Having your first few DJ sets is always exciting, preparing your set can often lead you to certain questions, like how many songs in a DJ set you should have. More questions might arouse when you are preparing different genres than you are used to playing.
That is why I researched different lengths and genres with the number of songs you should pick for your DJ set.
So, how many songs in a DJ set?
For the average DJ set of 2 hours, DJs will play 60 songs and have 120 songs in their DJ set playlist preselected. You may be playing fewer songs but this way you can quickly find songs and have some backup if you need to play some more songs.
I have made a table that explains how many songs you would need for different lengths of DJ gigs. The general rule of thumb is that you should take your DJ set length in minutes and divide that number by 2. This way you have a rough estimate of how many songs you need for your DJ set.
|DJ set length||Number of songs|
|20 minutes||10 Songs|
|40 minutes||20 songs|
|1 hour||30 songs|
|1,5 hours||45 songs|
|2 hours||60 songs|
|2,5 hours||75 songs|
|3 hours||90 songs|
|3,5 hours||105 songs|
|4 hours||120 songs|
|4,5 hours||135 songs|
|5 hours||150 songs|
|5,5 hours||165 songs|
|6 hours||180 songs|
The amounts of songs you will need may vary but this is a safe rough estimate. In the next paragraph, I will discuss how genres impact the pace of mixing your songs.
The general rule of thumb, of course, does not work for every genre. There are a lot of different genres that all get mixed at a different pace. The average of 30 songs per hour is a great bassline but is also relatively quickly as it is based on 1 song per 2 minutes.
It does not depend on the pace of the song but it depends on the structure of the songs being played. For example, Drum and Bass can be mixed very quickly very easily since it uses around the same BPM for every song and some subgenres of Drum and Bass are without vocals.
If however, the songs have vocals in them you may have to wait until the bridge before you can mix in the next song.
I have made a table of the average amount of songs played per hour per genre so you can find out for yourself how many songs you will need to play every hour for your genre.
|Genre||Songs per hour|
|Commercial House||20 Songs|
|Deep House||14 Songs|
|Drum and Bass||40 Songs|
|Hip Hop||30 Songs|
Genres impact how quickly songs are often mixed in together. If you want to check out a list of different genres from Wikipedia to make a rough estimate you check click on the link to the article.
The general estimate is 2 to 3 minutes. But as genres and DJ preference impact the length songs should be played it varies between 30 seconds to 8 minutes. It depends on what the DJ wants and on how songs are preferred to be listened to by the crowd.
Some songs can even be double dropped which means you are effectively doubling the number of songs you play in an hour. Some songs are preferred to be listened to for almost the entire song.
An example of this may be psytrance or trance which DJs often play for almost the entire song.
It is often a safe measure to preselect twice as many songs in your library then you plan on playing during your DJ set. You can only play a maximum amount of songs in a DJ set but it is important to have more songs as a backup for when you want to switch energy levels or genres.
There are multiple places where DJs get their music from. So if you want to enlarge your DJ set library feel free to take a look at the article.
It is important to think about what you are going to play at your DJ set and to keep in mind what you might play based on what the crowd wants at the time.
So, take the amount of songs you are going to be playing per hour based on the genres you are going to play and multiply them by 2 or 3 times.
This way you are prepared for every change that might happen when playing live. Just enter the artist name, genre or custom tag you gave your songs to quickly find them and mix them in.
There are no maximum recommended songs in your entire music library. What is however very important is that you can keep all those songs organized and easy to find. This includes sorting them by genres, categories, energy levels, tags and/or keys.
Something else to note is that it is very important to have a backup of your entire library in case you lose your USB-stick or if it gets damaged. Simply using USB sticks have too little storage capacity to store all of your music.
External hard drives or external solid-state disks are a solid option to store your files since they are cheap and respectively reliable and fast.
How do I organize my music library? As stated earlier, keeping your songs organized is a must. Especially if you get song requests and you are not sure how it is exactly named in your music library.
Using tags and other techniques to label your songs will ensure you find your songs quickly.
You can label your songs using tags, genres, energy levels or different themes for example. You can add these labels to your songs or you can simply make different folders.
Something I like to use is making different folders for not only energy levels, top requested tracks or song pace.
I will add every song to every folder it belongs in. This way you may have 1 song in multiple folders so you are not stuck by a few songs per folder but you can find your songs in multiple ways.
Should I prepare for my DJ set? In my opinion, the most important thing to a good DJ set is that you are entertaining the crowd. That said, do what is best for you so you can entertain the crowd in the best possible way.
As a beginner, you may find yourself needing to prepare your sets for than when you are already experienced at playing live. If you feel like you get more comfortable at playing with less preparation you are free to do so. But if you struggle it is 100% okay to prepare for a DJ set.
How do you prepare for a DJ set? An easy way to prepare your DJ set is by making 2 folders. 1 with only the songs you plan on playing the DJ set and 1 folder with 2 or 3 times as many songs as a backup.
After that, you will need to find a couple of songs that mix well together. Practice on this so you are sure that they mix well or do not mix well together. You take the handful of songs that mix well together and label them for later.
When you are finished selecting and labeling all the different songs that mix well together you can arrange some sort of order at which you will be playing the songs.
Something to keep in mind is that you should increase the energy level over time and sometimes go a little easier on the energy level you will be playing to let the crowd rest and reacclimatize so your hard drops will drop even harder. This can be done by mixing different genres for example.
You do not need to prepare every transition since you can just experiment and see what the crowd likes and what they do not like.