The number of hours of your DJ set will determine how many songs you will be playing during your DJ set. Obviously, for a one hour DJ set you’ll need much fewer songs than for a 4 hour DJ set. I’ve had DJ sets of 4, 6 and 8 hours, so I have an idea of how many songs are in a DJ set per hour. In this blog post, I want to help you find out how many songs you need for your next DJ set.
There are on average 20 to 40 songs in a one hour DJ set. The number of songs will depend on how long you’re playing each song. This will depend a lot on the genre that you’re DJing with. Dance music like EDM has a longer average length than the pop and R&B music genres.
In the remainder of this post, we’ll dive deeper into how you can calculate the number of songs that are in a one-hour DJ set of your genre and how many songs you need to bring to a DJ gig.
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How to Calculate the Number of Songs in a DJ Set
There are a couple of things to look at when trying to calculate how many songs there will be a DJ set.
- Mixing style
- When are you DJing
Not all genres are created equally. The song length of genres can vary a lot. As I mentioned, dance music is often longer in length than pop and hip-hop.
The average length of all genres together is 3 to 4 minutes. There are a few songs that are below that average and there are sogs that go beyond that average.
When you’re making a DJ set with a lot of pop or hip hop music, your setlist will have a lot more songs than, let’s say, a deep house DJ set. A deep house song, on average is much longer than a pop track.
What type of event are you playing at? Will you most likely be playing pop music? Or probably more house tracks? Maybe even 80/90’s music.
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How Quick Will You Mix
There is another important factor that will determine how many songs are in a DJ set, and that is your mixing style. Are you a person that doesn’t like to play songs for a long time before mixing in another song, then you’ll have more songs in your DJ set
When you’re preparing your set, you can get an idea of how long you’ll be playing every song on average.
Opening DJ or Prime Time DJ
Often there is a big difference if you are the opening DJ at the beginning of the event. The sooner you start the more people will want to relax and get in the mood. You don’t want to be performing quick mixes when you’re DJing at the beginning of the evening. So you’ll need fewer songs in your DJ set if you’re the opening DJ.
Contrary to when you’re DJing at prime time. This is the time to perform quick mixes and keep the energy levels high. You will need more songs for your DJ set if you perform at prime time.
If you are the DJ for the entire night, you need to keep this in mind too. Base your calculations on the different times of the event.
Recommended post: How to Build a Good DJ Set
You’re the prime-time DJ, performing at the highlight of the event. The people are already dancing when you take over the DJ booth.
You’re DJing with dance music, and you will play on average about 2 minutes of every song.
The next step is to calculate how many 2 minute songs are in a one-hour DJ set. That’s 30 songs.
You’re the DJ for the entire evening. You start at the beginning, where people are just chilling and having their first few drinks. You’re an open format DJ, so you’re DJing just about any genre.
Because you’re an open-format DJ, you don’t really know how long you will be playing every song because there will be different genres throughout the evening.
If you’re an open-format DJ, you need to take the safe route and take into account that you could be playing a lot of pop and hip hop.
For an open format DJ, the best thing to do is presume that you’ll need 1,5 minutes per song in your DJ set. 1,5 minutes of songs in a one-hour DJ set will be 40 songs for a one-hour DJ set, times 6 hours. In this situation, there are on average 240 songs in a 6-hour DJ set for an open-format DJ
How Many Songs to Bring to a DJ Gig
So if the night goes exactly as you planned, the number of songs that you’ve calculated would be enough. But you don’t want to do that, because you always want to have some room to switch things up in case the crowd is not feeling the current song or the energy level. So you have to give yourself options to choose from.
If you only brought 30 songs to a one-hour DJ set, there is no room to adjust your playlist to the crowd’s reaction.
When am doing a live DJ set, I often get some great ideas for the next song, when I see some kind of reaction from the crowd. So I will always bring more songs than I need.
Adjust your DJ set to the way the crowd reacts. You can only do that by bringing more songs than the minimum of 30. My recommendation is to at least double the number of the minimum required songs.
In this case, 60 songs for a one-hour DJ set would be enough. But don’t limit yourself to that, either. If you can find 10 more amazing tracks that would fit in your current list of songs, then just add them to the list.
An open-format DJ, like in the second example, would not bring 240 songs for the entire evening but more like 500 songs to be able to go in a different direction with the music when needed.
If you want some tips for song selection, check out my post on how to choose the next song when you’re DJing.
The number of songs in a DJ set will depend on your genre, mixing style, and the time you’re performing at the event.
Get a good impression of how long you’ll be playing your songs by practising for at least half an hour with the genre(s) that you’ll be playing.
When you’ll be playing at least 2 minutes on average of each song, divide the hours that you’ll be DJing by 2 minutes. So for 1 hour, you’ll divide 60 minutes by 2. Resulting in 30 songs for a one-hour DJ set.
Always bring at least double the number of songs to your DJ set to be able to switch things up if the crowd doesn’t respond well to the originally planned set.