I work as a professional DJ and cater to a wide variety of clients. One of the biggest challenges I face as a DJ is keeping my sets fresh and new. Some performers like to come up with a great setlist and then stick to it. They repeat this at every gig they do. Instead I prefer to make each show a unique experience by playing a completely original arrangement of songs. I encourage all other DJs to do the same. Over the years there have been several set ideas that I have found to be particularly fun. I have noticed that these gigs have gotten my audiences up and dancing. From the looks on their faces they had a very fun time. These set ideas can be utilized by any DJ to help inspire their own performances.
The Eurovision Song Contest has been around since the 1950s. It has provided me with a treasure trove of great songs to play when I DJ. American audiences have sometimes never even heard them before. I tend to play Eurovision themed parties around the time when the actual contest is being held. I favor lesser known tracks so that I can introduce them to the people who come to my shows. Then at the end I set aside an hour to highlight the more popular classic songs from Eurovision. They are usually fairly cheesy and camp but the crowds love them.
Throughout the year there are numerous highly publicized music awards. The biggest ones are the Grammys and Brit Awards. I will sometimes base my gig on the nominees. I not only play the songs that are up for awards but also more obscure tracks from the artists. This helps to minimize the audience having to listen to tunes that they are sick of hearing. I like to invite crowd participation by getting everyone to voice their support for who should win the award. I ask them to cheer and the artist who gets the loudest reception is the winner.
This is by far the most common set idea that I regularly use. The weekly charts are constantly changing and so the tracks I end up playing can vary wildly. The time of year will also have an impact. For example, during the festive season the bulk of my tracks are Christmas themed. My main issue with this gig concept is that sometimes a song will stay in the charts for numerous weeks. This forces me to play them which can get repetitive very quickly.
When New Year’s Eve comes around I enjoy playing shows where I can showcase some of the best tracks that have been released in the past year. These do not always have to be chart toppers. Instead they could be ones that I personally feel deserving of greater recognition. The selection process is fun but time consuming as it demands an annual review of modern music. Once again I encourage audience participation by allowing them to ask me for requests.
I have noticed that the vast majority of the shows I perform at involve playing recognizable tracks. However, I feel that part of the responsibility of a DJ is to introduce people to new artists. There are many bands and singers out there who are not even signed to a label. I seek them out online and ask permission to play their songs. Doing so is mutually beneficial.
Outside of DJing I am a massive movie fan and always pay attention to the soundtrack. This includes both the original score and any songs that are tied to its marketing. I will occasionally base an entire setlist on some of my favorite ones. The instrumental nature of film scores makes them perfect for sampling. This allows me to create sounds that are unique to my DJ gigs.