution model. Yeah, it’s closed off unless you have the buy-in cost. But what a party once you’re in. Imagine a monolithic German music creation powerhouse at your back. 

It’s an emotional time indeed for the employees who got laid off, and Native claims to be finding other opportunities for them. But in the long run, it’s an inevitable step for a company to remain in business. Customer behaviors are changing worldwide. Native’s ultimate aim appears to be one of building a unified platform, one that would create an expandable commercial and technological stage for growth in the future of digital music production. Get savvy to the changing times by registering for a DJ course on with DJ Courses Online.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ

What does the 2019 DJ market want?

What does the 2019 DJ market want?

It’s tough to keep up with any market in an environment of rapid change. Hardware and software manufacturers know that catering to DJs is like herding cats. Everyone has a different set of priorities and needs, ranging from hardware-only techno sets to iPad wedding gigs. On average, what do career DJs in 2019 want? It may not be consensus, but here’s what some of the people are saying.

Rent-to-own subscription models 

The general reaction towards software rental is on the negative side. Most DJs are more interested in owning their own sounds and software than paying a monthly fee for access. This is totally understandable. Who wants to get locked out of software they need for their work just because a tree falls on their house? Rent-to-own software models like Splice, on the other hand, allows users to pay a monthly fee to rent but ultimately own the software. The general impression is that software should be more affordable to the masses based on some as-yet-unnamed criteria.

Actual hardware solutions

It’s hard to hear the music over the endless wail of demands for cross-integration between the flood of hardware and software options. Many users have to dig deep to find solutions allowing even the most popular platforms and devices to play nicely. Using Traktor software and Ableton hardware like Push, for example, is one example of a pair of unnecessarily complex playmates. Even fully integrating Maschine and Traktor, the two flagship Native Instruments products, is more tricky than it should be. VJ software like Resolume is another obvious contender for compatibility with Traktor, but it appears there will always be a lag between demand for awesomeness and supply. 

Streaming capability

Yep. Stream jockeying is here. Nope, not everyone’s cup of tea. Because if everyone can always stream everything, then you might as well be hiring a portable jukebox for the event, right? The scarcity around possessing exclusive copies of hot tracks is very much the lifeblood of career DJs. On the other hand, paying clients are often not very clear and discerning when it comes to the music selection on their special day. Having instant access to a world of options might be what the industry ultimately wants. So, will ‘offline’ events eventually go the way of film photography, becoming a scarcity on their own? Perhaps. But let’s first fix the wi-fi at the venue...

DJing in 2019 is facing the same challenges that many careers are facing. A growing reliance on technology in order to deliver on the job levels the playing field. Will the gap between human selectors and algorithms eventually disappear? Or will the role of the DJ evolve into something else? Get thinking about DJing as a career and consider one of the DJ courses offered by DJ Courses Online today. 

John Bartmann is a DJ and music producer

Streaming changes all DJs should know

Streaming changes all DJs should know

Streaming is obviously how everyone listens to music now. If it’s not on YouTube, it’s probably not worth listening to, right? But things are changing pretty quickly for career DJs. Here are a few recent developments happening in the world of music publishing.

Beatport removes the clutter

There’s way more music being released than listened to. Huge catalogs of yesterday’s vinyl, cassette and CD are being uploaded to YouTube every minute. There’s an overabundance of material. And now, Beatport has announced a new “yearly storage clean-up procedure” that will remove certain tracks that have never sold. The de-cluttering of their back catalog will begin in 2019, removing all tracks that have enjoyed zero sales before January 1, 2019. 

Mixcloud announces paid tier

Similarly, Mixcloud has announced that going forward, the platform will allow fewer freedoms for free listeners while also lifting restrictions on paid subscribers. Free users of the platform will still be able to listen for free and share links, but will only be able to skip forwards while listening to a show, not backwards. A show will only be available to a free listener 3 times every two weeks. Furthermore, free listeners will be unable to hear shows with 4 tracks by the same artist or more than 3 tracks from an album. Check out more info on Mixcloud’s subscription tiers

Why is this important for DJs?

Most professional and semi-professional DJs eventually end up producing their own material. It’s just a smart move to own intellectual property in order to supplement performance fees with streaming revenue and possible sync license deals. With the announcement that two major platforms are essentially becoming more restrictive, the hope for DJs and producers is that more people pay more for the incredible value held by online streaming. 

The culture of paying to stream music needs to be more prevalent. And at this stage, any content creator aiming to avoid a nightmarishly homogenous pool of musical averageness should be the champions of any other cause than major streaming platforms. 

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.

Deadmau5 2019 Cube V3 Tour

Deadmau5 2019 Cube V3 Tour

The demand to have one’s mind blown seems to be an unending one. The festival experience has only gone from loud to louder and bright to brighter. And the more digital it gets, the greater the level of control. The results are truly sophisticated feats of engineering with the sole purpose of melting your face. Let’s check out one of the more happening rigs right now, the Cube V3.

Audio visual

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The Cube V3 is an audio-visual concert rig based on - you guessed it - a giant cube capable of projecting perspective-adjusted visuals. The results are something like we saw the mind-melting Box video a few years back. The rig was road-tested at Ultra in 2019 will be going on tour in August 2019. The results have been generally well received online, and a number of upcoming dates are sold out. Hype.

The rig is designed for the DJ to sit inside the cube structure and be visible. But they can also be completely shrouded by the visuals, allowing for the human-to-visuals ratio to be tweaked over time. It’s assumed that the fans aren’t only interested in a show, that some sort of human agency is required for us to truly connect. But who knows? Perhaps this level of attention-focusing will have unexpected effects on the crowds and be a launchpad for completely automated shows. 

Community app

Deadmau5 has also launched an iOS and Android app for his community of fans. At the moment, it’s nothing more than a glorified subreddit, but it’s an indication of the direction in which things are going. The trend amongst DJs with global appeal will have to be in line with this approach if they plant to continue thriving in a digital world. The app is presently designed to increase traffic to the website of the Cube V3, which seems to be the current cornerstone of the Deadmau5 franchise.

Want to be more involved as a DJ? Check out a selection of courses on DJ Courses Online for furthering your skills, earning your place in the scene and getting your DJ career started!

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.

How much do DJs earn?

How much do DJs earn?

Unlike many other professions, the salary of a pro DJ depends entirely on their popularity. An architect can be supremely unpopular but still command a huge salary due to the quality of their work. The quality of a DJ’s work, however, is how many people are on the dancefloor. So let’s break down the total range of a DJ’s income. 

The big, short answer 

DJs can earn from $0 - $500,000 for an event. That is based on a booking company’s 2014 estimates, so it may be a little unreliable. But at least it gives us a ballpark to work with. Music is an inescapably subjective experience, really leaving us only with booking fees and social media likes to quantify the magnitude of an artist’s awesomeness. The fact that both metrics can easily be forged or fudged doesn’t often enter the discussion. 

The average answer

This reference site features a DJ who just looks like she’s happy to be there. It also claims that in 2010, the average DJs salary was $26,850 (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). The top 10 percent of DJs made more than $72,500 annually. DJ Nick Thayer wrote a worthwhile blog post in 2014 outlining his Beatport earnings with some welcome transparency. 

The reality-adjusted answer

The entertainment industry is a bunch of smoke and mirrors. Never forget that, son. It’s in the interests of big booking agents to suggest that they’re paying out a lot more than they are. Because booking a $50,000 artist is obviously better than booking a $30,000 artist. Reality says that it’s safer to assume that these huge sums aren’t all going directly into the pockets of the DJs themselves. 

It’s weird thinking of DJing in terms of a salaried job. But as you progress you’ll come to realize the administrative nature that accompanies all professional work. There are payslips and there are taxes. In other words, there’s a world of business to professional DJing. Get smart now by enrolling in the DJ Career Tips course on DJ Courses Online today.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.

Is DJing meant to be a show?

Is DJing meant to be a show?

We’ve seen DJs jumping on the tables. We’ve seen them in ridiculous costumes. We’ve seen outrage at the actual inclusion of DJ Colonel Sanders on the Ultra Festival Miami lineup. The question sort of hangs in the air: Is someone having a laugh? Let’s check out a few reasons that the music industry seems to be getting more and more whack for DJs.

Anonymity

The pressure of fame can be tough. A number of high-profile DJs go into the game with their privacy in mind. In wearing masks, artists like Marshmello manage to retain some of their privacy while also operating at the highest level. While Deadmau5 might have begun wearing the mouse head for the same reason, his ubiquity at festivals and in his (often useful) Twitch streams have sort of destroyed any remnants of privacy. Price you pay for the life you choose. 

The paycheck

We all understand the fact that anyone will do almost anything for the amount that big name DJs get paid. The latest list circulating suggests that the top names are earning up to $50 million per year in performance fees and endorsements. It’s a short leap in logic to understand why DJs are compelled to behave more and more like 80s glam rock stars rehearsing for their 2020 heritage tour. 

Oversupply

There’s an oversupply of talent and an undersupply of spots. Even if you know how to DJ really well, how do you stand out? Not by hanging around behind a desk. In a way, the theatrics behind big DJ events in recent years are keeping the format alive for new generations of less impressed people. Younger audiences have seen it all before, and attention spans are shrinking. So maybe it takes even more than a string of incredible online productions and n-dimensional lighting rig to be a hit dealmaker in 2019. 

Trends have the ability to influence people in the short run. But as a DJ or a producer, your game should be longer than just what’s happening right now. There’s no shortage of unscrupulous operators waiting to capitalize of those desperate for attention in the music industry. Whatever you learn, make it last. Whatever you make, make it good. Get better today by checking out what courses are offered by DJCoursesOnline

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.

3 more DJ mix podcasts to check out

3 more DJ mix podcasts to check out

So much new music, but so little of it worth checking out! If only there was a way for career DJs to get a handle on what’s currently on the radar. Enter the mighty podcast. Check out a careful selection of new tracks, research current trends and find out what the DJ tribe is up to. Following on from last week’s piece, here are three more of the best podcast mix shows. 

Keeping The Rave Alive

  • Hosted by: DJ Kutski

  • How often: Weekly

  • Format: Radio show

It’s been nearly 8 years since the first release of KTRA. The lovable DJ Kutski has been plugging away at showcasing the harder styles of dance music every week for a dedicated audience. It’s quite possible that hardstyle, jumpstyle, hardcore, happy hardcore and other fringe electronic music styles wouldn’t be as prevalent today if it weren’t for the influence of this British powerhouse. Radio show format with occasional speaking and some pretty funny DJ name dropping. 

Deep House Amsterdam

  • Hosted by: Deep House Amsterdam Magazine

  • How often: Weekly

  • Format: Guest DJ mix

Like most other DJ podcasts, Deep House Amsterdam began as an online magazine. Their approach includes mostly new and underground dance music weekly. DHA hosts a single mix by a selected DJ. A great source for those cuts that only exist deep in the underground!

Find, Share, Rewind

  • Host: DJ Shadow

  • How often: First Saturday of every month

  • Format: Radio show

The name DJ Shadow is synonymous with electronic music and Find, Share, Rewind is where you get his selection. It’s a carefully curated take on a limitless range of music, not just dance music. Given that his mix is also part of the terrestrial public radio station KCRW, we’re only treated to it once a month. The single most unique aspect of this show? It plays stuff from previous decades. A good place to find some of  the more obscure music. 

Having platforms through which you can expose yourself to new music is the way forward for any career DJ. When you’ve made your selection of new tracks, brush up on your skills in the DJ Courses Online programs and learn to DJ better

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ

Why mobile, streaming and metadata matter to DJs

Why mobile, streaming and metadata matter to DJs

The move toward the future is always upon us. More DJs than ever are adopting tablets, phones and hardware alternatives to the laptop than ever. Track streaming is eating into the territory previously owned by CDs and digital downloads. So what does this all mean for the DJs of tomorrow?

DJing is going mobile

In a recent roundtable discussion facilitated by DJ Tech Tools, a few high-ranking DJs agreed that the advance in tech is pioneering ahead as usual. And DJing is no exception to its effects. Like many professions, DJing is becoming freer than ever of the previous limitations of CPU and pesky power, signal and network cables. Tablets are becoming ever more DJ-friendly while lowering the complexity of use for those learning to DJ and pros alike. Wi-fi is increasingly present. And if not, mobile data costs are falling anyway.

Streaming is the future

It’s unanimously agreed that owning digital music files media is becoming old-fashioned. Younger generations have progressed. Jack Bridges, a Soundcloud representative, states that mobile use is very high and that fewer people are interested in finding the download button. Perhaps Beatport’s Heiko Hoffman says it best: “I think there will be a future where we look back at DJs using USB sticks like we look back at DJs using CD-Rs”. 

The answer is metadata

But streaming music pays producers nothing, or close to it. Even hundreds of thousands of plays across streaming services amount to less than a living wage for artists. Spotify-integrated tablet software packages like DJay would  arguably be doing the original producers a disservice by becoming the new norm. So where does the money come from? The simple answer is metadata. By effectively claiming all the unpaid playback royalties for streams or plays on every public event across the world. This currently isn’t happening. If festivals are paying DJs top dollar, they should be paying the original artists whose tracks are being spun. 

There are always those stalwarts that will view the move away from CDJs as the next technocalypse, but the data is clear: DJing is going mobile. But we all know that (for the time being, at least), AIs are only good for mimicry. But regardless of the advances to come, one thing will never change: good taste. Sign up for a DJ course today and join the DJ Courses Online community.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ

3 mix podcasts all DJs should know about

3 mix podcasts all DJs should know about

If there’s anything professional DJs have in abundance, it’s time on the road. But just because you’re in an Uber, doesn’t mean you’re off the clock. Your work takes on the form of checking out new tracks, researching trends and finding out what other DJs (and the crowds themselves) are up to. Podcasts are your friend. Here’s a list of some of the best music podcasts for DJs that you should be checking out. 

Resident Advisor

  • Who hosts: Resident Advisor Magazine

  • How often: Weekly

  • Format: 1+ hour mix, interview with DJ, tracklist (often) on site

The weekly RA Podcast contains a selection of exclusive mixes of electronic music from the top-ranked DJs. Their website has long been a repository and database for releases by basically the entire range of producers, DJs and events from around the world. If you’re good on RA, you’re good! Each episode features a 1+ hour mix, interview with the DJ, and (usually) a tracklist. Have fun exploring the back catalog of 500+ mixes.

Fact Mixes

  • Who hosts: Fact Magazine

  • How often: Weekly

  • Format: 1+ hour mix, tracklist on site

If DJing were a house everyone were trying to get into, Fact Magazine would be the comfortable couch in the living room. The weekly Fact mixes, which now number over 600, are a treasure trove of the best and freshest upcoming names in music media. The range is wide enough to encompass styles and genres which stray very, very far from the dance floor. Perhaps because of this inclusive approach towards new music, Fact has established itself as a trusted source in taste. 

Deeper Shades of House

  • Who hosts: Lars Behrenroth

  • How often: Every Friday

  • Format: 2 hour mix, tracklist and download on site

In the last decade, the deep house genre has absolutely eaten up the bandwidth. As Beatport CSO Terry Weerasingh puts it, “many genres that used to be techno or house are now being labelled as deep house. Same music, different label.” It’s no surprise that the Deeper Shades of House podcast includes a carefully curated and globally representative weekly mix of the smoother shades of electronic music. Guest mixes by both established and unknown DJs.

It’s always a good idea to keep up to date with what’s being put out there, and a weekly podcast is a good way to go about it. Just resist the temptation to download the mix and pass it off as your own! By the time the music has passed through the tastemakers, it’s on the way out. You need to find your own music and be your own tastemaker to win this game. Check out some of the knowledge offered by DJ Courses Online today.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.

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

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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.