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In an effort to give you more insight and understanding of the DJ hardware I review here on DjTechZone, I decided to do a demo mix for each piece that ends up in my studio for review. I have fun doing it and I hope it will be interesting and useful for you too.

As I was going through the process of creating this video, I struck me that there are many hurdles to take before a video is live on Youtube, so I decided to share a bit of the experience on the blog.

These days, getting your mixes out there is a continuous fight against copyright claims, takedowns and even possible prosecution. It is quite hypocritical but we live in a world in which hedge fund managers are allowed to earn billions without giving back a single penny to the community but DJs are not allowed to share their creative outings with the world.

There I needed to get that off my chest 🙂

There are services such as Mixcloud and Soundcloud, and while Mixcloud has a pretty solid copyright model that ensures your mixes will stay up, your fans miss out much of the experience: they can hear you, but they can’t see you going at it.

Creating a Video Mix

You will need some gear to create your video mix...
You will need some gear to create your video mix…

So how do you go about creating a video mix? A few things that you will need:

  • A playlist (see how to check your tracks for copyright policies below)
  • DJ gear to perform on
  • A computer to record the audio of your set
  • A camera to record the video

In the video above, I use the following material

  • A Macbook Pro 13-inch running Rekordbox DJ
  • The Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB
  • A GoPro HERO4 for wide-angle shots
  • Sony PJ675 Handycam for overhead shots

A few tips & tricks

Make sure you capture different camera angles!
Make sure you capture different camera angles!
  • When recording your video, make sure you capture the action from different angles. Viewers will be interested to see what you are doing in close up, but also have a sense of the overall setting you are djing in.
  • Make sure the audio is good quality. Nothing more annoying than recording audio with your camcorders build in microphone and having to hear all the ambient noise, including button clicks. I record the audio directly on my Mac in Rekordbox DJ and later edit it into the video. Alternatively, you could also opt for an external recorder such as the Tascam DR-40 V2. This is interesting if you want to capture ambient noise together with your audio output, of if you want to use the record output of your DJ mixer.
  • Record your screen with the DJ software running (if you are using software to DJ that is) and superimpose it in your video to give your viewers a sense of what you are doing. In the video above, you can see I zoom into one deck when I want to emphasize the use of the performance pads or the effects. This way, you create learning moments for viewers that are maybe looking for inspiration for their own mixes.
  • Keep it high energy. Attention spans are short, so creating mixes with minute-long transitions will probably make you lose your viewers fast. Youtube mixes should be energetic and dynamic, no matter your genre of music.

Editing your mix

Editing a video in Cyberlink Powerdirector
Editing a video in Cyberlink Powerdirector

This part might be a bit scary. For the mix above, I ended up with

  • The original audio track recorded in Rekordbox DJ
  • The overhead video recorded with the Sony Handycam
  • The wide video recorded with the GoPro
  • The screen capture as a video file

There are many, many video editing packages out there, even free ones, but my recommendation is to invest in a decent package.

I use Cyberlink Powerdirector, and frankly, I started a few months ago with no knowledge of video editing to where I’m now. So yes there is a learning curve, but if you are a bit handy with software you will get the hang of it. Plus there are hundreds of tutorials on Youtube if you get stuck. Cyberlink will set you back USD 99 which is a fraction of what more professional video editing packages, such as Adobe Premiere.

Selecting tracks that won’t get blocked for copyright

Youtube's dreaded copyright notice
Youtube’s dreaded copyright notice

There is a little-known feature in Youtube that is called the Music Policies database. It contains the current copyright policies set by copyright holders for the music they own.

For example, if I look up You & Me by Flume in the Disclosure remix, I get the following:

If you use this song
Playback: Viewable everywhere except Germany
Monetization: You can’t monetize your video

If you perform a cover
Playback: Viewable worldwide
Monetization: Eligible for revenue sharing

Copyright owners can change their policies or take action on your video that differs from what’s described here.

Germany is very restricted country, by the way, you will not find many tracks that are allowed to be played there. Too bad for them…

So overall it means that you can use the track in your videos, but you can’t monetize it. So if your mix gets millions of views, you won’t see a dime. Fair? Not really since your effort for making money for the owners is not compensated in any way, but still better than nothing, since this kind of visibility can for sure improve your reputation as a DJ. Certainly, you will be able to “prove” it’s you behind the decks, something impossible to do when you only post the audio.

So if you want to be reasonably sure your track doesn’t get blocked, or your entire mix muted, check your playlist prior to creating your mix in the Music Policy Database. Not a very spontaneous way of creating a mix, since you will have to stick to your prepared playlist, but better than seeing all your effort go in vain by a copyright claim.

Again, you will never be 100% sure. Copyright policies can change. But at least you maximize your chances of keeping your video mix up.

What if a track gets blocked

If a track gets blocked or worse, your entire mix gets muted, you still can do something to fix it. In the audio section of your video, you will find a tool called Remove a Song. For the demo video in this post it looks like this:

Remove song from Youtube video
Remove song from Youtube video

Clicking on the “Remove this song” button will launch a process to remove the audio. The result is a bit messy but as a last resource to save your mix, it’s acceptable.

Check out how this worked out for another mix I posted a while ago, the muted audio starts around the 11:18-minute mark, as the audio fades out.

Some more good examples

While my video is OK, there are people really killing it on Youtube with original DJ mixes that attract thousands of views. Cotts & Ravine are a DJ duo that have been posting mixes on Youtube for years, some with millions of views. Check out their latest one:

 

Another good example is DJ Juicy M. Check out her amazing mix with 4 iPads running the djay app:

Conclusion

So, despite the overall feeling that it’s too hard to post mixes to Youtube and ensure they stay around, it’s possible to do so with a little effort, and the exposure for you as a DJ can be huge.

Many DJs have reached stardom through Youtube (I’m not one of them) and who knows, if you hit the right nerve, you could be next!

What are your favorite DJ mixes on Youtube? Are you motivated to post one yourself after reading this article? Comment below!

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