Hot Cue management

Hello people!

I have a question about the use of hot cues. Maybe you can enlighten me.

When I prepare a set, I go through all the songs and mark them with hot cue to know where I should pitch the next one and stuff like that. And that’s useful as long as the set doesn’t vary the order, but it happens to me that another day I prepare another set with more or less the same songs but in a different order, so the marks don’t match.

How do you manage this? I would like to deepen a little on this subject, I am an amateur and from time to time I do a set in a small pub.

Thanks in advance.

Hi @tatu, personally what I do is follow a consistent general formula for how I set Hot Cues on all tracks. I like to have a lot of flexibility in my DJ sets and rarely pre-plan my set order and track selection. Having a consistent Hot Cue formula makes it much easier to mix unfamiliar tracks together on the fly.

  1. Typically I will set at least 1 good mix in point and 1 good mix out point on each track. Often this is a nice intro or outro section of the song or maybe an 8-16 bar breakdown before a drop. I set these more or less independent of other tracks in my collection and setlist.
  2. I will usually also set a Hot Cue for where the vocals first start. Mainly as a visual reminder to be fully mixed in before this point to avoid accidental vocals on vocals. I also usually rename this Hot Cue something like “VocalStart”.
  3. Then I set Hot Cues on the main drops or other key sections like the chorus or breakdown.
  4. This method leaves things pretty flexible for the track order and mixing within my set.
  5. Of course there will always be 2-3 songs that you know mix well together and in a certain order. In those cases you can change the name of your Hot Cue to help you remember when to mix in which track.

Thanks @Slak_Jaw , this is a very useful info.

I work with Salsa/Bachata mainly, and in the socials people don’t expect real mixes because the intro and outro are key moments to start and close the dance.

Based on your comment I think one way to translate your comment is to use the music structure of these gengres and identify the intro and outro at least and mark other entrances to identify when is a good time to start the next son or apply effects or transitions.

Any comments are welcome.

Thank you very much.

You’re welcome. I play mostly electronic music that follows a pretty standard musical structure. I don’t know much about Salsa/Bachata, but I suspect it uses a fairly consistent musical structure across the genre as well.

So, yeah, understanding the musical structure of the genre will really help you to figure out the most appropriate times to transition between songs. Learning about musical phrases will probably be very helpful for you. As a general rule you want to maintain the musical structure (phrasing) through the transition and make sure there is room for both songs if you’re planning to have them play together during the transition. This is why mixing intros and outros usually works because these tend to be parts in the songs when there is less going on musically. Using EQs, Filters and FX can also help to make room for the second song during the transition.

For my Salsa/Bachata/Kizomba playlists I generally place a Hot Cue at the beginning, at an intro point and at an end point.

I agree generally for those types of events you dont want hip-hop/EDM/pop song levels of mixing, but it is important to get right to the heart of the dance song if you have a warmed up crowd ready to dance.

At the beginning (when people are just arriving) and end of the night (when they’re tired) I will keep the vibe chill and play the whole song, but when the crowd gets hot and heavy I will mix right into the heart of the song (skipping the beginning) to keep the vibe lively.

And I’ll use both mixes throughout the night to control the ebb and flow of energy on the dance floor and keep the crowd happy.

I also have a few loooong songs (7-8 minutes) that are fantastic, but are too much for beginner crowds, so I set a cue point to Echo out around 3-4 minutes.

I also have a few songs that are too short (1-2 minutes) that are Great, so I set a loop so it plays out for 3-4 minutes. (e.g. La Bachata by Manuel Turizo)

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Great @Michael_Wisniewski

I watch the dancers and realize that they use the intros to observe other dancers waiting to be invited to dance and this is the moment to connect and star in the dance with him/her.

The same with the outro but here they use it to apply steps to finish the dance and say goodbye to their partner.

So when I change songs I take advantage of these intros and outros to mix some bars, especially if the new song starts with a soft instrumental, vocal or a capella, anticipating a little bit the new song.

In these transitions I can use effects or samples to give it a more dramatic touch.

Occasionally I use cue points to move the track if it’s repetitive or if I need to cut the song.

What do you think?

I also use the hot cues as simple markers to determine the structure of the song and when I can launch the next track and when I can start the transitions, in the last ones I try to add information about how I should do this (with effect, synchronized, with a sample or without transition).

I’m learning along the way :slight_smile:

Thank you very much.


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