by on October 22, 2018

Probably many people think that DJ's work is simple, easy and pleasant. After all, we live in the era of Youtube, Soundcloud, Spotify and many others, where access to music is simple, easy and practically unlimited. Just install the right plug and bang, we have any song on the disk and we can listen to it. So basically everyone can be a DJ, pick some songs, install a free mixing program or even configure Winamp and have a new DJ at parties. Maybe it is just like this, but is it so easy to become a good DJ? Here is my little reflection on this topic.

Selecting and collecting music

The beginning of a DJ's work starts with the creation of a music collection. In the case of a dance environment, it is often quite easy, because people in classes and parties hear a lot of music and gathering a decent number of songs as a base is quite simple. Before I started working as a DJ, I had a collection that allowed me to play two good events without repeating tracks on each of them. And here, in my opinion, the simple part of being a DJ ends. Why? You have to make order with picked up songs. Each DJ has his own way of embracing his collection. You can segregate it with years, albums, performers, or according to any criterion that suits you. I have developed my own way of selecting music, which I later further segregate in my software. So first of all, I have to devote my time to finding new cool music, and to spend time sorting them, in various ways. Of course, if a DJ wants to be on time and in fact on time, it requires sacrifice and skillful selection of music sources. It's great to browse the fan pages / artists, relevant groups on Facebook or YouTube channels. This leads to a situation where to have new music before others get them, often need to listen to about 100 or more songs a week, although it all depends on the period, because sometimes comes out more music and the numbers thus grow. Many people will say that it is someone's passion and it is probably cool, but unfortunately about 90% of music simply falls out in the selection process. It's a bit like looking for gold, where you have to get rid of a ton of dirt and dirt to dig up a few ounces of precious metal. People who do not deal with this usually see the final result, sometimes in the form of ready-made playlists, which can be easily downloaded, so they assume that it's a light and pleasant job. Unfortunately, it is not ...

Edition and normalization of music

The next stage in the DJ's work is the proper preparation of his collection at the editorial level. Many DJs from Youtube completely skip this stage, because the most important thing is that they have a song and what it sounds and what quality it have is no longer important. So let's start with the quality first. Before I started playing at parties, fortunately I understood how is important the quality of music. Trying to be a good dancer, I strongly explored the topic of musicality. One of the basics of musicality is the ability to dance to different instruments, if they playing in a song. Unfortunately probability that we hear all the instruments, for sure depends on the quality of the music. Pieces available for free in various services usually do not exceed 192 kbps, while legal music depending on the shop, can be either in mixed compression from 224 to 320 or in a fixed 320 kbps. For comparison, I decided to prepare two examples:

The first of these is the version from Youtube, while the second is a good version of 320 kbps, and the difference between them can be heard most clearly from the twenty-second. You can hear the additional sound in the music, in a song with 320 kbps quality. Another issue that can be noticed in addition to quality is the editing of songs and cleaning their beginnings and ends. When someone gets music from free services, sometimes it has at the beginning or end various inserts, added by channel owners or service. If they are not removed, it is easy to recognize that such a music is not original, and the DJ is rather not a professional or not even trying to be. Often also in such pieces at the ends or beginnings is silence, so when the DJ does not make the transition between the pieces, you can have a few seconds of silence on the dance floor. Personally, I cut out silence in songs by myself, because when I have dancing lessons they practically transiting from one song to another without the need to install special software. The next thing to do is to normalize the gain in songs to one level. Thanks to this, when we are playing with the simplest software, we will avoid a situation in which after changing the song you have to adjust the sound right away because the difference is quite significant. Therefore, in order to really prepare your collection, you must often devote at least a second amount of time to the search and interrogation of the pieces. So the further into the forest, the more passionate pleasure turns out to be not so simple and easy, as long as we plan to approach playing really professionally...

Music is not all DJ’s life, so what more is DJ doing at work

Once we have a collection of music that is organized and standardized, it is time for other things that often involve DJ work. The first important thing raising professionalism is having good software and hardware. Of course, the choice here depends on what we play and how we approach the game. I specialize in bachata and kizomba, and for me the approach to these two types of music is different. I generally do not mix bachata, so good software and proper selection of music are enough for it. It's a bit different with kizomba, because mixing is at stake here, so a mixer or controller that we use in combination with a mixing software is a useful device. It is connected with additional costs of purchasing such equipment, which depending on the model, may even be a fairly expensive investment. Of course, the model should be chosen depending on the skills and possible mobility needs. Well, you still need to take the time to learn to use this equipment, with some DJs also taking part in courses to acquire such skills. Even if someone does not want to pay for such courses, you have to find time to acquire certain skills and then practice them, so that when you come to the party you can use them. Often an additional advantage may be the possession of other equipment, such as an analog mixer, lighting or own sound system. I own such a mixer and simple lighting, because in dance schools they do not always have such equipment, or sometimes it is quite simple and may not meet the requirements, especially when at the party we have more than one DJ. Of course, there are additional things that can be useful, such as laptop stands, cases, bags, headphones, backpacks or cables needed to staple everything. So as you can see, when someone wants to approach professionally as a matter of course, it turns out that the music itself is not enough, and when we want to be real professionals, we need to invest in really a lot of funds and time. Thanks to a well-organized DJ, events start on time and there are no problems with the equipment, because it is prepared for everything. From my experience in this work, it follows that being organized several times meant that I was saving the party from delays or the total flop.

Summary, my own vision of working as a DJ

As I wrote earlier, each organizer decides how he wants to organize the party and which DJ to hire. It may be someone with a Youtube collection, because music will play and people will have to dance. However, will such an event attract advanced dancers who are looking for something more than a bit in the music, who expect songs that are saturated with good musicality and not musically flat like freshly laid asphalt? Maybe yes, maybe not, but as a dancer I always vote with my feet and generally do not show up at parties where a really bad DJ plays. Although events during the week I treat a bit with indulgence, because they are often free or for a symbolic cost, but these weekend parties I always select in terms of who will play on it. Because personally I think it's better to go less often to a more expensive party where a good DJ plays, than a cheap party with an average DJ. Remember therefore, the principle of Copernicus-Gresham, because with the disappearing DJs, their music collection will disappear, which can often be rich in real pearls, often found where the top DJ plays, and the opportunity to hear them will only be limited to the festivals where they play. So the decision how it will look depends on you beloved dancers and you will decide whether you want to have quality or something else...


The author of this article is DJ Quiero (Witold Kieroński).

DJ Quiero has started in 2013 from playing regular events at the Gafa club in Wrocław. Soon after that, he started working with the dance school La Rosa Negra, where he plays at parties to this day. He also collaborated with the No Limits school, where for about 2 years, he dealt with musical setting during dance practices. Thanks to the popularity gained, he began to play at other events, both in Wrocław and abroad, including at a post-workshop event during the visit of Daniel and Desiree at LoftToDane in Krakow (2015) or SBK Festival (2014) in Wrocław, as well as at post workshops events during the visit of Korke and Judith in Łódź (2016). Currently, he plays mainly at the biggest events in Wroclaw, such as Afronock or Supersensual. Specializes in sensual and modern bachata, as well as in the extraordinary ghetto zouk and tarraxinha. DJ's work is the result of a passion for dance, which he learned from the best world instructors such as Korke and Judith, Daniel and Desiree, Luis and Andrea, Andrea and Silvia, Chavez and Silvia, Kike and Fania, Gabryel and Bego, Afrolatin Connection, Albir Rojas , Miguel and Susana, Joao and Giedre, Curtis Sheldon, Said, Enah Lebon, Isabelle and Felicien, whose approach to musicality is trying to convey in the selection of music, and every moment spent outside the console trying to spend on the dance floor.

Topics: dj, music, passion