When to transition...?

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LittleTreeGuy

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Jul 30, 2021
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So I have another beginner question. I've watched a bunch of videos and tutorials on beat matching and mixing. I get it. I understand it. I know that beat matching is important, and I know enough about it to know that I need to continuing to keep practicing it.

What I'm struggling with while I'm practicing is "when" to transition to the next song. I feel that if I were playing at a dance club, keeping the beat/energy of the crowd is key. I've seen some videos of this sort of DJ playing a song briefly and then mixing in the next... depending on his feel for the crowd. However, I doubt I will ever play in that scenario. Not really my interest.
I'll be doing more playing at bars, private parties, and weddings... usually where people want to hear the whole song like they heard it on the radio... Some videos show they start mixing the whole last phrase of a song... like 16 bars.... well, with the music I play, you're cutting off the end of one song and muddy'ing the intro to the next song. I'm finding it's more of a quicker transition from one song to the next. Occasionally a song will have a nice intro or outro, but not always. I guess experience will help me make better use of those songs, or maybe loop for longer in's and out's.... but until I get good with that, I feel a little nervous. I've been trying to have my next song up with a cue point set and hit it during the last 2-3 bars.... does that sound right?
 
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Scott Hanna

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In my opinion, each song is different as to when is the perfect time to mix. You'll get a feel for songs you play often and will make a good guess on the ones you don't.

It's all about practice and getting a feel for it. Nowadays you can even use visual guides. I wouldn't worry about being perfect for each song, especially in the beginning. You'll drive yourself crazy. Just keep getting better.

Just don't spend so much time on mixing at an event that you aren't watching the crowd. The right song at the right time is the most important. Watching the response for every song and knowing what to play next is job 1. When you mix that song perfectly, it's art.

But when you mix in a song the crowd doesn't want, they won't care how perfectly it was mixed.

Job 2 is bringing the right energy for the event. Some DJ's way overdo it and some way under do it. Mcing is part of this.

Job 3 is mixing.

That's the DJ Gospel according to Scott
😄
 
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djtaso

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In my opinion, each song is different as to when is the perfect time to mix. You'll get a feel for songs you play often and will make a good guess on the ones you don't.

It's all about practice and getting a feel for it. Nowadays you can even use visual guides. I wouldn't worry about being perfect for each song, especially in the beginning. You'll drive yourself crazy. Just keep getting better.

Just don't spend so much time on mixing at an event that you aren't watching the crowd. The right song at the right time is the most important. Watching the response for every song and knowing what to play next is job 1. When you mix that song perfectly, it's art.

But when you mix in a song the crowd doesn't want, they won't care how perfectly it was mixed.

Job 2 is bringing the right energy for the event. Some DJ's way overdo it and some way underdog it. Mcing is part of this.

Job 3 is mixing.

That's the DJ Gospel according to Scott
😄
It's tough as every song is different in terms of structure, and every event has a different dynamic... where as some quick mixes work well, some need more prolonged transitions... some songs have a long outro, but the incoming song has a short intro. It really is an art, and this is the part that really separates dj's. as they all mix so uniquely different. Practice and you'll learn where your comfort zones are as well as how you like things to sound. No right and wrong really
 

MIXMASTERMACHOM

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As it has been said keep practicing. I thought when I first came back it would be a breeze. I still had to do a ton of practicing to get to the way I used to be. In certain situations mixing is a vital part and other times not that much. Just keep at it as often as you can.
 
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Albatross

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Most pop music follows an 8 bar chorus structure. And lots of dance music follows a 16 bar structure. So if you're using intro edits, you want to line up your intro length with the length of the chorus you're trying to mix out of.

That way right as one chorus is ending, you're bringing in the new phrase of the next song and it makes sense without laying vocals on top of other vocals.

There's exceptions to that, but I wouldn't wait until the very end of the song because it's going to be very odd getting the phrasing to sound right.

As for how fast you mix... if I'm going fast I'll mix out on that first chorus, so typically just 45 seconds - 1:20 of the song. If the song is working or you want to let it breathe a little more, the 2nd chorus is a fairly standard spot for where I mix out of most tunes. Occasionally I'll go beyond that, but it's rare unless I'm going to play a song to the end like Shout, Mr. Brightside, Build Me Up Buttercup, I Feel Good... something where I want the end, I'll stick to that format.
 

DJ Ricky B

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This is a good question.

I am sure Taso does this, but does anyone else actually discuss mixing style with their clients prior to the event?

For the longest time I did not discuss it, and it only came up in discussion when the bride or groom said that they "Don't like Remixes" or "We don't want the song to end and then the next one begin" ...then I went into mixing style with the clients.

This year, I have actually been proactive in discussing mixing style with my clients and wanting to find out how they want the music mixed through out the night.

So far, my clients have told me "Please Play MOST of each song before you mix into the next song". They understand that when I say "MOST OF THE SONG" that it means 75%+ of the actual song before I mix out of it. I haven't had a client this year tell me they want it more like a club, and "1 to 2 minutes of each song before going into the next song". I even discuss that option with them, and they understand what I am talking about.

When they say they want most of each song played, they do say play full songs for certain songs such as slow dances and songs like "SHOUT" for example. So I am positive clients know and WANT full songs to be played on particular ones like Shout.

That is why I scratch my head a bit when I see Taso saying he will play like only 30-40 seconds of a song sometimes before mixing into another one, and blow through like 20-25 songs in 10-15 minutes. That takes some real fast thinking, and perhaps pre set cue points to roll in and out like that. And then Ross just mention 45 seconds. Outside of when a song is obviously not working on the dance floor, I don't think I have mixed out of a song in only 45 seconds. I usually let ride two choruses.

Also, I have had couples mention how thorough I am being on our finalization meeting. They seem to not expect to discuss "mixing style", and it was probably no where on their radar before I brought it up!

...It only took me 21+ years to get to this point of adding mixing style into the discussion with my clients. LOL
 

djtaso

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This is a good question.

I am sure Taso does this, but does anyone else actually discuss mixing style with their clients prior to the event?

For the longest time I did not discuss it, and it only came up in discussion when the bride or groom said that they "Don't like Remixes" or "We don't want the song to end and then the next one begin" ...then I went into mixing style with the clients.

This year, I have actually been proactive in discussing mixing style with my clients and wanting to find out how they want the music mixed through out the night.

So far, my clients have told me "Please Play MOST of each song before you mix into the next song". They understand that when I say "MOST OF THE SONG" that it means 75%+ of the actual song before I mix out of it. I haven't had a client this year tell me they want it more like a club, and "1 to 2 minutes of each song before going into the next song". I even discuss that option with them, and they understand what I am talking about.

When they say they want most of each song played, they do say play full songs for certain songs such as slow dances and songs like "SHOUT" for example. So I am positive clients know and WANT full songs to be played on particular ones like Shout.

That is why I scratch my head a bit when I see Taso saying he will play like only 30-40 seconds of a song sometimes before mixing into another one, and blow through like 20-25 songs in 10-15 minutes. That takes some real fast thinking, and perhaps pre set cue points to roll in and out like that. And then Ross just mention 45 seconds. Outside of when a song is obviously not working on the dance floor, I don't think I have mixed out of a song in only 45 seconds. I usually let ride two choruses.

Also, I have had couples mention how thorough I am being on our finalization meeting. They seem to not expect to discuss "mixing style", and it was probably no where on their radar before I brought it up!

...It only took me 21+ years to get to this point of adding mixing style into the discussion with my clients. LOL
Mixing songs in under a minute isn’t as easy as it sounds and isn’t just about cutting songs short, it needs to be mixed properly w beats matching, vocals not overlapping, etc. It also has to be with the right songs. I don’t do that with every song.

One size does not fit all. Ricky, because you don’t mix like I do, you don’t attract those crowds. Same with price, if you don’t offer high end services you won’t attract high end couples, and because I charge so much i don’t getmany low end clients. Quick mixing is my artistic style (when appropriate), and if I didn’t do it right, I wouldn’t be getting more clients asking for that style, let alone booking me to begin with. Again it’s not for all songs... some older songs are designed to be played out, but some songs like September I can get away with just one verse and one chorus... hip hop songs are repetitive, I can bang out the chorus and be on to the next.

yesterday I had a consultation with a 50yr old couple doing a second wedding. I assumed they were into older stuff, but they quickly told me they love the High energy fast paced atmosphere that I did at the other events they’ve been to. I was surprised by that, as I expected a more older and traditional vibe, but it is a clear indication, what you do is what you attract.

Also keep in mind, most djs don’t quick mix, and even those that try, may not do it right. That’s why you can’t expect the couple to say they want that, and you can’t expect that they’ve experienced it in the right way. If they did, like my couples do with me, they’d perhaps appreciate it and want it for their wedding. Similar to moving heads and sparklers. Most don’t experience it to know they want it... and not all do it right.
 

Albatross

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And then Ross just mention 45 seconds. Outside of when a song is obviously not working on the dance floor, I don't think I have mixed out of a song in only 45 seconds. I usually let ride two choruses.
It's pretty rare that I hit a song quite that fast, especially at a private event. But the easy example for me is Party Up by DMX. I typically slam that song in right on the horns and I mainly want that first chorus that it opens with. If you play the first verse, this is what you get:

"If I gotsta bring it to you cowards then it's gonna be quick, aight
All your mens up in the jail before, suck my d____
And all them other cats you run with, get done with, dumb quick
How the f____ you gonna cross the dog with some bum s____? Aight."

I don't really want to play that verse, especially at most weddings, but I know that I get a good reaction from the intro and chorus. So I can dump out of it and slam into something right after that, or just choose not to play it. But I tend to hit Be Faithful right after and drop in hard where it goes "Mixtrack" and the beat drops. That cue point has been set for years, it takes me almost no time.

I have a quick hitter I play a lot which is the beat of We Will Rock You and the chorus of Fat Bottom Girls. It plays it one time with the beat, and the second time is acapella. I'll normally drop into a fun hip hop song like Teach Me How to Dougie or It's Goin Down by Yung Joc coming out of it. The song is probably on for 20-30 seconds at the most. But you can hear me doing the end of it here:

http://instagr.am/p/B8orOHKhFzF/
Those are special situations, it's not like I'm mixing 70 songs an hour. But in the cases where just a splash of the song is fun, I'm not going to force myself to play 3-4 minutes of it.
 

Albatross

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This is a silly analogy, but I think of mixing well like the Red Zone channel for football. You spend the entire time watching the best and most exciting part of the game, the scores and the meaningful part of the drive.

Nobody gives a crap about the first 30 seconds of Whitney Houston - I Wanna Dance With Somebody. It's one of the most requested wedding songs of all time, and the first 30 seconds might as well be dead air. People want to sing the chorus. So if you cut the boring parts and compress the guest experience down to just the best parts of each song... the guest experience is improving.

Maybe there truly are some people that want to hear every song until the end, but that's also why I put sample mixes on my website and talk about it in my consultations before people book. I can and will tailor my style to the client to a degree, but if they want somebody to just play the song to the very end.. they should hire someone else.
 
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djtaso

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I forgot to mention, like Ross, a lot of my cue points are preset so it is really easy for me to do those quick mixes. And again, to reiterate, not all my mixes are that quick... except for when I’m only looking to use one part of a song... for most songs I’d say my avg is closer to 90 seconds.
 

MIXMASTERMACHOM

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Oct 16, 2011
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Mixing songs in under a minute isn’t as easy as it sounds and isn’t just about cutting songs short, it needs to be mixed properly w beats matching, vocals not overlapping, etc. It also has to be with the right songs. I don’t do that with every song.

One size does not fit all. Ricky, because you don’t mix like I do, you don’t attract those crowds. Same with price, if you don’t offer high end services you won’t attract high end couples, and because I charge so much i don’t getmany low end clients. Quick mixing is my artistic style (when appropriate), and if I didn’t do it right, I wouldn’t be getting more clients asking for that style, let alone booking me to begin with. Again it’s not for all songs... some older songs are designed to be played out, but some songs like September I can get away with just one verse and one chorus... hip hop songs are repetitive, I can bang out the chorus and be on to the next.

yesterday I had a consultation with a 50yr old couple doing a second wedding. I assumed they were into older stuff, but they quickly told me they love the High energy fast paced atmosphere that I did at the other events they’ve been to. I was surprised by that, as I expected a more older and traditional vibe, but it is a clear indication, what you do is what you attract.

Also keep in mind, most djs don’t quick mix, and even those that try, may not do it right. That’s why you can’t expect the couple to say they want that, and you can’t expect that they’ve experienced it in the right way. If they did, like my couples do with me, they’d perhaps appreciate it and want it for their wedding. Similar to moving heads and sparklers. Most don’t experience it to know they want it... and not all do it right.
My partner is great at it and my brain can't think that fast to find a song that fast. The old saying is true, don't judge a book by it's cover. Assuming that a certain age will want a certain style of of songs or genres is wrong. That's why it's important to discuss the music the client wants played at their event.
 

MIXMASTERMACHOM

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Oct 16, 2011
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What is needed is to find your comfort zone and work on your style of mixing. Sometimes I mix 2 songs together for good while and other times I mix a song in quickly. keep up the great work.