How to DJ - Back to Back DJ Sets

With covid restrictions easing a tonne of my students are now getting shows in clubs and some of them have been asked to do a back to back DJ set. So in this article (video above) I will explain what is a back to back set, the different ways you can approach your back to back set, why the promoter would even ask you to do a back to back set, how to prepare for it and how to assure that when you both play you stand out and make an impact assuring repeat shows.

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So firstly a B2B DJ set is when 2 DJs share a time slot. Lots of DJs don't find this ideal as let's face it, it's good to have your own time slot as you can then come on and do your own thing, so why then have you been asked to do a B2B set in the first place and why can't you just play on your own. The truth is the promoter probably offered you a back to back set for a few reasons. Firstly perhaps the promoters have been approached by a tonne of DJs wanting shows and they simply can't ft everyone on the line up, so instead they get people to share times.

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This is really common with the promoters that are relying on DJs to bring people to help get numbers to their event. Put it this way, let's say you want to be a nightclub promoter and you have contacted a venue about running an event and they have decided to give you a shot and let's say you had an awesome opening night but then there was a huge drop off for your second event, then the chances are the venue will already be applying pressure on you to get more people and the emphasis is shifted onto numbers. You may have a tonne of local DJs approaching you for shows and you think if I get the DJs to help out with promo and let's say include 5 new Djs on the line up and they all bring 20 people each, well that's already an extra 100 people.

I am not saying I agree with these methods, but they are more wide spread in the local scene than you realise, but to take it one step further, let's say you're running an event and you have heaps of DJs wanting shows you may think why not give some of them back to back sets and this means 2 DJs essentially share a time slot and this way instead of fitting 5 new DJs on the line up, you can get 10 and if each DJ is encouraged to promote and bring people and let's say each DJ brings 20 people, that's 200 people already.

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Anyway, I am not saying relying on DJs to get people is right or wrong, but it does happen, even the biggest clubs and promoters pay top dollar for successful djs with big fan bases in the hope they'll introduce a tonne of new people to their event and in the local scene it's the same concept but just on a smaller scale, and let's say as a DJ you're fairly new to it playing in clubs and you have been offered a b2b set, this could be a reason why they have asked you to share your spot with quite possibly a DJ that you have never met before.

However another reason why you may have been asked to do a back to back set is because you have a big name and so does the other DJ and by putting both big named DJs head to head it creates a promo angle that would look good on a poster, for instance Skrillex vs Diplo, or Calvin Harris B2B with David Guetta, and this then creates a different promo angle that could attract extra attention. so all in all I feel most back to back sets are a promo angle designed to attract more people in one way or another.

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Anyway, so let's say you have been asked to do a back to back set, there are different ways you can approach it. Firstly one way would be, and this would be the easiest way, you simply split your playing time down the middle, so let's say you have an hour set, you play 30 minutes and then the other DJ plays 30 minutes.

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Another way would be that you control one deck and the other DJ controls the other, so you go track for track, but personally if you were to do that method, you would want to liaise with the other DJ in advance, decide on a genre and mood for the mix and perhaps even agree on a pre prepared playlist in advance and ideally get together before the show and practise the set to make sure it flows as without prep, going track for track could be a nightmare especially if you are both into different genres as the set, without prep could be too all over the place, so sure, song for song is fun, but you'd 100% want to go in with a plan.

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now personally, my favourite B2B method is to go 2 tracks each, and I remember when I was much younger, sometimes we'd do kick ons back at my place and quite often there'd be several DJs in the room and we'd decide to play a game, realistically it was more like an exercise in set flow and the idea was we all had 2 racks each before rotating to the next DJ and the first track had to blend well and suit what the previous DJ finished on, but then the second track could take the set more in the direction that you wanted to take the set.

So let's say the DJ before me finished on something chill but I wanted to take it heavy, I couldn't just start on a heavy track as then the flow would sound weird, so instead I would find a track that mixed well with theirs but perhaps it was a little heavier or energetic in feel, so it could then bridge into the mood that I wanted to take the set and then if I worked it into something more energetic and the DJ after me wanted to bring it back down, they'd have to find a way to do that artfully with their 2 tracks, eg: find a track that flowed on from what I finished on and then use that track to bridge it into what they wanted to play.

By going 2 tracks each you also have a little time to do your thing and in many ways it can be seen as an exciting challenge where you learn how to read the crowd and direct the flow of the set to where you think it should go depending on crowd response and the vibe in the room.

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So that's the different ways you can approach B2B sets but how do you stand out when you are sharing your set time with another DJ. Easy, enjoy yourself and make the best of it. I also suggest looking on the bright side and be grateful you even got a set and an opportunity to potentially make a new friend, a comrade. Also thank the promoter for the opportunity, invite your friends and perhaps get them to cheer every time you put on track, but in saying that ideally support al the other Djs too and do it not just for the recognition that comes from being a DJ but also to help out the scene as the stronger the culture at events, and the more you are part of the re building process post covid, the more success you'll have.

also don't forget to do a follow up and post about the success of the event online and tag the promoter letting everyone know it's the place to be and perhaps even thank publicly the DJ you shared the line up with claiming it was a privilege to share a line up with someone so talented, and if you want to get asked back for more shows, I suggest that you promote the events you wish to be part of, even when you're not playing and even turn up and party when you're not on the line up.

This shows you are a team player and if you want to be on the team, it's good to show that you support the promoters work regardless of what you can get from them. this kind of attitude speaks volumes and is much louder than the person who goes in trying to convince everyone and anyone to give them a show by trying to convince the promoter of there talents, which in truth is how the majority of new DJs act, talking all about themselves, trying to prove they are good enough but showing zero support unless they have something to gain.

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We have to lose that mentality. think what can you give, not what can you get and the funny thing is the more you give the more you usually get in return. In saying that you have to check out my free material I'll link in the description below - haha, see what I did there. Just messing with you, anyway thanks for your support and hopefully this video lifts the veil on why you have been asked to do a B2B set and how you can approach it, make the most of it and also come out victorious.

If this kind of stuff interests you 100% check out my club ready course as I have a whole section on the music industry, from tactics that work on how to approach venues for shows, but even more importantly once in, how to get repeat shows and build success for yourself as a DJ. I also share industry insights to avoid falling into the traps literally everyone falls into as let's face it, when it comes to running events and teaching no one has more experience. I ran my own events as a sole source of income for almost 20 years often 3 events per week flying up and down the east coast of Australia, so why take 20 years to learn the ins and outs of the industry when I can teach you everything you need in under a week.

Thanks again and if you're not yet part of my club ready tribe, I'll link in the course below. Thanks for tuning in.


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