#1 If you are a CD or Laptop DJ you will eventually need to work on mixing songs that are produced in the same key or a key that naturally progresses to or from the song playing. To do this you will need to purchase software that analyses each song and shows you what key it is in as well as the BPM (beats per minute). Every program has it’s own chart on what key goes to the next, some use numbers and others letters.
Here is an example: Let’s say a song is called “Dance Song”, once it is analyzed and the program adds the key info text next to the name of the song (optional where you want it) it will now look like, “Dance Song 2A”, the # is what key it’s in and the letter is if it is in a Major or Minor chord. The programs diagram shows what key the # signifies. You have the option to have the program write out the # or show the key.
#2 If your new to DJing work on mixing songs for a long time so you can get used to making corrections as they occur. This is more of a basic action to do but it can and will become essential in mixing as you progress. Becoming comfortable with it as soon as possible makes it a better and easier time as you progress. Not to mention when a Dj *SLAMS* a mix from song to song (over and over and over again) they are showing they do not know what they are doing, nor do they respect the art of mixing. Nothing beats finely mixed tracks to where the listener doesn’t know when the 1st track ended or when the 2nd one started.
#3 Not all mixers are made the same. To get the best output from your mixer you need to
(1) Play the loudest part of a song that is either on a new record, .wav file, or professionally made cd through the mixer -with the speakers turned off- you will see why later.
(2) If your mixer doesn’t have a volume meter showing both the channels volume output AND the main output at the same time set your mixers volume meter to show the “channel” output 1st. and turn that channels fader up until the song’s volume hits 0dB and does -NOT- go into the red. You may notice that the fader isn’t all the way to the top or it could be all the way to the top. This is because all manufacturers have their own way of making mixers. Some want the dj to have some extra headroom on volume (gain) over 0dB in case the song your playing wasn’t mixed as loud. (yes there is also the gain knob, but I won’t go into that now).
(3) Now switch the volume meter to “master” output if your mixer doesn’t show both master and channel volumes. Turn up the master knob until the volume is now at 0dB and -not- clipping.
(4) Stop playing the song and turn on your speakers with the volume of them turned down all the way. Once they are on, play the loudest part of the song again and turn up the speakers until they are loud but at a comfortable level.
(5) If you have done everything correctly the song should sound clean and loud with no added distortion. Think of it this way, the producer(s) spent a very long time getting the sounds to be as loud as possible, the song was mastered to then make it louder, your playing on a club sound system that is already VERY loud…. so WHY do you think you would need to make it louder?? All it does is make the overall sound muddy and crappy and it will tire the listeners ears making them leave faster and more often.
#4 A great place to find many genres of EDM is Beatport.com. Here is a few Pros and Cons of the site.
Beatport shows you the songs audio file so you can see if the songs are correctly mixed/mastered. I have seen some songs that are tiny and others that are so brick walled (lottsa compression) to the point there is no dynamics left. (Dynamics are the variance in the Loudest volume of a sound and the lowest volume) showing they are not worth your time to buy.
Beatport has a ton of songs and remix stems to chose from since most major and indie EDM labels are on there.
Easy to set up an account and start purchasing songs.
At times Beatport has sales/deals on purchases.
It costs extra to purchase a .wav file
There is little to no quality control so you have to go through a TON of songs that are horribly mixed.
Some of the songs are in the wrong Genre listing. I do not know if it is the labels/bands fault of Beatport. I know everyone has their own views on a genre but some songs have no place in the genre they are in.
The song file names are not set up to show the info I need (i.e. Producers/Remixers/etc.) I have heard the beatport downloader may take care of that but when I tried the downloader it wouldn’t work correctly and my songs never d.l. so I can’t tell you if thats the fix.
Overall it is a great music site but do not make it your only site, you can get more deals at other sites… but that’s for another tip. =)
#5 As you get more comfortable with DJing and beat matching you will want to start getting into effects and tricks that can help spice up your set. I know what I am about to say is IMHO but while it is tempting to play with every knob imaginable while your standing there, you may not realize your killing the vibe of the song and the forward motion that the producer was trying to convey. If your stuttering every other beat and placing flange all over the place people can become annoyed and if your not on time with them it will make people leave.
Try spacing them out and adding them on slower parts of the song or add them onto a loop or the song your introducing so you can turn down the volume and not suck out the life from the main track playing.. Adding on an occasional build up is nice, but remember some break downs speak fully for themselves. Let the producers do their job and try to only -compliment- the song(s) you are spinning. By all means experiment and have fun, but make sure your 1st priority is to keep the flow of the music going to keep the people dancing. That’s your job as a DJ isn’t it?
#6 If you use a thumb drive or laptop for DJing you can set up “cue points” for each song. I recommend setting up various cure points. This is how I set up my song cue points.
(1) This cue point is set to when the 1st part of the song has enough energy to it to equal the song its mixing into. This way I can mix any song and keep most of the energy going.
(2) This cue point is set for the very beginning of the song in case I want to use this song as an intro or segue.
(3) This cue point is set for vocal or musical solos so I can mix them in and mash up the songs without worry of the output becoming too muddy with both songs playing at once at the same volume level (or close to, you can lower the 2nd song if needed).
Any others I set are more of fx/loops I can add at any time to add flare to my mixes. You may not agree with the numbering placement of my cues but you can set up your own with this format and be able to quickly improvise from song to song.
#7 If you use a laptop to DJ I want you to start doing this ASAP. Try your best to -not- look at the laptop while you DJ. Of course there are certain times you have to look at it (loading a song, seeing how long a song has left to play, etc.) but I want you to start getting comfortable not looking at the laptop and getting use to using just your ears and trusting your gear as well as engaging the crowd more. The less you look like your checking e-mail, the more you look like your djing and the more the crowd will know your doing your job. *This does not include controllerists as much since there is a lot of loading and real time tweaking going on, but even then, try your best to engage your gear and the crowd more then the laptop.
#8 What makes a Dj flexible?
A flexible DJ is someone who can cater to many crowds and situations as well as being able to read the crowd to play the appropriate music. Here lies a few problems. Most raves and clubs have a set genre for that area so how do you become flexible with 1 genre? You can vary the sub genres and songs with different energy levels to keep the crowd going. Many new DJ’s just spin 1 genre banger after another which can become too much over time. Another problem comes up with HOW flexible should you be? The best answer I can give is to have 1 main genre you spin and get a nice core of songs to keep your sets flexible but also have sets of other genres you love in case you need to throw other genres in.
Is it good to be flexible?
It is essential that your flexible if you want to become a great DJ. The more you can read a crowd and already have songs in your mind that you know will work the more you can spend time adding new elements to what your spinning.
-But- do not try to have every genre so you get booked at every party to make every one happy, it just won’t work and you’ll never be able to make everyone happy so just focus on what tracks you have and make killer sets from them.