Playing my first house party. Top 40, age group 30-45.
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  1. #1

    Default Playing my first house party. Top 40, age group 30-45.

    Hello everyone. Thanks for taking the time to checkout my thread here.

    I am a hobbyist. I have a solid career (not in music), married, and have kids. I really don't have aspirations to become a famous DJ and tour the world. I love music and I do enjoy sharing my love of music with others. I am in my late 30's. I have been playing music (guitar, piano, percussion) since I was about 15 years old. I was in a high school band and played out a few times. My brother, who is also into music as a hobby, bought the S4 about 3 years ago. I have been messing around with it here and there. A while back ago I decided I wanted to jump into this hobby, and bought n S4, a couple of QSC k10's, and a K181 sub. Its been a blast.

    Well I guess a few of our friends have been paying attention. I got asked yesterday to DJ for a house party in two weeks from now, and Top 40 music was requested. I have never been to this party in the past, but I hear its pretty raging until the wee hours of the morning. Its a birthday party our friend puts on each year and people look forward to it. I am guessing maybe 50-75 people.

    I have love for a large variety of music. I live near SF and have seen many of the great old school DJ's in the early and late 90's (Doc Martin, Mark Farina, Garth, and dozens of others). Though, I learned and have spent most of my time on Top 40 music. Mostly because my wife and both my daughters love it. So when I play at home they dance around etc.

    Sorry for my long winded introduction, here is where the questions/advice needed comes in.

    I love to learn so I have read several articles about best practices for doing club performances and several techniques to raising and lowering the BPM over a set (raise over time, BPM down or long breakdowns to cycle people to the bar, etc). Though, for a house party I feel this might be different. Especially for Top 40? Any advice and/or thoughts and experience to share?

    Also, the concept of raising the BPM over a set makes sense to me for EDM. I wonder if this doesn't apply to Top 40 sets. The reason I ask, is I think of all the times I have been out dancing to Top 40. Sometimes those 70-90 BPM songs are the ones that makes me and everyone else go crazy (in a good way). By all means, I can easily setup my set list in order of BPM and then fine tune songs I think will mesh well with each other. Though, I am wondering if I shouldn't take this approach with Top 40.

    Lastly, I am not particularly worried to get myself heard/known as a result of this event (its not like I am trying to drum up business, I love my main job and it pays well). My main goal is to put together some great music and hopefully everyone will enjoy it. I don't plan on being a slave to the decks all night. I fully plan on turning on autopilot in Traktor at times so I can socialize, drink, and eat. Though, I am looking forward to having fun at the decks. Any advice or thoughts here would be great.

    P.S. It's not like I wouldn't mind playing gigs from time to time. Though, for me it wouldnt be about the money or becoming famous. I would do it because of the love of the music and the chance to meet and get to know other DJ's and producers (those circles).

    Thanks for the help.
    Last edited by ClrCreekRdr; 03-22-2013 at 12:31 PM.

  2. #2

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    Top40 is tricky business. The best advice I can give you is to know your music backwards and forwards, and to do some serious prep work, as top40 doesn't waste any time like edm does.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by mattmangrease View Post
    Top40 is tricky business. The best advice I can give you is to know your music backwards and forwards, and to do some serious prep work, as top40 doesn't waste any time like edm does.
    I hear you on that. I have heard people say that a lot. I will take your advice and think out my set carefully. Things I am thinking so far is to have 3x the music I think I need in my set. Most of my music already has all my queues configured and beatgrided cleanly, thought I will go through and make sure. I also have been considering playing through my proposed set at least once or twice before setting up.

    Interesting enough, Top 40 is what I learned on. The very first two tracks I ever beat matched were two house songs. After I figured our beatmatching, I moved on to Top 40 music. Since then TOP 40 is what I play 95% of the time. It's really not that hard for me, I don't know why. Though, I just play for myself and my family so I am not doing anything too tricky. I can mix verse to chorus to verse to chorus and all the different combinations. Sometimes I cue juggle, but not too much. Probably the most advanced thing I do is use effects like gator and echo when dropping tracks from Deck-A chorus to Deck-B verse.

  4. #4
    Tech Mentor djmetalgear's Avatar
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    Hey,

    I'll be honest, I didn't read your whole post (if you want more feed back, you're gonna have to provide cliffnotes/shortened posts. The internet has a short attention span).

    Anyways... for some advice for a top40 party...

    I DJ clubs in Philly, and Saturday I DJ a club that strictly wants top40 and some pop/edm that is passable as top 40 (calvin harris, david guetta).

    Anyways... you don't want to tire out people with continuous power music. There are some songs as you mentioned that people will get hype to that are not 128BPM. For instance-

    Bruno Mars- Locked Out of Heaven is around 75 or 80 BPM, but its a party starter. In order for you to control the atmosphere, you must know your music in and out. There are songs that are 128BPM and they are not party starters (some DJs that come to mind are some of Deadmau5's older tracks, and some Chris Lake). So its not really about the BPM, but its the energy level of the song.

    I like to do sets that consist of 30-40 minutes (with mixing, that'll be probably 8-10 songs) and you can start out with something of low energy and continue in that BPM range. Then let the last song play out entirely and start a new mini set with a new style of songs.

    I've learned the hard way that when playing top40, people are more interested in hearing their favorite verses than they are of your mixing techniques. Its fun to of course mix in songs, but you won't need to do much besides intro/outros. It will sound horrible if you try to cleverly mix a song in the 98BPM range with one that is 128BPM. Id rather let that first 98BPM just play out entirely and start fresh.

    Also, don't play a song solo without mixing it with something else. If someone requests a song, acknowledge their request, and get a few other songs u know will go with that song in terms of BPM range, get it set on a play list while ur current song is playing, and then u can go to that new set. It sounds awful when a DJ just jumps around from genre to genre.

    Another note- do NOT set a play list and thing you will run through that play list the whole night. Top 40 parties are all about feeling the crowd and reactions to song. You WILL run into a song where you think people will dig it, and you will get a shitty reaction. You'll need a back up plan, and if you continue on your set list you prepared, you will flounder. Just make sure that you are on your toes.

    For the ammount of music, if I'm doing a 4 hour set, I like to have AT LEAST 10 hours, if not more. I'd go with 12 to be safe.

    But above all else, please the crowd, not your ears, pay attention to their reactions, and you'll be fine. The best feeling is as a DJ is when you and the crowd are on the same wave length and you feel a connection through the music. Good luck.
    Last edited by djmetalgear; 03-22-2013 at 01:56 PM.
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  5. #5
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    Don't be afraid to throw in something funky if you feel like it. My experience with house parties is that "top40ish" is the best way to go, but feel things out likewise. If they're in the mood to dance, throw down some dance music! You can find a bunch of free dance remixes of top 40 songs on soundcloud, it's not the best place to find music in general, but a top 40 crowd won't have the most discerning ears anyway.
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  6. #6
    Tech Mentor djmetalgear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Culture_Shock View Post
    Don't be afraid to throw in something funky if you feel like it. My experience with house parties is that "top40ish" is the best way to go, but feel things out likewise. If they're in the mood to dance, throw down some dance music! You can find a bunch of free dance remixes of top 40 songs on soundcloud, it's not the best place to find music in general, but a top 40 crowd won't have the most discerning ears anyway.
    def this. i hate my saturday gigs cause its mainly top 40, so to spice it up, i find alot of remixes of songs that will make my mix sound and feel fresh.
    I'm a fan of all things art. Music, film, photography, acting, dancing. Expression is powerful.
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  7. #7

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    Thank you everyone for the advice and suggestions. Great stuff.

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