After a few talks with my DJ friends I created this list of tips to be a better DJ. I would love to write more about topics like: “Building your DJ brand with low budget!” or “How to get bookings?”. I hope to receive positive reactions to this – if you guys like it, I will definitely write some in depth articles!
1. Playing danceable music
In most cases hardstyle DJs will be performing in front of a crowd which desires to dance. And most of our hard dances require much more energy to dance compared to other music styles. So, the choice of music is very important to support the dancer with the right energy. Only if the music supplies this energy, their dance will feel effortless and fun. Variations of rhythm and tempo can also affect the dancers movements. A higher density of sound patterns will drive people and the urge to dance (examples by Da Tweekaz in the set below!).
Breaks with calmer music are equally important to ensure that your listeners have enough time to cool down. In addition, a general track length of 3 minutes is appropriate.
Few questions for the DJ:
- Can my audience dance to this?
- Is the tempo appropriate?
- Are there enough pauses between or within tracks?
- Do my tracks have the right length?
I really enjoy this set by Da Tweekaz. They play very danceable and euphoric tracks, changed the general rhythm slightly between a few tracks and made an overall great tracklist with fast paced tracks.
2. Variety, contrast and highlights
Most DJ sets are around one hour long. So, how do I keep my audience hooked? If we take the normal track length of 3-4 minutes you will play around 14-20 tracks. Make every single track count and regain the attention with highlight after 4-6 tracks.
Examples for highlights in a set:
- Switch from euphoric to rawstyle (just slightly)
- Play a track with a reverse bass
- Play a classic to sing along
- Change the tempo
- Edits, Edits, Edits!
Depending on your own style and the event, it’s hard to nail down just a few tricks to hook your audience. Try to get good contrasts between the tracks, without losing your own style. You should also keep in mind who played before and who plays after you to adapt your set for a smoother transition.
I choose Atmozfears set from Qlimax 2014 as an example. He added a shit load of edits and made his set very appealing. Different mashups and edits will not only keep your set interesting, but also make it unique. Many of the edits will never be released. So, if people want the edit they have to hear the set.
After 17 minutes he played “Just as Easy” and made some interaction with the crowd. Using well known or classic tracks is also a great way to catch the audience.
3. Go public and share
For most hardstyle DJs the biggest step is the step from home DJ to public DJ. Seeing your audience in front changes everything. They will react to your moves and tracks, giving you live feedback about your set. So, try to play public as often as possible to get rid of possible shyness or stage fear.
Many newcomer DJs report that they mostly enjoy the talks with real fans, giving them feedback or just credits for a great night. Even if it’s one of the hardest steps to get bookings, this should be your main focus! Getting comfortable with live gigs will help you to get more bookings.
Ways to go public easy:
- Birthdays or other events of friends
- Newcomer stages
- Playing live on a web radio (good to practice)
Sharing your sets online can get you some good feedback if you promote them right. In the same sense, check out sets by others and analyze them. Why is the set good? What makes the difference? After a while you will hear the DJs in another way, with a greater focus on details.
4. Practice makes perfect
This sounds so oblivious, but just a few are actually doing it! Practice every day, at least 30 mins, no excuses. Most professional DJs spent a lifetime of practicing, while having kids or another job. So, you should be willing to sacrifice your time and money. There should be nothing below perfection for you, stay motivated and don’t give up!
Mastering all the necessary skills is critical for an amateur. Besides the theoretical part, daily sessions will improve your impellent movements.
A few important skills to master:
- Beat matching
- Phrase matching
- Backspins and Stops
Last but not least: stay updated! Don’t forget to update your music library. The DJ scene is always evolving with new products changing the way to DJ. Follow different trends in the genre and try to adapt.
If you would like to read more about this topic, let me know in the comments. What are your tips and tricks to become a better hardstyle DJ?