May 21, 2014 via Pepsi
Pro-Tips: How To Make A Good DJ Mix
Aside from your guests, the most important part of an event you’re hosting will undoubtedly be the music (yes, even more important than the food). From selection of tracks to appropriately crafting the right mood for the evening, a DJ Mix can make or break your event. Here’s a series of tips on how to make your mix — and therefore your night — memorable.
What’s the Occasion?
Are you making a mix for an all-night dance-a-thon? An industrial art show? A romantic night for you and your significant other? All of these occasions call for drastically different approaches to how you decide to craft your mix. Keep this in mind when deciding whether it’s appropriate to throw on an incredibly high-energy cut verses an intimate slow jam.
Know Your Audience.
What’re your guests into? Do they hate screamo? Are they sick of EDM? Does no one there appreciate ‘90s R&B? These are the questions you should consider when putting your mix together. After all, you’re not making it for yourself, you’re making it for your guests.
Don’t Be Afraid of Switching Up the Genre.
Any good hip-hop mix can use a dose of R&B slow jams, just like a trap music mix can benefit from some timely dosage of UGK. Just because the majority of your music may consist of one particular genre doesn’t mean you can’t pepper your music with a little flavor here and there. Keep it interesting, and branch out!
Don’t Just Throw it on Shuffle.
Sequencing your mix is just as important as selecting the actual songs in it. That means no throwing on shuffle and letting the fates decide what will play when. Pick a part of the mix where things slow down for ample time for people to get close (or get a breather), and then a good set of tracks to ramp things back up. Having a shuffle will just make the flow of the mix a complete disaster.
Transitions are Key.
Nothing screams “amateur” more than having a playlist of songs without smooth transitions. Use a program like Virtual DJ to beat match between the tracks to ensure a smooth ride the whole way through. Not only that, but make sure you pick a good time in the song to begin the transition. Most songs need to be over after two, maybe three minutes. No one needs to hear all three verses when you’re trying to cram a ton of tracks into the night!
Take Pride in Your Work!
It’s the little things that count, like making sure all of your music has artwork (especially if you’re sharing your mix down the line), making sure none of your tracks are of low audio quality, and doing your best to avoid cuts littered with DJ drops (this isn’t always possible with the newest music, but it never hurts to look for an alternate version). Crossing your Ts and dotting your Is just reflects better on you when the time comes for others to check out your mix.
Have a Theme
It’s hard for a long mix to have a central theme without limiting yourself too much, but it’s easy to insert little themes throughout. For example, why not throw a few cuts in back to back the celebrate the ladies? Or how about a nice little Wu-Tang mix to spice things up and throw in back? There’s always room to insert themes here and there in creative and exciting ways.
Keep Up with the Times.
Look, everyone knows that “Hypnotize” and “Empire State of Mind” are classic songs, but why not throw something on that shows you’ve really kept up on the times? There’s no award for throwing on as many well-known tracks as possible, and in fact, that could make for a pretty boring night. Don’t be a prisoner to the classics, show us you’ve listened to something from this decade!
As important as it is to remain current, it’s equally important to skim beneath the surface. Look, everyone’s heard that Lorde song, so why not check out what else is going on out there? What mixtapes dropped this weeks? What singles are making the rotations online? Is there something you can borrow from the latest Diplo mix? Introduce yourself (and your guests) to something new, and everyone benefits.
Sharing is Caring.
What’s the point in making a great mix if your friends can’t listen to it later? Soundcloud, Dropbox, and a dozens of options are out there for you to easily and effectively share your labor of love to the ones that matter to you most. An underrated benefit is that you’ll keep getting props even after the party’s done. If you’re using a file transfer program like dropbox, save it in a ZIP file so that people can open up the file and have the tracks in order.