I got into DJing because I fell in love with house music and I wanted to share this love with other people. The question of what kind music to play had never entered my mind – I always played the tracks that I love.
Thus it makes me cringe when I see newbie DJs asking on forums what music they should play, or for playlists to play music from. I get it – there are situations where you’re just unsure, but in all of them, you’re approaching it from the wrong end. Let me explain.
If you want to get into DJing for the girls/money/glitter and don’t care much for the music, that’s a dead end. You see, if you don’t know and appreciate your tracks, neither will your audience. Your sets will be dull and boring, and long-term, that’s a path to nowhere.
So do yourself (and all of us!) a favor and try to find that genre that you genuinely love. Learn to dig through the crates to discover those gems. Develop your taste. Great DJs have their signature sound that you can’t confuse with anyone else’s. You can’t get to that point without true musical connoisseurship.
It could also be that you know what you want to play, but you think that copying playlists from more successful DJs will make you more popular and get you more gigs. The truth is, there are no shortcuts. While listening to other DJs is a great idea to learn about new tracks, copying their sets verbatim doesn’t make you a better DJ. You have to do your own legwork.
Finally, you could have just been asked to DJ a party outside of your genre. Ask yourself: Will a couple of hints from other DJs, or intense listening over a couple of days bring you much closer to understanding the new style – so much that you’ll be able to excite, surprise and lead the dancefloor who lives and breathes it? Probably not. So think for a moment about your reputation and just turn that gig down.
Now, all rant aside, here’s the simple answer to the question in the title:
The music that you know and love.
What kind of music do you DJ with? How did you fall in love with it? Share your story in the comments below!
JM has played open-air gigs, shared the stage with the likes of ATB and had mix albums released commercially. He has been teaching DJing since 2008.
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