Seasoned DJs know that perfecting various sets takes time and repetition. Once they’re perfected, though, it can be really easy to fall into a comfortable routine when you get behind the decks. That’s okay for awhile, but you don’t want to run the risk of sounding stale or stagnant. If you have regular gigs with returning patrons, this can definitely be a trap you don’t want to get caught in. Try some of these tips to avoid the regular DJ set rut, and add some color to the mixes you’re used to creating.
Listen to other DJs’ Mixes
Let’s face it: even if you’re a great DJ, there are other DJs in the musicsphere that are just as talented as you are. That’s not a bad thing. It can actually be a good thing if you’re looking for inspiration to spruce up your own mixes and blends. Take some time to intentionally check them out. You may find a different approach to incorporating a creative playlist. Or, you may hear songs that you may have never put together that actually sound good in a mix.
Know that the goal in listening to other DJs is not to compare yourself to them or completely take their mix ideas. Rather, the goal is simply to help you think outside of music parameters that you’ve gotten used to. The great thing about being a DJ is that different genres have different mixing philosophies, so to speak. Applying new music or the same music in a different way can be impactful in making your DJ set mixes sound fresh.
Explore Music Outside of Your Norm
It’s not uncommon for EDM mixologists to listen to more electronic music regularly. Such would be the same for Top 40, club and hip-hop DJs. That’s a perfect way to know your crowd and cater to them in a way that helps them enjoy their time while under your mixing spell. But familiarity is only one tool in your arsenal, DJ! Sometimes throwing a curveball track or two in your mix, songs that are hypnotic but not well known, can create a moment for the crowd.
The global music landscape is so broad now. Finding hidden or unknown gems to play is not as difficult as one might think. It will take time and some finessing to consider placement in your DJ set, but the payoff can be huge. You’ll make a name for yourself, and it can also spark a new creativity in your playlists.
Challenge Yourself with a Never-Been-Played Crate
You probably have curated crates and playlists that you use so much you could blend the songs blindfolded. But what about all of the songs that don’t get put into crates or playlists? They’re in your library for a reason (hopefully, if you organize your library regularly), aren’t they? You should consider going through them and trying them out to see if any can add something to your regular sets.
Play a game with yourself during a practice session: use your digital software to determine what songs haven’t been played in awhile (or ever), and put those in a crate. Try creating a mix with these songs. You may come across some “oldie but goodies” or forgotten gems that can spice up a good set. If not, no harm, no foul. But you may surprise yourself with some of the songs you can include in your upcoming sets.
It can be so easy to get caught in a rut when DJing is a regular job. Trying or learning something new can ignite something fresh for the songs that you play all the time, and that can work wonders for your upcoming gigs, your crowds and your image as a standout DJ.