For beginners, laptop DJing can be a bit of a minefield. There are just so many roads you can go down. Rather than recommending a particular piece of kit or hot new piece of software, we’ll take you through some top tips to help you get the best out of laptop DJing, whatever DJ setup you go for. Read on to find out about laptop DJing for beginners: 7 tips.
1. Ask Yourself ‘Why?’
Before you do anything else, understand why laptop DJing is going to be better for you than any other type of DJing. If you can’t list a few reasons why a laptop will make you a better DJ, then you’d better think of some! That way, you’ll make better decisions when it comes to choosing the right laptop DJing setup.
2. Research Software Options
Don’t restrict yourself to the big boys like Serato and Traktor. They may well end up being the choice for you, but you’ll be amazed at how many other DJ software packages are out there that have features you could never have imagined. There are plenty of articles comparing different packages - read a few before you take the plunge.
3. Understand the Relationship Between Hardware and Software
There are many DJ controllers on the market that are designed with a specific piece of software in mind. That isn’t to say that you can’t use software with hardware that may have been tailored towards another package – almost everything can be mapped if you want it to – but just be aware that you can’t always have the same creative flow. Both the controller and software should be regarded as a partnership rather than trying to fit one with the other.
4. Sort Out Your Music Collection
If you’re starting out as a laptop DJ you quite simply have to organize your DJ library collection properly in order to get the best out of it. Experiment with different ways of arranging your music and then stick with one. You may decide to arrange your files to fit best with whichever piece of software you’re using, or you may try and make the software fit with a structure you’ve already created. Whatever your choice – take the time to do your homework and get this right.
5. Save Cue Points and Markers
For the same reasons as above: you’ve now got the technology there that enables you to do things that you couldn’t do with a bag of vinyl and a set of 1210s… so use it! There is so much you can do to each track in advance of a live performance. Whenever you’re practicing, always try and capture the good creative ideas you have along the way. Markers and cue points are the two most obvious ways to do this.
6. Have a Backup Plan
Once you start playing out, think to yourself, “what happens if my laptop fails?” or “what happens if my controller stops working?” Find a way to guarantee that you will still be able to play music if one of the key parts of your setup goes down. The solutions to this will vary from setup to setup, but a good starting point is to understand how your controller could be used without the power from the laptop. There is normally a way to do this.
7. Consider How Much Room You Need
This continues the theme of ‘doing your homework’ when it comes to laptop DJing. The technology is great, but the variables that laptop DJing pose need to be respected. In a live environment you may well be plugging in to a standard club/bar DJ setup, so you need to find out exactly where your controller/laptop is going to go. Get this clear with the venue beforehand – there should simply be no doubt about logistical matters like this.