How Long Should a DJ Play a Song for? [DJ Tips]

How Long Should a DJ Play a Song for? [DJ Tips]


As a DJ you’ll sometimes find different styles, genres and audiences might require different types of DJ mixes. Some mixes short and quick, however some genres may naturally resonate with longer DJ mixes, allowing you to play tracks for longer.

How long should a DJ play a song for?

A DJ playing a live gig reads the crowd to see how people are responding to certain tracks. Therefore, DJs may mix music quickly or let music play out according to a crowds reaction. A quick mix may take 1 to 2 minutes or a long mix may take 5 to 6 minutes.

Below are some areas to consider when DJing and how long to DJ songs for in the mix.

If you’re keen to find out how many tracks to mix in your DJ mix, then here’s a great article for you.

Is there a right or wrong amount of time to play a song?

There’s no right or wrong.

Finding a balance is key, especially in a live DJ performance at a club or mobile DJ situation.

From my experience, as a DJ, you need to find a balance between the audience and music style when thinking about how long to let a track play out before mixing and blending into a new track.

The audience’s reaction to your music is everything.

Granted, depending whether it’s early in the evening of your set and everyone’s chilling and drinking at the bar. When everyone’s on the dance floor, that’s when you need to read the crowd and gauge which tracks are getting people dancing or not.

Once you’ve honed in on a vibe, try to keep it going.

Sometimes mixing quickly at this point in time might annoy people, especially if they are singing along to the lyrics.

“find a balance between the audience and music style when thinking about how long to let a track play out before mixing and blending into a new track.”

Creative YouTube Mixes

Don’t think that mixing music is the same as some performance based DJ mixes you see on YouTube channels.

A lot of DJs are creating mixes like this to help grow the views, likes and subscribes for their channel. Which is fair enough and I’m not digging them out.

My point is that when you learn and develop your DJing skills, don’t expect to be DJing creatively and fast paced in a live club environment, all the time.

There’s a time and place for these types of mixes, and hosting your fast paced DJ mixes on YouTube is a great place for them, also Mixcloud, SoundCloud or your own DJ website too.

Here’s a quick Drum & Bass DJ short I put together to show off quick mixing Drum & Bass on the DDJ-400.

Genre & Song Structure

The song structure and genre of music usually dictates how long a track is playing for and how long a DJ is in the mix between two tracks.

Dance tracks sometimes have massive breakdown sections in the middle, which some people enjoy listening to. Especially when the build up and drop are epic.

Point being is that the structure might force your hand into waiting for a track to play out.

In some genres like Techno, the beats and bass are very repetitive, which open the door for DJs to mix quickly and really ride the mix between basslines. For me mixing quickly is great fun, especially when you’re in the zone.

But again, keeping in mind your audience. I was at a Drum & Bass event at a club in London called Fabric. The DJ was mixing tunes together so fast it was hard to keep up with the vibe. It was almost un-enjoyable to a degree, especially as the music is fast paced (174 – 178 bpm) and energetic.

Quantise in DJ Software

Digital DJ equipment such as DJ Controllers for example link up to DJ software that have quantise functionality. This allows DJs to beatmatch so quickly, especially the SYNC button, it’s a click of a button and the beats are aligned.

With this feature in mind you’ll notice that some DJs produce the goods with amazingly smooth and QUICK DJ mix and blends between tracks. In some cases, DJs are mixing 3 tracks at a time, you’ll find this a lot in Drum and Bass music.

You could in theory let a song play for like 30 to 60 seconds and have another song coming into the mix.

Music has developed as a consequence of technology. So whether you see it as a good or bad thing using quantise to beat match, if you enjoy mixing songs quickly together you can do so with the quantise function.

Beat Matching by Ear

The flip side to the above is beat matching by ear.

This can take a certain amount of time to line up the beats and then cue up the track.

So taking this into consideration, the beat matching aspect of DJing can eat away a bit of time before you can start mixing in a new track. So therefore a track could play out for like 3 minutes before you starting mixing in the fader into the next track.

If you’re finding this frustrating then perfect beat matching by ear and then absolutely boss doing quicker mixes, letting tracks not play that long.

Do YOU want to take your DJing to the next level?

Fill in your knowledge gaps or up your game with one of Beatmatch Guru’s online DJ Course.

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