1. Be prepared to be spontaneous
“Take full advantage of colour-coded hot cues and cue markers so you can improvise on the fly. I’ll often make sure drops are red, breakdowns are blue, and builds are orange. I use Mixed In Key to scan my songs and make sure the Camelot key is easily visible in my Rekordbox tags.
“I’ll organise songs into clusters that I feel can work together by key, intensity, or vibe, and I’ll edit the tags so everything is clearly named.”
2. Think about gut vs logic
“Many times I’ll hear transitions or mashup ideas in my head and try it out in Ableton or Rekordbox to see what clicks. It’s a lot of throwing things against the wall. Trust your instincts but be a ruthless editor of your ideas. You can’t operate solely on gut feeling, but that’s the best place to start.
“I’ll try an idea and then just see how it feels, rather than forcing it. Just because two songs are in 4A and at the same tempo doesn’t mean they were meant for each other.”
3 Use the “3-2-1” backup regime
“Backups are essential. I use a mix of physical hard drives and Carbon Copy Cloner, Time Machine, and Dropbox cloud storage to back everything up. I also keep gear and software manual PDFs and a copy of licence keys in the cloud.
“The most important part of cloud backups is using selective sync to decide what really has to be available locally on your hard drive.”
4. Batch tasks
“Create a routine like ‘Maintenance Mondays’ and group tasks together to complete them more efficiently. Every week I go through and organise my Dropbox folders, clean up and add more details to Rekordbox tags, delete duplicates, and organise music.
“Software like Mixed In Key is great for drag and drop batch processing to rename files and clean up tags. It’s also worth exploring apps like Automator that can create custom task routines that save hours of time.”
5. Have daily discipline
“Try getting up one hour earlier than usual in the morning – it can shift the entire momentum of your day. Most importantly, focus on one key task per day, rather than several small tasks that require a lot of switching gears.
“It’s easy to forget the concept of ‘practice’ often associated with traditional instruments, but DJ gear is no different.”