Gigs are back....sort of. There is growing hope that live music business will come back soon as vaccines are behind rolled out in some countries, though others are stumbling for a variety of reasons (price, production issues, export embargoes etc). However, a little over a year since the WHO declared a pandemic for COVID-19, some countries are still in lockdowns and others are setting new records for cases and deaths, meaning this isn’t over yet by any stretch, despite progress in other countries.
As we look ahead to the rest of the year, many DJs and bands are looking forward to gigs in countries in the US, UK and elsewhere at some point. They have been, by and large, cooped up in their homes, forced to get acquainted with their home, studio and learn how to stream online. But soon they will be able to stretch, get back to the ritual of sleeping for a few hours in a hotel before rushing off to the next pre-dawn flight.
To get their music ready for this, DJs will likely feel overwhelmed at what songs to play. Does one play classics for a crowd that hasn't been in a musc venue in over a year? Does one play only new music or original material? That can all depend on the DJ, but one thing DJs shouldn't do is ignore the music that was released over the pandemic, especially in 2020. DJs are supposed to play new music and upcoming music, but in these extenuating circumstances I implore DJs not to ignore music from the past year from their selections.
What does that mean?
That means that DJs should make sure to include music from 2020 in their sets since clubs closed around March 2020. People have not been able to hear great tracks released over the past year live. They may have been played on live streams, but the impact from home monitors to computer speakers just can’t compare to a genuine set of club, festival or venue speakers. There have been some fan favorites released over the past year that will spark some incredible reactions on a dancefloor.
For some DJs, this will be an opportunity to test out loads of unreleased music and that is a great idea, but it would be a waste to ignore all of the quality club music that was released over the course of 2020.
It seemed as though there may have been a little less functional, weekend-friendly club music as artists pivoted to at-home listening that does better on replay with streaming. However, there was still loads of good music of all types that can be slotted into a set.
It is totally fine if DJs didn’t keep up with all of the music being released during the pandemic. They may have been focused on making their own music or just were too mentally exhausted to sift through the mountains of mediocrity to find the gems. But start going through demos over the past year to create playlists. Don’t frantically start doing this now like you are gigging each weekend, if you don't have bookings yet, but start working on it. There will be over a year’s worth of “new” tunes that people haven’t heard out to choose from. For the DJs who have been gigging in Tulum, India, Colombia or elsewhere this entire time, nothing to worry about, your playlists will be fine. Your conscious, I hope not.
So there will be NO excuse for DJs to play similar sounding set with the same tracks. There will be over a year’s worth of “new” tunes that people haven’t heard out to choose from. Do the due diligence and fans will reward you for doing sets that stand out from the pack.