New Year’s Eve can be a blessing and a curse for DJs. Endless gig opportunities (thanks to the fact that nearly everyone on the planet is at a party) but very high expectations from drunkards that expect it to be the best party of the year. Whether you are playing a ballroom, bedroom, or a friend’s living room, here are some useful tools that will help you come prepared.
A FEW NYE-SPECIFIC PECULIARITIES
New Year’s Eve is a challenging gig for a DJ. Hopefully you’re getting well paid – often the rule of thumb is that a DJ will normally charge 2-3 times their typical rate for a weekend gig. However, that extra cash can come with a healthy dose of stress if you are playing for a crowd that’s also paying 3 times the usual entrance fee! Here are a few of the peculiar exceptions that I’ve found over years of playing in the New Year:
1. The heavy-duty partying starts earlier, and people expect the energy to be high
While it may be appropriate to have a full hour of warm up on a normal night, you will want to jump straight into the high energy tracks early on.
2. Your crowd may completely disappear – keep them around with great songs
Many people split their nights up into pre-ball drop and post-ball drop with several events throughout the evening. I have seen some clubs completely empty after the midnight toast. The key is to keep the energy high before the countdown and pick up strong right after. Don’t give them the chance to leave the dance floor!
3. Classics and well-known tracks are usually a given
Let’s face it, New Year’s Eve, (not unlike a Saturday night in a big metropolitan city) brings out its fair share of “amateurs”. These are casual party-goers who will in no way appreciate subtle shifts from late 90’s tech house into Melbourne bounce. They came out to have a good time, get drunk, and dance. Do yourself a favor, leave musical education for January and come prepared to play some fun music.
The good news? New Year’s is a very forgiving landscape, and it’s possible to completely avoid the latest top 100 tracks, instead diving into great classics that will keep your DJ integrity in check while maintaining a healthy dance floor! Keep reading for tips on New Year’s playlists.
NEW YEAR’S FRIENDLY PLAYLISTS – THE CROWD PLEASERS
The Big Pop Songs
Perhaps you’re a casual house DJ that is faced with the proposition of crowd that is expecting some Top 40? Don’t freak out, it’s ok if you have never even heard of Lorde, here are some essential playlists that will guide you in the right direction.
- The top Pop/Dance songs of 2014 – Billboard
- “Best of” playlists from 2014 – 8Tracks
- The most requested songs at a wedding in 2014 – Reported by wedding DJs
- A good playlist of big summer hits – of the EDM variety
- The most popular playlists from Spotify – a good way to find some crowd pleasers
Playlists are great, but knowing the most-played songs by major DJs in actual sets is infinitely more powerful. Here are the most played songs (in real DJ sets) across all genres from a site called 1001 Tracklists. Check out their website to get the same results in specific genres like hard-house, deep-house etc:
- Dimitri Vangelis & Wyman X Steve Angello – Payback (215x)
- Hook N Sling feat. Karin Park – Tokyo By Night (Axwell Remix) (204x)
- TJR & VINAI – Bounce Generation (195x)
- Alesso – Tear The Roof Up (181x)
- David Guetta & Showtek feat. Vassy – BAD (176x)
- Showtek – We Like To Party (176x)
- Bastille – Pompeii (Audien Remix) (175x)
- Hard Rock Sofa & Skidka – Arms Around Me (175x)
- Stadiumx & Taylr Renee – Howl At The Moon (175x)
- Deniz Koyu – Ruby (173x)
- Arno Cost & Norman Doray – Apocalypse 2014 (Kryder & Tom Staar Remix)(167x)
- MERCER & DJ Snake – Lunatic164x)
- Martin Garrix vs. Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike – Tremor (Sensation 2014 Anthem)(162x)
- John Christian – Next Level (Nicky Romero Edit)(160x)
- Duck Sauce – NRG (Skrillex & Kill The Noise & Milo & Otis Remix) (159x)
- R3hab & Deorro – Flashlight(158x)
- Sander Van Doorn & Oliver Heldens – THIS (157x)
- Merk & Kremont – Amen (156x)
- Axwell & Ingrosso – We Come, We Rave, We Love (156x)
- Oliver Heldens – Koala (153x)
Good, Playable Remixes Of Popular Songs:
Perhaps you are willing to play Michael Jackson, but only if it’s packaged in TechHouse form and easy to mix. Totally understandable, here are a few playlists that might help.
- The most popular remixes on Hypem
- Trap/Hip-Hop/Glitch Remixes of popular tracks
- House/Techno Edits and Remixes of well-known tracks
Big Songs In The Electronic World
Fortunately we continue to enjoy a flood of great electronic releases that have credibility, but also widespread recognition. Here are some playlists to get you started:
- New Year’s Eve Peak Tracks – Beatport, by all genres
- Top Tracks in Ibiza from 2014 – According to Shazam
- Some very cool non-housey tracks for NYE 2014 – Radio 1 Dj Zane Lowe
- Secret Weapons from Top 10 Djs – Beatportal
- Truly great classic House hits – TraxSource
One word of caution for the newer DJs: before you download all new songs for your set, remember that knowing your music well is the most powerful tool of all. If at all possible, make sure you have songs included in the final playlist that have worked well in the past and that you know inside and out. If you are working with new music then keep reading – the section on a set sequence is critical.
LOGISTICAL TIPS AND TRICKS
Have The Countdown Figured Out
This is the one part of the night that needs to be perfect, and is critical for smoothly transitioning between the two parts of the night without losing your crowd. Here are some must-have tools that should be ready to go.
- Download pre-recorded New Year’s Eve countdowns.
- Have a good clear conversation with the manager/promoter/house owner about how midnight will go and who is in charge of the countdown.
- Avoid being in charge of the actual counting-down if at all possible – allowing you to focus on the music, not the mic.
- If you do need to use the mic, make sure to line check it 30 minutes before 12pm
- Afraid of public speaking, and terrified of doing the countdown? Watch this video on the power pose.
- Set an alarm on your phone to go off 10 minutes before midnight, it will sneak up on you.
- Definitely have your midnight song picked well in advance! Here is a great list of possible candidates.
Prepare A Killer Set SEQUENCE
Different from a set list, which is a group of songs you are likely to play, a set sequence is a sequence of popular songs that mix well IN A SPECIFIC ORDER so you aren’t caught in a low spot.
I have found these are a lifesaver in high-pressure moments (like New Year’s Eve) where everything needs to just work perfectly. Let’s face it, you will have a lot easier time finding the perfect song to mix out of Billie Jean before the gig and not in the middle of dance floor madness.