So, you’ve decided to take your love of music on the road so that other people can have the best time at parties and other events. What a great idea!
No wedding, birthday, quinceańera or graduation party would be complete without the humble mobile DJ, the MVP who’s entertained the masses since records were a thing.
DJ Music FAQ
Before you embark on this new adventure, there are a few things you should know. It might even be that you’re just thinking about becoming a mobile DJ and you have a ton of questions about DJ Music.
Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do DJs Have to Buy Their Own Music?
It’s a common misconception that anyone can be given DJ responsibilities at a party, as long as they have a phone with internet connection and a cable that hooks up to some speakers. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Professional mobile DJs are familiar with copyright law and they know that in order to be able to operate legally, they have to purchase all the songs, albums, or samples that they intend to use in their music or sets.
This means that before you start out in the world of mobile DJing, you’ll have to build up your library. This isn’t as difficult as you might think.
Nobody’s saying that you have to go online to somewhere like iTunes and pay top dollar for individual tracks or albums. This could easily eat into your DJ business budget. Instead, what many DJs do is to bulk-buy records, CDs, or even cassettes, and then digitize these tracks with the aid of a converter.
Second-hand stores, flea markets, auctions (both in real life and online), and garage sales are the perfect hunting grounds to pick up bulk music for very little cost. Not only that, but there are sure to be plenty of friends and family who are happy to offload their collection onto you, particularly if they too have gone digital.
That way, the music you own has been paid for, but you’re not lugging around whole boxes of LPs or CDs. Although, before you scoff at such an idea, spare a thought for the DJs of old who had to do exactly that!
If you’re careful about how you source your music and pace yourself when building up your library, you’ll soon make back the cost of the initial outlay. Factor in the purchase of newer music into the cost of your set.
People don’t mind paying for things that are high quality, and that’s you and your DJ service.
You May Still Need a Separate License
Once you have your music library all neatly digitized, organized, and ready to go, double check the licensing laws of your country. Some countries require you to have a license to do things with the music you own, things that are specific to DJing.
For example, you might have created the perfect mix using one or more tracks together and you love to use it as part of your set. You might own both pieces of music for personal use but when using these tracks to play to a crowd… well, you might need a license for that.
Just to be sure, check the laws of your particular area. In the US, you don’t need to worry about it. But dream big, my friend. One day, word of your DJing prowess may have spread so far that you’re invited to do a set at a wedding on the other side of the world.
How Many Songs Should a DJ Have?
Every wedding DJ should have as many songs as they can imagine when it comes to their repertoire. As discussed, it’s not cheap to get started as a mobile DJ, especially if you’re building your library. But the more extensive your collection, the more you’ll stand out against competitors.
Sure, you might have the entire Justin Bieber collection but the family who are thinking about booking a DJ for their granny’s 80th birthday will remember that you also carry her favorite tunes from bygone days, too.
There’s no better mobile DJ than one who really knows their music. So, you don’t just want to collect, but know what you’re collecting. That might be asking you to learn every word in the English language and of course, there are limits, but the best DJs really know their stuff.
It means keeping up to date with the latest music out there, too. Even though you might love the old stuff, the kids will be wanting the most up-to-date tunes out there, so stay on the ball.
Mobile DJs who have been in the game a long time can have tens of thousands of tracks in their library and most of them will, sadly, never see (or hear) the light of day. And yet, nothing will beat the beaming smile of someone who requests a truly obscure track, and you pluck it from the depths of your library like some kind of musical magician.
Can You DJ Using Spotify?
Not anymore, unfortunately.
As of July 2020, Spotify stopped allowing third-party apps to use their service. It meant that apps like Djay, a popular tool for mobile DJs, no longer support the use of Spotify.
This could be a game-changer for some mobile DJs but the experts are made of stronger stuff! A good mobile DJ won’t be put off by a minor setback such as losing the use of Spotify.
Tidal Might Not Be a Good Option (4:37)
How Many Songs is a 30-Minute Set?
You’re looking at about 15 songs for a 30-minute set. You’ll want to use this rule of thumb when calculating how many songs you’ll need, from an hour to eight hours.
Remember to have a theme or style to your set. If you throw in too many songs and they all seem unrelated from one another, you’ll lose the story of your set.
To illustrate: if you’re going to be DJing the birthday of the 80-year-old granny because she was impressed by you and the set you did for her niece’s wedding, you might play some Diana Ross, or maybe a couple of Elvis tracks to get people up and on the dance floor. Great so far.
What you’re not going to want to do is throw in some Metallica or Jay-Z as the birthday girl’s about to blow out her candles. I mean, some of the guests will love it, but the woman of the hour will be somewhat confused.
That doesn’t mean that all your set has to cater for one type of taste, either, but get a feel of the mood of the party and be prepared to deviate from the plan if you get the sense that the songs you’ve chosen aren’t going to set the right mood.
You’re also going to want to stick to the radio edits of most tracks that you play. Sure, the 8-minute extended version is your personal preference, but people get bored easily. You want to keep them on the dance floor, so keep the set moving!
Being a mobile DJ is 10% song planning, 90% gut feeling and experience.
How Many Songs Do You Need to DJ a Wedding?
A wedding reception usually lasts around 5 hours and basic math will tell you that if you want 15 songs for a half hour, then for 5 hours, you’ll want 75 songs. In that case, make a playlist of around 100 or so, so that you can play around depending on how the party’s going.
But don’t forget that during that time, they will be other things going on as well. The father of the bride will let the champagne go to his head, grab the mic, and regale everyone with tales of his baby girl for 20 minutes. They will be cake cutting. And more speeches.
A lot of couples have this *adorable* idea of allowing each of the guests to choose a track they want to hear, too. This is where you practice your skills in diplomacy!
I talk about – Requests From Past Events at How Do DJs Find New Music
One of my favorite ways to find new songs is by taking requests during School Dances and Weddings. Especially years ago when I was starting out. I receive a song requested at an event – I didn’t have it. But by the next event I would have it. Add these song requests to your DJ sets. Most of the time if it worked at one wedding or school dance it would work a another. It was the fastest way to discover new songs I had never heard.
Take Requests!! – Work out the order so the tracks have a smooth pattern and blend moods and styles seamlessly, and don’t be afraid to have a quiet word with the bride if one or two of the choices are particularly heinous. Either that, or leave these choices for the end of the night when everyone’s good and drunk.
Pro Tip – Take Requests – No matter how bad they are. That song might be really special to that person.
Conclusion – DJ Music FAQ
Welcome to the World of the Mobile DJ!
You’re going to meet some fascinating people and listen to some fabulous music on your journey as a mobile DJ. Don’t be afraid to reach out to more experienced professionals who’ve been in the game for a while, to get tips and hints to become the best DJ you can be.
People love a wedding DJ who keeps the music flowing, without making the set all about them. You’ll soon find that the music you select and the way you mix your set is what will keep the customers coming back for more.
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