It’s the release of the year! DJMAYA releases his 1 1/2 hour mix of the hottest tracks of 2016. This is the mix you want to start playing at 10:30PM no matter where you are in the world to start your New Years eve countdown. Stay tuned for the post where he releases the mix and download link.
A lot of DJ’s are good at beat matching but are not be able to keep people excited and on the dance floor. Over half of DJing is finding the right songs to play. In this article I’ll explain how I pick songs to play throughout the night at a nightclub. Many people think you have to create a playlist before the event. I disagree. You have to be able to read the crowd and know your music well. Song selection is going to greatly depend on the genre of music I will be playing.
Genre of Music
At nightclubs you are generally not going to be straying too far from one genre of music to the next. For example, if I’m DJing at a house music nightclub, then I’m basically going to be playing music around 128 beats per minute throughout most of the night. If I’m playing at a hip hop club, then the beat per minute range is going to range from 75 to 140. Immediately you might be thinking house music is easy to DJ since most of it is in the 126 to 130 beats per minute range. Not the case.
All music has a certain level of energy. For example, fist pumping house music compared to a mellow type of house music. Both generally stay in the 128 beat per minute range, but I have to skillfully and artistically mix seamless transitions between them because it would sound funny to jump back and forth. Hip hop on the other hand ranges greatly in beats per minute. This adds another element of complexity to live mixing. I now have to take into consideration the beats per minute “and” the energy. This might sound crazy, but I could have an 80 beat per minute song that has more energy than a 130 beat per minute song. So how do I figure all of this out? Through years of live performance experience with a variety of dance audience and most importantly daily mixing practice in my studio.
At a nightclub I’m going to be sticking with mostly high energy and some medium energy music. Hardly ever do I play low energy music with the exception of lounges. When I DJ nightclubs, I normally play a combination of five high energy songs and two medium energy songs, then repeat. People need some time to breathe and get drinks during the medium energy songs. This could change though based on reactions by the crowd. If people are responding well to a certain beat per minute range or energy, I keep it going. If I notice people running off the dance floor, I switch up the beat per minute. If that doesn’t work, I try switching up the energy. I cycle the energy so people can anticipate another high in the music. You can’t be at the top all night with high energy fist pumping music or else people will be exhausted and have nothing to look forward to.
I’m very careful about taking requests. You always get that drunk girl or guy that wants to hear something borderline that doesn’t fit into the genre of music being played. If it doesn’t fit, I just politely tell them I don’t have the song. They might get mad, but at least I don’t have a nightclub full of upset people. Besides, they won’t remember the next day anyway!
It’s not just about the music ………..
Nightclub owners want a professional DJ to not only keep the crowd dancing, but many times transition and mix songs in a way that will make people unconsciously go to the bar. This is referred to in the industry as “Cycling the Energy”. The only way the nightclub is going to make money and stay in business is if people are buying and consuming drinks. This is one of the hardest parts about being a nightclub DJ. It takes many years of experience and knowledge to perfect this skill, but it is an essential part of the job in satisfying both the dancers and club owners.
Before I attempt cycling the energy in the room I always ask the club owner in advance to get their opinion and approval. While most agree with this concept, there are some who just want me to play fist pumping club bangers all night long without lowering the energy.