Music programming is considered to be a DJ’s most important skillset, which constantly develops over time. The process of track selection, and taste, is an art by itself that differs from every artist. Here are a bunch of tips to help you improve your music programming and stand out from your peers.
1. Develop your ‘Back Catalogue’
DJ’s refer to older music as back catalogs
It is important to choose this list carefully because you don’t want music you can’t use or are never going to probably use taking up storage! We often hoard up on our music, as an artist/DJ you must learn how to phase out older records and decide what are listening records and what are dancefloor ready!
Digging up an old record from your crate is a great way of adding variety to your set.
Join like-minded Facebook music groups, check out various playlists from different platforms and grow your collection.
2. Stay on top of ‘New Releases’
Find a systematic way of staying up to date with new music.
Check out weekly charts curated by other artists. Follow artists who’s sound you like and check out playlists on Spotify and Apple Music curated by them.
Sites like Beatport, Juno Download, Traxsource, and other similar sites have their own charts that help you find new releases and even some underground music.
Lots of music is showcased on social media these days, follow the right pages. Pick a day of the week just to discover music.
3. Cultivate your sound
Start curating songs of a certain sound or vibe for your sets.
Become a selector of sounds. Find a sound you like and start listening to songs and artists that have a similar vibe.
This helps grow your library giving the music you are DJing some direction in the set.
4. Create a Crate
A crate is a collection of songs by a DJ
Carry your crate of music with you every time you play. A crate should typically have double the volume of tracks that you intended to play for the night.
Always having alternatives for each track of the main set that you play helps in unforeseen situations of files/tracks missing or corrupt.
5. Setlists from your crate
Crates are unorganized, Setlists are organized
Begin to create setlists from your crate. Picking songs by key is a great way to begin. You can also create setlists based on your sound, the slot you play, the vibe you intend to create and also the BPM.
Arranging these setlists will help you play your sets seamlessly and effortlessly. It takes off the stress of having to work really hard to come up with a mix. On the upside, it aids quick workflow since you already have a specified collection of music to cater to the mood you are going for.
Do you have any tips for DJ’s that we haven’t covered? Let us know in the comments below.
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I have been in the entertainment business for more than a decade. From playing in clubs to managing them and from being a part of competitions to judging them, I’ve come a long way in being on both sides of the industry. A headstrong personality to deal with and a perfectionist. I monitor DJ student progress, help them find placements, and brand building activities.