DJ Beatmatching By Ear - Part 2

DJ Beatmatching By Ear - Part 2

In the era of auto-sync, just how important is it to learn how to beatmatch? Well, that depends on whether you see your career in DJing as one of those ‘quick shortcuts to massive international fame’ or a labour of love, for which your primary aim is to actually be good. Beatmatching is an essential skill to learn in order to stand out from the crowd of amateurs on your way to being a solid, tried-and-trusted DJ. Here are a few reasons why. 

Doing Your Own Thing

From the 1980s to today, DJing has possibly been the most rapidly evolving musical art form. We’ve seen the evolution of chart-topping DJs paralleled by the evolution of technology itself, and the results leave very little room for innovation, particularly in the live arena. Vinyl DJs are far less common than they used to be, for obvious reasons. The barrier to entry for software DJing has hit the floor and it has become far easier to obtain music than ever before. But if you’re serious about a learning how to DJ, you need to be quite clear in communicating what makes you different to all of the first-timers. Spinning a vinyl-only set is one way to reclaim some street cred, demonstrate an appreciation for the history of the art form, position yourself above the amateurs and generally own your own show. 

Thinking Ahead

DJing on mobile devices is way less common than on laptops. Not only are mobile DJ apps pretty new and growing in popularity, but there’s always a market for stage gimmicks (giant mouse head, anyone?). We’ve all heard stories of the guy who saved the night by whipping out the music collection on his phone when one of the decks failed. It’s pretty realistic to assume that at least some cases of DJing in the future would involve two wirelessly linked mobile devices with sound outputs instead of bulky CDJs. But learning to DJ will teach you one thing: technology has a way of looping around and digging up the past as a source for its trends. You can only rely on software to make a name for yourself for so long before it becomes really easy, and you’re lost in the crowd. You’ll want to be first in line when beatmatching is back in, not trailing along being forced to learn from scratch as the next generation of DJs gets up and running. Besides that, your average club booker will have a dim view of MIDI controller auto-pilots should you need to get manual and aren’t able to. Think ahead and get good early.

Mixing It Up

Believe it or not, there was a time before house, techno and electronic music. Some of the most established names in music curation today are responsible for digging out old classics and reviving interest in them. Reissuing remastered vintage vinyl cuts is also a rising trend, and it’s been common for about a decade to deliver mashups of older music. The older a record is, the more damaged and warped it becomes. This can affect the stability of the tempo from start to finish, assuming that the musicians on the record played to a click track at all! And if there’s one thing anyone who takes DJ lessons online should know, it’s that computers don’t think very well for themselves. Inputting bad data can really screw up your timing, and software has a tendency to over- or under-compensate for unexpectedness. In brief, learning how to beatmatch is a good backup for when your sync software fails for any reason and you’re forced to switch over to manual. If you’re really good, they won’t even notice that something’s wrong. Not all heroes wear capes. 

John Bartmann is an award-winning music producer and DJ.

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DJ Beatmatching By Ear - Part 1

DJ Beatmatching By Ear - Part 1

Even though we now have total command of the sync button, manual beatmatching is still a pretty important part of being a DJ. If you wanted to get serious about photography, you might start with an iPhone app, but pretty soon you’d have to study the principles of lighting, composition and editing before you could expect anyone to hire you. Same goes for a career in DJing, and beatmatching is one way to show your client that you’ve learned a skill worth paying for. Even if you don’t have a vinyl setup, learning to understand the mechanics is a progressive decision that all in-demand DJs make at some point.

The Skill

Beatmatching is being able to bring in a track at the same tempo as the one that’s playing without relying on the software to sync it up for you. And while you can’t compare it to playing an instrument, beatmatching is as much of a skill that requires practice, ear training and familiarity with non-graphical DJ equipment like turntables. Sure, hitting the sync button and letting the software do the work for you is an easy way go about DJing. But the world really does not need any more amateur DJs who might be able to operate cool equipment but fail to grasp the underlying principles. You wouldn’t want to be in a plane with a pilot who never studied aviation, would you? Learn how to DJ properly and think about your audience.

The Results

When you learn how to beatmatch, a few things happen to your mixes. Your transitions are longer because a person will always require more time to calculate the crossfade than a computer. Software can recognize and lock the tempos far quicker than a human ear, but that doesn’t mean that faster is better. Dancers don’t always want only 4 bars or 10 seconds notice before the next track drops. Longer transitions generally work better than shorter ones. You’re able to prime your audience with the next track and avoid abrupt mixes that your audience didn’t see coming. Don’t be afraid to take your time! Drop the next track in a good 2 or even 3 minutes before you start your mix and experiment with the overlap. You can always retrigger it from the start or a cue point if there’s too much happening. However long your current mix length, double it and see what happens. 

Playing Live

As a result, it’s becoming more feasible and common for career DJs to enter into collaborations with instrumentalists. Playing with instrumentalists has some complexity. A single saxophone player, for example, might easily be able to play along at the tempo of the track. But DJs who enter existing band situations as the electronic rhythm section are sometimes forced to have to drop in to an existing tempo instead of controlling it. There’s no ready software for a syncing with bunch of actual musicians! The controller needs to be able to adjust their timing to the musical rhythm, and then keep listening to alter it if the music gets faster or slower. Fusing electronic with live music may be one of the more in-demand forms of electronic music in the future, and having the chops to make micro-adjustments to your groove on the fly isn’t just musically more pleasing, it opens doors to performing in groups. 

John Bartmann is an award-winning music producer and DJ.

Tips for DJing Vinyl

Tips for DJing Vinyl

DJing vinyl is an artform that has, over time, been relegated to the realm of film photography and classic cars. But besides the obvious difference in analogue and digital sound, what other changes should the contemporary vinyl DJ be prepared for before entering the world of screenless mood curation? Here are three quick tips if you’re considering a course in DJing on vinyl. 

How Much Are You Packing?

The core difference between a vinyl DJ, CD DJ and USB DJ is the volume of music that they’re able to transport. Ten vinyl 33RPM records weigh about 22 lbs (or 1 kilogram), so once you start carrying around more than 150 records, honestly, your back might start to hurt. Digital is clearly little more forgiving, with thousands of tracks now fitting in your pocket. Another major difference is the contents of the record, disc or folder. That giant folder book of CDs you’ve seen on older DJ setups are often compilations burned at home, with various artists hand-picked and grouped together around a theme, like ‘tropical house’. By contrast, vinyl is seldom manufactured by the DJ and typically only contains a few tracks by a single artist. While vinyl compilations aren’t rare, they’re really limited to the heyday of vinyl music publishing by artists back in the 1950s and 60s. The ‘Biggest Christmas Hits’ album from 1964 probably doesn’t contain anything you’re going to want to play out other than as a palette cleanser or some kind of experimental mashup. Which is all fine, so long as you’re not forced to fly your collection of B-sides along with you every time.

The Pitch Fader 

The mechanics of vinyl DJing changed pretty radically when CD and later digital playback took over. Some features were adapted, others abandoned. The pitch fader is one example of a feature that is now far more powerful. Vinyl turntable pitch faders are pretty limited, offering only an average of 8% increase and decrease on the audio. By contrast, CDJs and DJ software offer a much greater range, often assignable and offering a ranging up to 600%. While this extreme is practically useless for DJing tracks (unless you enjoy sounding like either a chipmunk or a demonic curse), it does allow for more creative expression. Early hip hop DJs found new expression by switching the playback speed from 33RPM to 45 RPM to influence musical styles such as jungle, drum and bass and dancehall. Experiment with fast and slow speed in your mixes. You’ll be surprised when you discover that the awkward compatibility you encounter can work and make your sound seriously original. DJ lessons will enable you to familiarize yourself with the different mechanics of different controllers.

Set Your Boundaries

Learning to DJ online empowers you with theory, but sooner or later you’ll have to actually start attending some parties. When DJing vinyl in a club or at a party, don’t allow people near the table or into the booth. Not just to avoid distraction while you’re beat-matching by ear, but for another simple reason: any floor shake means your needle is going to bounce. Letting friends, fans and others into the booth who aren’t aware of this means you’re one excited stamp of the foot or pat on the back away from your needle flying out of the groove and possibly causing a riot. Same goes for letting them slam drinks down on your table. Find some sort of physical buffering if you can; a stage, recess in the room or obstacle to the table are good ideas. While inconvenient, having to be meticulous only adds to the finesse and allure of vinyl DJing. Vinyl DJing is a sought-after profession for a reason. The vinyl DJ must, by necessity, be an extremely focused caretaker for an event to run smoothly. Without being rude, remind drunk fans that you’re working and if needs be, get an enforcer from the venue to keep an eye on the booth entrance while you play. 

John Bartmann is an award-winning music producer and DJ.

Raising Your DJ-Producer Profile

Raising Your DJ-Producer Profile

It’s the question on everyone’s lips: how do I raise my profile and get people to notice and like what I’m doing? Competition for the title of professional DJ-producer is fiercer than ever, and technology is constantly making it easier for newer producers to do more with less. So how do you form a reputation for pure quality in a noisier and noisier world? 

Remix and collaborate

Collaborating with different people raises your profile. The power behind remixes is introducing work to an entirely new audience. If you’re a tech-house DJ, export the key stems of one of your tracks and offer them to a trap producer. Contact bands and offer them remixes. If you know a sax player or percussionist who might be open to performing, reach out and offer them a spot at your next gig. Find a female singer and a recording space and see what happens. If you DJ, produce and play an instrument or sing yourself, you’re a triple-threat. Keep your live set vibrant and interesting by offering something that the other DJs aren’t doing. Work with others to make yourself indispensable.

Publish often

DJing is a very competitive field, but one thing that all the top names have in common is the sheer volume of work they’ve published. Remember, it’s quite normal for a producer to publish work under different names, so chances are that the ones who inspire you are actually doing a lot of other stuff you might not have ever heard. So start getting as much of your stuff out there as possible. Don’t hang on to tracks for too long. Publish continuously, and learn how to finish work without letting perceived imperfections get in the way of release. At least one new track a month keeps you current and creates the impression that you’re not past your sell-by date. Be prolific. Social media marketing has a huge part to play in your success. 

Find your people 

Growing an audience while attending an online DJ school and living the rest of your life can be a time-consuming experience. You might only have another ten or twenty email subscribers after a year. The fewer people you’re being followed by, the more personal you have to be with them. Without turning into a stalker, start to recognize the difference between casual fans, superfans and potential influencers. Get to know as many of them personally as you can. Maybe they’re more into streaming music from home than heading out to parties. Send them tracks. Maybe they’re just into getting wild at events, but not as interested in the releases themselves. Send them comps to your shows and your friends’ shows. Unsubscribing is a simple click away, so make sure that every fan sees you and your work as a source of joy and fun. 

It’s not about you

It’s tempting to fall into the trap of thinking that the self-promotional work you do is only about raising your own profile as an artist. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? You are as valuable as the number of people who are having a good time. The art of DJing has suffered some terrible injustices at the hands of major promotion. Like the badly-behaved rock star stereotype, the image of the solo DJ has often been tarnished by the perception of amateurism brought on by technology’s lower and lower barrier to entry. Prove your real worth by listening to your audience. DJs and producers who have found their niche have done so by blending their own aims with that of the available community of fun-lovers. One last time: DJing is not about the guy or girl in the booth, it’s about the appropriateness of the atmosphere that they create based on the demands of that place and time. Be humble. 

Keep your eyes open

All producers benefit from following existing trends. Keep your eyes on the charts. Get to know where your search for new music takes you, and what it teaches you about yourself. But don’t expect to gain much lasting popularity by being a complete copycat. Part of your long-term goal should be finding your voice (which is really creating your voice). The end result should be something that people can’t find anywhere else. Being risky in your production by deviating from trends can have bigger payoffs. Some of the greatest remixes surpass their originals in popularity because of the direction the remixer took. If you’re able to remain inspired by keeping your productions, song choices and mixes originals while also keeping your eyes on what the audience wants, you’ll raise your profile as a worthwhile asset to your environment. 


Raising your profile as a DJ really comes down to educating yourself about the needs of your society. If being professional is truly what you want, keep focusing on the beautiful energy of the music itself, and keep sharing it with the people who enjoy it as much as you. This is the secret sauce of a career in creating good vibes: keep smiling. The results could just be a job in which your work doesn’t feel much like work. You know it’s what you want to do. Now find out how to do it with the learning offers from DJ Courses Online

John Bartmann is an award-winning music producer and DJ.

Throwing Your Own Party

Throwing Your Own Party

Running your own event is a good idea for upcoming DJs to establish themselves in a scene. Identifying and overcoming the challenges and risks of creating a weekly or monthly night with any staying power solidifies your reputation as a key player and creates incoming demand for your service as a vibe curator. In this post, we take a look at some of the ways you’re able to go about throwing a good party.

Find your partners

The tastemakers are the guys or girls in your scene who are pretty influential, usually quite vocal on social media and generally quite frequent in releasing or unearthing new tracks. Forming a mutually beneficial relationship with these people takes time. If they’re producing their own tracks, start by including them in your sets. Follow, subscribe, like, share and retweet whatever they’re up to. They’ll start to notice who you are. Sign up for DJ lessons online to link with like-minded people. Also link with the fellow DJs who are keen to play and (more importantly) help promote the event. It’s easy to find someone with a new set. When deciding which other DJs to approach about playing, look for the ones who can offer you skills like poster design, video editing and press contacts. Rather look for the hard-working types than people who are just going to sit back and let you shoulder all the risk. 

Be personal

Keep things narrow and as personal as possible. Sure, tag a few tastemakers in your music releases so they’re aware of who is putting stuff out there. But take the time to think it through. You ought to be sparing, exclusive and (above all) relevant when you’re reaching out. Too many upcoming DJs consider social media a free service to spray their own irrelevant self-promo all over town. Nobody likes being mass tagged with stuff that has nothing to do with them, so put some thought into what you’re doing. Remember, the goal of effective social media is real-world, personal relationships. Reply to all constructive messages. Aim for personal. 

Hit the town

Assist tastemakers and promoters by attending their events. Going to parties is hands-down the best way to throw your hat in the ring and break into a scene. If a promoter remembers seeing you on a quiet night at their party, they’re probably going to be more open to talking and hearing what you’re up to. The key here is regularity. A scene is just a collection of people who keep going to the same events. Getting to know them by face and then by name is the best way to immerse yourself in the group. When you’re ready to throw your own event, you’ll have a list of people to get in touch with who already know who you are and interested in what you do. 

Keep it light at night

When you meet a tastemaker or promoter out at night, it’s a good idea to keep the conversation away from events and work. Business talk is more effective in the day. And besides, it might be the guy’s night off! He doesn’t want to have to talk to an upcoming DJ about their event. Connecting with promoters without asking when they’ll book you is a good move. Strike up a conversation about the music or TV shows he or she likes. You can always connect with them in the week and give them a heads-up on your agenda, but don’t spoil their night by talking about yourself and your aims. Oh, and definitely don’t get too trashed if you’re out to meet promoters.

Promote your party

Promote your party heavily. Posters, flyers, social media and email are the standard ways to go, but you’re free to get creative. Email is apparently still the most precious and private of all forms of communication, and people take their inboxes way more seriously than their social media platforms. It’s also the most effective. Be aware of this when creating your following. You might get likes and follows, but your real goal of online communication is still to build a trusted email list. Be active on social and remind people that you have a mailing list. Sending an email reminder about your Facebook event is a one-two punch. Always assure people that you’re not out to spam them, but just thought they might enjoy the vibe you’re working hard to create. Make sure you’re avoiding the most common promotion mistakes


It does take tenacity to launch a successful event that lasts for more than a few weeks. The key is to create a secure party concept with a good reputation that attracts the names people want to see. The alternative is to aim for an event series that comes and goes quickly. But after enough time in the business, you’ll likely find that promoters, venues and DJs are all seeking trusted, long-term relationships with good people. These relationships take time, so bear in mind where you’re putting your energy and make sure the overall direction worth your while. Learn more about professional DJing with DJ Courses Online

John Bartmann is an award-winning music producer and DJ.

Practical DJ Tips for Performing Out

Practical DJ Tips for Performing Out

You’ve got a new set together. You’ve organized a slot at a local party and are ready to hit it.  Great! But there are always ways to be slicker, more professional and smarter when building on your reputation as a club or event DJ. Let’s break from the online DJ lessons for a minute and check out some practical tips on how to keep playing the long game.

Protect your gear

Still carrying your laptop bare naked in a backpack? Get customized and padded protective bags for your gear. Still tying cables in knots or untangling them from a snarling mess before shows? Get velcro strips and start coiling them properly every time you use them. These are the basics of handling technical equipment. Yes, it’s more time-consuming to properly pack and unpack things, so you should start factoring it into your setup and takedown time. Think about the upgrade and resell value, and don’t glamorize the idea of battle-scarred gear. You want a mixer with channels that work and CDJs or controllers without faulty buttons, pads, sliders and connections. The basics. Learning these valuable DJ lessons will save you money later. Oh, and don’t leave your stuff in the booth if you want to stick around and party or arrive early. If there’s a locked office, ask about storing your gear in there beforehand.

Have a checklist

If you’ve already got a flight case with everything waiting to go, first prize. If you’re still unpacking and wiring separate items of gear before a gig and find your RCA adapters dwindling in number, get a quick little checklist on your phone to make sure you’re leaving with everything that you came with. Less important accessories might slip your mind, so unless you have a great memory, make a note of easily forgettable stuff when packing up, such as phone charger cables, headphone adapters, iPad casings, microphone cradles and power adapters. It’s another thing to do, but it sure beats having to replace working cables that you have unintentionally donated to the underground.

Get to know the crew

Introducing yourself to security, bar staff and management on the way in is a great idea. In any nightclub, these guys generally have to deal with the nasty side of humanity more often than most, so create the impression that you’re on their side, part of the team and cooperative. Club managers would way rather work with someone positive and helpful than an arrogant or self-important figure whose demands outweigh their suggestions. Even if people aren’t being as friendly as you are, leave a lasting impression by doing on a personal level what you’re there to on a public level: create a good vibe.

When all else fails…

If technical problems can happen, they’ll happen at events. Technical failure is a disappointing reality in the trade, especially when playing on gear that belongs to the venue. Always keep a playlist or mix on your phone as a backup. Keep it plugged in and ready to play. Or if you’re bringing your own gear, have an entirely separate laptop ready. You can also bring a clone of your hard drive. Mixers can fail too, so have the necessary adapters to be able to plug directly into the front of house system. Whatever it takes, have a backup and be prepared for that moment that the sound goes down and everyone looks at you, the DJ. Be a hero, pull a solution out of the bag and get that music going again, whatever it takes!


Not only does all this advice make sense, it also makes you look good. Being able to smoothly handle unforeseen actualities is the difference between an amateur and a pro. Sure, it means more prep time, spare cables and overall work. But if you’re seriously considering upping your game, you’ll make a habit of factoring this extra time and energy into your offering and have a good time knowing that you’ve got another smooth event in the bag. Check out the learning offers from DJ Courses Online and get your pro game in the bag.

John Bartmann is an award-winning music producer and DJ.

Getting More DJ Bookings More Often

Getting More DJ Bookings More Often

As fun as it is collecting music and playing it out live, most of us who enter into online DJ schools are out to make a career of it at some level. It’s liberating to have found a niche that is supported by the entertainment demands of your society. But how do you get there? Quick answer: by acting as professional as possible, leveraging your good reputation and increasing the number of booking inquiries. Here’s how.

What is a booking contract?

A booking contract specifies the terms agreed upon by the DJ and the event promoter, club booker or agent. A standard booking contract includes the logistical details of expectations, start and end times, venue location and fee. But it also includes legally binding terms that protect both the promoter and the DJ, and aims to avoid disputes after any unexpected incidents. There are booking contract templates online that you can edit to suit the details of your event. 

Why do I need a booking contract?

Most booking contracts aim to protect you in the cases of non-payment and gear damage. It’s not feasible to complete a booking contract for every event you play. Rocking up at a house party asking the host to sign a piece of paper is a good way to appear lame. Nobody will point fingers at you if the power fails at your cousin’s sister-in-law’s birthday party. But in purely commercial situations such as public events, you stand to lose if your gear is damaged in any way. And here’s the thing: the event promoter or venue will seldom be the one to initiate this conversation, because they’re the ones most liable to pay up if something goes wrong. Every DJ worth their salt has learned this lesson in the past. Make sure a culpability clause is in the contract, and make sure a payment schedule is set. 

Payment schedule

A payment schedule is included in the contract or invoice and states when your fee is due in part or full. It’s normal to claim 50% of the total fee as a non-refundable deposit before the event date, with the remainder due on or before the day. Make sure you send an invoice to the client along with your contract, even if you use a placeholder company name. Branding these invoices and contracts is a good idea. These small preparations are what make an impression and set you apart from the type of cash-and-a-handshake deals you could end up playing forever. There are free accounting software solutions such as Wave that allow you to create invoices and reports easily. 


It’s sometimes the case that a promoter fails to pay the promised amount in full or on time. This can be the case if they booked you for a party, promising a flat fee, and then failed to bring in the ticket sales they were hoping for. As a professional, non-payment can seriously disrupt your cash flow, create troubles with your landlord and maybe even get the Yakuza on your back! Make sure there’s a clause stipulating when the fee is due. If you’re at the end of your rope and starting to feel like you’re begging for something that belongs to you, a lawyer’s letter might speed things up. But always keep your tone cordial and make sure to personally and delicately warn the promoter first. 


Insurance for your equipment is a good idea, particularly if you’re at a level where you’re being flown around to do gigs. Research insurance solutions especially for musicians, as they’ll have more in-depth cover and provide better service than general mobile household insurance options. Insurance is one of those things that you might think is totally unnecessary, but at a certain level it starts to make more and more sense to dedicate a part of your earnings to protection against theft, power surges and liquid spills. In your negotiations, ask the venues if they have an insurance policy, and if your gear would be covered under it. Another pro-sounding question for the client.

What is a tech rider?

A tech rider is a document that stipulates what gear you use and the requirements for your performance. A good tech rider includes a description of your performance, your gear list and your contact details. A tech rider also includes all and any unusual elements of a standard DJ act. Don’t automatically assume there’s space in the booth for additional live musicians or enough surface area for all your controller devices. Or any large mousehead stage props. Find out as much info beforehand as possible. It’s also a good idea to avoid using your own equipment as much as possible, to keep it from getting battered by time on the road and to make your life a little simpler and easier. 

Why do I need a tech rider?

Getting your client to agree on the tech rider beforehand helps to avoid panic situations before events. DJing is pretty technical, with an amazing array of accessories at your disposal. Just one missing cable could put a halt to the whole show, and an offhand bar owner might be quick to assume it was your responsibility to bring it. So during your negotiations, get detailed. Provide a checklist for the venue to fill out and state what’s available. Do they provide CDJs, turntables, connector cables, a mixer and all of the items required to take the signal from your flash drive to the front of house speakers? Make sure you know if you’re able to play on the gear. Is it compatible with your USB flash drives? How many channels are on the mixer? Are they all working? Make a list of all the problems you’ve ever had with gear in the past, and include it in your inquiry. Make sure you’re aware of what’s waiting for you on the other side of town, down to the cable types. 


Being very specific with your client has the effect of demonstrating that you’re experienced and professional. A club booker or agent should worry if they approach a DJ who agrees to perform before entering into a conversation. Don’t get hung up on waiting for emails. A phone call is still the best way to show you’re serious and get the info you require quickly. Most often, you’ll probably feel like you’re going way overboard with the invoices, tech riders, contracts and phone calls. But always remember to play for the gig you want, not just the gig you have. Find out more about how to enter the world of professional DJing with online DJ lessons from DJ Courses Online.

John Bartmann is an award-winning music producer and DJ.

DJing Music That’s New To You

DJing Music That’s New To You

The more established you are as a DJ, the more inquiries you’ll receive. These can range from one-line Facebook messages like ‘what do you charge?’ to full proposals with a budget and logistics already outlined. Oftentimes, the sender will have no idea what your preference or personal taste is, and might assume you operate a simple music playback service or PA speaker hire business. So what do you do when you get a booking request for a type of music or event that you’ve never done before? 

Turning it down

You might still feel like a student of DJing, but it’s your responsibility to educate the client about what you do and don’t do. It’s also worth having a response prepared for inquiries that don’t suit your taste. If you aim to turn it down because you can’t realistically see yourself playing a toddler birthday in a clown suit, it’s always a good idea to have someone else to whom you can refer the client. That way, they remember you as being helpful rather than a dead end, and are more likely to get in touch with more suitable events in the future. 

Charge realistically

So let’s assume that you’re able to accommodate the client, even though you might not have actually played mariachi music at a themed taco night in the past. Your first question should be: is the fee substantially higher than your normal event fee? If you aren’t very familiar or don’t like playing the type of music you’re asked for, you should be charging more. As you might know, a truckload of preparation, research and track acquisition goes into an entirely new set. Don’t be afraid to aim high if the target is really niche. You might be down in a list of others who have already turned it down because it’s too much work for the payoff. Learning to DJ professionally means being realistic with your time estimates and charging accordingly.

Know what you’re doing

So, you’ve decided to go ahead with it and the client is happy with the rate. Now it’s up to you to make sure you have the gems in the required genre. In every style, there’s a Top 20 or Top 100 that are guaranteed crowd-pleasers. Find out what they are and get a hold of them. Listen to every track at least once before the time. Definitely practice mixing them beforehand. Hip hop is harder to beat-match than house because there are fewer beats per minute and therefore fewer chances to match up the snare and kicks. Along with online DJ lessons, beat-matching and practicing transitions in new genres is a great way to grow as a DJ. 

Hit the scene

If you have time, go to an event featuring the type of music you’re booked to play. This is a quick way to see what effect certain tracks have on the people and the floor. Install Shazam (if you haven’t already!) and use it to discover selections that might not have made the list. And don’t let yourself be fooled by lists or charts online. The best way to find out what’s banging is to go out yourself. Talk to people about the music. It’s one of the ultimate conversation topics, and you can learn a lot in a few minutes. You never know, you might find a new love for it!

Refusing for good reason

Refusing to play because you’re unprepared might be a good move. If the idea of playing the gig makes you feel a bit queasy, rather turn it down than agree and make a poor job of it. The client will generally respect honesty and consider you again for more suitable events in the future. The long game as a music businessperson all relies heavily on your reputation as a negotiator. If clients can trust that you can deliver on what you promise and your rates are reasonable, you’ll find yourself in ever-higher circles.  


There isn’t a successful DJ on the planet that has not played an event outside of their comfort zone at some point. Putting together mixes and DJing house parties is a cool hobby, but if you’re serious about performing professionally, you’ll need to play more events which require new and unfamiliar material. Don’t roll your eyes next time someone offers you a spot at a bluegrass event. Get researching and find out what works. The best marketing is performing at an event in front of a crowd of happy people. Do what it takes to make it happen. Learn more on how to go pro with the courses DJ Courses Online has to offer.

John Bartmann is an award-winning music producer and DJ.

New Course Added: Music Production Level 1

New Course Added: Music Production Level 1

Let’s Get Familiar with Ableton Live.

Have you ever wondered what software tools do electronic music producers like Skrillex, Kaskade, or Diplo use to create those signature sounds and melodies? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s Ableton Live! We just added a new Ableton Live course to get you creating your own masterpieces, mashups, and remixes.

Unique Software

In this course, you'll learn about the capabilities of Ableton Live music production and live performance software from Ableton Live certified instructor, Thavius Beck. Ableton Live is a very unique software application that has steadily risen in popularity amongst producers, DJs, electronic musicians, and instrumentalists alike, thanks to its unique approach to music recording.

In Ableton Live, you can record using the standard DAW (digital audio workstation) approach of recording tracks into an arrangement window and mix using faders, but with the built-in Session view, the possibilities become endless. Session view allows you to view your music as "clips", which are audio/MIDI recordings (small or large) that you can stack together in various ways and combinations to unlock your creative potential and find sounds and musical phrases.


Meet the Instructor

We couldn't think of anyone better than Thavius Beck to take you through the software, guiding you through all of the key features and preferences so that you start making music like you've never made before.

Learn a New Skill

The skills you'll learn from this Ableton Live master will enable you to reach deep into the application and produce music like a professional. There's a reason why Daft Punk, Deadmau5, Skrillex, Kaskade, Armin Van Buuren, Diplo, Hot Chip, M83, and countless others have been producing with Ableton and Thavius will show you why!

Get in Touch

Discover the latest music-making methods and techniques at DJ Courses Online.


Why is My DJ Software Constantly Updating?

Why is My DJ Software Constantly Updating?

DJ tools and programs are constantly evolving. Ever since DJing first began, people have been expanding their own techniques and learning new ways to create sounds and mix tracks. However, some advancements are on a much larger scale than others. One of the biggest advances in music has been the creation of software programs solely focused on helping DJs create new music. These programs are able to give DJs insight into musical rhythms and help produce new sounds that were not possible with traditional turntable setups.

Keeping up with the latest DJ software updates can mean staying ahead of competitors.

However, there is a setback to this game-changing technology that DJs around the world must constantly struggle with. DJ software is constantly updating, changing the programs that musicians rely on daily. This sometimes causes issues when the changes make the program require more know-how from the user.

Sure, these changes can be minor tweaks in display, but they can also involve a complete overhaul of how the software works. In either case, DJs can be hard-pressed to keep up with these changes in the midst of their busy schedules.

At DJ Courses Online, we understand that software updates present constant challenges. That’s why we work to provide the most contemporary DJ online courses, with information on the latest updates reflected in our videos and our blogs. We also know that understanding the causes and effects of software updates can help DJs better prepare themselves for software changes, so we cater to the whole package.

What Causes DJ Software Updates?

No software is perfect, and many become familiar with the quirks and challenges of each program just by constant use. Some may even use these complications to their advantage by creating new sounds. However, updates may change the way a program functions, and not every DJ out there can just stick to their guns and get the hang of it. Knowing what may be causing the updates to your DJ software is the best way to stay prepared and roll with the punches.

  • Major Bugs: Good software companies will work to address the bugs affecting their programs. If you notice serious issues with your software and the company itself is known to be reliable, you can be sure to expect updates. The fix may be a small tweak or a major overhaul; you’ll just have to wait and see.
  • Continued Customer Complaints: Companies will also work to address complaints from customers, which can result in changes to the software. Whether it’s an issue with the layout or the functions of various tools, major complaints are usually answered eventually. Check message boards concerning your software to see if there are any trends in complaints. This will give you an idea of what to expect.
  • Changes in Company Management: The management of a software company has a large say in the functions of their programs. If there has been a turnover in management, the software may soon reflect the ideas and preferences of those newly in charge. Stay aware of how your favorite software company is being managed so that you can feel comfortable about the future.
  • New Software Trends: No company wants to be left behind when it comes to trends that are currently dominating the marketplace. If you notice that longstanding software, or new programs, are changing their appearances or functions to suit current trends, be prepared for updates. It’s vital for a company to keep up to date with the mainstream. While sometimes changes can feel fast and loose, others are gradual and well-expected if you know what to look for.

Whatever programs you are using, the easiest way to stay current is through the help of reliable DJ online courses, such as those that we provide here at DJ Courses Online. We work hard to do all of the digging for you and make sure to cover the whole board

Staying in the Know with DJ Online Courses

At DJ Courses Online, not only do we have informative blogs, but we are committed to providing every DJ with vital online video courses that reflect the latest changes to software. If you have experienced an update that changes your program’s function, expect our DJ online courses to have the easy-to-understand explanation that you need to get going again. Sign up today or contact us online to find out more about our courses.

Expert online DJ courses can be the key to learning what the newest software updates mean for you.

Five Ways Online DJ Courses Can Help You Create a Signature Sound

Five Ways Online DJ Courses Can Help You Create a Signature Sound

The greatest DJs around the world can be identified by their fans with just a few notes. Even when hearing a brand new track, listeners know who’s behind the music by identifying signature sounds and styles. A successful DJ knows exactly how to expand his or her style while still retaining the qualities that will tie into their catalogue of work. 

Unique DJ sounds are possible with online video tutorials.

There are DJs around the world looking to make it big, their sights set on becoming signature artists. If you are looking to become recognizable and create a massive following, you’ll need to separate yourself from the pack. Crafting a signature sound is the key to setting yourself apart. For many aspiring DJs, learning new techniques and expanding their own software knowledge through online DJ courses is a simple, yet effective way to be able to create that trademark sound. 

Entering the Next Level Every DJ has to start somewhere. While you may have inherent creativity, you most likely won’t be able to create quality tracks without boosting your skills through online DJ courses first. Here are five ways that courses from DJ Courses Online can give you the tools you need in order to make great music.

1. Expand Your Knowledge: Even if you are an experienced DJ, you may have several areas where you are lacking in experience, or even understanding—especially when it comes to new software updates. Online DJ courses can expose you to new ideas and techniques, allowing you to delve into new territories you may have otherwise steered clear from or been unaware of.

2. Turn the Basics into Second Nature: If you are trying to be as creative as possible right off the bat, you may have skipped learning many DJ basics. By understanding the basics of mixing and various fundamental techniques, you can create a solid base from which you can creatively build new sounds later.

3.  Broaden Your Techniques: If you only know a few techniques, it can be extremely hard to combine sounds and think creatively while DJing. The more you know, the more tools you will have in your belt to craft a sound that is unlike anything heard before.

4. Make Software Work for You: Being a DJ today means having access to a large array of software. It can be confusing to use at first, but it ultimately aids in the music-making process. Don’t let these great tools pass you by. By learning how to use new software programs and their complex processes, you can use them to push your sounds to new horizons.

5. Experiment with Sounds: Once you develop a broad, deep knowledge of DJing fundamentals through our varying online DJ courses, you’ll be able to experiment more than ever. The more time you give yourself to experiment, the more you’ll be able to decide which sounds you want to incorporate into tracks as you distinguish yourself from other DJs.

Finding Success with Online DJ Courses

At DJ Courses Online, we are dedicated to providing the most in-depth knowledge possible, and all through easy-to-understand online video tutorials.

With our help, you can have everything you need to rival the best DJs around the world and really make a name for yourself. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our courses, excellent customer service, and history of success.

Finding Success with Online DJ Courses

At DJ Courses Online, we are dedicated to providing the most in-depth knowledge possible, and all through easy-to-understand online video tutorials.

With our help, you can have everything you need to rival the best DJs around the world and really make a name for yourself. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our courses, excellent customer service, and history of success.

Whatever genre you work in, signature sounds are possible through continued learning.

Free DJ Lesson: Introduction to Virtual DJ

Free DJ Lesson: Introduction to Virtual DJ

In this free DJ tutorial, you’ll get to know the layout and key settings of Virtual DJ with a tour of the software. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the features and preferences available to you. The best part is that the software is free and available for download on their website at

For those who are audio impaired, here’s a full text transcript of the lesson:

Alright in this tutorial we are going to go over Virtual DJ, give you a quick overview of the layouts and some of the setup functions and just the overall features that this really impressive and someone underrated software for DJ’ing can do. So, as you look at the main screen, you will see the traditional two deck layout, and in the middle we have our mixer with 3-band EQ as well as volume for each side, and a cross fader. And if we look a little closer at the actual deck itself you will see that you have the turntable with the transport functions, sync functions, pitch control and there is also a section for effects, the filter sampler, the loop section and yes some hot keys up here. So moving on we see down below we have four tabs one for the browser, sampler, effects and the record function. So the browser is where you can arrange your tracks and find your tracks to load onto your decks. 

So what’s cool about Virtual DJ is that it reads crates from other software including iTunes, Serato and Traktor so it’s a ready to go if you are trying to migrate from different DJ software. Right here I have a little folder with couple of demo tracks today and you can load it just by dragging it onto the track and let’s just take a listen. Up here you can jump to different parts and the track is bringing it to the beginning, adjust control is over here, pitch bend. Effects are here and you can select from a variety of effects and I will engage it by clicking on it and there are two parameter controls and which change depending on the effect that we are using and to turn it off click on it again. There’s dual high pass, low pass filter. And a feature that I really like on Virtual DJ is that you can control adjust the key independent of the tempo. 

So this is really good if you’re trying to mix and key and get different tracks to lock in. There is also a keylock so if you want to change the tempo but the not the pitch you have that as well. As far as looping we have the auto-loop functions which you can also bring down to really fast speeds and there is also manual looping where you set in and out points on the fly like so. Cue points are triggered up here. And there is also a sampler and you can just few one sample to trigger as they you have a go through that you like to use all the time just leave it on top or you can go the sample tab and you can load up even more samples and just to give you an example there is a siren, that’s one sample. So the sampler can play either in a loop mode like so and you can actually adjust the size of loop with this arrows.

You can also switch the modes or just non-loop mode where it will just play one time all the way through. You have volume controls for each of your samples and another feature I like is that you can record samples on the fly of the deck that’s playing. So if I had to play this and let’s go to an empty sample spot and now you saw me just record that and we will hear. So that’s the sample I just recorded on the fly which is really nice feature. So under effects you can access the different parameters and controls for a specific effect. And you can customise it with the sound you want and you can also assign them to either deck 1 or deck 2 from this window. But you could also do it from in the actual deck itself. And under record this is where you can setup to record your mix to either burn into a CD or upload to share with the rest of the world over the internet. 

So another cool feature inside a Virtual DJ is that it comes with built-in video mixing. Under the video tab here you can see two different decks to put videos on and you can link the video cross fader to the audio cross fader or you can have it run independently. You can also play videos and have music already embedded on it or you can just take the video and have it go over the songs that you are playing on the audio decks. Virtual DJ also has a DVS control so you can use time-coded vinyl or CDs if you prefer that. Going under the configuration setting you can see that it supports up to six decks. I am going to show you the four decks layout and you can see over here. So depending on how you like to DJ you can add multiple audio sources via the config setups through the settings. Now as far as formats Virtual DJ can handle a large variety of audio and video codecs from AAC, MP3, WAV, AIF to MPEG video, MOVs and Flash so the whole list is under settings.

You can see that it’s pretty impressive list so you won’t run into many issues if you have multiple formats for your media. Now when it comes to using a controller Virtual DJ supports a large number of them. You can see from this list if I scroll down there are pretty much every popular controller on the market. And I found that even if you don’t see yours in list in here it still can possibly be supported. So don’t let that stop you from trying out this software. So overall Virtual DJ is a very well thought out DJ software that gets you the ability to mix audio and video its DVS control has nice effects section, a sampler and I do like the fact that you can use multiple decks and it reads crates from other software’s. So if you are coming from Serato or Traktor the transition will not be that difficult.

Free DJ Lesson: Open Fader Scratches

Free DJ Lesson: Open Fader Scratches

In this free DJ tutorial, you’ll explore scratching techniques that involve utilizing the fader’s open position. The sounds you produce from these scratch DJ effects can be used rhythmically over the music in your track list, open or close songs, or transition into new songs.

For those who are audio impaired, here’s a full text transcript of the lesson:

Alright, so in this tutorial we are going to go over the Flare scratch which is an open fader scratch. So what that means as an open fader scratch is that the cross fader starts in the middle or on the position, meaning that sound is passing through. In the more basic scratches most of them started with the fader closed with them, sound not passing through. So to say, the Flare and its sister scratches are similar, in that they start with the fader open. So what that means is, sound will, you play the sound with the fader open and then you execute the scratch. In this case I am just going to do the basic back and forth on the record, and I am going to, in the middle of this movement, I am going to split that sound into two sounds, by clicking the fader.
I am going to click it once and then click it a second time to close position at the very end of the sound. So just watch carefully. At the end of the sound I leave the fader closed and stop the record, and as I pull back the record to the starting position I move the fader back to the middle. So you hear that backspin. So one more time I am going to, step 1 is to release the record, click the fader once, and then one more time at the end of the forward motion of the record. Stop the record, pull the record back and open the fader again. So just watch carefully while I do this a few times. I start slow and then go faster as I go on. So we should be getting is three sounds out of this scratch. The first sound as I release the record, the second as I click and turn it back on, and the third as I go back. So 1,2,3….1,2,3….1,2,3… 1,2,3.. 1,2,3…. You can do this also backwards instead of starting with the record on the forward motion, you could start on the backward motion, the same idea applies. So we moved this sound to the end, and I split the backward motion into two, and then release the record, and move the fader back to the open position.
The genius of this scratch is that you are creating three sounds by only moving the fader twice, so that’s why these Flare scratches when they came out were revolutionary because it made you sound a lot faster on the cut than you could with previous close fader scratches. 
Alright so the next type of open fader scratch I want to show you is called or known as the Orbit, and what that is is you do the same motion on the forward scratch as you do on the backward motion of the scratch. So again you start with the fader open and this time I am going to click the fader once, and leave it back in the open position as I release the record. That’s the forward motion. The backward motion, same thing as I pull back, I am going to click the fader once and then return it to the open position.
So forward, backward, forward, backward. So with this one with two fader movements I am actually getting four sounds instead of three that we got on the other scratch. So I am just going to do this slowly and then pick up the speed so you can just hear it progress from slow to fast. Notice the four sounds. I count those okay, 1,2,3,4… 1,2,3.4..… 
Alright so the final scratch I want to show is also a variation on the Orbit, but this one includes two clicks per motion. So on the four motions you are going to click the fader twice as opposed to once and on of the backward mostly you can do the same. So again start with the fader in the middle, as I move the record forward I am going to click the fader twice or turn it on and off twice, giving me three sounds. On the backward motion we will do the same thing, forward, backward. So with this we are getting six sounds. 
So let’s review the three scratches, there open fader scratches and in the family of Flare scratches.
The first one is just the simple Flare, start with the fader in the middle, move the record forward, click once to get just put that sound to 2, and then close it. That’s the first part of the scratch. And then the pull back, move the fader back to the middle as I pull back giving you three sounds. 
Next is the single click Orbit. So start with the fader in the middle. Move to the beginning of your sound, as I release the record on the forward motion, I will click the record, click the fader once, and move it back to the open position. Stop the record and as I pull back I will do the same thing.
And then finally it’s the double click Orbit. So same thing. Start with the fader open, go to the beginning of your sound, and instead of clicking once I am going to click twice on the forward and the backward motion. So let’s listen to those over a beat, always practice to a beat to get your timing down and also start off slow and build the speed over time.

Free DJ Lesson: Serato DJ Slicer

Free DJ Lesson: Serato DJ Slicer

In this DJ lesson, we cover the Slicer feature in Serato DJ. The Slicer, originally developed for the Novation Twitch and Serato ITCH, is a performance feature in Serato DJ, designed to slice up a section of your track into 8 slices which are then controlled using the 8 performance pads on your controller. It’s also available for the Vestax VCI-380, Reloop Terminal Mix 2, the Pioneer DDJ-SX and the forthcoming Numark NS7 II & Pioneer DD-SR / SP-1 controllers..

For those who are audio impaired, here’s a full text transcript of the lesson:

In this tutorial we are going to go over the slicer feature in Serato DJ. Up until real recently it was only available in certain specific hardware, but they just opened it up Serato Remote which is an App for the IPhone and the IPad Mini, so a lot more people now have access to this. So the first thing you want to do before you use this feature is, you would want to make sure your grid is set properly. Now the quick way to do that is to turn on the add-a-grid function and then find the first downbeat of the track and once you find that click on set. And it will automatically set the beat grid to your track. Keep in mind you can fine tune the grid if the automatic grid detection does not quite work to your liking. 
Alright now once your grid is set, we can now engage the slicer function. So the way you do that is you want to open up Serato remote on your IPad and to the slicer tab. Now what the slicer does is take a section of your song and divides it into 8 different slices, which you can trigger at will, while the song itself continues playing in the background. Now you can play these slices in any order that you want, creating interesting new rhythms and combinations. Now right now I am adjusting the length of the retrigger when I press the slice you can set it to be as slow as 1 beat, to a half beat, to a quarter beat and an eighth of a beat as well. 
Now the current mode of the slicer I am in the song keeps progressing down the track picking new sections to slice-up. If you want the song to stay on a particular section you can turn on the loop function and you will see it turns blue now indication you are the in the loop mode of the slicer. And the play head will just keep playing and cycling through that section. And in either mode you can select the length of section that is being sliced. Like right now I just went from 16 beats to 8 beats as well as adjusting the retrigger rate. So I am just going to go and play around with different slices in this section adjusting the retrigger rate and even the length of the actual loop itself. 
Forgive me if everything seems to be going a little bit fast right now. But this is one of those things you just got to get your hands on and you will really understand it right away once you get it all loaded-up. And here we go switching back into normal mode, non-loop mode. And it takes a different selection of the track that is now being sliced. Retriggers it to a quarter note right now. Now this is really a unique feature to the Serato DJ., and I kind-of liken it to a more advance lubberly, function. So just a review of what the slicer does. Is that it takes a section of the song from as long as 16 beats to as little as 2 beats and slices that section into 8 different parts which you can then trigger in any order you want and you can also set how quickly it will retrigger a slice from as slow as 1 beat to as fast as 1/8th of a beat. 
And add to that in the background the original song still plays while you still doing you are slicing so that you will never lose the original timing of the track itself. So those of you out there who do have access to IPad or a IPad mini I highly recommend downloading and purchasing the Serato Remote App and then using it with Serato DJ accessing the slicer function.

Free DJ Lesson: Introduction to Scratching

Free DJ Lesson: Introduction to Scratching

In this free DJ lesson, our DJ Courses Online instructor introduces you to the basics of scratching. Even if you’ve scratched before, this is a good guide for reviewing the fundamentals. These are critical to being able to scratch. Scratching can be added tastefully to supplement a song in a live performance, used as a solo, or in between. Just remember to really master each technique before attempting to perform live.

For those who are audio impaired, here’s a full text transcript of the lesson:

Alright, in this tutorial we are going to go over basic scratching.  So, this is our introduction to scratching and I am going to show you four different scratches.  They are the baby scratch, the forward scratch, the backward scratch and the transform scratch.  So, I am going to go over each of these individually and then we are going to put them together and you will see how simple scratching can really be and it is really all about the combinations that you come up with around these four different scratches.  And you will see that the possibilities are infinite.
Alright, so let us start off with the baby scratch.  The baby scratch is just simply rubbing the record forward and backward over a sound.  No faders involved in this one, so you want to leave the fader in the on position, meaning letting the sound pass through.  As you can see I can change the speed and the timing at which I move the record to create different rhythms and different pitches.  So, while this may be the simplest of all scratches, there are still a lot of things you can do with the sound depending on how you move it forward and backward.
Alright, so this next scratch is called the forward scratch and in this one, we only want to hear the forward motion of the sound.  So, you want to start with the fader closed, meaning no sound can pass through, and the record cued to the start of the sound.  Then you are going to open the fader, meaning move it to the on position, release the record, hear the sound play, close the fader and then pull the record back.  As you can see, you can also use the input fader, since it does have the same function as the cross fader and that it allows sound to either be heard or not heard.  As you get more comfortable with this motion you can go faster and faster to create different rhythms and variations on this forward scratch.  Also, how you push the record forward can change the type of sound you get.  So, let us just review this slowly one more time.
So, the next scratch is the backward scratch and as the name indicates instead of hearing the forward motion this time we want to only hear the backward motion.  The idea behind this scratch is essentially the same, it is just now the fader is closed during the forward motion of the scratch and opened as the record is moving backward.
So, let us take a listen as I combine forward and backward scratches.  Also, pay close attention to how I use my record hand to alter the pitch of the sound.  It is a very important part of scratching in terms of added style and variation to how you pull off these different cuts.  Those are some backward scratches.  And here are some forward and backward scratches alternating.
So, next I am going to combine the baby scratch and these forward and backward scratches, just so you can see how just with these three alone you can create some interesting scratch combinations.
Alright, now the fourth scratch, we are going to go over is the transform scratch and that works by letting the record go and using the cross fader to chop the sound on and off.  So that can work on the forward and backward motion of the record and the more comfortable you can get the faster you can get on the fader giving you a faster sounding scratch.  Again see how the motion of the record hand also can affect the sound and give you a new variation.
So, it is really important to start off slow when learning of these new scratches.  Really understand each of the motions, the relationship between the fader hand and the record hand and don’t go faster than you should.  That was one of the biggest mistakes I used to make was I would try to go too fast on a new scratch and it ends up taking longer to learn it when you do it that way.  So, I encourage you to start off slow, do a lot of repetitions and eventually you will gain the coordination and the confidence to go faster.
So, the next step is to be able to do this over music and over a beat.  So I am going to put on a drum break and I am going to go over these scratches and just come up with all kinds of combinations using these four scratches to create a nice little scratch composition.  So, these are just baby combinations right now, a lot you can do with just the baby scratch.
Alright, backward and forward.  Some backward scratches and some transforms.  That is some transforming on the forward and backward motion of the record.  Now, you can also use the volume input fader to give you some cool fade-in and fade-out effects while doing a baby scratch.  Some forwards on the volume fader.
And that is the intro to scratching.  Remember the key is to start out really slow on each scratch and also to practice as much as you can because the more repetitions you get in, the better you will become.

Free DJ Lesson: Introduction to DJing with Ableton Live

Free DJ Lesson: Introduction to DJing with Ableton Live

Check out our latest free DJ lesson on DJ Courses Online, the leading online DJ school. In this video you’ll learn how to DJ with Ableton Live. You’ll learn about a number of Ableton’s DJing features like warping audio/song to change the tempo of songs (with or without affecting the pitch) – this is helpful for remixes. You’ll also learn about mixing, crossfading, and more.

For those who are audio impaired, here’s a full text transcript of the lesson:

Alright, in this tutorial we are going to go over basic DJ-ing in Ableton Live in their session view. Now, as you can see I have two tracks set up right now in live, and you want to think of each track as a virtual deck or virtual turntable. So, once you have that set up you want to drag an audio clip onto the first deck and let us take a listen to it. Once that is loaded and you can hear it the next thing you want to do is warp the track. And what warping does is it beat maps or beat grades the track out and allows you to play it at whatever the master global tempo is. As you could see right here, it is set at one ten. So once a clip is warped properly it will play at whatever the global tempo is set at.
Now the quickest way to warp a track is you want to turn on warp and then you want to find the very first downbeat of the track. In this case, it is at the very beginning of the song. From there you want to right click and then you want to click warp from here. And if I zoom out, I am going to undo that and show you again. You will see that the waveform will shift, so that the downbeats move to where the corresponding bar numbers are as you could see right there. Now that this is warped, if I change the master global tempo so will the play back of this clip. It is really fast, and I can go really slow with it.
So, let us put it back to 110, and let us go and do this for a second track on deck two. So again, load the track. Let us take a listen, and let us zoom in a little bit, turn on the warp real quick, find the first down beat and right click, and warp from here. And you can see that the waveform shifted. Let us do that again, zoomed out so you could see that again. Right click, warp from here and you can see how it shifted and let us go and adjust the master tempo again if you are in this one play formed a master tempo.
Alright, so let us do this for two more tracks. Here is a third track same process. Here it is unwarped. So let us zoom in, find the first downbeat and right click and select warp from here, and let us take a listen to that. So, now let us do this for a fourth track in the same process. So that is unwarped, zoom in, find the first downbeat, turn on warp, right click and warp from here and let us listen to this. Now if you look at the clip inspector under the warp settings, you will see that the native tempo of the clip is listed once it has been warped. So this one is around 95 bpm at its normal speed and it is now playing at what the master tempo is set at.
So, the next thing I want to show you is the retrigger of the clip setting right here in the top left corner. Right now it is set to one bar, which means that whenever I trigger a clip, it won’t start playing until the next bar marker is reached. Now, you can adjust that to be smaller upto 132nd note or you can go to nine where it is just basically free hand and it will just retrigger as fast as I can click on it, which you can hear over here. If I were to switch it to let us say an eighth note, it will only retrigger as fast as every eighth note. So, if I try to click faster it won’t let……it won’t start it until the next eighth note is hit. Sixteenth note, let’s me go a little bit faster and quarter note will be slower. This is about as fast as I can retrigger on the quarter note. Now, this is really intended to keep you from triggering clips off beat. So, for this tutorial we will keep it at one bar, since we are just mixing full songs.
So, now we have everything warped. We can now start mixing these tracks. So I am going to start with the first clip on deck one and I am going to have the volume turned down on the fader for deck two. So I will only hear deck one playing. Now I just triggered a clip on deck two, I am going to slowly bring up the volume fader on that track and you will hear the songs mix and I will slowly fade out on deck one. So, there you have a basic blended mix, sort of like you would do on two turn tables and now I am going to slowly bring in the next clip on deck one and bring up that volume fader and now I will trigger the last clip on deck two and slowly bring up the fader there while brining down the fader on deck one.
So, in this example we were mixing tracks using the volume input faders, but if you wanted a more traditional DJ feel, Ableton does have a cross fader function. As you can see the A and B down here under each track corresponds to a different side of the cross fader. So I am going to set deck one to A and deck two to B. And you will see the cross fader down here under the master fader and if you take a listen as I move the fader you will hear deck one only, and then you will hear a blend as the fader goes to the middle. And then as I move it all the way to the right, you will be left hearing only deck two. So, check this out. So, there is a simple cross fade. Let us bring it back to deck one and back to deck two.
Now, one thing I notice is that the clip levels are a lot different between clips. So, you can adjust the volume of each clip using the volume fader within the clip inspector. If you look over here; let me turn this one up. Get a little bit closer. Just let me turn this one down a little bit to the last and this one up just a little bit more. Now, let us check out the songs on deck one. This one is a little bit louder. So let me bring up the second clip to get closer to it in level. So, that is pretty close, you can always fine-tune it to get it a little closer, but for now that should do the job.
Now, as you can probably hear and see by looking at the master channel, this overall mix is clipping or going into the red. It is a little too high. So you can turn this down over all or what I like to do also is put a limiter onto the master track. And what this does is it prevents any audio from going past a certain point. And the point in this case is going past zero, because that is where it starts to clip. So, you immediately hear a difference now as the audio is prevented from clipping. Now, you still don’t want to push too hard into the limiter, you want to keep the levels at a reasonable level, but just in case you lose track of your levels while you are in the mix it is a good idea to put this limiter on the master track.
Alright, so now we have got our levels set and we have got our tracks warped. We can now start to play with some effects to enhance our mixing. One of my favorite plug-ins that I like to use is a free third party plug-in called the QB Filter. And you can set it up to be a dual high pass and low pass filter. So, I will put one on this first track and I will switch the mode to dual low pass-high pass. Now set it to point five, which means it will be neutral meaning no filtering is going on. And let us just take a listen to it as I moved the fader. So, it is a low pass filter when you move to the left and then a high pass when you move to the right. I also like to put the filter resonance to about point three, and what that does is, it gives you a little bit of a frequency boost where the filter is set, giving you a little more pronounced effect. So, let us go ahead and duplicate this on the second track so we have a filter on both dual low pass-high pass, set it to point five, and we will go to about point three on the resonance. So, just listen as I filter one out, it is kind of a cool way to transition between two songs as opposed to just using a cross fader or volume levels.
So now I am going to show you how to incorporate a send effect into the mix. As you can see I have two effects busses on the right. And I am going to drag the simple delay on to the first one right here. I am going to link the left and right channel of the delay and set the timing to four. I am going to make it 100% wet and we will turn the feedback up a little bit, so it gets some repeats on our delay. Now, when I play the track on deck one, if I turn up the level on send-A, you will hear the delay kick in. Turn the delay up a little bit more or the send up a little bit more to give us an even louder delay. And you can do this same thing for deck two. Let me quickly just move this filter to a neutral position, and now I am going turn the send up on deck one, echo out to deck two. And I am going to do a little combination of sending deck two to the delay and then filtering the track, so what you heard now is a filtered delay.
So, that is a basic introduction into using Ableton Live as a DJ interface. What is really powerful about Ableton in this capacity is that you can really have an unlimited amount of virtual decks, if you want to layer more and more sounds and songs together. You also have a multitude of VST and audio unit plug-ins that you can incorporate as effects. And in future tutorials, we will go over incorporating MIDI controllers and virtual instruments to further enhance your DJ set.

Free DJ Lesson: Complextro Ableton Live

Free DJ Lesson: Complextro Ableton Live

Check out our latest free DJ lesson on DJ Courses Online, the leading online DJ school. In this lesson we review follow actions and legato mode in Ableton Live.

For those who are audio impaired, here’s a full text transcript of the lesson:

Hey so today we’re going to go for Follow Actions and Legato Mode in Ableton Live, so brief review on a follow action, a Follow Action basically is an instruction that you want a clip to do after it finishes playing for a predetermined amount of time.  For instance if I want this first clip up here to go into the second clip after two bars, I can select it and go down to my clip inspector and I make sure the launch settings are up, you can show them using this button right here and I want it to happen after two bars, so enter two for when the Follow Action engages and the Follow Action I want is next meaning it that will play the next clip in the series.  The probability that will happen is down here, so let’s set it to one, if it’s set at zero it mean that it won’t happen at all and a positive number in this case will mean that it will happen a 100% of the time, so let’s take a listen to that, you’ll notice after two bars it’s goings switch to the next clip.
So that’s a basic follow action.  Now an advance mode in Follow Action is called Legato and what Legato does is if you noticed in this first example when it switched to the next clip, it started the next clip from the very beginning of the clip at bar one.  Legato Mode what it does which is different is that instead of starting the next clip at the very beginning it will start it where the last one left off.  So this first clip we played for two bars instead of starting the next clip at bar one, it would start the next clip at bar three, let’s take a look at it again with Legato Mode engaged, so let me just select the clips and make sure that’s turned on and if you keep an eye on the wave forms and the curser on the wave forms in the sample editor window you’ll see where the cursor picks up when it switches over, so let’s take a listen.
As you can see the second clip picked up from bar three and that’s what happens when you’re in Legato Mode.  Now using Legato Mode you can create all kind of interesting musical combinations and arrangements that are automatic and let’s do that for all of these clips in this series, but before I do that, let’s make sure that these are all in the same key, this loop pack I have, I luckily names the key in the file name so it’s, these first five are on the key of F, this second to last one is in the key of G, so if you know your music, you know that the G is two semitones higher than F, so if I select the clip go down to my clip inspector and go to transpose, move it down two semitones, that means it will put it in the key of F, do the same thing for this one which according to the file name is in the key of E and we know that the key of E is one semitone lower than the key of F, so let’s select it and move it up one semitone to get it to the key of F.
So now let’s apply our Follow Action to all of these, I’m going to select all of them, hold down shit and click on the first one and then the last one and it should select all of them for you, go down and make sure Legato Mode is engaged, we want our Follow Action to happen, for this first example let’s just do it after one bar and let’s just do next for now just to keep it simple on the probability of 100% happening.  Now let’s take a listen to that.  So are you see it cycled through all of those, every bar, but instead of starting each clip from the top it started them from where the last one left off.  Let’s do that again but this time lets change it from happening every one bar to every half bar just to see how much crazier it can get.  Make sure select all of them and let’s listen to this.  And let’s even go quicker than that, let’s do it every quarter note, so you can see a really fast switch between the clips.
So that’s cool, we got all these clips playing in order every quarter note, what if we were to randomize it though, instead of it playing predictably one after the other, we could randomize it to give us an even crazier musical combination, you can do that and follow actions by selecting all of them and changing the Follow Action from next to other, other means that it will play any other clip after the Follow Action is engaged and the difference between other and any mode down here is that, any mode could conceivably also play the current clip again, meaning retrigger it and we don’t want that, we want it to go to a different clip every time the Follow Action is engaged.  So let’s set that to other and then let’s do it every three quarter notes and let’s take a listen to that.  Let’s add some drums to that.
And just for fun I got three drum loops here, I’m going to add a simple Follow Action, not Legato but just one so I want these drums to cycle through each other under these different drum loops.  Select them all, let’s do it after every two bars and I just want a simple one, so I want it to be next and then a 100% probability of happening and let’s take a listen to that.  So that sounds pretty cool, what we can do next is actually record what’s randomly being triggered by these Follow Actions and hopefully maybe we can capture something that we actually want to use over and over again, so the way you do that is, basically just hit record here in your transport and let’s take a listen.  So as you can see here in the arrangement window we have recorded our Follow Actions and it is a random pattern all throughout, it’s a cool way in case something actually caught your ear as something that you actually really liked as far as an arrangement and a loop, you can always go and extract it, and build a song off of it.  So that’s Legato Mode in Ableton Live, it’s a very powerful feature and I hope you guys all use it to your creative advantage.

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Stop struggling as a musician and learn how to DJ once and for all

Stop struggling as a musician and learn how to DJ once and for all

Anyone that has ever tried to master a new skill, even learning how to DJ, will tell you about plateaus. Plateaus are those times where even though you keep working hard, persevering, and shedding your blood, sweat, and tears you just can’t seem to make progress, whether it be at work, in the gym, or your hobby.

I’ve experienced plateaus many times in my life. In 2005 I was living in France and was trying to learn French. There would be times where things would just click; all the sudden I would find myself being able to communicate much more effectively with people. I would make huge leaps in my skills very quickly and be able to talk about subjects where I before I had lots of problems.

Then other times I would experience the exact opposite. I would feel like my abilities hadn’t improved in months. I would still get stuck on the same vocab, or have the same difficulties in certain subjects. It was extremely frustrating. “I’m studying hard every day. Why am I stuck? I feel stupid!” I would think to myself.

This has happened in other areas of my life too, from lifting weights in the gym, to playing sports in high school, to learning web design, mechanics, marksmanship, and any other skill I’ve tried to master. It can be frustrating but it’s just part of the learning process.

Whenever I’ve been stuck in a plateau there are two things that have always helped me smash through them and reach the next peak.

First is simply patience and determination. Perseverance. Like they say, when the going gets tough the tough get going. Don’t let yourself get discouraged, just keep pushing through. Realize that the plateau won’t last forever and while other people might lose heart and fall away from the pursuit, if you keep pushing forward your hard work will eventually pay off and you’ll reach the next level.

This happened all the time while I was learning French. When the going got tough, many of my classmates would take their foot off the gas. They’d start hanging out with more English speakers, spending less time studying, and making it easier on themselves. I’d start studying more grammar, literally read the dictionary, and spend more time around my French friends immersed in the language. I admit I was a bit of a nerd, but by the end of the year I spoke fluently and was able to go several months without speaking a word of English.

I 100% believe in that piece of advice yet the second thing I’m about to say is kind of contradictory. To break through plateaus you should try something different. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

This means that if you keep doing a certain action but the results don’t ensue, quit! Find a new action that works. Trying something new might provide that creative spark, that extra push, that helps you break through your plateau.

If you’re learning how to DJ and have been struggling through a plateau, I’d like to share something that might give you the chance to try something new. It’s our online DJ school and lets you study under expert DJs.

Most people I know learn DJing by teaching themselves, by reading DJ magazines and by copying their favorite musicians. Online DJ classes is a new idea but I think it might be just the thing to help you break through plateaus and reach the next level of your DJ skills. If you’re ready to step your game up, take a look today.

How to become a DJ that mesmerizes the entire dance floor

How to become a DJ that mesmerizes the entire dance floor

A few months ago I went to watch my little brother play in a high school football game. As we walked into the stadium Michael Jackson’s Thriller came on the sound system. That song is nearing 30 years old yet all these years later, as soon as it hit people’s ears, everyone had a smile on their face and started dancing. Even if it was in subtle ways; I spotted parents tapping their feet or almost imperceptibly bouncing their shoulders. Even for a metalhead like me that song is timeless and just gets inside your body.

The reason it does that is because even if you’re not into electronic music, even if you’re one of those parents who is embarrassed to bust too flashy of a move, it’s part of human nature to dance. It’s ingrained in us and since the dawn of time dancing has be a fundamental part of what it means to be human.

The next time you’re at a sporting event or even the grocery story- any crowded place that plays music- watch what happens to people when a song with a great beat comes across the speakers. The beat starts manifesting itself in people’s bodies in funny little ways. They start tapping a finger. Their head nods ever so slightly. It’s like the music seeps into your body and as strict and stoic as you might be, the tune will find some way to make your body move as it escapes. It’s like a kinetic parasite.

That’s exactly why I love being involved in electronic music. Say what you want about it, but it’s a style that resonates with people.

It’s not uncommon to hear people criticize electronic music. How many times have you heard a rapper crack jokes about techno, or rockers quip that they’re not real performers because all they do is push buttons? The truth is that like it or not, EDM speaks to that timeless human aspect in us.

There’s part of our DNA that remembers what it was like to be caveman, pounding out percussions on sticks and logs and creating primal music with whatever would make a sound when you hit it. When the electronic drum and bass hits your ears it awakens that genetic memory and you can’t help but dance along. Sure a ripping guitar solo or a complex melody is a beautiful thing to, but it’s hard to argue against a catchy drumline or some awesome percussions.

The point of all of this is that you shouldn’t let anyone dissuade you from pursuing learning how to DJ. No matter what anyone says it’s a fantastic style of music to learn, and on a primal level it’s an amazing style to perform live for people.

If this makes you think you’d like to learn how to DJ, a fantastic place to start is our online DJ school where expert DJs teach you their craft right in the comfort of your own home. It’s by far the easiest way to get started today.

Want to learn how to DJ but don’t have a lot of free time? Here’s one fantastic solution

Want to learn how to DJ but don’t have a lot of free time? Here’s one fantastic solution

Have you ever heard of the ten thousand hour theory? It says that in order to become an expert in something you need to invest ten thousand hours. Really it’s just a fancy way of saying that if you want something- to get great at an activity, to master a skill, to acquire knowledge- you have to work hard. It’s a great message and I’ll tell you how it applies to learning how to DJ.

In today’s world people always want the quick fix. Just look at the infomercials advertising the latest weight-loss pill or ab-sculpting device. In the era of something-for-nothing, it’s an important lesson that if you want something you have to be willing to make the investment. Put your money where your mouth is.

At the same time though I hope you’re doing some math in your head and asking yourself “10,000?! Really?!” By working 40 hours per week, the average American spends 2,000 hours a year at work. That means by using this logic, if you treated your hobby as a full time job it would take you five years to become an expert in it!

Does that mean that unless you treat your side pursuit as a second job you have no hope of becoming an expert? Does that mean the waitress can’t start a consulting business on the side? Does that mean the cubicle-jockey can’t launch a successful blog on nights and weekends?

There’s a growing group of people, many who identify as “life hackers”, who would say of course not. The ten thousand hour believers embody hard work, but life hacking is all about working smart. They constantly ask themselves “How can we maximize our time to make the greatest progress? How can we use minimal inputs to achieve maximal outputs?” That’s just a complicated way of saying how do you make the most of what you’ve got?

Life hackers would argue that rather than focusing on the number of hours spent, it’s more important to focus on how the hours are spent. Sure, 10,000 hours will bring you closer to mastery in any given pursuit, but are those all productive hours? Are you spending your time on the most important things?

The best gameplan is to figure out what the most high-value activities are. What is the one biggest bang for your buck? Spend your time doing that first to achieve the greatest improvement in the littlest time.

For example, learning a second language is high on many people’s to-do list. Just look at how popular Rosetta Stone is. Unfortunately though most people give up quickly and say “I’m just not a natural language learner.”

Did you know though that in Spanish, if you were to memorize the most common 300 words you would be able to understand 75% of spoken conversations? Add 700 words and memorize the most common 1,000 and you’ll be able to follow almost 90%! But, if you want to understand 95%+ you will have to memorize the 5,000 most common words. It’s called diminishing returns. So the point is, it’s not about learning the most words possible, it’s about learning the right words.

Let’s apply this to learning how to DJ. Sure you could buy some equipment and some software, start playing around and try to mimic the sounds of your favorite artists. This is the equivalent of stumbling blindly in the dark though. It would be like picking up your Spanish dictionary and memorizing words at random. You need someone to show you the most important things to focus on first.

That’s where DJ Courses Online comes in. It’s run by expert DJs who have learned how to DJ the hard way so that you don’t have to. They’ve broken their skills down into easy-to-learn courses so that you can make huge improvements extremely fast. If you want to hack your way to becoming a great DJ, there’s no better way!