DJ Short Cuts, don’t Cut it

There are no short cuts when it comes to DJ’ing well. Infact there’s no short cuts to become great at anything! The only way to become a great DJ, is to spend the time and practice.


DJ short cuts traktor playlistsSo many people are constantly asking for track lists or even my entire collection lists. They want a short cut to finding decent music!
By looking for tracks this way, you’re creating a short cut that is stifling your own DJ creativity.

Being a DJ is about bringing music to others, that you have curated in a loving and passionate way. It is the opening of your soul, the exposing of your tastes and the the definition of who you are as a DJ.

By simply asking others for their track lists you are cheating yourself out of building experience and instead of defining your own sound, are simply mimicking others. This might feel like a safe place, but it only serves to keep you tied down and stuck, forever relying on guidance from others in regards to musical tastes.

Trust your own inner choices and go find the music that truly pulls you in and means something to you. Be unique and forge your own path.

Harmonic Mixing Software

Whilst this has been the choice of many a DJ and lots of articles are written in favour of this kind of software, using it can once again limit your own talent.

By using ‘keying’ software you are switching off your musical ear and relying on a computer to do your job.

Using this kind of software might teach you what song’s harmonize well with one another and how they ‘should’ sound together, but using this kind of software exclusively, is restricting your ears. If you don’t use it, you lose it.

Make sure you LISTEN to your music. Figure out in your own head if it goes together. Sometimes it doesn’t even need you to think about it, you can feel it instantly as you cue something up in the headphones. You think, “Euuuw, that sounds terrible!” and you pick another track!


Whilst Syncing is an exceptional opportunity to become more creative and to drop the focus of mixing from beat-matching, to perhaps more dynamic mixes that are punctuated with effects, loops, builds and layers; the essence of DJ’ing stemmed from the ability to mix two tracks together in time.

Using the sync button in not a crime and it’s certainly something I encourage you all to do. However, it can be misused as a shortcut.

dj short cuts syncBy not learning how to manually beatmatch, you are once again limiting yourself and setting yourself up to be a lesser DJ.

Imagine walking into a party with some turntables set up and you can just grab a record or CD and play an hours impromptu set. That’s the kinda talent you want to own!

If you’re at a party where you have a chance to jump on the decks and you’re asking someone where the sync button is, you’re in trouble!

Likewise, if you are an old school DJ, learn how to use the new stuff, you don’t want to appear flummoxed at the site of a laptop, iPad or midi controller. By sticking to what you know, is also taking a short cut. Learn it all, know your stuff!

Take the Time to Refine Your DJ Skill Set

Seriously! It’s not hard, you just need to be devoted! We all love shortcuts, but when it comes to becoming proficient at a skill or playing a musical instrument, nothing trumps practice.

Stop kidding yourself and trying to get to the top by skipping the studying or copying someone else’s paper, you’ll only fall flat on your face, setting yourself back to the beginning.

Do it properly the first time, it takes work and determination to shine in an industry so diluted with wannabes.

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7 thoughts on “DJ Short Cuts, don’t Cut it

  1. Yes thanks. I shared that article yesterday! It’s great that most of the big DJ sites are turning the attention back onto the pure art form.
    Something I’ve tried to get back into the lime light since starting this site. Music trumps technology, but technology is also our friend!

  2. You make some good points there Al. I keep hearing a lot about harmonic mixing and a certain in key software. Was thinking about getting it, but I will stick to my ears for now. Mixing by numbers is one thing, by ear is another that an beat matching are such useful skills.

    I admit I use the sync button these days, but switch it off again once the track is loaded.. Just saves on finding the starting Bpm. Gives me more time to concentrate on what I’m going to do with the mix and anyway the sync in never perfect and you can so much more creative without it.

    1. Thank you Phil, and yes, as I say, using the Sync button is not a crime, it just shouldnt mean that you shouldn’t learn to beatmatch!

      Thanks for your words.

      1. and if you stop doing it you lose it too! Although doesn’t take as long to get back as the learning process!

  3. I love the last part in putting in the practice.. However, I would like to critically view your post as a whole. If music selection is your strength and you spend all your time trying to learn to beatmatch on turn tables, well you just gained a pretty insignificant skill that isn’t entirely relevant to your style.

    I view the three shortcuts you mentioned as training wheels. Sometimes I use the key mixing stuff just because I have SO much stuff that it giving me 20 to choose from makes targeting a lot easier.

    1. Yes, while these tools can be great assistance, people should not rely on them. Knowing your music and ‘feeling’ what to play next, is often better than letting a computer decide. Do whatever feels right for you, these are just my observations!
      Thanks for your comment!

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