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.
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.
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.