Building Music Collection for DJ Set

Building Music Collection for a DJ Set

Building a music collection for a DJ set is the ART itself, and most prized possession. It’s a raw material, that you can sculpt into sonic journeys that move crowds. But where do I find all the tracks? Building that collection from scratch can feel like an impossible task. Where do you even start? How do you discover tunes that match your style, genre, and mood? This guide will show you how to masterfully curate tracks for unforgettable DJ sets.

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Getting started: collecting music for a DJ Set

Being a DJ is much more than just pressing play and stop; it’s about creating a seamless flow, blending tracks, and crafting a unique experience for your audience. But where do you begin when building your collection of tunes?

Check my other article about controllers:

Start with music you love

I am sure, that even if you’re just starting as a DJ, you’ve got to have some tunes that you absolutely love and can’t wait to drop for a crowd, right? It’s a safe bet that you’ve already got the beginnings of a music collection brewing from the songs you blast at home or in your headphones. Those beloved tracks form the core of your future DJ library.

Go through your existing playlists and libraries and make a DJ playlist of your favorite tunes that you envision playing out.

Don’t overthink it at first. Just make a playlist of the bangers that get your head moving and feet tapping whenever they come on. The songs that make you want to crank the volume and tune out the world. The ones you’ve played on repeat until your friends beg you for mercy. Those personal favorites are going to be vital building blocks as you start mixing and segueing between different vibes.

Dig Deeper Into Your Favorite Artists

Going deeper with your favorite songs and artists is the best way to go. The artists you admire likely have tons of other amazing tracks beyond the hits you know. Dive deep into their discographies – explore album cuts, remixes, collaborations and b-sides. You’ll quickly expand your pool of potential songs to draw from. There’s a good chance you’ll enjoy more than just one song from them.

Explore Related Artists and Labels

Once you have a core selection of artists you love, look at who they’re associated with and influenced by. Check out their touring partners, guests on remix albums, and releases on the same labels. Or even discover the favorite artists of your favorite artist and the influence they have. Genres and scenes are tribes – knowing one branch leads you to enticing new branches to explore.
Expand your musical horizons by exploring artists and labels similar to your favorites. Often, similar artists collaborate and remix each other’s work, providing you with a treasure trove of new music to explore and you would probably love.

Shazam it!

Imagine you are at a party and a track catches your ear! Just Shazam it and add it to a playlist for further listening. Don’t rely just on memory – you’ll forget gems if you don’t capture them at the moment.

Categorize and Organize music collection for a DJ set

As your collection grows, getting systematic about the organization is essential. Everyone has a different approach and the organization of music fits differently. When I organize my music I know exactly where to find what I need. Create playlists by genre, mood, tempo, or whatever makes sense for how you envision sequencing DJ sets. Constantly curate these playlists as you find new tunes. Effective organization is key to navigating your music library seamlessly. While everyone has their own approach, here’s a tip that might help streamline your process.

My approach to organizing the music collection for a DJ set

My DJ set prep is all about playlists. I’ve got genre playlists where I add all the tracks, that match the genre or the mood. Once those hit many songs, I start making tighter playlists for specific moods or vibes. It could be for an upcoming gig or just a vibe I’m feeling.

Then I obsess over those vision playlists – tweaking the order, cutting stuff that doesn’t fit, adding missing pieces. Imagining the whole journey and narrative of the set. This part takes up like 80% of my time before I even practice mixing the tunes together technically.

Maybe it’s an intense process, but it’s how I make sure the vibe is seamless from start to finish. Story and flow are everything to me before any mixology happens. One of the reasons might be my acting and theater background. And creating sets as a story.

This approach might not be for everybody, but I feel like it might help a little in any way possible to share how I do it.

Buy and download your tracks

As your tastes solidify, use streaming services and record pools to purchase/download the tracks you’ll want permanent access to. You need reliable files you own to avoid streaming hiccups when performing. The best way is to have mp3 with 320kbps or WAV. With WAV be sure it is compatible with the controller you will be using as well as your USB stick will be fast enough. Because the WAV format is bigger it might have an issue with the fast reading/writing.

Less is often more when it comes to music selection. Focus on acquiring tracks that resonate with you rather than amassing a vast collection. Quality trumps quantity. The first rule, less is more. The contractor also will come and bring the tools that he needs, and not bring all the tools. If he does, tt doesn’t make him a better worker. And it is the same with music, you don’t need all music in the world always on you. You just need the ones that call your heart.

How to get ready to create a great DJ set

Once you’ve assembled a setlist worth of tunes, study them intensely. Listen to the music! Dah! Of course, you have to listen to the music, but I mean it in a little more deep way. Know every build, break, switch, and nuance inside-out. Intimately understanding your material makes you agile to improvise, read crowds, and craft unbored narratives through creative mixing.

So go ahead – create that special playlist of songs you can’t live without. And to be honest, most of the sets I am creating for myself, so I can listen to tunes I would like to. Embrace your personal melodic obsessions to have joy in life and listen to your own sets. And when you love what you do and play, others will follow!

Good luck!

My dedication to achieving artistic excellence extends from the stage to the realm of film. Currently represented by agent Jill Kabush at Dorothy S. Management, I am actively pursuing opportunities to establish my presence in the industry. While my creative interests span a variety of fields, including DJing and illustrating, my primary passion lies in acting. In the Czech Republic, I gained experience as both an amateur and professional actor in theaters such as Moravian Theater Olomouc, Theater DiGoknu, and Mlada Scena II. I also ran my own production company, creating short films. Upon relocating to Canada, I underwent intensive training at the Vancouver Academy of Dramatic Arts. Since then, I have signed with an agent, showcased my talent in esteemed theaters like Theater Around The Corner, and participated in independent film projects. Through unwavering dedication and hard work, I continue to refine my craft, striving for new heights in the pursuit of artistic excellence.


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