PDA

View Full Version : The art and practice of set planning.



Jimanee
04-16-2013, 04:37 AM
The practice of set planning is a controversial one amongst DJs, most often when the topic comes up the debate rapidly shifts from the initial question of how to why then degenerates into should you or not. This thread aims to show those who are interested how to plan ahead and hopefully overcome the pitfalls of planning ahead that give it a bad reputation.

Let me start by introducing my favourite analogy for the successful sequencing of tunes: The game of dominoes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominoes).

The domino is like a tune in that it has “two ends” which can be different values, same like a tune which can sound different at the beginning than at the end, or not. The game is to string these tiles or tunes in an order so that the “ends” of the tiles match up e.g. 2-3, 3-4, 4-2, 2-6, 6-6, 6-6 etc.

And like tiles, tunes can be “blank” meaning they’ll go into anything, these types of tunes often start and/ or end with like a minute of simple drums and can be mixed into anything.

Now I must point out that many DJs’ collections can consist of all “blanks” or nearly all the same few compatible keys, makes for a very easy dominoes game, these DJs have no need for set planning.

But for others who are harmonically mixing, playing multiple genres and or loads of unique tracks, it is worth organising the sequence in advance so that you get most of the “ends” matching up.

This is how lots of DJs organise making mix CDs and we will call it the Linear set list as it flows in one line from start to finish.

Now here is where a lot of trouble starts as DJs take these linear lists and try to play them in clubs and parties to very mixed results. Most times they can work well and we will get to the pitfalls of that result later.

Very often they can miss fire; the starting track wasn’t suitable or somewhere along the sequence an assumption was made that does not match the live reality. You’ve cleared the floor, everyone’s glaring at you and all you have planned is more of the same.

Just having one Linear set plan is just not good practice.

But why have one when you can have many?

Let’s invent two types; “Feeder” sets that feed into the main Linear set and “Contingency” sets to take over if and when the Linear set fails.

Feeder sets can be any size or amount and are used to adjust to the situation in the club and lead the crowd in the direction of the linear anthem smasher. Make them by visualising ( audiolising ? lol) most of the likely genres you would have to follow, what you would play to follow and what you would play to reach the “blank” start of the Linear set.

Bear in mind that these sets are most likely to be your first mixes the audience will hear, so allow me to give you some useful advice an older DJ once gave me: make them easy ones :tup:

The Contingency sets you can make many of as well, start them with a Blank and keep them small 2-4 and of a similar style and feel. Think of them as mini combos or special moves, the Linear set as a Kata. Use them as “get out of jail” cards.

Now let’s get back to the main problem of the Linear set, its’ unresponsiveness and fragility, one song doesn’t work and the chain is broken.

Now here I need you to show you a way of DJing, of song selecting, I’m not saying to do it this way, I just need it to demonstrate how you could plan sets with it, ya dig?

See I don’t know your criteria on how you pick tunes, so I’m going to make a massive assumption.

You play a track and if it goes well you follow it with a similar track just better.

Simple, but then you reach a limit of “bestest track”. Well let’s introduce another could be applicable analogy: Tune selection is like a game of top trumps (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_Trumps).

“'Top Trumps is a card game. Each card contains a list of numerical data, and the aim of the game is to compare these values in order to try to trump and win an opponent's card”

So lets’ give your tunes fantasy “Attributes” of say: darkness, funkiness, chilledness, appeals to stupid girlsness, sounds mental under the influence, heavy bass, sweet female vocals, [insert your own here].

Say you reached your darkest tune, then “trump” it with a funkier track and hope your audience agrees with you.

Now let’s apply this to set design, let’s say you’re going to have a theme, this btw is one of the benefit’s to pre-planning it allows you to do complicated Macro set planning and to have a direction.

Say DnB, say start Liquid and go Darker, then trump it with Funky. Let’s say just purely as a figure: 6 tracks of each.

Now here is a crude but powerful control: you can skip tracks to get to the desired level of attribute. You can read the crowd and adjust how quickly they progress through your journey.

Say they loved the Liquid, great play all 6, then you go Darker, three tracks in they’ve had enough, switch to Funky. That should do nicely for an hour set.

Another way to build flexibility in Linear sets is putting in alternative mixouts to handle non optimal crowd response to your preferred choice, sometimes these alternatives mean exiting the set, well at least you exited in a prepared and graceful way. And these alternatives could be part of another prepared set…

Let’s look at how you would organise your prepared sets, I warn you now that bits of paper with the details scribbled on looks awful and really should be avoided.

Back in the vinyl days I would just place them in order in my box, don’t get them jumbled though.

CDs and folders on memory sticks, I burn/ place in order, using this format: 01A, 02A, 03A, etc. Any alternative mixouts would have the same number followed by a different letter e.g.: 01A, 02A, 02B, 02C, 03A, 03B, 04A. I’ve had such a bad time with other formats getting screwed up by mp3 decks; this is the best I’ve come up with, maybe start at 04A in case you want to add tracks to the front in the future.

The advantages are:

1) That it’s quick to get the next track on, means more time for beatmatching.

2) A choice of mixouts so easily to hand without changing folder or CD, means you can leave your decision to the last minute.

3) A “double” of the track playing is within easy reach if the live track starts messing up.

4) A setlist that you’ve recorded or use a lot ends up burned on your memory; I can find most of the tracks on my setlists without looking at a list or needing to let the display scroll. Means more time to stare at girls :D .

BTW there is no rule to say you can’t use the same setlist again, but you should avoid repeating yourself, especially to the same audience. Avoid that pitfall by making more setlists, moving between setlists, updating them, playing them in a different order, playing the alternative mixouts and experimenting with them.

I keep folders and CDs of old setlists and use them for snippets of 1- 3 tunes and I gradually tweak others over time the more I use them, removing the bits that don’t work well and inserting more killer options.

For those that use a DVS, the above might seem rather limiting, why restrict yourself to just a few alternative mixouts when you have thousands of tunes? Well the above is quicker and involves less time spent staring at laptop screens.

But I use a DVS too and a free program called Rapid Evolution (RE) from www.mixshare.com . This program is a godsend for me as it stores mixouts, setlists and so much more. Now my setlists are more like setwebs with some tracks having 20+ mixouts and mixins, how’s that for prepared versatility?

Now I can’t go in to detail with RE, it would need its’ own website (which it has), but IMHO it is the only viable solution to the problems associated with large digital collections.

Then again I’m rather biased in that I’ve been working with and adding to, my copy of RE for seven years.

Part 2 (http://www.djforums.com/forums/showthread.php?26790-The-art-and-practice-of-set-planning-PART-2)

Jimanee
04-16-2013, 04:37 AM
Keeping this space in case of additions.

KLH
04-16-2013, 07:16 AM
Great article! I look forward to part deux.

-KLH

Hausgeist
04-16-2013, 12:31 PM
Agreed. I will be keeping an eye on this thread, which I will eventually make sticky. Be forewarned, I plan on deleting any post that I view as a detriment to this thread. Nice one, Jim. :tup:

Austin GoGreen
04-16-2013, 01:26 PM
I love the idea here because I too pre-plan a lot of sets/crates. I call it my playbook with many audibles and shifts. Dominoes and Card Games is a good analogy. Honestly I would much rather read a more direct article about this with less analogies and more of "this is how I do it."

Jimanee
04-16-2013, 02:58 PM
Great article! I look forward to part deux.

-KLH

Cheers mate, shall get typing.


Agreed. I will be keeping an eye on this thread, which I will eventually make sticky. Be forewarned, I plan on deleting any post that I view as a detriment to this thread. Nice one, Jim. :tup:

Much appreciation and thanks Haus, that's really made my day, was worried how this thread was going to drop.


I love the idea here because I too pre-plan a lot of sets/crates. I call it my playbook with many audibles and shifts. Dominoes and Card Games is a good analogy. Honestly I would much rather read a more direct article about this with less analogies and more of "this is how I do it."

Cheers man, I remember you being a set planner from DJF 1.0 ;) and would like to see your process too. I used the analogies more for the complete noobs to hopefully help them visualise the process and I will need them in part two. There will be more of "how I do it" and actual examples coming in part 2 :tup:

Along side more and even wilder analogies :uhoh:

CountElectrfique
04-16-2013, 04:02 PM
Awesome article! Enjoyed reading it and got a lot of useful ideas out if it, thank you! But man, I really dislike Rapid Evolution. It has such a bad GUI and buggy as hell

Jimanee
04-17-2013, 05:15 AM
Awesome article! Enjoyed reading it and got a lot of useful ideas out if it, thank you! But man, I really dislike Rapid Evolution. It has such a bad GUI and buggy as hell

lol yes, RE has a fair few bugs and caused me some nasty shocks, I have my work arounds and have tweaked the GUI, but for me it's still the best of what's out there. I have programmed software myself and used alot of open sourced stuff so maybe I'm more sympathetic to bug problems...

Atomisk
04-17-2013, 10:00 AM
Went in to this thread thinking it was going to be some noob asking how to pre-plan his club nights.
I was wrong, obviously. Great post. +rep.

OHshag
04-19-2013, 11:44 AM
Awesomeness. Being kind of a beginner to the theory behind creating cohesive sets I found this post VERY informative :)

Sent from my HTC One X

diceallion
02-06-2014, 04:59 PM
Fantastic, thanks for investing your time for us.

Adzm00
02-07-2014, 07:12 AM
I still quite disagree with set planning.

Jimanee
02-07-2014, 08:25 AM
Fantastic, thanks for investing your time for us.

Cheers dude!


I still quite disagree with set planning.

We know lol, I even made sure to include this bit for all you Techno/IDM DJS :

"And like tiles, tunes can be “blank” meaning they’ll go into anything, these types of tunes often start and/ or end with like a minute of simple drums and can be mixed into anything.

Now I must point out that many DJs’ collections can consist of all “blanks” or nearly all the same few compatible keys, makes for a very easy dominoes game, these DJs have no need for set planning."


On another note, did you know that I and I bet a fair few others, technically, started DJing first by making compilation cassette tapes
for parties. That was all set preparation. For me I would say it was one of the primal urges that compelled me to DJ!

But ya know, each to his own, I suppose. :P

Adzm00
02-07-2014, 09:32 AM
Yeah, but also, a bit of imagination won't go amiss, you can mix incompatible keys with a bit of work of that grey thing between your ears, apparently they call it a brain.

You just need to know your records a bit.

I would argue not needing to plan a set is knowing what your records sound like and having the experience what will and what wont work. Like the both of us likely do.

I have set planned and not planned, when I plan it is a bit less exciting, and the mix generally isn't as good, I just treat it as if I am still playing vinyl, get a load of tunes together I might want to play, and leave it at that.

Mrspyaman
02-10-2014, 03:04 AM
Cheers dude!



We know lol, I even made sure to include this bit for all you Techno/IDM DJS :

"And like tiles, tunes can be “blank” meaning they’ll go into anything, these types of tunes often start and/ or end with like a minute of simple drums and can be mixed into anything.

Now I must point out that many DJs’ collections can consist of all “blanks” or nearly all the same few compatible keys, makes for a very easy dominoes game, these DJs have no need for set planning."


On another note, did you know that I and I bet a fair few others, technically, started DJing first by making compilation cassette tapes
for parties. That was all set preparation. For me I would say it was one of the primal urges that compelled me to DJ!

But ya know, each to his own, I suppose. :P

Do you honestly think to do an unplanned set a DJ has to use Dj Friendly edits?

Jimanee
02-10-2014, 04:33 AM
Do you honestly think to do an unplanned set a DJ has to use Dj Friendly edits?

Erm no, please explain why you thought I did?

dlove
02-10-2014, 09:42 AM
Yeah, but also, a bit of imagination won't go amiss, you can mix incompatible keys with a bit of work of that grey thing between your ears, apparently they call it a brain.

You just need to know your records a bit.

I would argue not needing to plan a set is knowing what your records sound like and having the experience what will and what wont work. Like the both of us likely do.

I have set planned and not planned, when I plan it is a bit less exciting, and the mix generally isn't as good, I just treat it as if I am still playing vinyl, get a load of tunes together I might want to play, and leave it at that.

I agree with this - also, I don't like set-planning because you look a lot busier up on the decks when you're selecting & mixing on the fly

Mrspyaman
02-10-2014, 11:00 AM
Erm no, please explain why you thought I did?
Your explanation of "Blanks" and how Dj's with a lot of blanks have no need for set planning sounded to me like that's what you were saying. I wasn't sure so I asked.

Jimanee
02-10-2014, 12:33 PM
Your explanation of "Blanks" and how Dj's with a lot of blanks have no need for set planning sounded to me like that's what you were saying. I wasn't sure so I asked.

Fair enough. No it's just a deep point, to say that with some DJs', their style of music or mixing, means that it doesn't matter what sequence they play their tunes in.

Why should they plan sets? They should just know their records and fling them in a pile like Adzm; or just look really busy whilst selecting like dlove. And then they should moonwalk right out of this thread because it is not applicable to them :argh: :P

This thread is for those who want to map out an interesting, smooth proper journey with an actual destination; one that LEADS a crowd rather than just follows it.

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with planning, ask this guy:

http://s2.quickmeme.com/img/a9/a9ed842f739e930dc8e9340bafbbaeaf77994c50c74fc6a86b 046b54cb9b2c59.jpg

Mrspyaman
02-10-2014, 04:59 PM
Fair enough. No it's just a deep point, to say that with some DJs', their style of music or mixing, means that it doesn't matter what sequence they play their tunes in. Why should they plan sets? They should just know their records and fling them in a pile like Adzm; or just look really busy whilst selecting like dlove. And then they should moonwalk right out of this thread because it is not applicable to them :argh: :P
This thread is for those who want to map out an interesting, smooth proper journey with an actual destination; one that LEADS a crowd rather than just follows it.
What if the crowd doesn't like where you are going? Now I have too ask are you implying you can't reach a destination or have a smooth journey without planning your set? To suggest how to and to plan your sets is a proper discussion, agreed, some need to do it that way.
Too suggest it is superior as you have done is why I keep asking these questions.

Jimanee
02-11-2014, 06:31 AM
"What if the crowd doesn't like where you are going?"

Then you play something else, as advised at the very end of the thread. You would be no worse than if you hadn't planned at all.

"Now I have too ask are you implying you can't reach a destination or have a smooth journey without planning your set?"

Now again no, but if you want to, set preparation can help.

But I will confess to trolling here, with the use of "proper" and "actual", Adzm and I have had this battle across many a thread, I've always stayed defensive, always said "you can" instead of "you should" and "prepared sets can work" rather than "prepared sets are better".

Time to go offensive and make the other side work and justify themselves:

Two DJs, equal in all regard, A has a prepared set, B does not. They both end up playing randomly, they both play well. Yet A has the knowledge of why he did not follow his plan, his experience in preparing planned sets has grown. B has not got that.

A has more than B, explain to me why that isn't superior?

Adzm00
02-11-2014, 08:34 AM
Planning works for this: Headliners, the people there know what they will get, Residents, the resident DJ already knows what the crowd is likely to expect.

By not planning a set, you are not letting the crowd dictate the music, you are playing them stuff you like that they will like too.

Set planning: Typical computer DJ plans set out as he always does, loses the crowd, and then can't do shit about it: a) because he has no idea how to mix an unpracticed set; b) hasn't developed crowd reading skills, so when he changes it up, they still hate it; or c) because like a tit he has only brought the music for the set and other music like that in case he runs over.

The amount of time I've seen this happen I've lost count, and it is ALWAYS computer DJs.

Sigma
02-11-2014, 10:13 AM
Time to go offensive and make the other side work and justify themselves:

Two DJs, equal in all regard, A has a prepared set, B does not. They both end up playing randomly, they both play well. Yet A has the knowledge of why he did not follow his plan, his experience in preparing planned sets has grown. B has not got that.

A has more than B, explain to me why that isn't superior?
I agree with you, although I can see why some people would think pre-planning is unnecessary.

In my last battle on here, I planned the mix out. Intro and outro samples, which tracks I was going to play and in what order, where I would scratch, where I would use loops and effects, and I also edited a couple of tracks. The end result was a better mix than I would have made if I'd just pulled out whatever tracks took my fancy as I was mixing. If someone says that their set is no better with pre-planning, then it's either because they're shit at pre-planning and their tech skills/creative skills aren't anything to write home about, or it's because they're a mixing master. I would say that 99% of people that say "my mixes are no better if they're planned out" fall into the former category, not the latter.

If I did that mix live in a club and it went down well, great. If, a couple of tracks in, people ain't feeling it, I can just forget it and mix on the fly. It's not like I can't mix, scratch, do a bit of trick mixing etc. on the fly - I can just do it better if I've thought about it in advance. It's really not that much of a loss to me if it doesn't go down well live, other than the time it took to plan the set out in the first place, but that's not necessarily wasted because I can record it and put it on SoundCloud.

I don't think there's a good rebuttal to this. Talking about DJs that can't play a set in a club without pre-planning it is fine, but that doesn't apply to me. Saying "the golden rules of DJing prevent it!" or whatever purist argument someone might make is just nonsense, cos those "rules" don't even exist.

What Adzm00 should learn, is how not to keep going to nights that are ruined by wanky laptop DJs, cos if I'd "lost count" of the times I'd seen one ruin a night then I'd start thinking "perhaps I should be going to different clubs", lol.

Mrspyaman
02-11-2014, 11:50 AM
Two DJs, equal in all regard, A has a prepared set, B does not. They both end up playing randomly, they both play well. Yet A has the knowledge of why he did not follow his plan, his experience in preparing planned sets has grown. B has not got that.

A has more than B, explain to me why that isn't superior?
Because that scenario is very unlikely, If "A" has had enough experience to feel comfortable not planning his set he probably has the proper music and knowledge of the music to go anywhere. In contrast, "B" has relied on his practiced and planned sets so much his ability to wing it has not developed nearly as much as "A". Now if we're talking about mix tapes or a fashion show plan it to a T, line up the music, preset your fades, and note your volume levels and Eq settings.
But people have an energy when they get together to party learning to feel and go with it is a major part of Djing. I have seen way too many Dj's fall on there face trying to stick with the set they planned and to be fair I've seen it work as well (almost always in a genre specific events though) to not at least put a warning in this thread for people learning that this crutch may get in your way as well.

Jimanee
02-12-2014, 07:02 AM
Too much to cover really, and the thread covers most of it already, I'm not responsible for/nor advocating badly prepared sets.

People are butchering prepared sets all over the world, I'm trying to fix that.

I think Sig's nailed, but I must spread rep before chucking it his way again

@ Mrspyaman; That situation is hypothetical, it is interesting that you had to bring in a load of assumptions into it, to try and spin something else out of it. My point was that there was extra experience to be gained and that that was better than none.

A small point, but a valid one.

Based on the monstrosity you turned it into, I would change it to:

Two Noob DJs play separate rooms, A has a prepared and practiced set, B is winging it. They both are nervous, but A knows what he is doing gets straight on queing his second track, whilst B is still looking for his. Because A is quicker off the mark, he sustains his floors energy into the next track, whereas B took a bit too long.

A buoyed by the success gets the third straight on, the dance floor now trusts him to keep it smooth. B knows he's bodged it and is now looking for a tune to fix, he picks one, oh no that one doesn't go, he panics, nothing sounds like it did at home, people are watching him sweat. He fumbles a track on, get's the phrasing wrong and people go "f*ck this" and go to A's room.

B goes home and cries to his mum. :P

I have seen that ^^ more than failing prepared sets...

I do get your point though, there are loads of warnings all over this thread, but not a specific crutch one. But you see, I feel that people "winging" it is like a basic, that's what everybody does, until they start preparing, it's like a given.

Just to check, you do know that this thread is part 1 and that there is a part 2?

dlove
02-12-2014, 07:26 AM
Fair enough. No it's just a deep point, to say that with some DJs', their style of music or mixing, means that it doesn't matter what sequence they play their tunes in.

Why should they plan sets? They should just know their records and fling them in a pile like Adzm; or just look really busy whilst selecting like dlove. And then they should moonwalk right out of this thread because it is not applicable to them :argh: :P

This thread is for those who want to map out an interesting, smooth proper journey with an actual destination; one that LEADS a crowd rather than just follows it.

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with planning, ask this guy:

http://s2.quickmeme.com/img/a9/a9ed842f739e930dc8e9340bafbbaeaf77994c50c74fc6a86b 046b54cb9b2c59.jpg

haha

you can still 'map out an interesting, smooth proper journey with an actual destination...that leads a crowd' without pre-set planning, as you are planning on the move, as you go. Using instinctive imagination, live, with timing.

I think, with mixing on the fly, the planning begins once the DJ steps up to the decks and chooses the 1st record. It's better to make a plan once you have a map of the room; get a handle on the vibes happening at that precise time, in order to lead everyone where you want to take them.

Adzm00
02-13-2014, 06:32 AM
What Adzm00 should learn, is how not to keep going to nights that are ruined by wanky laptop DJs, cos if I'd "lost count" of the times I'd seen one ruin a night then I'd start thinking "perhaps I should be going to different clubs", lol.

I would but it isn't just one club or one night, its EVERYWHERE.

Shitty techno DJs eh.

Adzm00
02-13-2014, 06:34 AM
Two Noob DJs play separate rooms, A has a prepared and practiced set, B is winging it. They both are nervous, but A knows what he is doing gets straight on queing his second track, whilst B is still looking for his. Because A is quicker off the mark, he sustains his floors energy into the next track, whereas B took a bit too long.

A buoyed by the success gets the third straight on, the dance floor now trusts him to keep it smooth. B knows he's bodged it and is now looking for a tune to fix, he picks one, oh no that one doesn't go, he panics, nothing sounds like it did at home, people are watching him sweat. He fumbles a track on, get's the phrasing wrong and people go "f*ck this" and go to A's room.



OR

A starts playing his set, but the crowd aren't into it, but because he is a noob and has no idea what he is doing, plus too scared to move outside of his preplanned set, A loses the crowd and they go to B's room.

In the meantime, B has a few less than perfect mixes, but his crowd reading skills are slowly developing and he is managing to play tracks the crowd are reacting positively to.

A goes home and cries to his mum, B is invited back to play the next month.

Mrspyaman
02-13-2014, 12:15 PM
I think Sig's nailed, but I must spread rep before chucking it his way again

@ Mrspyaman; That situation is hypothetical, it is interesting that you had to bring in a load of assumptions into it, to try and spin something else out of it. My point was that there was extra experience to be gained and that that was better than none.

A small point, but a valid one.

Based on the monstrosity you turned it into, I would change it to:

Two Noob DJs play separate rooms, A has a prepared and practiced set, B is winging it. They both are nervous, but A knows what he is doing gets straight on queing his second track, whilst B is still looking for his. Because A is quicker off the mark, he sustains his floors energy into the next track, whereas B took a bit too long.

A buoyed by the success gets the third straight on, the dance floor now trusts him to keep it smooth. B knows he's bodged it and is now looking for a tune to fix, he picks one, oh no that one doesn't go, he panics, nothing sounds like it did at home, people are watching him sweat. He fumbles a track on, get's the phrasing wrong and people go "f*ck this" and go to A's room.

B goes home and cries to his mum. :P

I have seen that ^^ more than failing prepared sets...

I do get your point though, there are loads of warnings all over this thread, but not a specific crutch one. But you see, I feel that people "winging" it is like a basic, that's what everybody does, until they start preparing, it's like a given.

Just to check, you do know that this thread is part 1 and that there is a part 2?
Sig did nail it, for a mix tape or online battle hell yeah, but in a club the crowd is part of the mix and is better off being adjusted to and becoming part of the night then just witnessing your performance.
Both of your Hypotheticals seem too far gone for me to relate to. Never seen a noob wing it and read a crowd there is barely enough confidence to attempt their over planned, sync'd,my friends like it, practiced all week, now i'm gonna show the world what I can do mix.
Most of my experience is dated as well so I give you that, but if there are a lot of noobs crashing in front of crowds there are a lot of GM's that should be looking for new jobs. I've seen way more under skilled Dj's get past the interview with a planned set or mixed cd without the ability to do the job right.
I really have to ask this, how do you plan a floor rotation I have always done it off body language (or the bartender showing some malcontent).

Adzm00
02-14-2014, 04:33 AM
When I was a "noob" (in the DJing in the club sense at least), I never pre-planned and always tried to read the crowd (probably why I am good at it now) and I wasn't nervous about my gigs either. There is a reason for that, it is called lots of hard work and practice, I didn't even really do a mix for anyone until after 4 years of a lot of practice, so I knew I was a decent standard, not throwing down a half arsed, pre-planned (MIK told me what to play) sync'd up boring piece of shit mix. I practiced until I was good and that is what most people fail at doing today.

Jimanee
02-14-2014, 10:27 AM
Good stuff, shall look forward to countering, after the weekend. I must go and have my disco nap, see you taters.

Jimanee
02-14-2014, 10:28 AM
* laters

Adzm00
02-14-2014, 11:06 AM
The court of DJF shall resolve this ;)

Jimanee
02-17-2014, 09:42 AM
Indeed, let's crack on:


OR

A starts playing his set, but the crowd aren't into it, but because he is a noob and has no idea what he is doing, plus too scared to move outside of his preplanned set, A loses the crowd and they go to B's room.

In the meantime, B has a few less than perfect mixes, but his crowd reading skills are slowly developing and he is managing to play tracks the crowd are reacting positively to.

A goes home and cries to his mum, B is invited back to play the next month.


You have made three mistakes in your post:

1) You have assumed that A is too scared to move off his preplanned set; but this is based of your experience of DJs THAT HAVE NOT READ THIS THREAD!!!!!

And you have been doing this in near all your arguments :argh:. The real prepared DJ, would have had Feeder Sets, Alternative mixouts and Contingency mini sets.


2) You equate set preperation with not reading the crowd; that is an evil slur. DJ A would have more time for reading the crowd, he would know what he was looking for and would have a strategy to deal with it; the example in the thread:

"Say DnB, say start Liquid and go Darker, then trump it with Funky. Let’s say just purely as a figure: 6 tracks of each.

Now here is a crude but powerful control: you can skip tracks to get to the desired level of attribute. You can read the crowd and adjust how quickly they progress through your journey.

Say they loved the Liquid, great play all 6, then you go Darker, three tracks in they’ve had enough, switch to Funky. That should do nicely for an hour set"


3) I've told you before, crowd reading skills develop independantly from mixing DJing skills. To infer as you have that, B not planning his set, means his crowd reading skill is more developed from A is total BS.





you can still 'map out an interesting, smooth proper journey with an actual destination...that leads a crowd' without pre-set planning, as you are planning on the move, as you go. Using instinctive imagination, live, with timing.

I think, with mixing on the fly, the planning begins once the DJ steps up to the decks and chooses the 1st record. It's better to make a plan once you have a map of the room; get a handle on the vibes happening at that precise time, in order to lead everyone where you want to take them.

Excellent, then we are agreed that you can lead a crowd to a destination. Such as an Anthem Smasher main set :D, then you will have all the goodies of preparation, that come from having spent serious time on it. The best of both worlds :tup:

Jimanee
02-17-2014, 09:52 AM
Sig did nail it, for a mix tape or online battle hell yeah, but in a club the crowd is part of the mix and is better off being adjusted to and becoming part of the night then just witnessing your performance.
Both of your Hypotheticals seem too far gone for me to relate to. Never seen a noob wing it and read a crowd there is barely enough confidence to attempt their over planned, sync'd,my friends like it, practiced all week, now i'm gonna show the world what I can do mix.
Most of my experience is dated as well so I give you that, but if there are a lot of noobs crashing in front of crowds there are a lot of GM's that should be looking for new jobs. I've seen way more under skilled Dj's get past the interview with a planned set or mixed cd without the ability to do the job right.
I really have to ask this, how do you plan a floor rotation I have always done it off body language (or the bartender showing some malcontent).

"but in a club the crowd is part of the mix and is better off being adjusted to and becoming part of the night then just witnessing your performance."

Yes, but the point of this thread is that you can adjust in a prepared way.

"Never seen a noob wing it and read a crowd "

Lol I have, but they have not been mixing (and were shite anyway), don't tell adzm00 though.

"I've seen way more under skilled Dj's get past the interview with a planned set or mixed cd without the ability to do the job right."

Me too, chortle.

"how do you plan a floor rotation I have always done it off body language "

This can be a standard, straight from the "How to DJ right" manual, just plan in combos of 2-4 tracks of a Genre, tip them with a blank and switch to the next combo when the time is right (aka read their body language).

Jimanee
02-17-2014, 10:06 AM
When I was a "noob" (in the DJing in the club sense at least), I never pre-planned and always tried to read the crowd (probably why I am good at it now) and I wasn't nervous about my gigs either. There is a reason for that, it is called lots of hard work and practice, I didn't even really do a mix for anyone until after 4 years of a lot of practice, so I knew I was a decent standard, not throwing down a half arsed, pre-planned (MIK told me what to play) sync'd up boring piece of shit mix. I practiced until I was good and that is what most people fail at doing today.

When I was a noob, I didn't have much money for records, so to keep things interesting I would work out the best mixes and write them in a book normally used for phone numbers. I would spend hours/ days going through my collection seeing what works with what, that is what I mean about "Knowing your collection".
For my first gig, I spent months practicing and honing my prepared sets, I would roleplay them under different circumstances, I would practice and record whilst blind drunk coming back from the club, just to see how I would fair under those circumstances.

I would practice interesting and tricky set pieces, over and over again, till they were second nature.

That's what I call hard work and practice.

I was nervous as hell on my first gig, and guess what? On the night, during my first mix, I was joined by a live drummer, a didgeridoo player, an amateur MC and some drunk b*tch banging on a triangle. I still nailed, all hail preparation :slayer:

Adzm00
02-17-2014, 11:20 AM
When I was a noob, I didn't have much money for records, so to keep things interesting I would work out the best mixes and write them in a book normally used for phone numbers. I would spend hours/ days going through my collection seeing what works with what, that is what I mean about "Knowing your collection".
For my first gig, I spent months practicing and honing my prepared sets, I would roleplay them under different circumstances, I would practice and record whilst blind drunk coming back from the club, just to see how I would fair under those circumstances.

I would practice interesting and tricky set pieces, over and over again, till they were second nature.

That's what I call hard work and practice.

I was nervous as hell on my first gig, and guess what? On the night, during my first mix, I was joined by a live drummer, a didgeridoo player, an amateur MC and some drunk b*tch banging on a triangle. I still nailed, all hail preparation :slayer:

I guess I must just be naturally talented.

Adzm00
02-17-2014, 11:23 AM
Indeed, let's crack on:




You have made three mistakes in your post:

1) You have assumed that A is too scared to move off his preplanned set; but this is based of your experience of DJs THAT HAVE NOT READ THIS THREAD!!!!!

And you have been doing this in near all your arguments :argh:. The real prepared DJ, would have had Feeder Sets, Alternative mixouts and Contingency mini sets.


2) You equate set preperation with not reading the crowd; that is an evil slur. DJ A would have more time for reading the crowd, he would know what he was looking for and would have a strategy to deal with it; the example in the thread:

"Say DnB, say start Liquid and go Darker, then trump it with Funky. Let’s say just purely as a figure: 6 tracks of each.

Now here is a crude but powerful control: you can skip tracks to get to the desired level of attribute. You can read the crowd and adjust how quickly they progress through your journey.

Say they loved the Liquid, great play all 6, then you go Darker, three tracks in they’ve had enough, switch to Funky. That should do nicely for an hour set"


3) I've told you before, crowd reading skills develop independantly from mixing DJing skills. To infer as you have that, B not planning his set, means his crowd reading skill is more developed from A is total BS.




Excellent, then we are agreed that you can lead a crowd to a destination. Such as an Anthem Smasher main set :D, then you will have all the goodies of preparation, that come from having spent serious time on it. The best of both worlds :tup:

You have made assumptions which support your argument, I have done the same but that support mine, because both could be correct.

Mrspyaman
02-17-2014, 11:53 AM
Yes, but the point of this thread is that you can adjust in a prepared way.

"how do you plan a floor rotation I have always done it off body language "
This can be a standard, straight from the "How to DJ right" manual, just plan in combos of 2-4 tracks of a Genre, tip them with a blank and switch to the next combo when the time is right (aka read their body language).
Never seen that manual, I was self taught in the 80's. But I guess if that's the way you do it and want to share with others, have at it. I just feel most of the time planning leads to laziness and has a lot to do with hearing the same set groups from the same Dj's over and over again.

Mrspyaman
02-17-2014, 12:00 PM
I would spend hours/ days going through my collection seeing what works with what, that is what I mean about "Knowing your collection".
For my first gig, I spent months practicing and honing my prepared sets, I would roleplay them under different circumstances, I would practice and record whilst blind drunk coming back from the club, just to see how I would fair under those circumstances.

I would practice interesting and tricky set pieces, over and over again, till they were second nature.

That's what I call hard work and practice.

I was nervous as hell on my first gig, and guess what? On the night, during my first mix, I was joined by a live drummer, a didgeridoo player, an amateur MC and some drunk b*tch banging on a triangle. I still nailed, all hail preparation :slayer:
How often do you play? Do you play the same set more then once?

Jimanee
02-17-2014, 12:32 PM
I guess I must just be naturally talented.

Yes you must, you may now leave this thread for all the lesser mortals :P


You have made assumptions which support your argument, I have done the same but that support mine, because both could be correct.

Tut tut, there were three arguments there, you have addressed none of them.

Jimanee
02-17-2014, 12:49 PM
Never seen that manual, I was self taught in the 80's. But I guess if that's the way you do it and want to share with others, have at it. I just feel most of the time planning leads to laziness and has a lot to do with hearing the same set groups from the same Dj's over and over again.

It's a good book, worth reading at any stage, I was self taught in the 90's. It mentioned set planning, but only as (I think) "combos of 2 - 3 records that mix well". And yes lazy DJs playing the same sets over and over again are a pain, I did include a bit about that.


How often do you play? Do you play the same set more then once?

I play 5-6 hours sets, 2-3 nights a week, been doing that for 6 years. Yes I play the same set more than once, but over the years, the sets that work have been tweaked and added to, that I can play them differently nearly every time. I also encourage requests, which helps keep things varied.

BTW the post you quoted was from me preparing for my first ever gig, I don't go into that much detail these days.

Adzm00
02-17-2014, 02:54 PM
Yes you must, you may now leave this thread for all the lesser mortals :P



Tut tut, there were three arguments there, you have addressed none of them.

Honestly, I've been a bit busy today and right now I cannot be bothered, I may do so tomorrow though ;)

DJ_kHeaven
02-27-2014, 09:20 PM
This may be stupid to ask,but,is this topic applicable to a dj who spins a specific genre of music or a variety of genres? I get the notion that it applies to the latter because i figured if a dj played a specific genre at a club or party where the crowd expected that genre to be played,then it shouldn't be necessary to crowd read or "plan" a set.. excuse my ignorance,for i am only a POS computer dj who is still learning and trying to comprehend in hopes of one day applying such knowledge in a live environment :)

diceallion
02-27-2014, 09:41 PM
This may be stupid to ask,but,is this topic applicable to a dj who spins a specific genre of music or a variety of genres? I get the notion that it applies to the latter because i figured if a dj played a specific genre at a club or party where the crowd expected that genre to be played,then it shouldn't be necessary to crowd read or "plan" a set.. excuse my ignorance,for i am only a POS computer dj who is still learning and trying to comprehend in hopes of one day applying such knowledge in a live environment :)

I love this guy.... I'm not alone. :stupid:

It's a good question too, I would like to know the answer as well.

Jimanee
03-03-2014, 07:24 AM
It is certainly easier to plan in just one genre and your comment of:

"if a dj played a specific genre at a club or party where the crowd expected that genre to be played,then it shouldn't be necessary to crowd read or "plan" a set".

Was very interesting in two ways:

1) That you felt there was no need for crowd reading, whilst I and many other multi genre/ mobile DJs would sneakingly agree with you, half this forum would foam at the mouth in rage at the suggestion.

But yes there are still subtleties that can be read in a single genre crowd and you can vary tempo, intensity, tunes etc. to match. Whereas in the mobile/ multi genre world you do "bigger strokes" such as changing genres and play throughout the BPM range.

2) There is / should be, no necessary need to plan a set, it's something that can be done to gain the benefits of pre planning.

So to answer your question; set planning can be applicable to DJs who play one genre or many.

Th3Technician
03-05-2014, 01:19 PM
This is great advice! Thanks!

DJ_kHeaven
03-06-2014, 01:23 PM
Jim, thanks for your response. It makes sense the way you put it!

DJ Clintingz
07-29-2014, 09:24 AM
Setting planning is of obvious importance to anyone who wants any success in DJ-ing. You wouldn't find DJ Shadow turning up to a gig without a set that musically works. In the same way that when Fatboy Slim plays to 100,000 people you can be sure that he's practised his set enough to be 100% confident in the songs he's playing. The best DJ's are the ones who consider themselves as both a DJ and a musician...

mantis
08-10-2014, 03:49 AM
I dont preplan sets, however, I do a lot of preparation. I have my own system to know how I will play my sets.
First of all, let me introduce myself. I am a working dj who plays out 7 days a week. Sets usually last 2 hours and when Im lucky, I only play one to one and a half hour. I often play two gigs a night, usually in the same club area (bar street or district or what ever you call it in your place).

I use cdjs exclusively, and dont use Traktor or any other software. I scan all my tracks with RE and rewrite all the tags to suit my own system. Having said that, I am not stuck on mixing in Key only, I can do what I like, I just keep this as a tool (although perhaps 80 - 90% of the time I probably just mix by formula). I rewrite my tags and mp3 names to look something like this:

01A G#m-Coindrop (Original Mix)-New World Sound-128 . I then create playlists in Rekordbox which lists my music in Genres. This example is Dutch house (or bigroom or whatever u guys want to call it). I then go back and make sure I listen to all my tracks well. I use the star rating in rekordbox and assign a rating. This rating system is my own. I rate music on their intensity and where I think they will fit in my set. For example, if a track is rated 3, it is something you would play during the early part of the set, or during a time I want to create a lower energy, where as a track with a number 5, means it is peak time banger. This all differs with Genres as well, so when I prepare this, I know how to distinguish between my genres.

Then go back to rekordbox and create subfolders for each group (in their genre) and list them in the playlist. As a working dj i use a rotation system, similar to that used in radio. I need to make sure I play a good balance between old and new, and because of the competition being so hard, I must try to constantly try to drop at least one or two newish popular track. If I have tracks with Radio edits or intros etc, I put them in a seperate folder and use them when I need to take over from another dj or after a show etc (ill explain this later).

So my system is fairly simple to me. At any point of the night, I can judge where I am in my set, ie im in level 3 or level 4 or level 5, and can play accordingly. Sometimes I play at 5, and suddenly want to drop to a 3, then it is easy for me to find a track. I can simply look on the cdj screen and find the track.

Having said all that, I find that I often play the same or similar sets (not planned), as I find certain tracks that work well together, or you see the crowds reaction to something or for what ever reason.

I dj in China, and usually play in commercial venues. Playing for the Chinese can be difficult, but can also be pretty cool. I grew a lot as a dj and learned to mix so many different styles together. I have to play anything from candy pop electro to dutch to melbourne to trap, and even funky house. It can be pretty difficult some time. Having a good system is definitely a good thing.

mosca
03-22-2015, 03:04 AM
This was a fascinating thread. I have to admit, I never pre-planned a set in my life (been DJing since late 80s with the exception of the last seven years--just getting back into it). I learned as a young DJ by the crash-and-burn method of guessing (hoping?) what song or string of songs would work for a particular crowd at a particular time of night, which wasn't much fun early on, but did teach me how to read a floor like a champ after much failure. I can honestly say that after countless hours of trial and error I developed various mental pre-planned playlists as I've no doubt a lot of you have after you get to know (or grow accustomed to) particular crowds or formats. You grow to learn how to build the night, when to drop the big anthems, how to sneak in new stuff or guilty pleasures, and bring it back to classics or whatever, depending on the crowd, the mood, the vibe, the time of night--and to be honest, if you were serious about the job (and had tough skin), it didn't take you all that long to learn how to do this. But I never actually thought about playlists before the night began. Only pre-planning I ever did before was for mixed tapes... I mean, mixed CDs, sorry... when I needed what I personally thought was the best assortment of 72 minutes of music in the best order that I found most pleasant--no physical crowd to react to, it was just a personal preference.

More power to those who use pre-planning for live gigs. If it works for you, don't stop using it. I think this subject is analogous to writers of blockbuster novels who use extensive outlines before they start their first drafts versus writers of other blockbusters who have little more than a beginning and an end in mind, with a few plot-points in between before they wing their first drafts. The outliners have a general direction they're following and can make room for some unexpected surprise turns in the plot, while the writers working from stream of consciousnesses with minimal concrete plot-points can still achieve a satisfying story but in a more reactive manner. Pluses and minuses to each approach. Good luck to all!

Usta_B_aDJ
03-22-2015, 04:29 AM
Book Marking this thread for later .... Looks very good .... Debate a plenty i think

Both A and B noob dj's would have ZERO clue how to read a crowd .. Agreed ? ... It takes ages to figure that shit out ... Unless you drop something shit into a flowing set and EVERYONE walks away .... Remember this ... When people walk off the floor .... You can't just drop the next track and they all come running back.

Looking forward to reading this thread later :)

Peace yall !

mosca
03-23-2015, 02:11 AM
It takes ages to figure that shit out ...
Agreed. Okay, maybe not ages, but lots of hours of epic fails and small victories.



Unless you drop something shit into a flowing set and EVERYONE walks away ....
Been there many times. Amazing how quickly you learn when you have hundreds of people staring at you like you're an idiot.



When people walk off the floor .... You can't just drop the next track and they all come running back.
Do you mean if the next track is from your pre-planned set? If so, I agree. You need to learn how to go off the grid fast when needed. Usually there's a tune or two you can reach for in a pinch that you know will bring the crowd back usually--tunes you didn't expect to be playing so soon or at all, for that matter. Key is not to use too many of these bullets early on in the night or at all if you don't need to (depending on the song). They should be stored in a folder labeled "Break Glass in Case of Emergency." I broke the glass many times in the early years, but fortunately, not too often since.

dlove
03-24-2015, 02:40 AM
^^ I still remember the exact tracks that cleared the dancefloor, years ago - still giggle to myself about them, as they went on to be a lot of people's favourites.

and I have to say, doing an off-the-bat set doesn't mean randomly selecting tunes; it takes a lot of mental planning, practice with each track in the boxes, and arrangement of boxes to aid memory [for different paths] on the night. Combine that with absorbing the energy of the people who come, and you're providing a bespoke night especially for them.

dlove
03-24-2015, 02:43 AM
Book Marking this thread for later .... Looks very good .... Debate a plenty i think

Both A and B noob dj's would have ZERO clue how to read a crowd .. Agreed ? ... It takes ages to figure that shit out ... Unless you drop something shit into a flowing set and EVERYONE walks away .... Remember this ... When people walk off the floor .... You can't just drop the next track and they all come running back.

Looking forward to reading this thread later :)

Peace yall !

hopefully, a newb DJ will be coming from the dancefloor, so will already know what moves it.

Jimanee
03-24-2015, 07:31 AM
@Mosa: Cheers man, interesting post, sorry to pick a bit out.


I learned as a young DJ by the crash-and-burn method of guessing (hoping?) what song or string of songs would work for a particular crowd at a particular time of night, which wasn't much fun early on, but did teach me how to read a floor like a champ after much failure.


I've done that, but have no fond memories of it, scrambling around for anything that would mix in. I also feel (yet obviously don't know) that the above crash and burn would work in the 80s because people knew less about DJing. When I cut my teeth in the late nineties, there were many who would pounce at the first misstep.




Both A and B noob dj's would have ZERO clue how to read a crowd .. Agreed ? ... It takes ages to figure that shit out

Cheers Usta; though I'm with dlove on this one. I was crowd reading way before I got decks. Collione (did I get that right) might pop round and exclaim about boothriding being a valuable source of experience.

For me crowd reading's like sex, nearly everyone can do it, but can you bring your partner to orgasm? Let alone a room full of strangers :P

Usta_B_aDJ
03-24-2015, 08:47 AM
Cheers Usta; though I'm with dlove on this one. I was crowd reading way before I got decks. Collione (did I get that right) might pop round and exclaim about boothriding being a valuable source of experience.

For me crowd reading's like sex, nearly everyone can do it, but can you bring your partner to orgasm? Let alone a room full of strangers :P

I guess i come from a different era ... And a different scene ...And not a conventional route to the booth.

My first encounter was in the late 70's with West Indian Blues Party's ... I lived next to a Jamaican family that had built a huge sound system.. 4x twin 18" Bassbin scoops ... 4x quad 12" Mid's ... 4 x 8 tweeter with 4 horns ... For anyone who knows this scene will know that's a pretty epic system .... So my love was for the sound system first.

I grew up around the system... Partys ... Sound Clash ... Toasters ( Mc's ).... HUGE BASS
By the time i was 13- 14 i was working my ass off to get money together to buy bit's of kit to build my own sound system.... At about the same time hip hop was just breaking in NY and a few dudes from NY come to my school on student exchange and brought this new music with them .... I was hooked !

So with Sound system almost finished I started doing street party's ( Block Party's ).... Everyone come to dance ... No crowd reading skills needed ... You drop a beat and people would dance to it ... Break Dancing And Body Poppin all over the place :)...pretty much all the music i played was import due to the fact that hip hop and Electro had not made it's way to the UK mainstream at that point... By the time i was 15 i had won a remix comp on a local radio station and was guest dj most weeks on a Friday night show... I had never been to a club at this point !... I was 15 :)

I won't bore you with the rest of the story ... But by the time i got into a dj booth in a club i was already known ... And people who come to the clubs i was Djing in come to dance and have a good time ...NOT to see me .... To Dance ..... No crowd reading needed .... It's almost like crowd reading was invented later on.

I do have a bad story about guesting at a club in a provincial town in the mid 90's and trying to introduce the crowd to Speed Garage .....lol .... not a pretty sight ... This club was more your ABBA and Chart nonsense stuff ...... About 20 people got it and went nut's ... The rest left and went to the other room .... I played hard to the 20 people and we had a great time :) ...So i don't even consider that to be a horror story.

So i dunno ...I guess if you play good music people will dance ....Attention spans seem to be shorter today.

Sorry for the long story .... just wanted to put my experiences out there ... Some here might get it :)

Peace

dlove
03-25-2015, 02:37 AM
^^ I'd venture kids are more fickle these days...back when I went clubbing on a weekly basis, I went to everything, with no preconceptions of what I expected of the night. I went to absorb new music. Now, the kids are absorbing what they like before they come out on their computers, and deciding what they like and don't like before they get to the dancefloor.

As an old-timer, I find this frustrating, as a commercial vibe has crept in as a result - sounds that grab you instantly at 320kbps top of the pile online (being the same tracks that sound absolutely horrible over a proper system), the art of the warm-up disappearing into the ether, and the DJ's following the crowd instead of the other way 'round.

It's not all doom & gloom, with mighty problems come mighty solutions, but I think the clubscene has definitely been affected by social media.

[sorry for going slightly off-topic!]

disparate
03-25-2015, 07:21 AM
I guess i come from a different era ... And a different scene ...And not a conventional route to the booth.

My first encounter was in the late 70's with West Indian Blues Party's ... I lived next to a Jamaican family that had built a huge sound system.. 4x twin 18" Bassbin scoops ... 4x quad 12" Mid's ... 4 x 8 tweeter with 4 horns ... For anyone who knows this scene will know that's a pretty epic system .... So my love was for the sound system first.

I grew up around the system... Partys ... Sound Clash ... Toasters ( Mc's ).... HUGE BASS
By the time i was 13- 14 i was working my ass off to get money together to buy bit's of kit to build my own sound system.... At about the same time hip hop was just breaking in NY and a few dudes from NY come to my school on student exchange and brought this new music with them .... I was hooked !

So with Sound system almost finished I started doing street party's ( Block Party's ).... Everyone come to dance ... No crowd reading skills needed ... You drop a beat and people would dance to it ... Break Dancing And Body Poppin all over the place :)...pretty much all the music i played was import due to the fact that hip hop and Electro had not made it's way to the UK mainstream at that point... By the time i was 15 i had won a remix comp on a local radio station and was guest dj most weeks on a Friday night show... I had never been to a club at this point !... I was 15 :)


I've got to say that's a pretty cool introduction to dance music and DJing, great bit of experience.

I got into things as a teenager on the cusp of the internet generation - i.e. early 2000s when it was still a bit of a pain to download music, Youtube, Beatport etc weren't a thing but there were music forums and so on, and as someone without friends into dance music and too young to go to clubs (and living in culturally devoid white-Scottish suburbia without any sound-owning Jamaican neighbours ;)) it was a major way I learned about music alongside radio. By the time I started going to clubs things were on the way to what they are now but still an element of what dlove talks about where you'd just go out without too many conceptions. Since then it's changed so much. There's still plenty folk with open minds and using the technology to its advantage (as in, to discover a wider, or even if genre-specific a deeper, selection of music than ever) but on the other hand there is definitely that element of people being more picky about what they go out to in the first place because they're able to educate themselves on it. Which isn't even always accurate - for example people often judge a DJ who's visiting the city soon by listening to a few of their productions even though their sound as a DJ could be much wider and/or quite different.

Adzm00
03-25-2015, 12:10 PM
For me crowd reading's like sex, nearly everyone can do it, but can you bring your partner to orgasm? Let alone a room full of strangers :P

Fo real.

I disagree.

Anyone can play crowd pleasers. Not everyone can read a crowd at all.

Jimanee
04-02-2015, 11:58 AM
I guess i come from a different era ... And a different scene ...And not a conventional route to the booth.



Prefer your way to mine to be fair. The scene I entered, late nineties, was cutthroat. People trying to throw you off, make one mistake lose the crowd and heaven forbid you trainwreck; you wouldn't be let near the decks for years.


Fo real.

I disagree.

Anyone can play crowd pleasers. Not everyone can read a crowd at all.

Lol, feel free to disagree, but leave the straw man arguments alone ;)

mosca
04-10-2015, 01:34 AM
@Mosa: Cheers man, interesting post, sorry to pick a bit out.
I've done that, but have no fond memories of it, scrambling around for anything that would mix in. I also feel (yet obviously don't know) that the above crash and burn would work in the 80s because people knew less about DJing. When I cut my teeth in the late nineties, there were many who would pounce at the first misstep.




You know... I never thought of it that way. You have a very valid point there regarding the difference in audience understanding of DJs. Nice point!

First, let me slip into the memories part of your comment. No, it wasn't a fond time when I was scrambling, learning by trial-and-error how to keep a crowd entertained. When it came to playing the right or wrong song, the crowd was little different in the 80s, or in the 90s when you learned, or today--they would either continue dancing, or vacate the floor for the bar, or worse, vacate for the doors. Only difference, I think, is that back then the worst they might give you is a pinched nose or a name-calling to your face. Today, they'll flash you angry signs as in letting you know you're number one with the middle finger, or yell at you that you're the worst POS alive and then tell everyone on their Instagram or FB accounts how horrible you are--gladly haven't experienced that myself, but have witnessed it at clubs where I hung out. Very tasteless--I blame it on social media norms.

But yes, there are fond memories now of the beatings I took, the names I got called that all helped discipline me. It's sort of akin to sharing the "big wooping" stories that you may or may not have received from your parents as a kid. You didn't appreciate them at the time of receiving said wooping; but years later (so long as it wasn't full-blown abuse or beatings or anything severe--I'm talking only about good paddlings on the bum), you look back at them almost nostalgically and recall what you learned from them. Tell me you honestly can't look back at your worst DJ memories now and re-tell them to friends with a smile? Okay, if those memories are just a week old, you're probably still sucking down whiskey, but if they're from ages ago? They're good battle stories.

Second, to your point about modern crowds being more keen to a DJ's potential or creativity? Honestly, even today, if a DJ at a commercial club simply knows when to play certain recurrents, when to play certain anthems, when to play certain classics.... the crowd won't give a damn about any other skills or technologic tricks he/she may have. Now, if that DJ isn't quite so savvy about song selection, then yeah, I think the crowd will start to notice things like how good beat-mixing skills are, or scratching skills, or mic skills, or filter/sweeping/other-efx skills are.

Point is, for me at least, I think song selection and the ability to read the crowd trumps all else. Once a crowd is juiced with alcohol, they're more likely to remember how good your song selection was (ie, how often they were dancing or pumping their fists or singing along) than they are to remember anything else.

Though I do hope most DJs at least make an attempt to beat-mix for more than a few bars whenever possible.

But to your point about contemporary crowds... I never had to deal with social media so much as today. That makes it tough, even if you have a massive night and most people had a great time. It only takes that one A-hole who didn't like your set, who happens to have a massive following on some social platform, that will sh!t on you and make a lot of people think you're junk. Same can happen for some a-hole who thinks some crap DJ is a god and alerts his minions that they should follow this god, even if most patrons thins said god is worse than a 14-year-old wedding DJ. It's the luck of the draw with social media, so hopefully if you stay true to yourself, you'll find enough of a following that social media won't hi-jack your night.

Speaking of which, I hope I didn't hi-jack this topic. I tried to keep it on-point, I swear!

mosca
04-10-2015, 01:54 AM
^^ I'd venture kids are more fickle these days...back when I went clubbing on a weekly basis, I went to everything, with no preconceptions of what I expected of the night. I went to absorb new music. Now, the kids are absorbing what they like before they come out on their computers, and deciding what they like and don't like before they get to the dancefloor.

As an old-timer, I find this frustrating, as a commercial vibe has crept in as a result - sounds that grab you instantly at 320kbps top of the pile online (being the same tracks that sound absolutely horrible over a proper system), the art of the warm-up disappearing into the ether, and the DJ's following the crowd instead of the other way 'round.

It's not all doom & gloom, with mighty problems come mighty solutions, but I think the clubscene has definitely been affected by social media.

[sorry for going slightly off-topic!]

Wow... I feel you. You hit so many points with so few words. I'll disagree with you on the 320 kbps point of your post--true, it's not as dynamic as a wave file, but certainly better than lesser grade mp3s and hardly noticeable to 99% of the crowd. But as far as the the DJ formerly leading the crowd as to opposed to today where the DJ appears to follow the crowd... I agree. There were always DJs that followed back in the day, but a quite a few led the way, took pride in breaking new songs, new sounds, new movements. Not so much today. Most resident DJs, I find, are more concerned with keeping up with the Joneses than with setting themselves apart. Granted, crowds today are also more different than from 20, 30 years ago, and want to hear what they already know as opposed to what they don't yet know, but fewer and fewer DJs are ballsy enough to break new music before it's been played to death on the radio or on some celeb DJ's stream. To be honest, considering the atmosphere of the scene, I can't blame these DJs for playing it safe if they want to keep employed steadily. I guess I wish the crowd was as adventurous or hungry for something new or something not-so-commercial as they used to be.

mosca
04-10-2015, 02:03 AM
I guess i come from a different era ... And a different scene ...And not a conventional route to the booth.

My first encounter was in the late 70's with West Indian Blues Party's ... I lived next to a Jamaican family that had built a huge sound system.. 4x twin 18" Bassbin scoops ... 4x quad 12" Mid's ... 4 x 8 tweeter with 4 horns ... For anyone who knows this scene will know that's a pretty epic system .... So my love was for the sound system first.

I grew up around the system... Partys ... Sound Clash ... Toasters ( Mc's ).... HUGE BASS
By the time i was 13- 14 i was working my ass off to get money together to buy bit's of kit to build my own sound system.... At about the same time hip hop was just breaking in NY and a few dudes from NY come to my school on student exchange and brought this new music with them .... I was hooked !

So with Sound system almost finished I started doing street party's ( Block Party's ).... Everyone come to dance ... No crowd reading skills needed ... You drop a beat and people would dance to it ... Break Dancing And Body Poppin all over the place :)...pretty much all the music i played was import due to the fact that hip hop and Electro had not made it's way to the UK mainstream at that point... By the time i was 15 i had won a remix comp on a local radio station and was guest dj most weeks on a Friday night show... I had never been to a club at this point !... I was 15 :)

I won't bore you with the rest of the story ... But by the time i got into a dj booth in a club i was already known ... And people who come to the clubs i was Djing in come to dance and have a good time ...NOT to see me .... To Dance ..... No crowd reading needed .... It's almost like crowd reading was invented later on.

I do have a bad story about guesting at a club in a provincial town in the mid 90's and trying to introduce the crowd to Speed Garage .....lol .... not a pretty sight ... This club was more your ABBA and Chart nonsense stuff ...... About 20 people got it and went nut's ... The rest left and went to the other room .... I played hard to the 20 people and we had a great time :) ...So i don't even consider that to be a horror story.

So i dunno ...I guess if you play good music people will dance ....Attention spans seem to be shorter today.

Sorry for the long story .... just wanted to put my experiences out there ... Some here might get it :)

Peace

Usta, I don't know how old you are, but your stories sound similar to those of some of the DJs I learned from, but even better. If you were truly around for "toasting" and the first "dubs" you may have a book in you. See if you can spread it out it out and say something about early house music (or hip-hop) that hasn't been said before, or is said from a different POV. You might just catch some small print's interest.

DeepSG_SA
05-30-2015, 07:57 PM
Great article indeed, as a beginner i bumped into the idea of mixing in key and ever since i have been planning my sets taking song keys into consideration and this has brought life to my sets


Follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/DeepSG_SA
Facebook:www.facebook.com/smavimbela1

Puregroove
05-30-2015, 09:02 PM
I usually plan sets, but if it's not working then I diversify, like in the original post.

Actually, I don't plan entire sets, that would be taking it a bit far. But I have ''chunks'' of handfuls of tunes that I know go together well in some respect, so the ''planned'' sets are actually lots of little fifteen minute mini-sets strung together.

If the crowd want a change, I diversify into a different ''mini set'' then from there take it off into a different direction from there.

I find playing completely off the cuff can be fun, but it very often doesn't sound too good at points, being unrehearsed and all. I have yet to meet a dj who is absolutely sure what two tunes will sound like together without rehearsing it first every time. Even if they think they'll be keymatched it often turns out wrong.

Both methods are ok - off the cuff is ok, but the crowd better be prepared for a mixed bag of success and failure. In the right atmosphere that's appropriate though. If I was playing a party, it might be more like that, as opposed to playing a club I'd play the mini set thing.

Of course, you don't keep the mini sets the same, you're constantly updating and changing them to keep variety in your sets.

Chris de la Costa
10-15-2017, 03:36 PM
Thank you very mush for those "success key"