Send your crowd crazy improving the level of your dj set with these simple tips inspired by the performance of the biggest djs!
Understand your crowd
Even if you are very focused on a specific music style, the crowd can have different preferences based on their geographic position, on the resident djs of the club, on the country where you play, and many other factors. A small but very effective trick of professional djs is to ask in advance to the organizers, promoters or club owners which are the tastes of the customers, who are the djs playing before/after, and gathering informations on the club’s website, Facebook or Youtube about the previous events. The idea is to give to the dancefloor a set they can understand and enjoy, without purposing tracks that goes out of your main style.
Understanding your crowd is always the first step for a successful dj set!
Prepare a flexible playlist
For a million reasons it can happen that your main playlist doesn’t fit the needs of the dance floors. For no reasons you should play like David Guetta if your set sounds like Chris Liebing, but is always a good idea to prepare a more flexible playlist that can save your performance in the following situations:
- The opening dj didn’t come and you need to play a longer playlist, starting more soft
- The crowd doesn’t understand your style
- A very big djs plays after you and you need to go softer
- The dj who plays before of you played all your tracks, and you have no bullets to shoot
- The stage manager changed the order of the djs, and your tracks doesn’t fit the moment
- You have to play in a different room
- The main dj didn’t want to play for some reason, and the show needs to go on
If you want to save your night, there is a simple trick to prepare a perfect and flexible set: divide your playlists in 3, adding one softer and one harder than your usual set, use a star rating from Traktor or iTunes to tag the tracks for their intensity, and be ready to switch style depending on the situation.
In this way, the dancers will be happy, the club owner will understand that you are a professional, and you don’t feel like a polar bear in the desert.
Practice at home
Even if you smash since years, practicing is always a good idea. Prepare a perfect dj set by choosing the right track order, avoid dissonances while mixing, and listen carefully to all the tracks in your deck. Try different playlists, and let your friends give you their opinion.
Pay attention to the breaks, bass drops, different grooves or parts you wish to skip.
Prepare interesting cue points, and be ready to take a different path, in case your actual playlist doesn’t get the appreciation you hoped.
Alway practice not only with your main playlist, but also with something softer and something harder.
Master your mix as a wizard with his spells, and never let the people spot you unprepared.
Remember titles, producers’ names and labels of your tracks
While practicing, always put attention on the tracks that you are playing. This for many reasons:
- When someone asks you the title of a track, not knowing it sounds very unprofessional, like if you are just spinning random tunes
- The titles of the tracks which works better or that you like more will be impressed in your mind for the future, making easier to build a solid music culture, and making it faster to create playlists in the future
- You can keep in touch with the artists of the tracks you like, putting some attention when they publish new tracks or you see their names among hundreds of other djs
- If you need to modify your playlist or you want to achieve a particular effect on the dancefloor, you don’t loose time prelistening, and you can jump directly to the perfect tune you want to play
Prepare a backup technology
Whatever you use to play, always prepare a backup technology. If you play with Traktor on your Mac, with USB keys on the latest Pioneer 2000 Nexus, or you just play track from your iPad, always go with one or two backup solutions.
A professional distinguish himself because he gets the job done.
And sometimes things doesn’t go as you planned. The computer can have problems, or the cd players can be old and not support USB keys.
A very good and dimple way to prepare your backup set is to create your playlists on iTunes and master them on audio cds, the most compatible music technology for every venue, club, bar, restaurant, fashion shop or even your car.
Showing that you are prepared is a very good way to be perceived as a professional, increase your reliability and avoid a very angry crowd in case your favourite technology doesn’t work.
Look at the dancefloor
Hopefully one day you will be able to execute your playlist from beginning to end without even lifting your eyes on the dancefloor, but till then, keeping an eye on the dancefloor is always the best way to face with satisfied dancers.
Remember that you are playing but dancing can make people much more tired. Is important to adapt the style of the set to the energy of the dancefloor, understanding when is the moment to slow down a bit, to prepare the legs of your fans for the big bang tune.
Structure your set
One of the most important techniques of the succesfull djs is the structure of the set. A dj set must be a unique entertaining experience for the people, and it can’t be considered simply as a sequence of tracks. As a good movie, it must be structured around a main theme, a main event, a track that has to blast the night, to let the people be satisfied of their night out.
But not every track can be intense and powerful as your main track, as one hour of set must be structured in a way to let the people enjoy every moment, prepare the energies, create tension and expectations until the “zenith” of your performance.
Your main track must be some hiden gem, not the number one of the Beatport chart, as people will be already tired to hear it, or all other djs already played that track 3 times before your set.
Instead, look in many websites, check forums, digg into any upcoming producer of the most underground corners of the web, and find something powerful but new, that will surprise the people distinguishing your professionality for the quality of your tunes and the work that allows you to find these hidden gems.
Then, choose a good track for starting, and a good track for ending, usually something emotional and memorable that will create a stable impression of your performance in the listeners. In the end, is very important to choose the best track before the main one. Always remember that is important to let the people rest, and the best is to put some different track before the main tune, something maybe slower and softer, something with a longer break, or a track from a completely different music genre (let’s remember Carl Cox playing Linking Park at Tomorrowland in 2013).
manage your playlist like the story of a movie, and let the people live an amazing adventure with your music.
Prepare a couple of dancefloor rescue tunes
SOmetimes the dancefloor has very hard tastes, or simply one of the tracks that you play is not understood by the dancers, causing some massive escape of the crowd. It’s ugly, sad and bad, but can happen. This is not the important, because can happen even to the best djs, the important is that you have in you pocket the right card to save the situation.
Always keep in your playlist some big hit, some mass-killer tune that will for sure fill the dancefloor during the first beats. Is not a bd idea to go for something that your female crowd can appreciate, as filling the dancefloor of girls will attract all the men in no time.
Talk with the people
When you reach a new club for the first time, is always a good idea to talk with the people. You can get in touch with the people in advance, making questions about their favourite djs, their music tastes, the previous events in the same club that had the most attention and appreciations.
This will give you great picture of how your set needs to be structured, and quick tips about how to modify your main playlist to obtain the best results.
Plus, is a good moment to reach more fans and give away some gadgets, promos, stickers or whatever else!
Up and down
Organise the tracks in a way to move the rhythm of the night, not simply rising like a rocket till a final stop, but allowing the people enjoy different parts of your set, where you can alternate more danceable and stronger tracks with other more melodic or romantic that allows the people to relax, talk a little bit and prepare to jump with the new upcoming tune. Even playing with the BPM going up and down is a good practice that force the crowd to give attention to the rhythm.
Keep the volume down
Avoid going in red with the volume: the music will go in distortion, you can damage the soundsystem, and the ears of the crowd! There is no added value in a distorted sound, and your image will be heavily damaged by the professional point of view, as is a very unprofessional practice typical of the newbies.
Use wisely the equalizer
The equaliser is probably the most important modification that you can use to craft a mix.
A good practice is to use the EQ to subtract frequencies instead of adding them. A very easy way of mixing, to beatmatch the mix more easily and avoid dissonances with the incoming track, is to leave only mid and high, to avoid the distortion caused by too much bass and avoid kick overlapping.
But you can invent lot of creative uses, like using only the keyboards of a nice melodic track over a more groovy one, or keeping only the hats to add more groove if a tune is too dark… It’s up to you!
A good use of the equalizer replaces any effect for a lot of famous djs, and is the base of the original art of mixing.