There are many situations where you might find yourself needing to make a mix of songs.
It could be for a birthday party, for your next fitness class, for a cheerleading show, for radio, for a long journey, to promote your DJ skills online, or a myriad of other scenarios.
If you haven't created a 'mixtape' or seamless playlist before, the process might seem a bit daunting - you probably don't even know where to start!
Don't worry, because it's actually much easier than you think. Thanks to new tools, even the most technophobic music lovers can create a professional mix in no time!
Whatever kind of mix you need to make, this guide will show you how to quickly and easily make a pro-grade mix - even if you've never tried it before.
TL;DR - Making Mixes#
There are two main methods for creating mixes - live, and studio.
Mixing music can be an easy process if you have the right tools.
Studio music mixing is the quickest and easiest method, unless you need to perform for a live audience.
DJ.Studio makes it super easy for anybody to make pro-sounding mixes - even total beginners.
Are you in the Right Place? 'Mixing Music' vs 'Music Mixing'?#
The term 'mixing music' has two meanings:
Mixing multiple songs together, creating a mix/mixtape/playlist. This is typically done by a DJ.
A mixdown - a stage in the production process where the individual tracks and elements of a song are balanced. This type of 'audio mixing' is usually performed by a professional mix engineer.
In this article, we will be looking at the first process - how to create a mix of songs, creating a seamless playlist in the style of a DJ.
If you are looking to start mixing music in the style of mix engineers and music producers, this article won't be what you are looking for.
For example, if you want to learn about mixing vocals, preparing a drum track, shaping your kick drum tone, or other practices relating to mixing audio - you should check out some other tutorials - maybe from a mixing or mastering engineer.
However, if you want to mix tracks together to create a DJ-set-style recording, you've come to the right place!
Methods for Making a Mix - Live or Studio?#
Before getting into the process of making a mix, you need to understand your options.
There are two main methods for making DJ mixes - based on the type of software and DJ setup used. These are Live and Studio.
Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and there are certain situations where one would be a better choice over the other.
'Live' DJ Mixing#
The most common and traditional type of DJ setup is Live, which is also the oldest style of setup.
This format uses a mixer and multiple 'decks' or track players.
This is based on the early forms of DJjing, and most DJ software uses this style.
This is the best option for when you need to perform for a live audience.
It gives users the flexibility of being able to play any song they want in the present moment and using the controls to create seamless blends in real-time.
While this format is great in many situations (parties, clubs, events, in front of a live audience) it's not always the best option to choose in terms of speed, precision, and efficiency.
'Studio' DJ Mixing#
The other approach is known as 'the studio method', simply because this mixing technique can be performed in a studio, at home, or anywhere where you have access to a computer - even in a library!
This technique uses studio DJ mixing software, like MixMeister, or DJ.Studio. (Although MixMeister is now out of date).
This type of Studio DJ Software moves away from the traditional approach of 1:1 simulating a mixer and deck setup and instead opts for a more versatile and detailed system.
It's similar in style to audio editing software, like music production tools and DAWS, but designed for DJing rather than production. You could call it a DAW for DJs!
Studio software is ideal for mixing music in situations where you don't need to perform live.
This mixing process gives you the ability to craft your mixes, transitions, and DJ sets in more detail than you would be able to if performed live.
This also makes the mix production process more efficient, as you don't have to worry about making mistakes, and you can perfect and refine your mixes in more detail without needing to rush.
These days, there is only one viable option for studio DJ mixing software - DJ.Studio!
The next section of this guide explains how you can make a mix of sounds using either of these methods.
How To Make A Mix Using Studio DJ Software - DJ.Studio#
Because 'studio style' music mixing is the most effective method for making mixes, I'll explain it first. After this, I'll show you how to make a live mix in case you want to perform for an audience in real-time.
This section explains how to create a great-sounding mix using the studio DJing method.
In this example, I'll show you the workflow process of DJ.Studio, which is the best choice of software for this method.
Collect Your Songs - The first thing to do is build a collection of music you want to mix together. This can either be local downloaded files, or collections YouTube videos - as DJ.Studio can mix either type.
Download and Install DJ.Studio - You can start mixing in DJ.Studio for free, we are giving you a 14-day trial with no limitations. Installing the app is the best option, but you can also run DJ.Studio in your browser.
Start a New Mix - There are two modes to choose from when creating a new mix. Pick either 'Local' or 'Online' mode based on where your music is stored. Local for downloaded files, and Online for YouTube mixing.
Create the Setlist - Add songs to the mix that you want to use in your mix. The import wizard makes it easy to find and import the songs you want to mix.
Click 'Automix' - The automix algorithm automatically detects the keys and BPM of songs to find the best order. You can choose whether this is based on the harmonic content (key matching), BPM, or a mixture of the two.
DJ.Studio will scan every possible order combination. Then, it arranges your tracks on the timeline and applies automatic transitions in the best sequence.
Refine Your Mix - Now you can improve the mix by making edits on the timeline. You can also use the transition editor and transition presets to create smoother blends. When you are happy with the way the music sounds throughout your mix, it's time to record and export.
Record, Export, and Share - The final stage is rendering the mix into a finished audio file to share with your audience. DJ.Studio makes the recording process super fast and is a huge time saver compared to recording in a traditional live method.
You don't need to worry about mistakes, set the recording gear up, or even do anything while it records. You can simply hit the export button, and go and make a sandwich while DJ.Studio records the final file. Not only will you be full from eating your lunch, but you'll also have a perfect finished mix!
As you can see, DJ.Studio makes the mix creation process super easy!
You don't need any technical knowledge, music theory experience, or even any DJing abilities to create professional-sounding mixes. All you need is an idea of what music you want to mix together, and a little bit of time!
While DJ.Studio is ideal for beginners, it can also leverage a level of depth and complexity that makes it perfect for professional DJs.
This makes it a great choice if you are new and want some deep software that you won't outgrow, or if you are a pro who needs a powerful tool to make your life easier.
In my experience, making mixes in DJ.Studio, rather than live, is far easier and quicker. It removes a lot of stress, as you don't need to worry about making mistakes, mixing harmonically incompatible tracks, or clashing beats!
Not only does it save time and brain power, it also opens up more doors for expression and creativity in DJ sets, by letting you create mixes and transitions that wouldn't be possible with traditional DJing techniques.
See for yourself with the DJ.Studio free trial!
How To Make A Mix Using Live DJ Software#
In case you want to mix live, this section explains how to make a mix of songs using Live DJing software and techniques.
This isn't the most effective or efficient technique in most cases.
I would only suggest that you use it in situations where you actually need to mix live - like at a club or party. Live mixing has a steep learning curve, you need more equipment, and you are vulnerable to more mistakes - so I recommend trying out the studio method first.
Collect the songs you want to mix together. This depends on what the intentions behind your mix are. If you want to create a good mix, then make sure you choose songs that go well together, and have the option to flow nicely. The larger your library is, the more options you have.
Plan out the Track Order - After you've selected songs, you need to work out the best order to play them in. This can be based on song structure, harmony, BPM, mood, energy, and more! You can use DJ.Studio to help work out the best order based on key changes and BPM. Otherwise, you should do some research into harmonic mixing and beat-matching.
Start Mixing - The live mixing process is pretty complicated, so this is only a basic explanation; check out our full Guide On How To DJ!
Start the first track.
Beat match the next track to the first track.
Start the transition.
Stop the first track, and load up the next one.
Repeat this process until you've finished your mix.
Practice and Record - The above steps show you the process for live mixing, although you might also need to record your mix this way (although it's better to use studio software like DJ.Studio for the actual production process). Some DJ software has built-in recording features, otherwise, you can use some extra software, or use a hardware recorder.
One key tip!
If you're going to play live (or even record live in this way), make sure you practice the rough mix a couple of times before going into the main session. This will help you to make sure the finished mix is as tight as possible and will help you to find problem areas in advance before you get stuck.
Live mixing has its advantages, although if you are looking to create mixes at high speed, with a professional sound (even if you are a beginner), then you should consider using the studio method explained above instead.
As you can see, making mixes isn't as hard as it may seem! Particularly when you use tools like DJ.Studio that makes the process incredibly simple.
The only thing you need to worry about is finding the music to use - make sure you find the right music for the situation.
Spend some time thinking about which type of mixing process (live or studio) is more suited to your needs, and test it out.
It doesn't have to be one or the other, as both techniques have unique strengths, and combining both methods together gives you the broadest range of options!
FAQs About How To Make A Mix Of Songs
- How do I make my own mix?
- How do you make a mashup of songs for free?
- How do beginners mix music?