by Jay Sandwich
What is your first thought after hearing the words ‘Professional DJ’? You’re absolutely right – an extensive music library that can bring the party no matter what the occasion.
Wedding? Got it covered. Night club? No sweat. House party? Of course. Bar mitzvah? Uhh..yes? Baby shower? Err… yeah, yeah, I GOT you fam. We’ll hit that infant with some deep bass.
In order to always provide the right content to your audience, you should never stop digging around and finding new tracks to expand your playlist.
Essentially, keeping current is your job. You need to know about the mainstream, but also the underground, as well as the under underground, etc.
Music is your middle name now that you’ve told a few people that you’re a “pro DJ”, and now they’re gonna expect you to be a pro or word’s gonna get out that this guy or gal says they’re a pro but they’re a total newb!
So if you say you’re a pro, a huge-ass music library is like your bread and butter. So what’s the best way for a pro DJ to build one?
Music is very spiritual, as well as very practical and functional. If you know the right tracks to play, the people will respond by dancing and partying. But, if you’re 6 months behind in terms of your playlist, you can make it obvious that you’re not down with the current sounds.
Knowing what’s new and current is basically part of the job of a pro DJ. Maybe you’re not into every style that becomes popular, but you need to at least brush up on it because you will get asked.
In some cases, like weddings, people are gonna want the oldies…the classics!
Sometimes people actually want to hear a certain song for a certain reason, and that song might not be for everyone, but it will please the people that requested it. And its in your best interest to take certain requests.
Oh yeah, and there’s someone else you might want to please, and that’s YOU. You gotta get your kicks in every once in a while too, but timing is everything. You don’t want to take someone else’s big moment and do something like this…
As a DJ, your music library is going to get pretty frickin’ huge pretty frickin’ fast.
And before you have like 100 000 tracks in your iTunes and they’re all over the place, you need to come up with a strategy, or a way to keep very organized.
Since this is business, you don’t want to show signs of being a disorganized DJ, because that’s how you lose gigs.
You also don’t want to show up and realize you don’t have a backup, which is why a good back up hard drive is crucial.
Staying organized is different for everyone when it comes to how you organize it on your computer, or external drives.
You can have playlists for certain artists, but, better yet, you might want several playlists that go according to the type of event you’re hitting up. Like Wedding Playlist #10 or something like that.
Or, you can do it by venue. Popeye’s Night Club Playlist #4, for example.
For certain venues that you play regular gigs at, you can have multiple playlists. The point being – multiple playlists for multiple occasions, but super organized, and always back it up!
Searching out certain kinds new music might almost seem counterproductive for a DJ. Why? Because new music isn’t always popular music.
If you’re trolling around on Bandcamp, listening to some god forsaken genre that you’ll probably never use for any event ever, you could rightly wonder – what’s the point?
Because if you’re not going to ever use it for your DJing, why would you bother spending time looking into it or listening to it? Better to spend your time figuring out what your audience wants, right?
If you’re a wedding DJ, you might have to get acquainted with stuff like this.
Now, hold on a sec.
Remember that no journey is ever just a straight line, and if you don’t allow yourself to enjoy music you like sometimes to and make your own private mixes out of whatever you want, you’re just going to turn into a person that does a job that’s no more exciting than sitting at a desk all day.
Just look at this guy! Do you want to be like this guy?
Presumably you don’t want to turn your DJing gigs into some boring grind, right?
Therefore, yes, put the time in to make professional DJ playlists that you know people will want to hear, but don’t hesitate to spend time on Soundcloud / Bandcamp / YouTube / whereever looking for bands that YOU like, and making playlists just for the fuck of it.
The more varied your music library, the better, because you never know when you might have to bust out some funky shit at a wedding or something.
If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet, you ought to know about hashtags, and categorical searches.
Basically, as a DJ you need to get good at going online and navigating your way around in order to find what you want faster than the average bear.
You type in a search term into Google, like “best dubstep songs 2018”, and you will no doubt be off down the rabbit hole, seeing what’s good.
You might end up on Twitter, reading about some awesome new DJ.
He or she is probably using hashtags, which might be how you found him, and then others are hash tagging so that once you’ve found him, you can find related content.
The people out there who know how to use the internet know that if they hashtag their music with the right hashtags, the right people will find it, eg. you. Conversely, you can draw people to your web pages using hashtags as well.
Lots of popular platforms use hashtags, including Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and more. In other words, the big guns. The bottom line is that hashtags are a way to find stuff you like, and then even more stuff you like. It can help people find you too!
With categorical searches, its much the same. If you land on a website, or an article that is categorized that way, check their categories to see what is in the same vein as the first thing you looked for. This is all very, very useful to the modern DJ.
One more way to grow your DJ music library is to check out various record labels. Chances are, if you like one thing on that label, you’ll like another.
In the EDM world, there are tons of record labels you can check out all over the world, so its hard to narrow it down to just, say, 5. Our advice is to use the search engine method and type in “best EDM record labels 2018”.
This will get you started with your quest.
Or, if you hear of one in your travels, no doubt they are represented online and you can find their website with a quick search.
Record labels always list their rosters on their websites, and from there you can either sample the music directly from the record label’s website, or you can hop over to YouTube or another audio / video platform to see what’s good.
Another quick tip here is to sort the YouTube info by date, to see what that label or artist has been up to lately.
The fifth and final tip we want to share on how you can build your music library as a DJ is to Shazam it!
If you aren’t familiar with Shazam, its a smartphone app that lets you get the pertinent information about a track just by hearing it, including song name and artist.
This is a quick and excellent method to find new and exciting music. Have your phone handy, and you can be like “What dat?” and before you know it you’re on the trail of your new favorite artist.
About Jay Sandwich
Jay is an ex-shred guitar player and current modular synth noodler from a small town somewhere. Quote: “I’m a salty old sandwich with a perspective as fresh as bread.” No bull.