How to DJ Back-to-Back (B2B)
How to DJ Back-to-Back (B2B)
One of the most fun ways of DJing is back-to-back, commonly written as B2B. This is when two or more DJs perform together sharing the decks and playing one track then switching to the other DJ for the next. Back-to-back DJing or duo DJing is was of the best forms of DJ collaboration and performance, not to mention a fantastic way to have fun with other DJs.
B2B DJing takes a bit of preparation and communication is key between the DJs. Back-to-back DJs need to have a good inter-personal dynamic and DJ skill level in order to perform a successful B2B DJ set.
Track selection is paramount, and both DJs need to be on the same page technically. DJs playing back-to-back will need to work with their partner to plan a successful b2b set that merges their two individual styles of music and performance. Many B2B duos will also practice their performance so they can execute a flawless set on the night and avoid and chaos!
In this blog we set out the pros and cons of DJing back-to-back and give you some ideas to think about when planning a B2B DJ set. Consider all of these points to help you create a memorable back-to-back DJ set that the crowd will love. Who knows, you might even become a DJ duo!
Should I do a B2B set or DJ alone?
There are certain pros and cons of DJing alone or as a duo. A back-to-back DJ set can be an exciting and energetic way to perform but can also sound messy if the two DJs don't gel well together. Here are some of the pros and cons you should consider before attempting to create a back-to-back DJ set.
Pros of Back-to-Back DJ Sets
- Two DJs create more of a spectacle behind the DJ booth
- Two DJs means two people promoting the show
- It creates an interesting fusion of two unique styles
- One person can select a track while another hypes the crowd
- Two heads are better than one when overcoming problems
- Each DJ can support each other and encourage one another
- Sometimes being a duo can give you more confidence and bravado
Cons of Back-to-Back DJ Sets
- It can be challenging to maintain a flow between two peoples individual styles
- If the gig is paid, the money is split two ways
- Each DJ needs to have a similar skill level
- Too many cooks spoil the broth, will having too many ideas create chaos?
- More time is spent with preparation and communicating as a duo
- It can cause friction in a friendship if things don't go well
How to find a B2B partner DJ
So, you want to experiment with a back-to-back DJ set? Now you've made the choice, and you're aware of the pros and cons, you'll need to find someone to B2B with. Most B2B DJs are already friends or perhaps part of the same DJ circle running events in their local scene. Sometimes, a promoter will also introduce you to a new DJ.
Here are some ways you can find a DJ to back-to-back with...
- Try asking any DJ friends you have
- Reach out to other DJs in a DJ Facebook group
- Perhaps there is a student at the same DJ academy as you?
- Find a DJ who plays for an event you'd love to play for
- Use social media like Reddit, Soundcloud, Instagram and TikTok to reach out to DJs you like
When you decide to B2B what should you consider when choosing a B2B partner?
- You should get along well with the person and they should be friendly and polite
- You should only B2B with someone who is good at communication and who is punctual and reliable
- Do they have a professional track record? Can anyone vouch for them?
- You should make sure they have a good skill level and are professional DJs
- You should discuss your music styles, swap playlists and see if you're a match musically
- You should discuss the pros and cons and discuss payment and promotion of the event
- If there is an allocation of money and time or other resources you should have a written agreement
How to prepare for a B2B
Preparation and practice is crucial for a successful and exciting B2B performance. We recommend that before each DJ prepares their setlist they first swap some playlists they like with their back-to-back DJ partner.
Spotify playlists are great because then each DJ can listen to the vibe of the other artist. Once everyone has a good understanding of each others music taste you can decide on a genre and/or sub genre. It's also good to outline a BPM range and mood that is suitable for the gig and set time.
Once you have both digested this information, and have started to get to know each other on a personal level, it's time to go and refine your track selection before meeting up to practice. Make sure you have ample options as some tracks might not work when you try and B2B in the studio.
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What to consider when preparing for a B2B DJ performance
- Consider your set time and how that will affect the BPM range and mood of the set. (Click here to learn how to prepare for a warm-up set)
- Consider how you're going to mix harmoniously in key. (Click here to learn how to mix in key)
- Consider what you will both do if your music is not going down well, is there a plan B?
- Make sure you both know how to check the equipment settings and help each other learn new functions. (Click here for a list of things to check)
- Ask yourselves what would you want to see as an audience member and prepare some moves!
- Prepare for the unexpected, what will you do if one of you is sick and unable to play or if you set time is moved or shortened?
- Outline the dates and times you will practice your performance.
- When are you going to meet on the night, set our the particulars of the logistics of the event.
- Now you've got a solid plan ask yourselves, how can you take this performance to the next level and create a special memorable set?
- If your B2B DJ partner good at reading the crowd and reacting spontaneously? (Click here to advice on reading a crowd)
How to Perform as a B2B
The big night has arrived! You've done your preparation and planned a magical setlist. Now it's time to rock this party and perform like pros. You may wish to have some tricks up your sleeve to create attention-grabbing moments that put both of you in the public eye. If you want to make a statement here are some ideas!
- Hands in the air! While one DJ is setting up the next track the other can spend time hyping up the crowd with lots of positive body language and dance moves. Try and communicate your love for the music, the crowd and your enthusiasm using gestures like hands in the air, fist pumps and general energetic behaviour! Lead by example and the crowd will follow.
- Employ FX, acapella and mixing tricks. While one DJ is prepping the next tune and mixing it in, the other can apply FX and advanced transitions or mixes to up the ante. Four hands are better than two in this respect!
- Props? Some DJs will take their performance to the next level using props or even venue-approved confetti canisters or CO2 guns? Would this add to your performance?
- Outfits? Is there a certain look you both want to show off? A look can be another element to your performance making it overall more exciting and more memorable for the audience.
- Visuals? Will you have some visuals like a special logo or other graphics to be projected or displayed?
- Make an entrance. Some DJs will take the theatre of their performance to the next level by creating a special intro track, something dramatic that will engage the audience.
- Help each other if the beat-matching goes out of sync, a little nudge on the wheel goes a long way to avoid clashing tracks!
Back-to-back DJ sets are a great way to create an exciting DJ performance with a like-minded artist. If you can work well as a team, you'll be able to experience some of the benefits of working as a duo rather than a solo artist. Make sure you start with a good plan and a meeting of minds. If you iron out all the issues in the planning stage you're going to have a great time at the actual gig.
Make sure the process is fun a creative and remember to find a compromise with the other artist. Everyone works in different ways and have their own strengths and weaknesses. Embrace the difference and find the common ground.
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