What Makes a Great DJ
That small box of deceptions is trying to sell you a vision of a person you don't even know you want to be while tempting you with fame and fortune.
Social networks led us to believe that the only successful people are those who are visible on that screen.
The red carpet, the flashing lights, the wealth, and the celebrity are all presented to us as necessities.
While I won't shake a stick at a million dollars, I do want to add a few points, particularly in relation to the DJ's perceived success.
A great DJ is characterized by their enthusiasm, track selection, timing, ability to create sets and mixes that are journeys, creativity, beatmatching skills, and a deep passion for the music they play.
Let's get going.
They Are Constantly Ready
There are several approaches to this; some DJs prepare for a set in-depth in advance, while others (nearly) never do. On the odd occasion when they do, most of the preparation is lost by the time the second song is played.
Instead, competent DJs make an effort while adding songs to their music library; they pay close attention to songs, note the BPM (speed), picture dancing to the songs, and read the entire song.
The rhythm section collapses as a result of, for instance, a 30-second, undanceable drum solo at the finale or a guitarist playing a rhythmically odd chord solo (and leaves the dancers scratching their heads).
They think about removing certain sections from the song if they can make it work and the music is still worth saving.
Preparation Yes, but not for pre-planned sets!
This is a very personal point. My friend, a seasoned DJ, has previously performed entirely pre-planned shows. And they were successful.
With his years of experience, he claims that he had a greater than 80% probability of being aware of what was anticipated of his performance for the event he was performing at.
However, competent DJs typically avoid performing a pre-prepared set. They come prepared with a playlist, which is the modern equivalent of bringing your record crate to a show in the old days.
It won't happen if you merely expect to get up there, click play on 25 songs that are already laid out in order, and the floor will shake each time.
You might also miss out on the excitement of having to make decisions "on-the-fly" based on what the crowd is asking for next.
You will discover a lot more about yourself, your music, and the listeners if you do it this way.
Decent club DJs
They found that taking to the dance floor was the best method to learn this talent. What causes them to move, make their companions bounce, and for a floor to go crazy?
Good DJs pick up new skills through involvement and observation.
In my experience, a club crowd is more interested in great music than an aggressive DJ set. Create a short "playlist" (around 30 songs/hour of playing time) that can guide the crowd in the direction you have decided to take the night.
If you're a typical social dance club DJ, get the crowd going with some tech house before playing a few mashups to get the dance floor packed.
Drop a few insane electro tracks for folks to dance to after some dirty dutch to get people moving.
Then play a few anthems to get the crowd going before finishing with an amazing pop song remix. Of course, it depends on the audience you're performing for.
Excellent Musical Traditions and a Huge Music Collection
Every great DJ has a background in clubbing, crate-digging, mix-swapping, and music appreciation in general. DJs refine their tastes as they hone their craft.
Private gigs, club residencies, and even entire scenes come and go, but the best DJs have music libraries they slowly assemble over the course of a career.
Behind it all, there is the innocent and naive conviction that everything is done to satisfy their love of music.
I've heard it said far too often that people get into DJing because it's "simple," that you get all the benefits, and that lots of girls will jump into your bed.
I want to see people behind the decks who are so engrossed in the music that they appear to be oblivious to their job.
The foundation of your career is excellent music, not these unglamorous "behind the scenes" chores. Only you will know how you gathered those songs over the years, and no one will be able to reverse engineer your path, when you eventually emerge as a polished, professional DJ with a box full of magic.
My friend informed me while we were taking turns on the deck that he was reading and listening to big band swing recordings from 1935 to 1942 as well as swing tracks from the late 1920s and early 1930s. Additionally, he recommended a few songs by some of the greatest contemporary swing bands, like Gordon Webster and Naomi & Her Handsome Devils. I felt inspired.
He's exactly the kind of person who is interested in learning everything there is to know about the subject at hand, in this instance music.
They don't pretend to be doing things to fill the empty space.
For instance, when DJs pretend to randomly turn the EQ knobs while the song is playing.
I adore underground houses and techno as a result. You can see DJs performing live in both genres while being accompanied by friends.
There is a sizable 1-2 minute gap where the DJ doesn't need to be doing much if you just finished mixing a song and have the following track queued up.
Particularly if we're talking about back-to-back sets, I'd rather to see them turn around, hang out with their mates, enjoy a beer or glass of wine, smoke a joint, or do anything else.
I also enjoy it when a DJ makes a mistake. Not a major derailment, but possibly a less-than-smooth transition or a song that doesn't quite fit with the one before it. Then I know they're actually DJing and not using sync or a fully prepared mix.
The Best DJs Know Their Music
There is a purpose for why practicing is crucial. Someone who has worked with one genre and played that many songs in that style likely knows a lot about that particular genre, which is a talent that is very beneficial for a DJ.
Although it isn't a proven fact, it is a rather trustworthy indication that their mixing is supported by a complete reference to music in their minds. That experience cannot be replaced.
Established DJs don't just choose tracks at random from a large library of music that wasn't chosen by them. Sadly, I have witnessed this all too frequently.
It's not necessary for every transition between songs to be seamless, but it should make sense. It shouldn't just happen by chance. And that's exactly what they manage to do by really understanding their music.
The skilled DJ has a deeper understanding of music than you do, than his friends do, than everyone else in the club or record store. Some DJs are more adept than anyone else at identifying their favored genre.
They Have Expertise
If you arrive late and in disrepair, it gives the appearance that you don't give a damn. Being dependable and well-played out is essential.
You convey the message: "I'm the one in command of this gig, I'm someone to handle tonight's fun, believe me - and let's go!" by dressing and acting like "someone," and I don't mean being arrogant and diva.
It partly depends on what you wear and how you look, but also on how professional you are. Be an expert. People are aware of this and prefer to work with experts.
And they have a good grasp of nerve control.
DJs of all genres worry. You're doing things incorrectly if you don't. Being sufficiently professional to do so is a skill.
Although mistakes do happen, it is your responsibility as a DJ to minimize their impact on the general audience. They are unconcerned. They are not the issue!
Good DJs are aware of this and handle problems discretely and efficiently. Of course, practice makes perfect, but keep in mind that some level of anxiety is OK. It keeps you alert, which is a good thing.
They Have a Love for Equipment
You most likely have speakers, a mic, DJ controllers, and other equipment, but it is insufficient if you want to go beyond the horizon.
Experienced DJs are aware of new releases on the market. Furthermore, what the DJ in the club next door possesses.
They gained a greater understanding of additional instruments while also finding new applications for those they already had. Keep in mind that your chances of advancement are higher the more information you have!
New DJs frequently make the error of focusing solely on their equipment for the duration of a DJ set. Whatever gear you use (MIDI controller, media players, turntables), you need to enhance your ability to give both the equipment and the dance floor equal attention.
The best DJs have researched their equipment and tried to avoid looking at it. Therefore, they:
- They are able to locate controls by touch and are aware of the location of each button and knob.
- Recognize the pressure required to activate each control.
- are able to place the needle on a record from the periphery of their eyesight in the dark.
- Have prepared playlists so that listeners may find the next song in a matter of seconds.
A skilled DJ uses muscle memory for practically all interactions with the equipment. That frees up the eyes so they can focus on the audience and their conduct for as long as feasible.
DJs who solely look at their equipment deprive their audience of the opportunity to learn more by interacting with their dance floor and instead instill a sense of distance and disenchantment.
People will remember that since it can quickly result in a deserted club and cold feelings against the DJ.
A good DJ can work in any setting.
Any setup can be used by an experienced DJ. If necessary, they have the ability to drive the crowd insane by banging two vinyl needles together.
They undoubtedly have their wants and even requests, but when it really counts, it's all about them and them alone.
Instead of with their hands, their method begins with their minds. When seasoned, established DJs are placed in challenging circumstances with nothing but the hat on their heads, they not only survive but also excel.
A talented DJ may play using other people's songs while making them sound better than their owners.
When Richie Hawtins' recordings were played by Sven Vath after they were misplaced by an airline, Richie was absolutely floored. "I didn't even realize that B side was there," for instance.
After talking with the older, more seasoned DJ at the party next to me while he was playing, I noticed that he was about to roll down the stairs with 20 seconds to spare. When I turned to look at him, he swiftly inserted the subsequent CD, cued it, and flawlessly mixed it.
That level of serenity can only be achieved after many years of playing the game. Live stress is absolutely no stress. The outstanding foundation for taking risks in music is provided by this assurance. A bland, soft selector is wary of being noticed. As a rule, a talented DJ sticks out.
They develop and update their look.
If DJs want to be successful in the long run, this is essential.
None of them want to come out as a one-dimensional DJ with a limited musical selection. Instead, they aim to demonstrate their ability to modify their style to fit the ever-evolving music industry.
I'll use Armin van Buuren as an illustration. He started out as a progressive house and vocal trance DJ, but as time went on, his sound developed to the point where he's now headlining prestigious EDM events like UMF in Miami and Tomorrowland in Belgium.
Carl Cox is another illustration. His music has evolved throughout the course of his career to include a variety of genres, including groovy techno, tech-house, and funk soul.
You see what I mean. The variety of genres you play must be one of your strong suits if you want to become a well-known DJ.
Despite this, you shouldn't give up on your uniqueness or what makes you different. It would be ideal if you performed mixes that others could identify as "you," that you enjoy, and that is important to you.
They enjoy playing the decks and showing off their enthusiasm for DJing
What irritates me about DJs is their lack of passion, which I find unacceptable, and their disregard for the privileged circumstances they find themselves.
A superb DJ will gladly entertain a crowd of five or five thousand people for as long as they are able to do so. He or she performs for the music, not for fame, and to share his or her love of the art.
They make sure to give them all they can for a nice night out, whether it means obsessively record shopping all week, doing personal edits of particular songs, or producing their own tracks.
The desire to deliver every performance their very best is all-consuming.
Watch Fatboy Slim perform in Brighton Beach, for instance. He is not merely performing music. Additionally, he is joyful and energizes the crowd by dancing, waving, and interacting with them. Can you believe that he was genuinely writing messages for the crowd on record sleeves?
Nowadays, the majority of DJs perform inanely and with an excessive focus on accuracy. They should become more relaxed and happy, and that happiness should spread to the audience. After all, everyone is there to enjoy themselves!
When you witness a live DJ performance, you anticipate a good show. You don't want to witness someone spending the entire performance buried in a laptop or mixer.
The finest live DJs are always gazing at the audience, making eye contact, grinning, pumping their fists, and nodding their heads. It's always nice to witness a DJ getting more comfortable with the songs he's playing.
You can tell a DJ is enjoying himself if he appears to be having a good time, and that DJ is more likely to be in tune with the music and the crowd and put on a great performance.
With this comes the ability to read the audience; it's not difficult to look up at the crowd frequently, and if you see that few people are dancing, you're probably not doing things correctly.
A good DJ will mix things up, turn up the tempo, or play something lovely, like a song you know will absolutely destroy the dance floor.
A readiness to flow with events
The ability to read a club's energy and not get caught up in the trap of thinking you need to be a musical genius to convince an audience to agree with your definition of what "good music" is is the "must-have" quality of a competent DJ.
Their role is to amuse, not to instruct. If you want to educate people while working as a DJ, you should train to be a teacher.
However, if you're a budding DJ in the crowd like I am, you might occasionally like to take notes from DJ sets. In other words, even if I don't recognize any of the songs, the set was excellent. Since it's so simple to find and listen to recordings, the value I receive from a DJ is really hearing songs I might not have otherwise heard.
And outstanding DJs carry out that every day. They use online record pools to gather original music, which ultimately distinguishes them from other groups.
They perform the songs they enjoy and are enthusiastic about the music. Usually, they don't intend to educate. Due to the fact that just 2% of the crowd truly wants to DJ.
A superb DJ is someone who sets the tone for the evening while mixing fantastic music. They are completely obedient to the environment, the occasion, and the crowd in general.
But it's hardly a passive role—quite the opposite, actually. It strikes me as an oddly contradictory viewpoint.
You must find a method to appease and amuse the public, get them to listen to and dance to your mixes, while maintaining your integrity, motivation, and aesthetics. You must also accomplish this with originality and vision. Each personality has their own unique version of this distinctive character.
They know how to keep the flow going
They use the effect of holding a useful variety of tempos and styles, but they also work to keep the music flowing smoothly.
A skilled DJ stays away from crushing form or tempo leaps as well as abrupt style and speed changes.
With the exception of those times when he feels he has the opportunity to do something dramatic, such as add a lot of energy to the room or tear everything down after something completely insane, he reserves these instances for special circumstances.
What I'm about to say may sound excessive or OCD, but when I'm really engaged in DJing, I even like to exactly regulate how long it takes for one track to end and the next to start. There's almost always a sweet spot where it seems like the perfect time to begin the next song.
Nine times out of 10, the song choice is paramount. Even if his mixing isn't perfect, a competent DJ may still convince listeners to like what he does. A good song is a good song, right?
Excellent technique is useless if the music you choose isn't relevant or at least original.
It's easier for players to succeed in this game if they listen to the music they enjoy and connect with. The crowd will detect the DJ's affection for the music in his performance.
You should focus on what you play when it comes to underground genres rather than what the public wants to hear. It would be similar to being offered beef simply because you enjoy it without ever having salmon to compare.
Nothing makes me happier than hearing a dope song start as a transition, possibly in a version I've never heard before, and then hearing it gets overlaid with a synth from a different song or a twisted acapella. Success if it gets me to ask, "What the hell is this?"
Unknown Songs... but Not When It Comes to Social Dance Music!
Those suggestions are made specifically for psytrance, house, techno, etc. DJs because those genres draw audiences who are interested in the newest, unheard-of tunes.
Each listener of social dance music has their own favorite tunes that make them joyful. And those individuals adore the opportunity to dance to well-known music.
sound for social dancing To correspond with the melodic changes, DJs add style waves and footwork adjustments. For these reasons, the more seasoned dancers show a clear preference for well-known music.
The majority of characters, including seasoned dancers, find new music intriguing, so include them in your cast.
Some DJs more frequently fall short since there aren't enough popular songs (or worse, none). Those are typically the ones that are flaunting their vast musical resources.
That's how they interpret "Look at me! Instead of giving the mob what they want selflessly, I should be saying, "Look what I have. Then they inquire as to why folks don't return.
Not much better, though, is misjudging the side of solely old favorites. More of both, please. That is what competent DJs do.
On the other hand, other events feature era-specific themes, such as all-fifties, disco, or all-seventies.
A DJ's primary responsibility about 40 years ago was to play recorded music for the partygoers who were dancing.
Today, a skilled club DJ must perform with a certain set of technical abilities.
Because they are capable of being defined in great depth and have broad application, we refer to those skills as "technical."
Examples of these abilities include mixing (mashups, sampling, crisp and distinctive transitions, layering), or beatmatching, which is a necessity.
I would also include volume and EQ control. When the EQ isn't given any attention, it isn't enjoyable. Insufficient bass (no rhythm), excessive bass (thump thump), insufficient treble (no harmony), and insufficient treble (hurts my eardrums).
Great DJs are able to change between genres, BPMs, moods, and beatmatching by ear with ease.
Between the art and the technique, where the DJ's creativity reigns, there is no clear distinction.
How you employ those technical skills of yours affects creativity as well. In any case, learning the skill is necessary first.
With the use of frequency and volume controllers, as well as other effects (like as echo and reverb), expert DJs can even manipulate the sound system itself to accentuate particular sections or even individual instruments in a track.
When you're performing in front of an audience, you need to be in control of the instruments you're using, confident and determined to put a musical selection together as well and thoughtfully as you can.
What's Wrong With Sync Buttons?
My issue with sync buttons—which can be accessed from DJ controllers and software as well as media players, so this is unrelated to laptop DJs—is that I have disagreed with too many DJs who have relied on the software to mix the tracks for them.
As a result, they were never exposed to the music's delicate and effective layering.
Young DJs are out there, utilizing laptops and controllers, but they aren't even beat mixing four to the floor music—they only mix in the breaks, not on the kicks!
I'm sorry, but that can't become a fantastic DJ; it's just a jukebox!
From a technical standpoint, if I downloaded a hip-hop mix, for instance, I would prefer to hear a range of transitional techniques.
Although it's important to know when to stop, I want to hear some scratching, trick mixing, juggling, and the usage of effects and loops.
I've heard amateur mixes where the DJ has performed a really bad scratch solo that lasts for an excessive amount of time or continuously fiddles with knobs or activates effects as if they suffer from some sort of DJ OCD and can't leave the mixer alone for more than a few seconds.
In the worst circumstances, it turns out to be inferior to the sum of its parts, and I would rather listen to a playlist of the individual songs than the mix.
DJing's technical level is worse than ever.
I think that technological advancements have led to a lower technical bar for DJing.
The control of the mouse over two synchronized tracks in Traktor will never be as difficult as mixing two records on a rotary mixer with floating turntables.
That is only a fact; it is not a conclusion.
We can't say for certain whether being a great DJ is easier or harder now, but I think that many audiences who go to hear DJs may be less knowledgeable of what makes a good DJ than they were 15 years ago, so perhaps it's simpler to impress now than it was in the past.
The Value and Believe in Their Fans.
This is the exact opposite of ego and results from gratitude for having found something you're excellent at, passionate about, and has a great audience for you to share your music with.
Good DJs are aware of their good fortune and are deeply moved by the people who make it all possible for them.
Although some DJs are perceived as being excessively arrogant, in my experience, it just results from insecurity. Or a failure to connect with their audience and acknowledge that their listeners can, and hopefully like, and appreciate the effort they are doing.
When you're modestly sure that what you're doing is worthwhile, you start to feel extremely appreciative of the kindness and generosity of those who appreciate what you do.
You want to be approachable with them, not cold.
- Talk to and interact with their audience
- Attempt to obtain their information so you may stay in touch with the listeners.
- Spend some time conversing with them on Instagram, YouTube, and any other medium.
Establishing websites and Soundcloud profiles where they can share and discuss their craft can help them build a powerful following. And they managed it all by remaining modest enough to realize that they would be nothing without their fans. Your career may very well take care of itself if you are grateful and humble enough to accept responsibility for your supporters.
People are, in the end, intelligent. They are aware of when they are receiving a good bargain and when they are being taken advantage of. either while enjoying drinks at a club or the DJ's music as entertainment.
reputable club Because DJ has their audience's trust, they turn to them for music. They will travel around for a week or two and then return to the actual thing.
Therefore, if you are an excellent DJ, there is nothing to worry about. Additionally, a competent DJ doesn't necessarily need to have a ton of expertise. While some abilities are learned over time, you are born with certain essential musical genes. And you cannot buy that.