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Unread Mar 3rd, 2012, 12:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How do you select songs for your collection?

To start, yes, I did look for threads dealing with this topic. I've read the thread about the online stores, but that's just where to buy, not the what. I went back several pages, so it's certainly possible I missed the massive thread/flame war/biblical text covering what I'm asking about here. If so, just point me to it. Also, please don't get butt hurt over the examples I use in this post. They're just examples. If they don't fit your model for how a DJ should be, just substitute your own in place and move on to the intent of the post.

Background: I'm not a DJ. I don't claim to be a DJ. I've put some mixes together and even played them for people. I've never played a club (or even attempted to), but I think I'd like to one day. To that (possible) end, I still have a lot of work to go a) getting equipment to mess around with, b) learning how to put sets together, and c) (the reason for this post) building up my song collection (i.e., learning to think like a DJ playing for a club in choosing music that is a good match for that environment).

How do you go about picking and keeping a song which you would intend to use in a DJ set? I'm not necessarily talking about finding places to get songs (online stores, soundcloud, torrent site, mp3 repository, music industry trap site, etc.), but that might factor into the 'what' for you. I know this also depends on what style of music you play. My own thought is that "trance" (put in quotes because I don't think all sub-styles fit, but I don't want to get bogged down in a discussion on which is best) or "club" music works/is best in many (most?) traditional clubs. Perhaps that's a wrong belief on my part.

I know what songs I like to listen to, but as a DJ playing for a crowd what do they expect? Certainly I could go look at the dance/club charts and just play that. Would be safe, but seems boring. I'd like to introduce new/uncommon music within the expected style. I know there's also a general flow one is looking for in a set so that seems like it should factor into the songs I choose to put in my collection.

I mean, I could just go over to Juno and look up the Pop Trance section and start picking stuff from there. First song is ok, but nothing special. Next sounds off. Next is good. Next has a great driving beat. Next has lyrics I don't like. Next is good....and so on. But that doesn't mean they will be good songs for a club.

I could just get everything (for the sake of the discussion, money isn't an issue...however I get the songs, I've got them all), but that just pushes the decision over to when I'm putting the set together. And seems worse because I've got to keep track of so much more data just to narrow down to the one song to play right now. Am I over-thinking this?
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Unread Mar 3rd, 2012, 04:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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This is a heated subject for many. In my personal opinion a good DJ plays both songs he likes and the audience likes. That is where the "Skill" comes in. Picking the next song to play based on how the audience is responding. When looking for tracks I literally just troll the internet for hours. Good places to look are obviously hype machine and the charts on beatport. Also listening to podcasts from big name DJs like Tiesto is a good way. In short listen to A LOT of music and think about how you and other people will respond to the selected track. Try to get a varied selection of music. Even if you are only playing Trance you can switch between some psy, vocal, 130 bpm, and 140+ bpm types. You want your set to flow but not sound repetitive.

On a side note I just moved away from Orl in November. Man do I miss BBQ bar. Punch the DJ at sky 60 for me when you get a chance. Dude sucks.
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Unread Mar 3rd, 2012, 05:39 PM   #3 (permalink)
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You're definitely over-thinking this. Your collection is your collection, if you're not enjoying it, it shouldn't be in your collection. That being said, selecting the next track to play is 50% gut feeling, 50% knowing your own collection. There are bpms and keys to consider but more importantly it has to feel right. There is the audience to consider as well, but even the most perceptive people can only guess what the crowd is thinking. It's highly unlikely that you, being a trance DJ, will end up playing on an old school Hip Hop night, so the only thing your can reliably take away from the crowd is how they are feeling your pace.
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Unread Mar 4th, 2012, 03:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HudsonHawk View Post
You're definitely over-thinking this. Your collection is your collection, if you're not enjoying it, it shouldn't be in your collection. That being said, selecting the next track to play is 50% gut feeling, 50% knowing your own collection. There are bpms and keys to consider but more importantly it has to feel right. There is the audience to consider as well, but even the most perceptive people can only guess what the crowd is thinking. It's highly unlikely that you, being a trance DJ, will end up playing on an old school Hip Hop night, so the only thing your can reliably take away from the crowd is how they are feeling your pace.
I'm actually with you on this one.
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Unread Mar 6th, 2012, 03:44 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Check out Ellaskins channel on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/user/ellaskins as he has lots of great videos on the subject.

If you're strictly going into this as a hobby/semi pro trance DJ then make your life easy by choosing tracks that can be easily mixed. That means listening to the intros and outros of songs to see if they will beatmatch well. Also similar key tracks and bpms for parts of your set depending on how you designed the event.

If the crowd is older like over 30 it wouldn't hurt to have some classic club anthems to play. Even younger crowds need the "floorfiller" track to get everyone out there moving.
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Unread Mar 6th, 2012, 06:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I am with Hawk on this one. I will never ever ever purchase a track that I do not enjoy personally. I play for myself, always have and always will... if you are "playing for the crowd" then you are DJ_3249082340923840924 in line that thinks he should just lay down BP top 10. Guess what? The dude before you did that, and the guy after you is gonna do that too. You need to stand out by not only your technique, but your style of music. If the crowd does not like it then too bad and I will fail as a dj and get bood off or clear the floor. The thing is that you know what type of event you are booked for, or be playing at - every event I get myself into I know ahead of time it is becuase the promoter or owner digs my style in some way shape or form.

The only variable to how shows or sets will differ is what kind of mood im in that day/week. It speaks to you as an artist, and I always try to portray my feelings through music. Id much rather "make it" knowing that what I was doing and wanted to do ultimately took me to that path, not what sheeple are forcefed every single time they go out.
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Unread Mar 6th, 2012, 11:37 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrevorNygaard View Post
I am with Hawk on this one. I will never ever ever purchase a track that I do not enjoy personally. I play for myself, always have and always will... if you are "playing for the crowd" then you are DJ_3249082340923840924 in line that thinks he should just lay down BP top 10. Guess what? The dude before you did that, and the guy after you is gonna do that too. You need to stand out by not only your technique, but your style of music. If the crowd does not like it then too bad and I will fail as a dj and get bood off or clear the floor. The thing is that you know what type of event you are booked for, or be playing at - every event I get myself into I know ahead of time it is becuase the promoter or owner digs my style in some way shape or form.

The only variable to how shows or sets will differ is what kind of mood im in that day/week. It speaks to you as an artist, and I always try to portray my feelings through music. Id much rather "make it" knowing that what I was doing and wanted to do ultimately took me to that path, not what sheeple are forcefed every single time they go out.
Only DJs with years under their belt and money in the bank can perform like that. For the most part DJing is a service industry. A client pays you to entertain their guests or their customers. If you want to work then you learn to play what the customer wants. Every kid today sees a video on Youtube and thinks they are going to "DJ" like Armin van Buuren or Deadmau5 high in their perch above the crowd. Virtually no one gets to play like that without working up the chain for years through parties and small clubs. Also those guys actually produce their own tracks so they are true artists.

The artist part is really last in the growth of a DJ. You first learn the skills and then you learn to entertain. When you have the trust and following then you can let your creativity run free. If you really feel at some point that you have become an artist then it's time to drop the DJ from your name.
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Unread Mar 7th, 2012, 01:02 AM   #8 (permalink)
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You're misunderstanding. Why keep R. Kelly - Ignition in your collection if you don't enjoy it personally. Even if you are a service DJ, you better love those 80's throwbacks, otherwise you will be terrible at your job. I don't necessary agree that playing mainstream stuff is such a waste of time, but for the love of God, I really hope you love those Usher remixes you just played. Bottom line is that if the DJ is not enjoying his job, nobody is enjoying his job.
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Unread Mar 7th, 2012, 06:55 AM   #9 (permalink)
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First, thanks for the feedback. It really does help provide perspective.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HudsonHawk View Post
Why keep R. Kelly - Ignition in your collection if you don't enjoy it personally.
Because there are different levels of enjoyment? Or maybe you just appreciate the song for what it can do for you (entertain your crowd, if nothing else) without hating it?

I can honestly say I like everything in my current collection. When I talked about hitting up the charts and finding songs there, I didn't mean to imply I would just play whatever is there (though I didn't quite say that). I would find stuff I like from there that fits with the type of music (both in style and content) which matches my preferences.

Based on my current selection process, there's maybe 10-15% of the chart songs that I actually would care to listen to. There are more songs that have a really good sound, but the lyrics just put me off. And another batch that are just too slow for me (or a dance floor crowd). Given that I'm not really a DJ (but trying to think like one), I was wondering if I was being too picky.
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Unread Mar 7th, 2012, 01:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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First, thanks for the feedback. It really does help provide perspective.



Because there are different levels of enjoyment? Or maybe you just appreciate the song for what it can do for you (entertain your crowd, if nothing else) without hating it?
This is not opposite to what I said.
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Unread Mar 7th, 2012, 01:16 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RB Tech View Post
Only DJs with years under their belt and money in the bank can perform like that. For the most part DJing is a service industry.

Virtually no one gets to play like that without working up the chain for years through parties and small clubs. Also those guys actually produce their own tracks so they are true artists.
Hence why I replied in that context

Only once when I started developing myself as a unique "artist/dj" did my career actually start going places. When I had the same tired shit tracks that everyone else had.. I was just yet another shit local begging promoters for opening slots. Being that they heard the exact same tracks the previous 4 weeks in a row... its common sense to see you are not going to get anywhere.
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Unread Mar 7th, 2012, 10:37 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Imo, I really don't see it necessary for a DJ to get all the tracks that Armin, Tiesto, Deamau5 plays or get the latest top ten tracks on some list. Why?? Sometimes it is an advantage to be unique, and there are many DJs who would rather DIE than play for Armin, Tiesto, and Deadmau5 fans. There is also a great chance that are a lot of kids who would also rather DIE than be at a Armin, Tiesto, and Deadmau5 "concert". Play for those kids, not the tendy kids. Besides, in many cases, the hidden gems DESTROY anything that is on the top of any list...imo, of course.

And does anyone see Tracid play the music that Tiesto and Armin play? No. He plays hid style of music, which is the old school sounding trance (for the most part), and kids can't get enough of him! Yeah, I know he's a legend and most of us aren't at his level (hell, Tiesto or Armin ain't at his level ). However, I don't think most of us expect to be playing in front of 25,000 people. Most of us would be happy just to DJ at a local clubs and at local raves.

Yeah, people do go to see the big names, but if the music is rockin', people will dance to it no matter who's playing it. People will then take notice. Take DJ Amber (http://iamthedj.com/) from San Fransico. Years back we booked her for a rave in Mexico. Nobody knew her in Mexico, but after her set was over, the whole club was yelling "MORE, MORE, MORE!" She WASN'T playing the trendy edm music, she was playing the underground. In fact, she snagged a record, that she had never heard before, out of an old vinyl shop in El Paso that we checked out before the party. She wasn't really worried about any top ten on any music chart, and she played that record that night.

So, if you are a DJ, I don't think it is necessary to get music that really doesn't move you. There is plenty enough music out there that will move you, find those tunes. Why get crap or why get commercial sounding edm that everyone has already heard if that is not your style?? Be a DJ who plays awesome music that no one has already heard! Play for people who love your style, not for all the cheese heads who listen only to DJs who are in the top ten of that silly DJ Mag. Yeah, it is a gamble to do that...but one gotta make some risk sometimes in order to stand out. With that being said....I hope you don't have crappy taste....

To fix that, go to clubs or raves that play your music that you really like. If there are a lot of people there enjoying the music, than there's a good chance that there is a market for the style of music that you love so much. Then go out and find this music that you love so much but try to look in places where you don't think everyone shops at. Just my opinion in a tank full of sharks with bigger penises than me, I'm sure.
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Unread Apr 4th, 2012, 10:25 PM   #13 (permalink)
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i thought it was easy too, like hawke said, it's your collection, it should just be music you like.
Although with mine, I got some slower tracks on the housier side all the way up to HHC, so i can spin close to 4 genres, of all songs I like.
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Unread Apr 5th, 2012, 10:29 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I go through my collection every so often in its entirety and delete stuff. Sometimes I get a track and it sounds ok at the time or perfect for one very specific transition at the time and then when I hear it again a few times I'm like eh which is probably the same reaction the audience would get so its definitely good to filter through your tracks every so often.
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Unread Apr 5th, 2012, 06:33 PM   #15 (permalink)
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i pick tracks that I like, when i say "like" i really mean "love at first listen"
i really don't believe in the "i didn't like it at first but it grew on me", personally i think that's BS

next they're sorted by BMP and Key...and that's my set
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Unread Apr 5th, 2012, 07:13 PM   #16 (permalink)
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personally i think that's BS
This highly depends on your current mood. Skimmed through DJ Phono album first time I saw it on beatport. It wasn't the sound I was looking for so I moved on. Heard it again a few months later, completely in love. Really brilliant album and as it turned out it was exactly the sound I was looking for.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rcAJvMBeZs
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Unread Apr 6th, 2012, 02:01 PM   #17 (permalink)
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This also depends on your age quite a bit. 16 year old me is not the same person as I am today. James Murphy from LCD soundsystem said something I completely agree with, and that is at that age your taste is a big pile of insecurities and peer pressure. 10 years ago I wouldn't listen to half the stuff I listen to now. Love at first sight is a tricky pony.

I'm listening to Murphy mix it up at the Boiler Room, which is why I brought it up. http://boilerroom.tv/james-murphy-50-min-mix/
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Unread Apr 6th, 2012, 04:55 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Also, don't go to Ellaskins/DJ Tutor looking for actual advice.
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Unread Apr 8th, 2012, 06:14 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HudsonHawk View Post
This highly depends on your current mood. Skimmed through DJ Phono album first time I saw it on beatport. It wasn't the sound I was looking for so I moved on. Heard it again a few months later, completely in love. Really brilliant album and as it turned out it was exactly the sound I was looking for.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rcAJvMBeZs

i can honestly say that it never happened to me, if anything it went the other way lol
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Unread Apr 8th, 2012, 10:37 PM   #20 (permalink)
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yeh for me, i normally like a song at first sound and get it. But songs can get old if you lsiten to them a ton, but there are still a few with me that I can listen to everyday and itll never get old

Also, at the moment, im re-recording all of my vinyl in 320 kbps instead of 128 kbps (why did i do that hehe) like i did when started collecting. I've noticed, some records I have I don't like so much anymore, but am finding some b-side songs that i do like now too. For the most part though, like 95% of the songs I still love, just a few are old, and a few are better sounding now that I didn't like before hehe.

To the original posters point though too, I think having a varied genre selection in the long run can be good, and also can help you make some interesting sets!
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