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5 Cheap DJ Tricks and How To Avoid Them

Let’s face the music, folks: DJs love being the center of attention. Throughout the course of the night they are always looking for ways to remind people: “Hey, I’m not an over-paid iPod!”  Mainly though, we love any kind of positive reaction from the crowd – the ultimate form of DJ crack. Many of these techniques are tired, overdone, and simply put, “easy pops”. Here are five of the worst offenders, and their more creative alternatives.



The easiest pop of all – just play the big one song everyone knows or is expecting to hear. It’s a sure-fire way to get a crowd on the floor quickly and reliably. Unfortunately, you just performed the musical equivalent to eating dessert first – nothing really tastes quite as good after that.

The Creative Alternative: Pick a recognizable (but not overt) loop from the most popular tune and mix it in under a lesser-known track with the same key. You will get that “this DJ is amazing!” response your under-appreciated ego craves without completely giving it all away. Here’s a great example of the concept in action.



You all know the drill: count it out with me:

1. Drop out the bass
2. Raise up your hands
3. Drop the bass back in!

Wow, now go take a siesta – because you just pulled off one of the most musically difficult feats known to man. In fact – take the rest of the night off, you earned it.

The Creative Alternative: Use a filter and reverb sweep to gradually carve out the bass and drop a beatmasher in for a subtle fill. It’s harder, less generic, and generally works better anyway. Here is a full tutorial on this technique.



Is it just me, or do some DJs seem have authoritarian complexes, ordering the crowd to do strange things every 10 minutes? “Everyone go to the bar and buy 4 drinks, then come back and dance harder! ” In all seriousness, there is nothing more cringeworthy than the typical crowd rousing rally calls:

“Everyone put your hands upppppp!” or “How’s everyone feeling tonight?”

The Creative Alternative: If you want to confound and confuse, try telling everyone “don’t put your hands up!” and then watch blissfully as their left and right brains collide under the sheer weight of your confounding demand. If you really must say something to the crowd,  drop a creative sample over the mix to send an original message.



Ok, I admit it, this one is pretty fun. Matter of fact, if you are playing sing-along music then none of these rules really apply anyway. Throw those cakes, spray the champagne and fulfill every DJ cliche ever invented. Extra points if you manage to include all 127.



Looping the downbeat, the one, the kick, the bass, the thump, the bump – or whatever you want to call it and then speeding it up so it get’s f   f   f    f f f f fffffaster is the newest oldest trick in the book. Although technically more difficult to pull off perfectly, it’s still an easy pop and fairly tired at this point.

The Creative Alternative: Most people build up the kick drum, turning the entire song into a stuttering mess. Perhaps loop a sample OVER the main song (an acapella works great) and shorten that loop to create the same build but slightly less reminiscent of Swedish House Mafia. Here are some very creative build techniques for Serato.

What is the one eye-roll inducing dj cliche you love to hate? tell us in the comments! 

  • Snoop Dogg

    I only smoke some joints during the show and its still cool my nigga

  • The Tourer

    Roll looping the off beat (especially when it’s got a snare or high hat) before and after key downbeats makes that a lot more fun/interesting. [ta-ta-ta / beat / ta-ta-ta]

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  • Pete

    Over-hyping on the mic apparently works for Martin Garrix. Every 30 seconds “PUT YOUR F*CKING HANDS UPPPP!!!!” ::cringes::

  • Taking a Selfie of the crowd from the DJ booth

    Spinbacks (they sound cool on radio shows, not at 120dB in a club)

    using the filter on a buildup of a white noise sweep (hello ear piercing resonance)


    playing any song that has “1-2-3-JUMP” before the drop or some similar instructional DJing lyrics

    • Luc van Vliet

      120 dB? Glad I’m not there..

  • Steve

    that’s what edm djs do. hahaha.

  • Damin Hansford

    Chicken !

  • Miozz

    fader pull down for 1/4 or 2/4 in wrong time lol

  • Simon Kennedy

    Just play the tunes, and shut up!

  • The whole pre-made sample hyping your Dj name that sounds like a movie trailer voice-over. No more please.

  • Jesus Poses.. no more Jesus Poses… please…

  • vitamindevo

    Is this a concert for the Deaf?

  • The Live Lab

    The only wrong thing to do is listen to anyone who tells you what to do. Now there’s a paradox, but all of these tricks, if delivered properly, can be appropriate and work, apart from the over-hype’d MC which I will concede is well fuc*ing annoying!

  • Peter J

    The Fast Backspin, especially when dropped randomly in the middle of the track that’s currently playing. Some vinyl Djs were bandits for this Highly technical trick.

  • No. I disagree. You can’t spin vinyl and entertain, then what are you doing up there?

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  • Elijah Logan

    Party like Steve Aoki lol

  • James Canning

    Putting a really tight delay on every build up. Not mentioning any names *cough* HARDWELL *cough*. If it sounded that good it would be part of the song in the first place.

  • djForti5

    I think this article might be the first one on this site i read that i dont even know why it was published. This is meaningless, especially when every dj situation calls for different methods of mixing. Not one thing you mentioned in this article couldnt also be done professionally in a set and work to perfection. What you should have mentioned is that a dj shouldnt use the same tricks the same way over and over again. But in combination all of these methods can be used effectively depending on the style of music and moment within the track. And when you talk about using the mic, it all comes down to whether the DJ knows how to MC and/or properly use a mic. I just dont like the idea of an article that tells someone how to entertain properly. What makes each DJ unique is their ability to figure out what skills they possess and insert them into their performance.


    What is the one eye-roll inducing dj cliche you love to hate?
    …Histrionic, over-animated DJs doing too much posing and not enough DJ-ing.

  • Johnny Sifuentes

    Shity Tunes, Train Wrecks, Poor Sound, Bad Transitions, Using Reverb or any other filter to cover your shity mixing, DJ’s who seem to be jamming/dancing to their mix harder than the dance floor, Keep your hands out of the air, huge egos, talking shit about other DJs before you go on, unless they use all of the methods mentioned above, then you get a pass.

  • Mike Linder

    I do an 80’s VJ night, and cutting the music when the night is packed is like Crack…you cant avoid it with tracks like “don’t you want me” and “sweet child o mine” Its just like any other trick, if you overuse it, or hold it for to long, its a trainwreck.

  • Palace One

    Putting the hands in the air while a new Track starts and fades in is cool too. But it’s not a prerecorded set for sure!
    But that doesn’t matter ’cause my fans are so PLUR and TURNT that they spend more time in looking good than watch what I actually do

  • freshar

    What about dancehall/reggae dj’s? I would say the mic talking is just as important as your songs.. I’ve heard a dj play a song and get no reaction out of it, and heard another dj play the same song, same dance, but have a bad ass intro “speech” or intro to it and get a lot of lighters in the air and people making noise.. huge reaction…

  • Anonymouse

    100 ninja finger movements, 30 elbows flying around, several sound level ‘checks’ only in the end to hide 1 meaningful quantized button press amongst it.. wtf… ughh

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  • george

    OMG, there’s nothing more annoying that a Dj that talks on the mic all night long…SHUT UP!!!!

  • Emil Beatsnatcher Brikha

    I love it when the crowd signs the chorus… hate it when I don’t have enough pens for everyone to sign.

  • Guest


  • Golden Ears

    The Cowbell. Bluee Oyster Cult used it, and in Switzerland, they love using it at races with Dj’s. Here in the USA it isn’t overdone yet. “There’s not enough cowbell.”

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  • Jerry Alan Carroll

    This article sounds like a hipster with road rage. As long as the DJ does the job well leave him alone

  • John Washington

    “Make some f-ing noise”, etc. STFU and play!!

  • Ean Adamantius

    one time, i heard an Dj they play only hits and mixed it in seconds together. this was horrible. but he knows mixing. he take the Vinyl, drop the Chorus, and the next chorus was from another one. btw: did everybody known why poverty uses atomic heat for cooking water than an concave mirror ?

  • j

    dj pauly d is a cheap trick lol he can’t mix and his hair can’t fade

  • pepehouse

    Agreed with everything but people singing the chorus, don’t ask me why but I love to do it, I love to hear them… in my own defense of course I only do it once in a set and with a good song 🙂

  • SHOTS FIRED! SHOTS FIRED! some tell Aoki to duck!

  • Moments like these I’m glad I’m not a DJ. Thanks Pauly. ;]


    Dj Pauly makes me feel sad for DJing, and the fact he makes millions doing it makes me even sadder =(

  • Mad Zach

    personally I love to drop the bass

    • It’s hard to keep grip on those slippery suckers

  • Shash’U

    nice article , one cliché I can’t stand.. is loud ass “premo” scratch transitions between every song. JUGU JUGU JUGU JUGU JUGU JUGU, only red on the mixer. worst is when its done on songs that dont deserve scratching on them.


  • Ajdin Hasanefendi?

    in a black and white event, seperate the white dressed people from the black dressed people and compete for who’s the loudest of the two crouds. so if yu were with your bf’s and you and them wore different colored shirts, you’d get seperated if in a large open area

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  • Standing in front of the dj booth and not behind it!….. please stop doing this…

    • Sorry but no. I use my tonium pacemaker and a wireless pack to go out and DJ from the dance floor and party at times. Shakes things up, makes it fun for me and them. If you can bring your tools with you, or if it’s a long song, there’s nothing that says you can’t leave the booth and have fun.

      • its not the same… you are still behind the “turn tables” not sure how good you are on a ipad app in a crowd seems like you are an over prices ipod…. show us some vids mate……

        • It’s not an iPad App… it’s a device. google Tonium Pacemaker device and go through the images. You’ll see what it is.

  • Ztronical

    Sad that it’s cliche at all. Seems like most the tricks and energy is just that. I think what is lacking is the crowd. No one likes to dance and really feel the music or creativity that goes into the music. We all just wait for a build ignore the rest and jump in place shoulder to shoulder.
    I am no better though. I look back at what brought me to this and it was the raves and underground 4:00 Am dancing. Now I am home and listen more to music driving.

    To appeal to a crowd it’s all about the hype and look. I think the strongest parts of music are more minimal and weird. It’s all great though. And has a place.

  • Lobie

    I love signing the chorus! Deaf raves are the best!

    • Kevin O’Neil


    • Tahlia


    • dsorce

      How long will it take for them to notice the typo

  • Michael Thex Corley

    backspin then hard cut mixing

    • looking at Skrillex’s red rocks show…

  • D

    Turntable STOP effect when there are clearly no turn tables. Ooh, and massive pillow fights…

    • I disagree with both of these. Emulating a sound isn’t taboo in any way. There’s a reason there’s a stop time dial on CDJs and the DDJ-SZ

  • Clay Ford

    can’t honestly say I’ve ever used any of those…..they aren’t really techno friendly. They sound more like EDM tricks.

    • Toontown

      Side note: is Techno not considered EDM???

      • CodeChris

        ??? NO. Techno is techno.

        • Toontown

          Lol. Got it.

        • maker of the world


        • Banco

          I’m not a fan of applying genres to everything (in music) so harshly, but “EDM” really is just a silly pop-culture slang/acronym for dance/house music. Techno isn’t its own genre, its a subgenre of the over-encompassing phenomenon that is dance/house music, and as “EDM” happens to be the unfortunate americanization of dance music, techno sadly falls under this acronym as well.

          • Slappy47

            the funny thing is before “EDM” was called “EDM” it was called techno to the mainstream

          • Banco

            Yea, I think thats partially thanks to Eminem haha (nobody listens to techno!), as well as the mainstream masses love for overgeneralizing everything.

      • You’re sort of right. Strictly speaking “Electronic Dance Music” is Techno, House etc. but nowadays it’s used for the David Guetta & Friends mainstream genre. So better do not insult Techno or Tech House Addicts by telling them that they are listening to EDM. 😉

  • CUSP

    I think a lot of people are seeing this article as “don’t ever do this”, but I think what was meant by this article being published is that these are very commonly overused and special care should be taken not to wear them out. This is what I refer to as ” *HOW* to think, not *WHAT* to think” articles, and to be fair they did a good job of calling out the over-use so people don’t get burned out *AND* so new people don’t learn bad behaviors.

    There is a very valid reason why the above-mentioned things are used, but like gorging on something you like, if you get too much of it, the “specialness” wears off. I always thought that DJing isn’t supposed to be about “Us being ultra-cool so people can adore us”, I thought instead it’s supposed to be about “Us reaching deep down inside ourselves to share something special with others.”

    On one hand, the DJ controls what people hear, which gives a lot of DJs a power trip, which then tends to make them think everything they do is Golden and they are beyond reproach… until people stop showing up. On the other side, placating the audience by giving them everything they want, with no surprises is like being an iPod on shuffle. Isn’t riding the line between these two where we’re supposed to make a judgement call to be human while being entertaining?

    If a muted vocal section makes sense for the crowd to sing along to, and the crowd is into it, yeah… do that, but don’t do it all night, every other song, and certainly *DON’T FORCE IT* Every element you choose for a DJ set is like choosing words for a sentence. No one wants to hear “yeah-boiiiiii” (or any other colloquial expression) in every sentence you speak, so apply this to your sets… unless you want to be the annoying “DJ Douchebag.”

  • John

    “What is the one eye-roll inducing dj cliche you love to hate?”

    Articles like this. Why would anyone who takes DJing seriously – as I assume Ean, the entire DJTT staff, and everyone who frequents this site does – seriously consider this article?

    DJing is the one the few creative ventures where it’s painfully obvious to be able to separate the men from the boys.

  • jason

    throwing both hands in the air while the song transitions by itself lol like the pauly d in the first photo

  • Holiday

    Once a DJ discovers FX the temptation is strong to use them a lot. However, it’s just like adding salt to a dish, just enough to add a lil’ flavor and that’s all, else you make it inedible.

    • Dean Zulueta

      I always have to explain this to fellow DJs who are just starting out. haha
      It is like a kid in a candy shop when they learn about the beat repeat, flanger, ect.

  • Ham Hollett

    Sing the chorus*

  • Lee Chambliss

    I fell into using the “echo out” button on my MIDI Fighter with InstaGrat. I try not to use it a lot because sometimes you can miss and echo the wrong sound.

  • Phil Worrell

    Nice one Ean, so many cliches over the years, certain samples drop the bass etc. The other big ones I can think of. The 909 snare roll (done less these days needs a comeback 🙂 ) , the white / pink noise filter sweep, the baby scratch. Big bass drum with tons of reverb making a nice big boom. I like that one, people think there is a storm coming… 🙂

    • Good one! I am totally guilty of the 909 snare roll 🙂

  • Jonas Olausson

    The phaser and flanges effects, God please no

  • Carlos A
    • every DJ pool music service has this song as an extended version and I’ve heard DJs playing it… i get douche chills every time.

  • Dan White

    Just noticed that the photo for this article is Pauly D. Well played 😉

    • And why the fuck is he wearing a Misfits tank top? I dare him to name one of their songs or a member of the band.

      • rekkid

        He probably doesnt even know it’s a band… he probably just thought “woah… i’m a misfit, I’m going to totally wear this shirt”

        • Or, he likes the way it “Miss-Fits” because it’s a muscle-shirt. ZING!

  • jason

    is that first picture dj pauly d, yikes lol

    • and i think he is wearing a misfit’s shirt….cause i’m sure he’s such a big fan. 😛

  • Kathryn Jean

    The DJ heart hand gesture is the wankiest. Stoppit.

    • good one!

      • Descent

        The heart hand kind of fits in though depending on where you play. I play a lot to a Happy Hardcore crowd, Heart hand is kind of expected and kind of fits in with the vibe.

        • vladtheimpaler

          nope, never expected and never a good idea.

    • Tyler

      Meh! Bollocks. That’s a DJ feeling the love and you know, kinda sharing a moment with the crowd.

      I completely disagree with that one. I think it’s good, it reslly sets the moment at times.

      • patrick fry

        i agree…its super “wanky”….I cringe when i see grown ass people doing it

    • Jerry Alan Carroll

      Yes it is. Tweeners here in japan do it all the time. Just stupid for an adult to do

    • James Franco Jr

      Wait!…..People actually do that!? That’s as bad as the person at a club / massive that’s never been to one and first thing they do is clap repeatedly during a breakdown like it’s 1997!! #ComeOnBruh!

  • djbriandamage

    Dropping the bass remains viable depending on the genre you play. If you’re playing something percussive like techno or house you can use it to build anticipation or surprise people by bringing in the bassline of the next track.

    • Dean Zulueta

      That’s very true. While it may be “cliche,” tension and track selection go a looong way with droppin da bass.

    • Foldabledisco

      Almost all modern “techno” records have a “bassdrop” in the arrangement. It can be nice especially in a good balanced mix before you bring in the bassline of the next record. Used sparse

  • Great article. The Gater effect can also be overused.

    • Helix

      Djs trying to transition using phaser effects all the way to the max as well..

  • Sandeep Kumar

    Throwing cakes at the crowd is a great one

    • Eduardo

      ahaha mean

    • Redheaded Stepchild


  • Mojaxx

    I’m in complete agreement with these, Ean, some real bug-bears of mine here!

    The only one I have a different take on is the first, about the ‘big tunes’.

    With my more commercial crowds, if I’m gonna tease them with a loop or dubbed out version, I had better be dropping that big tune at some point later in the night… I have known customers get VERY pissed at me for not doing so!

    Conversely, that’s one of the ways I get away with only playing a massive current hit once in a 6 hour set, so it’s still a useful idea to work with.

    • good point – teasing the tune has to lead to a pay off eventually or it might annoy the expectant crowds.

      • Toontown

        Not to mention club owners/managers. Most are pretty in tune with the big hits at any given time and some have even said to me “Hey, play ‘so-and-so’ next.” Unless you’re Felix Da Housecat, you best be playing it next.

  • Gian

    cheap article, how much time you spend on it?

    • Griff

      There is a wide spectrum of experience and ability out there and articles like this can help DJs starting out. I had 2 of the 5 in my debit column and this brought back a bit of a cringe with the memory. Brought a smile to my face as well.

      • Dean Zulueta

        I agree man! Five years ago, I was making all these mistakes and this website helped me grow away from that. I would have loved to see this back then and it is cool that younger DJs starting to bud can see it now. This website does a nice job of curating content for the guys playing big festivals to teens who just bought their first midi controller.

    • so all things need to take long and be expensive… my dick is golden want to suck it ?

  • Dean Zulueta

    The cliche club air horn. It is sad that this is still used today, or at least when I am out it is. First of all, good job. You used something every single DJ has and also, way to get reaction. All the kids will go crazy for just the few seconds after you hit it and everyone else will just judge you DJ Sample.

    • Robert Wulfman

      You should only use the airhorn sample when playing dancehall and then only sparingly

      • Dean Zulueta

        Very true. Salt makes a dish taste better but only a dash and sprinkle are needed. Too much and it is ruined.

      • Cybertrash

        Or when playing Grime, and then copiously.

    • Esbeesy

      I use it a lot actually because I think it is so cliché that it’s reinvented itself as a great tool to lighten the mood and encourage the party atmosphere.

      And you can abuse the shit out of it and it just gets funnier and funnier.

      • Dean Zulueta

        That’s a good way to use it as well, if the people are aware of that. I personally was surrounded by acts that would have flawed mixing skills and stage presence but all that was masked because the college kids love to go crazy when they hear an air horn. I feel in other venues and events, it could be used in a retro, sarcastic fashion.