Near the end of The Month of Maschine 2013 in May, I realized that with all of the time that I spent creating videos, I had neglected doing any mixes. This thought spawned 30 Days 30 Mixes 2013, a challenge to create a 30 minute DJ mix for each day of the month of June 2013. If you’ve been neglecting creating mixes or are just starting to DJ, I’d suggest that you take the mix a day challenge. For those who haven’t mixed in a while, it is a great way to get back in the swing of things. If you’re learning how to mix, it is a way to motivate yourself through the difficult times when you’re starting out. Now that I have completed the challenge, I want to share some of what I learned and tips for anyone who want to take the challenge themselves.
Mixing everyday isn’t as easy as it looks
The first week of the challenge was easy. I had just begun the challenge and was looking forward to mixing again. During the second and third week, I realized just how difficult it is to mix everyday. It’s not just about the physical act of pushing buttons and turning knobs. As much as I love DJing it is like any activity and can become monotonous over time. The key is to find a way to make each mix interesting to stay motivated. This can be through track selection or mixing experimentation. When you watch videos of your favorite superstar DJs mixing, they make it look easy. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to mix in front of a crowd each week after flying halfway around the world.
Revisit your favorite classic tracks
At the end of the challenge you will have ~900 minutes of recorded mixes. That’s 150 tracks if you use 5 in each mix. If you create your own podcast or gig regularly, you probably feel the demand for new music each time you step behind the decks. This is a great opportunity to revisit some of your favorite tracks that you don’t get the chance to play anymore. I took full advantage of this by mixing together some of my favorite tracks from when I started DJing in 2005 with tracks that came out just a few weeks ago.
Sometimes you have to make time to mix
If you DJ as a hobby and make your living doing something unrelated, you may need to make time to mix. I categorize mixing and creating videos for The DJ Podcast in the same category when I think about how I spend my time. The more time I devote to creating videos, the less I spend mixing. When you commit to mixing everyday, there will be days when you need to find the time to mix as opposed to doing something else. Thankfully, having a 30 minute time limit means that you should have a general idea of how much time it will to set up and your record your mixes. This is helpful to to know when planning when you’re going to mix each day.
Use the time limit and frequency to your advantage
It helps to think about the challenge as an opportunity to experiment with different genres of music and mixing techniques. If you try something and it doesn’t work, take what you learned and apply it to tomorrow’s mix. The same can be applied to musical styles and genres. If you primarily mix electro house, but want to try your hand at mixing techno, this is the perfect time to do so. If your fans don’t respond to it, you’ve always got the next day’s mix to win them back. In one of my mixes I experimented with the delay effect in Traktor Pro 2 to create a buildup at the start of the mix. I may not have tried it if I was just recording my weekly podcast.
Incorporate the challenge into your social media strategy
The challenge is a great way to promote yourself via social media. I posted every mix to my website in their own blog posts so that they could be distributed through my podcast feed and spread the links via Twitter and Facebook. With more time to plan beforehand, I would have put more thought into how to incorporate the challenge into my social media strategy.For example, you could take requests for tracks or shoutouts from fans on one day and put them into your mix the next. Just be careful that you don’t spam your fans with too many links. You want to use the opportunity to give more to your fans, not turn them away.
Are you interested in doing the mix a day challenge? Have you done a challenge like this before? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.