Setting up a playlist is a topic of endless controversy in the DJ community, because there are so many ways to do it, and often times a DJ will consider *their* way the only way to do it correctly. That, of course, is hogwash. The best way to do it is the way that works for you and gets you to a creative and entertaining set. I will share with you how I do it, and you can take it from there.
First, get comfortable.
|Pic is shameless click-bait. Sorry. Not sorry.|
Ok, so this may not be the best way. But, it's a great picture, and vaguely associated with music, so why not include it?
Assuming (dangerous, I know) that I know how long I am going to play and what genre(s), here is how I get the set list put together. These are in the form of questions that I go through a process of answering. The answers form the set list.
1. Do I have enough music? For example - if I have a 1hr DJ slot on a multi DJ event, I always make sure I have 2hrs worth of music in my set list. The main reasons why are: you don't play the entire song. Even an awesome 4 minute track is going to get chopped down to 3min 30 or less due to cueing and mixing in to/out of. The other reason to have extra tunes is when you decide to deviate from the set list. No set list ever survives contact with an audience. Ever. If you blindly grind through a pre-chosen set list without regard to how the people who came to dance are reacting, you are a bad DJ.
2. How will you "pace" the set? Once I have chosen my songs, I generally sort them by BPM, from lowest to highest. But, it is important to keep in mind the following caveats. Most club-goers do not dance every minute of the evening. They leave the dancefloor to socialize, get drinks, go to the bathroom, etc. In fact, the bar or club manager may specifically demand that you partially clear the dancefloor every so often so people will go to the bar and buy drinks. That's how the venue makes their profit. Another variation of BPM sorting is setting up "waves" in your set. These are 3-4 tunes that build up in speed and intensity to a crescendo, and then the song of the next "wave" brings the energy down a bit, and then builds it back up again. This method is a good way to satisfy club-goers desire to do stuff other than dance, and bar manager's desire to sell drinks.
3. What happens after my set is done? Is there another DJ coming after me? Is there a band playing? Is the club closing? If another DJ is coming on after you, it is good etiquette to coordinate the changeover ahead of time. What song are you ending on? What type of music are they going to play? How will you handle an equipment change over, or him getting his songs loaded up while your last song is finished. Working out these details will result in not only a less stressful situation for you, but a better experience for the people at the club, a more professional image of you in the eyes of the club manager, and better relations with other DJ's.
Class dismissed! Now, onto the fun stuff. Played a gig at Galaxy Hut in Arlington on Monday March 18th and recorded the set. Played a lot of new material for the first time in a venue, and really had a great time! I was opening DJ for Kahnjaige and DJ Looseleaf. Looking forward to performing with them again!