Episode 144 – Mailbag

Your questions:
– What do you do about not getting paid at the end of the night/taking less pay on slow nights?
– How do you go about recording a mix/CD?
– How much top 40/newer tracks can i get away with playing without “burning”.
– How do you about breaking a record? 
– Do most DJ’s use their DJing laptop as their production laptop?

Email us with your questions at remixreport@gmail.com and put “Mailbag” in the subject line.

3 comments

  1. Excellent points made guys! Good answers to some good questions. When it comes to mix cds(or mix MP3s nowadays lol) I have to agree with what JD said about how it really depends what your going for, weather to use a DAW or go live(however I know JD feels strongly about going live for the most part) Personally Im on the fence about both JDs and Springs take on how to produce these mixes.

    I always did my mixes live, no matter what for about 9 or 10 years, and then I found Acid Pro, and it became so addicting to produce my mixes in a DAW format. Almost since the beginnig of DJing, I was always messing around with pre-produced music production at the same time, and I think that right there allowed me to explore further into the DAW world versus if I was just a DJ, I might of not explored the DAW format back then.

    These days though, If we the DJ really are having a problem deciding if we should be all live or DAW based, there are solutions to sort of “bridge” the gap between the two. As DJs, we can have our cake and eat it too…And the partnership between Serato and Ableton have done just that. However I would like to point out, since Im a fan of both Live and DAW productions, I would never look down on a DJ for choosing either way. Within either way, I feel the DJs “style” will dominate the listener if done correctly. My whole take on making a demo for a club owner is two fold. If you want to make a more in depth production, you may choose the DAW route, however sometimes there may be a situation where the club owner may want a short quick mix of how you would mix at the thier club….you know they may just be looking for stuff like, if you can keep the mix on beat, and if you have the right kind of music to fit there demographic within thier crowd, and therefore submitting a “live” demo would probably def benefit you. If you were to hand them a sick in depth pre-produced DAW mix, and lets say you couldnt duplicate that at the club, lack the equipment you may need to pull it off, then that club owner may hire you based on your killer skill on the ones and twos, and when you show up, thier image of you is set maybe higher than what you can actually produce live. However, maybe you have been in the game for a while, and I think seasoned professional DJs like JD and Spring for example, they are consistently on point “live” and can always rock a venue, so if Im a club owner and I know what they can bring to the venue, this is a case where if they were to make a heavily pre-produced DAW mixtape, your not going to be disapointed live, because you know of thier track record.

    With the onset of the bridge, it almost makes the choice of live vs. DAW production a thing of the past to some extent. This of course is only helpful if you are a Serato and Ableton user. It def marrys the live and pre-production worlds together flawlessly IMO, and if you add a controller like the apc40 or such to your exsisting DJ rig, you really have innovative control of your mix, both live and later for pre-production. I too am a perfectionist, and find myself going back into the mix more than I should. 10 years ago I started recording my mixtapes on Acid Pro, and was use to doing mixtapes this way, because I loved(and still do)making eleaborate mixtapes with a lot going on musicaly. Years later I switched to Ableton, and currently Acid is a thing of the past for me. Ableton when compared with Acid, is so much more intuitive, and helps you in being more creative, and works on both platforms which is a plus versus Acid, if you choose to be a Mac DJ. Again this is my own opinion, cause Acid is still in its own right a very powerful program, and I know a lot of guys who can rock that program, and make some sick killer productions on it. Its just that Ableton is the next generation of what Acid graced us with in the past! The bridge gives you the ability to go fully live with your mix(recording mistakes and all) and later on you can go back into Ableton and work on your “live” mix in a pre-production fashion. Just the ability to record all live, then go back and have the ability to throw in drops and such, and also at the same time be able to fix any messups that you may have done within your live mix is pretty amazing. However like I said Im on the fence as which is the better way, because as both JD and Spring have mentioned in this and an earlier episode, it really is what you are trying to achieve. And personally for me, I would never look down on a DJ who pre produces his mixtapes, Im guilty of it too for some of my mixes. However if I had to make a straight thru live demo, I have all the confidence in the world that I can do it, seeing I started this way, and over half my career in DJing has been this way as well. I remember way back when I heard that some very famous commercial top name DJs and compilation mixes were done on a DAW, I felt the need to explore this avenue, and Im glad I did. Its really helpful for anyone just starting out to get familiar with both, because it will with out a doubt make you a better “live” DJ, and “pre-production” Music Producer.

    Springs point on breaking a record is absolutly correct. I remeber a friend of mine who liked Tiesto, would love going to his shows when the chance would arise. He was always excited to see what Tiesto would “break”, so then he could hopefully find the song to play in his sets. Nowadays TV shows are playing into “breaking” a song as well. Take Jersey Shore and MTV based shows in general. To each thier own weather you like these shows, however they do a good job in marketing and breaking songs and artists alike. I found artists I may of never knew of like “Midi Mafia” ,”Megha Maan”, and “The DNC” to name some.

    Lastly, I use two computers, a desktop for all production, and a laptop for DJing/Internet.
    Ive done this for about 10 years now, because of one of my friends in the game schooled me this way. He told me then to keep your productions on a non-internet/no-virus software computer to avoid getting viruses, and of course this was many years ago, and its not that thats even an issue anymore, however like JD mentioned in this episode, for me its more of a convience to have them. I think of my laptop as a research library that I too spend a gazillion hours on in just research, and I like to have my productions “active” so I can go back in forth!

  2. I forgot to mention…JDs multitask use of his laptop should be a well defined testament to how you can use your laptop hardcore, and not break a sweat. I think the platform a DJ chooses to produce and DJ says a lot, and there are a good amount of people I know who invest soley in one good Mac laptop for all uses because they know it will stand the test of time. I dont know too many people who do the same on a PC laptop…lol

  3. Very good mailbag this week. If I can chime in on the questions at hand.

    – What do you do about not getting paid at the end of the night/taking less pay on slow nights?
    JD hit it on the nail. Unless if its a venue owner or promoter you’ve worked with a lot in the past, You can take a small hit, but don’t make it something that happens all the time. A lot of venue owners use this tactic to bring down DJ pay across the board. That is how pay went from $400 to $100-150 a night in my metro area. A few DJ’s allowed it to happen = now every DJ takes a cut in pay or doesn’t play at all.

    – How do you go about recording a mix/CD?
    To me, It truly depends on what you are trying to achieve with the mix. To me, There are 3 types of mixes. 1 – Live, Uncut, raw on the decks mixing. 2 – Multitrack mix, where you can mix on your decks but clean everything up using a DAW and 3 – Studio mix, where you dump a bunch of tracks into ableton and make a set without ever touching decks. For demos, It’s always best to record live. Definitely follow JD & Spring’s advice about stop where you are, replay the track and re-record a bad section. With DAW’s, It’s easy to put together later on. I find myself doing more Digital sets using ACID and Ableton, Due to timing. I do a weekly radio mix on 997NOW and find it easier to whip up something clean and quickly via ableton vs sitting at home (If I am ever there) to record a set on decks.

    – How much top 40/newer tracks can i get away with playing without “burning”.
    If you play stuff within a year or 2, You should be fine. There is so much music out there, It’s hard to believe some DJ’s open with 12am heaters all the time. LOL

    – How do you about breaking a record?
    I try to break records early on in the night, usually dropping in between hotter, already established material, to gauge the reaction of the crowd. With so much new music dropping these days on a daily basis, You should be testing out a lot of new material every week, just to see where it goes.

    – Do most DJ’s use their DJing laptop as their production laptop?
    I have 2 laptops. A pc based laptop where all my production, radio mixes, recording, organization is done on. My MacBookPro is strictly for DJing, though I just installed Ableton on it so It can harness the powers of SERATO BRIDGE. So it may change in the upcoming few weeks.

    Good advice overall. DJ’s, Take notes. I wish this resource existed when I was a teenage DJ.

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