A DJ that currently does not perform all, or at least most, of the tips that I will mention later are just as useless as a smartphone without internet. As a former editor of Beat 100.9 FM, I had to listen to hundreds of artists who were looking for an opportunity to make themselves known or a space to present their new releases. Many of them very good.
However, it is surprising that some others hardly had a profile on social networks to contact them, a decent photo to announce them or a promotional DJ set to listen to more of them. And those who did have promotional sets used a generic tracklist with the top 10 EDM or deep house with terrible beatmatching technique (something as unpleasant as listening to a set of Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike).
Before you keep wasting time sending promotional sessions to all the clubs in the city or you end up putting cumbias at your best friend’s party because they do not hire you anywhere, compare your current job with the following list and think if you’re doing everything correctly. If you feel you have the skills shown below, you are already one step ahead for the media, the labels, and the promoters to take a look at your work.
Build a good music collection
Surely you think that if you mix like Martin Garrix, Steve Aoki, Tiësto and many others from the Top 100, you will go far. It is not like this. People like Tiësto arrived there after years of effort, playing for 50 or fewer people in their hometown and getting a good team of producers to help them with music.
Martin Garrix arrived there because he is from a wealthy family and he skipped the whole part that involves effort. You have not 20 years of career or a peso in which you fall dead. Your only way to stand out is by mixing music that no one else mixes. DJs like Ricardo Villalobos, Nina Kraviz, Jeff Mills, Andrew Weatherall, Ewan Pearson, Carl Craig, Gilles Peterson, and James Zabiela, to name just a few, stand out because they are always putting on their sets that you will not listen to anywhere else.
They are people who spend day and night listening to music, selecting what they like most about their sets. Neither the labels nor the media want to hear again a promotional set with the same top 10 that the other 15 DJs that sent their set before you downloaded from Beatport. TIP: The best music is not always the most recent.
Mix by harmonies
The function of the DJ, originally, was to prevent people from leaving a bar or club. To do this, they must know how to tie two songs so that they do not notice that they are finishing one track and starting another. This is how you avoid the classic phrase “this song ends and we leave”.
The best way that your transitions are not noticed is that both tracks are “harmonically compatible”. More than a decade ago, trying to explain to a DJ the harmonies on a track was very complicated. Technology has made it easy. You have two basic options; The first and most complicated is to make Traktor analyze all your files and show you the “key” to which they belong. Later you will have to learn that “keys” are compatible with each other.
The second option is simpler; acquires the Mixed In Key software. Perform the same function as Traktor, only instead of showing you the “keys” as letters and symbols, it shows them by numbers. In this way, you know that a track in “key” 7B, is compatible with one in 8B, 7B, and 6B. The following graphic makes it much simpler. On the Mixed In Key website, they explain the whole process.
Fully learn how to use the players
You already had the luck of learning to tie with two Pioneer CDJs. Perfect. Now learn to use each button of the CDJ and the mixer. Try one by one. Learn to mix with and without sync. Learn to connect with them. Take them out of the box yourself and make them work. You can not depend on the audio engineer if the monitors are not heard if you did not connect your headphones correctly, if the LAN cable is not working.
These are as basic problems as changing the tire of a car. If you do not know how to do it, you will be left standing in the middle of a road one day and a UFO will kidnap you. Well, that last one may not happen, but I Want To Believe.
Do tricks with the players
That lazy You are another DJ who only knows how to move from “deck a” to “deck b” and vice versa. If something highlights artists like James Zabiela is that they constantly use the effects in the mixer or scratch in the CDJ or buy an external controller to make live samples. Infinity of things that make a set unique. The sync function was invented so that you could dedicate yourself to remixing, editing, scratching and doing all kinds of luck, instead of wasting time tying tracks, not for you to get lazy for two hours.
Tells a story
The reason you dare to watch a movie more than once is that you liked the story. An incredible introduction, an interesting development, a climax that put you on the edge of the seat and an end that generated all kinds of emotions. And when you see the film again, you realize that there were many things that you did not notice the first time.
You enjoy it again, in a totally different way. A session must be the same. There must be a narrative. You can not and should not start with the climax, continue with the climax and end the climax. In the old days of Renaissance and Global Underground, DJs like Dave Seaman, Hernan Cattaneo, Nick Warren, God Father Sasha, John Digweed Jr., and James Zabiela Holy Spirit let you know that a set was about to end, because their last two or three tracks They generated that emotion, you knew that the outcome of the story was about to come. And do not tell the introductions.
Choose and develop your style
You have already learned to do all of the above. Now perfection it. If you are going to use CDJs dominates. If you are going to use turntables, learn all about them. If you are going to do live act with Ableton Live, read the complete software manual. If you’re going to mix house, do not go out of your genre. To innovate in something, you must first master what already exists. Stop changing at each gender party, stop mixing a few days with MacBook and others with CDJs and others with acetates. You must master a tool and a genre in order to take the next step.