Don’t know what to play next? – 5 tips to keep the crowd engaged!

That moment when you don’t know which song to play next…

We have all heard of writers block, but did you know DJ’s get it too? We all suffer from it, especially in longer sets. That moment when your mind goes blank and you don’t quite know what to play next. Fear not, here’s 5 top tips from Jamie Hartley, a resident DJ for over 10 years on what to do next!

Method One – Mixing In Key

Mixing in key not only sounds great but it’s a fantastic method of narrowing down the possibilities. When you are feeling a bit lost with what to play next, your library can seem a very big place indeed. By narrowing down to just songs that are harmonically compatible, you are ridding the choice of around 2/3rds of your library. Not only this but you can become instantly creative, being able to live remix and layer in the next track knowing it will sound great! We have covered mixing in key in more detail in another blog post which you can read here!

Method Two – Crowd Reaction

This method is especially important for the longer DJ sets, looking back at songs you’ve already played that got a good crowd reaction. Maybe you’ve played a certain genre earlier in the night, say EDM and it worked well. However now that you’re playing deep house you’re starting to run out of ideas. A transition back to the crowd pleasers might just give you a lift of energy in the room to spark another wave of creativity! We’ve done a blog post on different ways to transition between tracks and genre’s that you can read here!

Method Three – Curveball

The curveball is a fantastic method of mashing up your sets, done correctly it can create some of the most memorable moments inside a DJ booth! Chances are if you are running out of idea’s that the time is coming to start changing it up a bit to avoid the set becoming stale and uninspired. Throwing in a completely unrelated track will not only catch your crowd off guard but will reenergise the dance floor. It’s a risky move so make sure that the track you choose is a guaranteed crowd pleaser! Done correctly you will create amazing memories, done badly it could potentially kill your dance floor so proceed with caution!

Method Four – Remix

A great method of injecting more energy into your dance floor is to transition into a remix of the track you’re currently playing. Combining elements of method one and three, this will not only sound great but will catch the crowd off guard as they won’t be expecting a change mid song. Starting with a lighter remix of a track and then progressing to a heavier drop towards the end is a fantastic trick to pick up the energy, giving you more time to find more songs and more inspiration from watching the crowds reaction! Knowing which version of the track they preferred will allow you to make better decisions when taking the set forward.

Method Five – Two for One

The two for one method is a firm favourite amongst the veteran resident DJ’s, a time proven method of making longer sets more enjoyable. The rule is simple, play two songs for the crowd and then one for yourself! Using this method you are getting a good mix of tracks the crowds want to hear, plus ones you want to educate the crowd with. DJ sets need to be a blend of crowd pleasers with a mix of songs the crowd have never heard before. By using this method we can create a really good structure to our sets, allowing the crowd a bit of breathing space between the guaranteed hits and offers you the opportunity to introduce the crowd to something new.

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Published: 12th August 2019

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