6 Important EDM Subgenres DJs Should Know

DJ Playing EDM

Electronic Dance Music, or better known as EDM has dominated the club and party scene for years. EDM is not a genre in and of itself, but rather an umbrella term for electronically produced music of many different styles. It can encompass everything from dance beats to ambient, chill-out music. The only similarities between the different styles of EDM are how they are produced and their technical elements. Many styles of EDM use bass synthesizers, drum machines and other inorganic sounds. These elements characterize EDM as a whole.

EDM emerged in the mid-1980s as music technology became readily available for artists to use. It expanded internationally in the 90s and has continued to grow into a wide array of genres and subgenres. These genres evolve continuously as DJs and producers blend, remix, and rehash different sounds into new combinations.

As a new DJ starting out, you might wonder which genre you should work with or where to even begin. This handy guide will walk you through some of the most popular EDM subgenres and give you an overview of the history, sound, influences, and popular artists of each genre.

House

House music originated in Chicago’s underground club scene in the early to mid-1980s. DJs of the time mixed the soaring 70s disco vocals with synth and electronic production. These new sounds exploded across the country and around the world. Today, it’s one of the most dominant genres of EDM, with many subgenres characterized by their own unique sounds and production styles.

Classic house is characterized by 4/4 kick drum rhythms, funky basslines, and sampled soulful vocals. These sounds are designed to get you up on the floor dancing the night away, and house is still quite popular in clubs. Notable subgenres include acid house, deep house, progressive house, and electro house. 

BPM: 115-130

Notable Artists: Frankie Knuckles, Larry Heard, Daft Punk, Calvin Harris, Deadmau5, Avicii

Trance

Trance dominated the EDM scene for many years, although it has waned in popularity over the last decade. Originating in the German club scene in the late 80s and early 90s, trance is characterized by soaring melodies, long build-ups, and a slightly faster tempo than House. Tracks are usually instrumental, but can have dreamy, usually female vocals that don’t follow a typical verse-chorus structure.

The mood of trance is usually euphoric, getting its inspiration from and hitting its heyday in the ecstasy-fueled raves of the mid-90s. Light and airy. Its popularity has given way to harder styles in recent years, it’s still easy listening and upbeat to dance to. Trance also has several subgenres, including vocal trance that contains more structured vocals, and psychedelic trance.

BPM: 135-150

Notable Artists: Armin Van Buurin, Paul Van Dyk, Paul Okenfold, Tiesto

Techno

Techno was born out of the predominantly African American music scene in Detroit in the mid-80s. Although techno has earlier roots in disco and funk from the 70s. Influenced by Kraftwerk, the four on the floor rhythms of techno, really hit its stride once it made its way overseas. Like house music, techno found a home in European clubs, and in 1988, UK journalist Neil Rushton released a music compilation record titled Techno! (The New Dance Sound of Detroit). From there, “Detroit Techno” was put on the map, becoming a staple of European rave culture for many years.

Primarily instrumental, techno is characterized by pounding beats and a repetitive sound meant to be the base of a DJ’s set, blending seamlessly from one track into the next. Futuristic sounds have always been part of techno’s signature sound and are what set it apart from other genres. It has also given birth to several subgenres and spinoffs, such as digital hardcore, acid techno, and even trance.

BPM: 120-150

Notable Artists: Kraftwerk, Jeff Mills, Kevin Saunderson, Nina Kraviz, Aphex Twin, Carl Cox

Garage

Also known as UK Garage (and pronounced ‘Garridge’ like the British pronunciation), Garage developed out of house in Europe in the mid-1990s. The term’s use in the U.S. was coined from the eclectic playlist of New York’s popular gay club “Paradise Garage”. However, the genre itself developed more from its’ UK roots. A faster tempo than house music, the 4/4 beat of the early influences of Garage became too fast to dance to, so DJs dropped every other beat to create “speed garage”, and eventually 2-step Garage.

Garage has other influences in Drum and Bass, Jungle, Hip Hop, and other genres, making it a blend of many different sounds. It’s mostly characterized by syncopated drums with shuffled rhythms and pitch-shifted vocals. The mid-2000s to early 2010s brought about other subgenres and derivative genres, such as dubstep, bassline, and grime.

BPM: 128-140

Notable Artists: MJ Cole, Zed Bias, Ms. Dynamite, Disclosure

Dubstep

Speaking of Garage subgenres, Dubstep has become its own notable and popular subgenre to the point it’s essentially a full genre of its own. Dubstep evolved from Garage and 2-step in the early 2000s, slowly increasing in popularity in Europe and beyond up through the later half of the decade. Spreading mainly through the internet, dubstep became a dominant cultural phenomenon in the pop music scene thanks to American artists like Skrillex in the early 2010s. Its’ trademark sounds even made their way into top-charting pop hits.

Defined by its’ characteristic “wobble-bass” and darker tone and rhythms, Dubstep uses a lot of different sounds for complex, layered tracks. There aren’t a lot of vocals involved in most dubstep, with producers sticking mainly to samples they edit nearly beyond recognition. The wildly popular American variety of dubstep has evolved into a subgenre of its own called brostep, but as of 2021 dubstep’s popularity has decreased substantially.

BPM: 138-142

Notable Artists: Skrillex, Zomboy, Knife Party, Krewella, Flux Pavilion

Drum and Bass

Drum and Bass, often stylized as Drum ‘n’ Bass or simply DnB, originated from the early 90s UK rave scene. Heavily emphasizing—you guessed it, drums and basslines—the genre was influenced by breakbeat and jungle tracks, as well as Jamaican styles such as dub and reggae. DnB reached peak popularity across Europe in the mid to late-90s but started to dwindle towards the start of the new millennium. However, it still has a strong niche audience and core set of artists, and its sound makes for a fantastic dance floor atmosphere.

Syncopation is the name of the game for DnB, with rolling basslines and sampled drum breakbeats making up the core part of its’ sound. The most influential track in DnB history was 1969’s “Amen Brother” by The Winstons. The 7-second-long drum breakbeat known as the “Amen break” has been widely sampled throughout the genre, providing the backbone to its’ sound as a whole. Multiple sampled breakbeats in the same track are common, the artist switching back and forth between them to create complex, syncopated rhythms.  DnB has evolved into multiple subgenres with different tones and conventions, such as darkstep, liquid funk, jump-up, and techstep.

BPM: 160-180

Notable Artists: Pendulum, Noisia, Andy C, Netsky

The Evolving EDM Landscape

This is by no means an exhaustive list of every genre and subgenre of EDM. The musical landscape of EDM continues to evolve and grow, giving way to new sounds and blends of existing genres until they transform into something new. There are hundreds of styles out there, each just waiting to be discovered. New DJs should listen to many genres and experiment with their own sound to figure out what style of mixing or producing they want to do. You can take the time to craft your own unique sound and style, learning from those who came before. And just have fun with it! You never know, you could help to create the next big sound in EDM.

Want to add a personalized touch to your next set for the perfect, memorable sound? Look no further than our custom DJ Drops.

5 Tips For New DJs

New DJ tips

In the world of entertainment, DJs’ stand head and shoulders above the rest. Their tendency to be at every major event, party, and social gathering makes them the conductors of upscale entertainment. They can command the room with the touch of a button and a word on the mic. Truly the status of being a successful DJ has risen to prolific status over the past couple of years. 

That makes it all sound enticing right? So you’ve decided to have a hand at the craft yourself. First off, congrats! You’ve taken the first step into becoming the true life of the party. Second, here are a few tips that we believe can help you as someone who is starting out as a DJ!

Tip 1- Tell People

No one ever knows what your job is without you telling them, right? Well the same thing goes for any creative field. That includes being a DJ! One of the first and most brave steps you can take in this field is making sure you are telling everyone that you’re now a DJ. Word of mouth is the longest standing, yet most under-appreciated, form of marketing that there is. By simply getting the word out, you are doing yourself a ton of favors in the long run in terms of getting gigs and making people aware of who you are.

You can also couple this practice by passing out business cards or linking people with your social media accounts for your new creative business. This essentially guarantees that people can at least put your new found profession to the face which goes a long way in establishing any kind of relationship with potential clients. Remember, you’re only as good as your word so use it!

Tip 2- Hone Your Setup

It’s not surprising to learn that there are a TON of options in terms of equipment and gear. Being a DJ is one of the most technologically based performance arts there is. That is why a DJ could spend years working on their setup, and even then there is  tinkering and small changes to be made. Do yourself a favor and make sure you have a setup you’re happy with before taking gigs. It helps to think about what kind of DJ you want to be. Do you want to DJ weddings, parties, company events, etc? These types of questions won’t only help you decide what kind of gear you need, but also help you plan out what you’ll do financially in terms of investment on gear. Remember that sometimes less is more.

Sure it’s easy to fall into the trap of always wanting the next thing. It’s also easy to associate success with a bigger setup, but that simply isn’t true. Practice investing in items and gear that will have the best return on investment. When starting out in any business you want to make sure you’re spending money wisely, so the best advice is to treat this like a business. If you wish to be successful you must be fiscally responsible. Blowing all your money on gear will not help you for sure in the long run. Hone your craft and hone your gear to suit your specific needs. 

Tip 3- Create a Brand or Persona

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to come up with some hip DJ sounding name in the same vein of guys like Skrillex or Major Lazer. This just means that you should find something unique about yourself and run with it. Blast your uniqueness on every piece of marketing you have and set yourself apart from the rest of the pack. You almost want to make it a part of your identity. If you can differentiate yourself from the hundreds of other people also looking to become DJs’ then you set yourself up for success.

So create a name, logo, artwork, persona, personality that’s unique to you and embrace it. You can also use sound and graphics to set yourself apart! NYE Countdown offers up many different drops and video drops that you can incorporate into your sound to further your own special identity. If you embrace what makes yourself special as a performer you could go far!

Tip 4- Setup an Online Presence 

As an aspiring DJ, social media will be your best friend. Social media is a great (and free) way to reach an audience you can’t necessarily reach in person. If you take the steps to market yourself properly on social media that shows a person or artist that is willing to take the time and show off their craft. If you’re in the mix of just starting, you should still try and increase your social media following! People love seeing the journey. They love feeling connected to an artist and as a DJ you’re part entertainer and part artist. By establishing a connection through various online platforms not only are you spreading your overall presence, but you’re also building a rapport with your audience. This compels them to engage with you more which will then turn around and boost your social media presence as well.

A little secret of the trade, the more you interact on social media the more your profiles get viewed! This will widen your audience overall and strengthen the bond your more long standing followers have with you. If they can tell their friends they knew you before you were a big shot DJ they will further appreciate you as an artist and performer. It also might benefit to look at agencies who work in social media outreach like Killerspots Agency who help lead brands worldwide. 

Tip 5- Embrace Music

If you don’t have a true passion for music, this is the part where you forget everything you just read and hang it up right now! Being a DJ means you are the composer of music on any given night. If the last thing you think about when being a DJ is the music then you’re in the wrong field. You would be much more suited to be a performer or hype-man. People want DJs’ who will embrace music and create playlists and tracks that are catered to their specific event. Without a passion for something your overall work will just come across as stale and lifeless.

People can definitely tell when a DJ has a love and passion for music as opposed to someone who is just chasing the applause. Don’t be that guy. Don’t be a DJ because it seems like a fast track to popularity or notoriety. Do it because you love the hype and mood song and music can put people in. With this love of music and a little bit of hard work you’re already well on your way to success. So take your arms and embrace that love of music as you go on with your journey into becoming a successful DJ!

5 Crowd Hyping Tips

DJ preforming

As a working DJ, commanding the room is imperative to what you do. Since you’re the centerpiece of the entertainment, it’s your job to make sure everyone is having a great time. This can sometimes be a daunting task. It’s one thing to put on some songs and let the night go. When you’re a professional though you’re expected to go beyond being a human jukebox. Honestly, what’s more fun than crowd hyping?

You’re the curator of the night, and how you command the place has a direct effect on how much fun people are having. So what can you do? What are some ways you can make sure people are having fun? Well, here are some helpful tips on how you can get a crowd hyped and out of their seats!

Tip 1- Read the Room

A huge part of commanding an audience is sheer presence. It’s about how you present yourself to the crowd in front of you. To do this it helps to read the room and adjust your set and personality accordingly with the setting provided. If you’re at a wedding, it may not be the best idea to bass drop while jumping up and down like a mad man. On the contrary, if you’re playing a club, it might not be a good idea to be cracking jokes and letting the tracks spin. 

It’s all about the situation you’re in. Be smart and use common sense when trying to determine how to play up to the crowd in front of you. It also helps to have knowledge of the event beforehand. The more you know about the gig before it happens the more you can prepare yourself for the crowd you’ll be playing for. Just think ahead and adapt to the audience whenever you feel necessary! It is your show afterall. 

Tip 2- Trust Your Instincts 

You wouldn’t believe the amount of people who get on stage and actively try to make themselves more reserved. If you’re thinking something will look cool, do it. If your body is telling you to jump or dance, do it. That’s your body and mind telling you to have fun. If you’re enjoying yourself  that means the people you’re entertaining will too! 

By allowing yourself to let go, it shows to the crowd you’re there to have a good time as much as they are.That helps establish a connection between the two of you. Also allowing your instincts to take over is a great way to experiment with your stage presence. As you do more things on stage, you recognize what works and what doesn’t. From there you can build on that knowledge and become an even better performer! So get out there, and as Eminem puts it, lose yourself in the music! 

Tip 3- Use Appropriate Drops

Not every gig needs thumping drops, but when they work, boy, do they work. A perfectly timed drop that follows constantly  building music is one of the most natural and satisfying ways to get a crowd hyped! The best way to describe it is like reaching a very satisfying ending to a good story and for the story to go continuously and for it to be better than before. It’s basically the payoff to all the energy and excitement being built to it. 

Ultimately finding the perfect drop makes getting the crowd off their feet easier than ever! Luckily for you there are plenty of places to find exciting drops! NYE Countdown offers a number of drops that is sure to get people onto the dance floor. With such a wide variety as well, you’re sure to find a drop for almost any gig. It can be a club, wedding, work event, etc. No matter what the situation may be, the drop can help sell the fun of the moment. Accompany a NYE drop with captivating video graphics and you’re sure to be the life of the party!

Tip 4- Don’t be Afraid of the Mic

Granted, you can easily be a DJ without a mic. Having one though ensures a direct line between you and the audience. If you do find yourself using a mic in your setup, make sure you’re using it! As a DJ it can sometimes be easy to lose yourself in the music side of things. The music and track list is important, however some can argue that interacting with the crowd is just as important. That’s why it’s so imperative to take advantage of the microphone. 

By communicating to the crowd you’re making a connection between yourself and them. They feel more involved with what’s going on and you can even make them feel like a part of the show. By doing this it directly gets the audience involved which makes for more fulfilling and fun interactions. It also gives you a chance to showcase more of your persona and personality. This allows yourself to appear more like a professional and in turn can lead to more gigs through the associations you create by simply interacting with the crowd!

Tip 5- Plan Ahead

This seems a little contradictory to tip number two where we talked about trusting your instincts. Sure, letting yourself go makes things feel more fun and natural. That doesn’t mean you can’t plan what you’re going to do on stage at certain points! Some things simply work better as a coordinated effort. Take the band Metallica for example. It isn’t a happy accident when they all decide to bang their heads at certain parts of the song at the same time. Although this is a planned act, it still looks cool and natural. 

As a DJ you can do something very similar. Listen to your track list a few times. Pay attention to parts of the mix where you can envision the crowd reacting in certain ways to the music. . I mean, it’s more than likely you’ve done this before without even noticing it. If a song feels like it has a moment where people can bounce, plan a moment where you tell the crowd to bounce. If it feels like the crowd should be swaying their arms back and forth, plan to get  those hands in the air. A little bit of pre-planning never hurts anything, and that includes ways in how you’re going to get the crowd hyped!

5 Tips For Your First DJ Gig

DJ Soundboard

Congratulations, you landed your first gig as a working DJ! You’ve taken the first in what will be many amazing steps on your journey as an independent working DJ and artist. This is a moment that is worth celebrating. Be sure to savor every minute of what’s soon to happen and be proud of the work you’ve put in to get here. Remember, you can only do your first gig one time! So we’ve decided to share some tips on how to handle your first DJ gig!

As much as this should be a happy moment, it’s understandable that you may have some nerves as well. Trying something for the first time always leaves us with a feeling of anticipation mixed with nervousness. This is perfectly normal! If you weren’t nervous that would mean you didn’t care about your craft, and at the end of it all, it’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something astronomical. Here are a few tips to help put those nerves to rest so you can enjoy this special moment even more!

Tip 1- Check, Check, and Check Again…

Nothing leaves a working artist, musician, or performer with a bigger pit in their stomach than realizing they’ve forgotten something. Keeping track of your equipment is essential on any given gig day, and that goes double for a DJ. You want to make sure you have all the important cords  and cables with you before you head out for the show. One of the worst feelings is realizing you forgot one cable and spend the rest of the night trying to fix that one tiny mistake.

It helps to create some sort of checklist if you have an immense amount of gear. Another practice you could do to ensure nothing goes missing throughout the day is make sure your gear is always gathered in one central location with each other. By making sure everything is in one place the odds of something going missing goes way down. This is something you can do after the gig as well. Just make sure you’re checking over your gear to make sure you have all the necessary tools you need so you don’t put more stress on yourself when you should be excited!

Tip 2- Checking Your Tracklist

As the DJ you control the flow of the event. Every song, track, and drop should mean something. Your mix dictates the pace of the evening and it’s important to keep this in mind before you even step foot into the event or gig. It’s helpful to go over the track list multiple times beforehand and even once more the night before. Make sure you plan when things should pick up, and when things should slow down. Plan your drops accordingly and make sure they fit with what is going on in the track list. Also make sure to pick up drops that work best with your set.

Sites like NYE Countdown makes it easy as the variety of drops and countdowns ensures that there’s something for any working DJ! By picking the right tracks and drops you are curating how the set will dip and flow. Be mindful of your choices and sound. Take into account the event itself and what would be most appropriate for that particular setting. By picking the right tracks and drops it shows you can adapt and DJ in any situation! Couple that with some possible video graphics from NYE Countdown as well, then you’re ready for a night that people won’t soon forget!

Tip 3- Capture Content

It’s very easy to block out the outside world on the day of your first gig. You can find yourself getting tunnel vision and solely focusing on what the night will be like. Although this is totally understandable it’s important to remember there are still other business matters you can be taking care of! As a DJ it’s important to remember that you must constantly fuel your online presence, and nothing screams interesting online content more than capturing your first gig! It’s as simple as taking a few photos throughout the day and posting them. You can also use other various social media tools like video or going live to give people a behind the scenes look at how your day is going.

Audiences like to feel like they’re connected with whoever they’re looking into. By giving your online base a look into your world you’re building a stronger relationship with them. Engaging content like this is a way to interact with potential fans and clients. It also helps to capture content after the gig as well. By doing this, it makes it seem like all went well ( we all know it will.) This can lead to more bookings as it now makes you a more established DJ.  If you’re unsure how to go about creating or using this content, places like Killerspots Agency can guide you through it so you can ensure you’re maximizing your online presence!

Tip 4- Communicate and Update

Communication is key in any field. Whoever booked you for this gig is putting a great amount of trust in you, so it’s important that you have a clear line of communication between the two of you. Make sure any and all business matters were taken care of before the day of the gig and that the two parties have clearly communicated their expectations. Remember, you’re trying to leave a good impression to possibly establish a long-term business relationship. Entertaining a crowd that night will be a blast, so why not do everything you can to make sure you can come back and do it all over again?

You’ll also want to make sure that you are updating the host or booker on any possible updates that happen throughout the day. They can be pretty forgiving of most things as long as you’re being open, honest, and constant in terms of communicating. Remember that you are now a professional. You booked the gig and can view yourself as a certified professional DJ, so make sure you’re communicating as a professional! Arrive early and let your voice be heard. 

Tip 5- Just Breathe

You didn’t get to where you are by some fluke accident. If you’ve managed to book your first gig, then that means you’ve put in the legwork to get to where you are. You’ve probably spent months practicing, investing in gear, doing outreach to potential clients. Now is the moment to reap the rewards for all that hard work.

Sure it can be scary and intimidating, but this is what you’ve been wanting! There’s no need to let nerves get in the way of a day that you will remember for the rest of your life. No matter what happens you can only go up from here. Focus on what’s important and that’s the big picture. You’ve put all the pieces together yourself and now you get to go out and do what you do best. So have fun, give them a show they won’t soon forget, and just breathe!

How To Build A Setlist

build a setlist

A well thought out and planned setlist can mean the difference between a great performance or an awful one. But how can you make the perfect setlist that will keep the crowd entertained and keep you getting booked? We’re here to help. Here’s our list of important tips on how to build a setlist for your next gig.

How To Build A Setlist

Location, location, location

Whether you like it or not certain musical venues expect certain styles of music. For example, when you’re DJing in a wine bar your audience expects music they can talk over. If you’re DJing in a mainstream club people expect some tracks they recognize. In a hotel events room, you’ll probably want to keep the intensity of your tunes down a notch or two.

What time is the show?

Playing the right music at the right time is vitally important, this helps meet expectations that you have no control over. The type of set people will want at 10 pm will be different than the one they want at 3 am. Typically, clubs like to build up the intensity during the evening and keep the crowd energized right to the end. Which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Save some of your hardest drops for the end of the show to keep the crowd wild right until the last call.

How long is the show?

One of the most important factors for creating your setlist is how long your set is going to be. Not only for selecting the right number of tunes but also to curate the vibe throughout the set. Here’s an easy format to build your sets based on the duration of the show:

  • 10-30 minute set: You can launch right into your set. Try to make a big impact on the audience during the short time you have.
  • 30 minutes-1 hour: Make sure to open with something special. You should build the energy up over the first half, maintain it for 10-15 minutes, and then end with something memorable.
  • 1-2 hours: With this time frame, you have plenty of time to build up and switch to new styles. Or you can tease the crowd over the first hour and let it rip in the second.
  • 2+ hours: The energy levels will peak and plateau during a longer set. So be prepared to re-energize the crowd and throw plenty of surprises their way.

Think about your specific audience

Who are you playing for? It’s important to keep in mind the overall demographics of your audience. If you have a younger crowd at a typical club, play a mixture of the top 40 hits. When there’s an older crowd at an event, play some of the hits from the past couple of decades. If you have a group of people of different ages, the key is to play things that everyone’s going to identify with. Mix up your top 40s hits with songs from the 70s, and 80s. Remixes can also be super helpful during a mixed-aged party.

Pay attention to the tempo

When you’re building a setlist, you need to ensure that you’re not dividing it predictably when it comes to tempo. You shouldn’t have 3 slow songs in a row, followed by 3 fast songs. When you do this, you hinder the effectiveness of your songs. Your slow songs will feel drawn out and boring, while your fast songs won’t seem as fun or intense.

There’s one main principle you should follow when it comes to tempo, focus on the show and not the song. Your fastest songs should directly follow or precede your slowest ones. Mid-tempo songs should go between one extreme or the other, but never in the same way repeatedly. For example, don’t build a set that’s a fast song, mid-tempo song, slow song, repeated throughout your entire show. Mix it up and give your audience a memorable night.

Keys

Similar to tempo, you don’t want to play every song in your set within the same key. It’s not as strict as playing a couple of songs in the same tempo. Just use your best judgment. If two songs could be mistaken for one another, there should be several songs between them.

Transitions

It’s important to make the transitions between your songs smooth. If you try to cut between some industrial remix of a hard rock song and a bubbly pop song, you’re going to leave your audience confused. It’s important to make your transitions as smooth as possible. You should be matching the sounds, energy, beats, and styles between your transitions.

Don’t overdo the effects

Many DJs use effects to help transition from one record to another and to enhance their DJ performance. Neither of these things are bad, but they become a problem if you rely on them. Use your sound to create interest before turning to the effects. Then when you do drop that echo it will be something special instead of redundant or annoying.

Find the perfect effects for your setlist here. 

Don’t be afraid of the unknown

Every song you play doesn’t have to be one that everyone at the party will know. Introducing a couple of new and breaking songs can be a nice surprise to your audience. You might end up introducing someone to their new favorite song, and it also builds connections. The person will associate the memory of that song with being at your set.

Don’t forget a Plan B

You never know what can happen at a show. Because of this, it’s always good to bring backup music in other formats that you can play. If you play off your laptop, bring CDs as a backup. An iPod full of your music is a great option to have for emergencies. Especially when one of your sources dies in the middle of your performance.

Have any more questions about how to build a setlist for your shows? You can contact us here!