Technical Tips for DJs
If you’re just getting started as a DJ, you may find yourself surrounded by a dizzying array of technical choices. Whether it’s the best music software to buy or the most helpful practices for keeping track of your music files, the decisions you make now about how you operate will help you find your groove as a DJ. And, after spending significant money to get started and getting DJ liability insurance to protect your equipment, who wants to have to overhaul their system when their equipment can’t keep up with your growing business.
Here are a few digitally-oriented suggestions for budding DJ’s to help get started on the right track.
1. The right laptop
When buying a laptop, the pros advise that you choose wisely. TechRadar’s top two laptops for music production are Apple® products and, in the industry, that means something. Sure, Mac® laptops may be expensive, but when it comes to effortlessly spinning tracks or making mixes, Apple computers were designed with creative industries in mind – this includes music. Apple software platform was created to handle music (namely iTunes®), to enable you to perform brilliantly at a gig.
2. Avoid free DJ software
DJ software takes a music library and sends it through a controller that has two virtual platters, known as turntables. Once your music is on the ones and twos, you can beat, mix, loop, scratch and do everything a vinyl player can do.
Commercial software, like Serato DJ Pro and rekordbox DJ cost money. While paying for software may discourage young DJs, free programs may have insufficient functionality. Using freeware might be good to rock small house parties for friends, but when it’s time to take your act to the next level, consider taking your equipment to the next level, too.
3. Have access to music beyond your collection
It’s important to have all your favorite “go-to” songs in your music library so you can access them at any time, but if you get a request for something different or decide you want to play a song that you don’t already have, you should have a cloud-sourced music platform to supplement a collection. Apple Music® and Spotify are two examples.
Consider adding a tablet or second computer to your normal set-up. Setting up a second device will allow you to easily play odd song requests without missing a beat.
4. Color Code your song collection
Need to find a slow song in a hurry? Try color coding your songs and grouping them into different rainbow hues to help quickly access the right tune. Most professional DJ programs allow you to assign colors to different tracks. Try organizing a collection into groups that make the most sense to you. For example, you might pick red for songs that make people dance and yellow for slow songs. Or, if you have songs featuring explicit lyrics that are best not played for a family-friendly crowd, you might flag those songs purple.
Another great thing about color is that you can quickly identify songs that you want to remove from your collection. Did you accidentally download the wrong version of a song? Tag it with green, so that you know to remove it from your list the next day.
5. Forget the static song lists
Some DJ’s still feature static playlists on their websites. Veterans implore you not to do that. If you create a static list of songs, you will constantly have to update this list to include the latest jams. Instead, create playlists, such as from Spotify, and link that account to your webpage. Spotify and other similar services allow you to constantly create these types of lists. When people ask you for your song list, send them to that page. Just note: you should have several lists there, for different categories of music, such as: dance, chill music, background, set up, etc.
The main thing to keep in mind when you’re getting started is to choose the technical solutions that will grow with you. In the end, using technology should make your job easier, not harder or more complex. If you start off on the right track, you will find yourself hitting your stride as a DJ sooner. Now the next thing is to find the right gig for you. Check out how you can find where DJ gigs are available.
*Apple, Mac, iTunes, and Apple Music are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.