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12 tips for an effective DJ mixtape

mixtape - stuff to dance toTo promote yourself you will need to produce mixtapes. The quality of this little piece of your DJing art decides often about becoming a gig or not. Be sure that the typical club owner or DJ booker is pretty used to listen to your need to stick out or the trash can (virtual or physical) is your destination. 

Here are 12 tips from the international DJ Academy to prevent that and have better success: 

  1. Plan style & energy curve -- Nothing without proper planning. Think first what you are actually trying to do. Then research the songs and start compiling the playlist. If you want to show different styles then group the songs together and dont jump too often between styles. Think twice how you make a style transition but be ensured there is always a creatice way no matter how different the styles are. Plan also the energy curve of the mix so that its not 20minutes long boring and then once a sudden you blast the audience away. Draw a curve of the energy throughtout the whole mix and if it looks balanced then its right. 
  2. Target your audience -- Think for whom you create this mix and what is it that this target group is sensitive for. Keep this in mind when searching for possible tracks and when compiling your playlist
  3. Theme your mix -- Give your mix a purpose and something the audience can relate to. Have a christmas mix in your style but clearly with the flavour of the season. Are you booked in a nice club in a foreign country? Dedicate upfront a mix to this club or country and for sure it will be used for promo purposes and your name spreads with it.  
  4. Impress in first 20 secs -- When you listen to many mix tapes in a row and the beginning does not interest or catch you somehow….why continue listening? Pay special attention to the first 20 secs of your mix. It can be a jingle with your name that you use or an interesting part of a cool remix or you get mildly crazy with some FX. Try not to just start with a radio mix version from the start. You can do better than that. Get creative and be interesting
  5. tape-spaghettiBrand your mix -- Nothing is more frustrating than finding another DJ playing your hard compiled mix. Yes you need to distribute your mixtape and yes other (less skilled) DJs will find it easy to just use yours instead of learning how to do it themselves. Therefore record your DJ name in a fancy way and place it couple of times in the mix e.g., in some breaks in which your DJ name is not disturbing. There are also professional offerings for this like our friends from
  6. Length of the mix -- Beginners will have enough trouble to do a perfect 20 minutes mix. Practice over and over again, alter the playlist if needed and practice again till the recording hits your desired standard. To show various styles do them in separate 20min mixes and compile several of them into one CD. Advanced DJs can do this in one shot within a 60min mix
  7. Choose an interesting name --  Instead of "DJ Name Mix #5" tease the audience with a name they really want to know whats "in" it. If you have a theme make it already clear with the name. Always have your DJ name in the mixtape name and not only in the Meta-Tags. If you produce regular and a lot of mixes think of placing timing in the name but its not necessary e.g., "Finest new years mix @ W Doha crystal lounge - Miss Diamond DJ"
  8. Packaging is 1st hurdle -- When meeting a club owner or DJ booker its good to have something physical to hand over. A business card together with your newest mixtape would make sense but which impression does a simple paper sleeves for your CD give? There are many creative and affordable options of packaging CDs even when they are printed on your home ink-jet printer. The professional option for a great shiny CD surface are CD factories which can handle low and medium volumes
  9. Contact info on the CD -- No matter how nicely you package your the end the CD alone will end-up in a car or other CD player. If the listener likes your mix he/she will look at the CD directly coming out of the player. Therefore have always your DJ name, mixtape name and contact info directly printed on the CD itself 
  10. Stick to your style -- Effective marketing is suttle and does convey the same message over and over again till your target audience just does what you want them to do….buy your product…in your case book you for a gig. If you are known for hard style, wear always red hair, show off with aggressive red cloths and scream as your own MC in the microphone, why should the CD-print be a cute black-n-white panda? Your image, the colours and images used, the name of the mix and of course the style of the mix need to fit together for the strongest of all messages. BOOK ME I AM WORTH IT
  11. Cross-check your transitions -- Have somebody else (ideally another DJ) checking your song transitions before you call it final. A rating system for better communication has been proven effective. Give 100 points to a perfect mix which harmonically blends in another and no none-DJ will ever know that it was DJ-made. Mixes below 50 are clearly recognized by anybody and also disturbs somebody dancing. Depending on your experience and aim for professionalism set your target of "no mix below X" for the whole set. Set your target high enough that you will need at least 3 rounds to perfect the order of the playlist, mixes and overall harmonic of the mix. If you do it in one shot you are not living up to your potential…use effects and scratch-mixes and other variantes to show off your skills!
  12. Mastering -- When you think its pefect and you hit the spot with an amazing mix then bring it in an  audio editor and master it for a fat sound. If you dont have Logic or Cubase use Audacity (its for free) and check the audio waveform. Check first if you are equally loud in all songs of the mix and correct it in case (equalization). Then use the compressor to get the most out of the recording. Compare for that your waveform with the waveform of another song which is professional mastered to get an idea where you are. Try then in your car if the CD sounds good compared to a normal CD of similar style (pay attention to loudness and flatness of the sound) 

Enjoy the creation process…this is your art...make it unique and interesting. 

The DJ Academy is happy to support you finding and perfecting your style all throughout your DJ career. Check out the DJ courses, coachings and services to make you more successfull: