Music Production & DJ Tips

DJ Struggles & How to avoid them.  

Most DJ's don't talk about the struggles we go through to put on a show.  Whether it be an online event or a live event @ a club/festival.  I would like to address these issues independently because they are different scenarios. 

DJ Prep:  DJ's go through hours of listening to new music and deciding if the track "is it worth downloading?"  Then it's "is it worth playing it?" followed by "what folder to put it in?"  These are things just associated with finding the music to play.  Then there's the question of: "Do I pre-plan my sets or should I just wing it and choose tracks on the fly?"  These decisions vary based upon the event needed and what styles you're into.  After choosing a track I would Suggest that you are very detailed in your folders.  Such as: Genre broke down like this::::::House, House Driving, House Progressive House Funky and so on.  This will allow you to navigate the CDJ's faster to get the track that will work for your set.  For those that play on the fly.  For those that pre-plan this will give you some parameters to stay in.  Like a Tech House, Funky House Set.  This combo works great together to drive a party.  I like to start slow and end with a bang!  Make sure you are downloading from reputable sites and the money you spend goes to the Artist.  This is why I sell my tracks directly from my website. 

DJ Gear is also part of the prep:  I just recently updated the firmware on all my gear.  It's important to stay up to date with software and firmware updates for your gear.  However I usually wait to see signs of necessity.  This ensures that the update is necessary.  My CDJ's were acting funny with the sync of beat or bpm.  REMEMBER TO WAIT to do this till after a show as sometimes this can cause unwanted problems leaving no time to fix and creates panic.  Totally did an Mac OS X update when I still used Traktor hours before a Club Night...Had to use friends Mac...GRRRRRRR......NOT FUN!!! 

SHOW DAY!!! YAY!!! This is what we do this for!  Gather all your stuff for the show and anything you think it's possible for you to need, the night before, or morning before.  Leave ample time to call a friend or to get to a store to get what you need.  TIP!!!! know what stores are around.  Like for us in the USA, I usually know where the nearest Guitar Center is for Cords, Power Strips, CDJ's Mixer's  and so on.  This leads to having a backup plan if your gear or the clubs gear goes down.  I Carry two small Traktor Controllers the Z1 & X1MKII that fit in a backpack with MacBook Pro.  This way there is no chance of you not completing the show and letting your fans down.  Because of Your Gear.  The venue's gear on the other hand is a different story.  That's why they pay Audio Engineers to be there during the show.   

I Put everything I have into a show no matter where it is.  I spend about 10-12 hours a week on my 2 hour weekly internet radio show.  Between: downloading music, organizing music, making sure my gear is up to date and in clean great working order.  Making sure the atmosphere is right when I record.  I imprint myself, the message I want the listener to know and how I'm feeling onto the set.  I'm willing to go through all this effort for something I truly believe in and stand behind.  When you love your job it's never "work".  It's working towards a goal.  And you get out of it, what you put into it. 

Sometimes even with all the effort you put into not making any mistakes.  It's the very thing that causes them.  I recently experienced this during a 2 hour set.  It wasn't my finest  2 hours that I've ever done.  The point is that even with a set that I call "Not My Finest" lol, Is still a viable product.  Because it's honest.  Mistakes get made.  It's what makes us human.  Plus it gives us a memory attached with a feeling to drawback on in the future.  It keeps you from making the same mistakes over again.  Recognize the pattern.  Say outloud "I'm not gonna do that again...Like Ever."  And move on.  I spent more hours on my setup and making sure that my software and gear was all working good.  Put so much emphasis on having a perfect show.  That I had overlooked one Super Tiny Majorly Important Detail.  It is forever ingrained into my memories.  So much so that I will never be able to forget it.  But I think that's the point. 

In simpler terms.  Problems are gonna come up in our lives.  The important ones seem to hurt the most.  As these are the most important for your development as a Human.  They will keep coming up until they are recognized and then prevented from happening. Due to your being aware of it.  This is the secret to fixing ourselves.  

Mixing In Key 

Mixing in key is something I wish I knew when I started to DJ. 

For those that don't know about Mixing In Key:  Mixing in Key is the track playing on deck A is in A minor, You want to choose a track in the same Key of A minor to match on Deck B.  Playing in the same "Key" is a way to mix tracks you like that will sound Harmonically in key with each other.  Makes blending these tracks much easier for you the DJ and also for the listener.  Dj's that use this technique have cleaner, smoother mixes that are pleasant to the ear.

Mixed In Key is great software that will calculate you music library into numbered keys to make it easier to pair songs up.  Also adds 8 cue points automatically to beat juggle through all of your songs.

https://mixedinkey.com 

Consistency Is Key! 

I'm finding more and more that Consistency Is KEY!  To everything really.  Trying to stay consistent is hard in the demanding world we live in now.  Just trying to be a professional dj takes becoming a sound engineer, multimedia guy doing artwork for track releases, promoter (This one I Dislike the Most), computer pro, to name a few. 

I feel in order to be relevant in a society that needs instant gratification, you need to have a consistent stream of content by you.  This has morphed from just only dj sets, to add 4 different social media platforms, new tracks coming out, Internet radio show weekly. While staying up to date on the latest and best tracks coming out.  Being a "Pro" at anything requires you to market your brand.  My Brand is Detention Efficit and I have gone from a Bedroom DJ playing records alone to playing shows online for over 200 weekly listeners to my Spiritual Awakenings show.  I have 23 shows to date of 2 hour weekly shows totaling 46 hours of recorded dj sets.  I went from less than 10 listeners a week to over 200 weekly in less than 6 months.  I'm very satisfied with my rewards for my efforts.  But it took staying Consistent with my content to grow from 10 to 200 listeners.  I'm a huge advocate for growing organically; meaning not paying for plays to make you look better.  I want genuine listeners that love my music over thousands of "fake" listeners any day.  

Stay true to yourself and number one is to Believe in you and everything else will work itself out.  Keep grinding and stay positive because what's meant for you is meant for you.  There's no time limit or schedule to do this by.  Staying consistent and being positive is what has gave me success and it CAN work for you too!

 

Why Taking Notes or Jotting Ideas is so important 

Taking notes and or jotting ideas down whether on paper or on an a phone/computer is an important part of becoming a better dj/producer & human.

In my opinion writing the Full Date...Month,Day,Year is one of the more important tips.

To expand on that Idea...writing down the time of when the idea was created.  What the atmosphere was like, Who you may have been with.  What was around you...the room, ect.

 These details seem really insignificant however if you are able to recognize the patterns.  You will notice that these patterns will give you a better indication of when you are most creative.  For me I write better in the morning, Record DJ Sets in the mid-day.  Or that yo record better after 9pm & have amazing performances during the bright sunshine.  It's in these small details that you can create a more creative environment.  You should always try to orientate your day based off of what you do best and what time you do it.  This goes for everything.  It's up to you to see it and work it out...those who put the work in usually have the best results.  

You need balance in your life as well as career.  This is a great way to find that balance between different work tasks.  If you know you won't download any music till after dinner.  Don't forget to schedule downtime and to take breaks.  It's essential for a good balance.  If you're not into self help, check out my spiritual section for tips on how to.

Music Collection Management For DJ's 

Managing your music as a dj used to be simple.  You had crates or anything that you could fit your Records.  You knew the track by what the album cover looked like.  You would know which records went well with each other.  Using your ears is crucial for "Knowing your music."  That hasn't and shouldn't change.  But in the age of digital music libraries, we have to have a way to get through it quickly.  I've got a way that I learned & I would like to share it with you.  Cause if it works for me, it will work for you.

I organize my music I dj into folders by year.  So for example: 2021 I'll have Everything broke down into Genres like Tech House, Driving Tech House,  Deep Tech house and so forth.  This was when I'm playing Future House & want to switch it up, I know exactly the quality of the track to make a switch that blends together nicely.  Without getting into what I call a Death Scroll.  

Trying to look for a track and not knowing what to play can be stressful when you're in front of a few thousand people.  Or when you're trying to record a set for your radio show.