How Do DJs Interact With Crowds?

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We have all had our own experience of being at a rave and the DJ is completely off the mark. Maybe everyone is ready to go for it but the DJ is just playing slow jams, or the genre is just off.

Nothing is worse than a DJ who can’t read a crowd and seems to be lost in his own world. When you have paid for a ticket to an event you want the DJ to at least try and put on a good show rather than pleasing themselves.

How Do DJs Interact With Crowds

If you want to become a live DJ then the biggest things to consider is the crowd, who they are, the music they like, and how they interact with the songs you play.

There’s a balance that needs to be obtained between playing the music you enjoy listening to, and have found, and keeping the audience happy with songs they like and know.

In order to keep the crowd on your side you need to know what songs work and which don’t, or what genre the crowd is preferring, or simply which songs go down better than others.

When you are a beginner it can be hard to understand what exactly goes into these decisions and how they can affect your performance.

But as a beginner the biggest thing to realise is that DJing is all about crowd control, if you want to understand how to control a crowd then read on. 

How Do You Read A Crowd?

Well, this isn’t so cut and dry, being able to read a crowd is more of a skill you have than something that can so easily be learned. Some DJs simply know the genre they are mixing really well.

For example, you might only be into drum and bass, and if someone wanted you to play another genre you might not be into that, but this means that if you are at a drum and bass event you will be perfectly suited to read the crowd and hype them up according to your knowledge of the drum and bass genre.

If you’re well versed in the genre that you are expected to play, then reading the crowd can be simple.

Sometimes events aren’t at full capacity as soon as the doors open, so you might want to estimate whether you think the venue is at full capacity or if you think more people will turn up.

Unfortunately, the more people that turn up creates more people you need to think about pleasing. Smaller crowds means you can get away with the more risky song choices, bigger ones mean you might have to crowd please more. 

It’s worth being aware of what genres are being played that night, for example an event might only be a house event, this means that all the people there will want to hear house – so it will sound really weird if you started playing disco.

On the other hand, if the event is multi-genre one, you can branch out a bit more.

One helpful tip might be watching the crowd from backstage, or even leaving the backstage and being within the crowd for a while, you will be able to see which songs and genres go down well.

On a basic level, you should be able to recognise how hyped up a crowd is by how much dancing they are doing.

Sometimes a crowd will be going wild, or sometimes they will be more relaxed and happy swaying and enjoying the music, you should adjust your level of hype accordingly.

How Do You Hype A Crowd Up?

Sometimes a crowd might need hyping up. Perhaps you’re a new DJ and you’ve been placed on the first set of the night, the venue isn’t at capacity yet and people are still buying drinks and mingling.

Here’s some tips for getting them to dance and attract more of a crowd.

One obvious way is by playing a song that everyone might recognise, maybe it’s a rare remix you have found of a popular song, or maybe it’s an original mix by a famous DJ.

Don’t worry about people thinking you are crowd pleasing, it’s about how these specific songs work as part of the wider mix. 

Some songs are called floorfillers for a reason – they get everyone on the dancefloor! Some songs just have a funky bassline or fun synths that are made to get people moving.

If you know some songs like these, drop these in and around your mix to get people dancing and coming to dance. 

Another simple technique if you already have the crowd on your side but want to get them to dance more, is simply to increase the BPM of your mix.

This can be done by introducing faster songs and mixing them into faster ones. Don’t forget that BPM naturally controls how people dance, so if you are constantly going up and down the BPM scale then people might find it awkward to dance to.

Conversely, if you can slowly increase the BPM of the whole mix then you will naturally hype people up as the mix goes on. 

Using the effects and filters present on your controller can be a great tool to use. These effects will allow you to build up to the drop in each song with varying effects.

These will make the drop more hype naturally so that people know to dance when the bass comes back in.

Sometimes using effects lets the audience know that you are in control of the music, don’t forget you have control over when they dance, and sometimes an audience can really reciprocate the effort you have put into mixing.

Final Thoughts

Controlling a crowd can be really important and altering your techniques and songs to this is a fundamental skill you need to be able to play live and not just record in your room.

As a result a lot of people mix on the fly, which means choosing you next based on the crowd rather than creating a mix in preparation of performing it live. If you have pre-chosen your songs then you might walk into trouble if the crowd wants something else.