DJ 101 - Hot Cue Basics

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ns7 hot cueHot Cues are important for nearly every style of DJ.  This guide walks through the basics how to utilize the Hot Cues, why they are important, and how they will benefit you. 


DJ 101 – Hot Cues

Depending on the controller you are using will depend on how many Hot Cue’s you have available on your hardware. Most software’s will offer five hot cues in the software which means even if you have three on your controller you can access the additional two in the software by clicking on the additional Hot Cues.

In this document we will cover the use of your simplest Hot Cues (first and last), but also the most important. Before we dive into your Hot Cues there are a few terms you will need to familiarize yourself with and their functions that help you as a DJ.

What is a track with an intro/outro?

Tracks with intro’s and outro’s are the songs you hear on the radio with the addition of a 16 or 32 bar instrumental to the beginning of the song and the end of the song. This is what allows DJ’s to mix seamlessly in and out of tracks without the songs audibly colliding in an unpleasing fashion.

What is a DJ Pool and why are they important?

A DJ Pool is web based service which allows DJ’s to pay a monthly subscription with unlimited downloads of music. DJ Pool’s work hand and hand with the record labels to release the newest music. DJ Pools also offer intro/outro versions of songs which allow for seamless mixing.

What are the suggested DJ Pools?

DJ City ( ), IDJPool ( ), Franchise Record Pool ( ). These music services supply the genres of Hip Hop, Dance, and Top40 music (IDJPool also offers Country).

How can a Hot Cue save my gig?

Dead air is every DJ’s worst enemy and can single handedly cause and embarrassing moment and even a loss of gig! As crazy as it sounds hot cues can save your gig, you just have to be prepared.

Did you ever have that patron who is making requests and you look up and have 15 seconds left on the playing track, its happened to all of us and those who are prepared will have no trouble, the unprepared will end up with dead air. Setting the Hot Cues properly ahead of time will ensure you never have dead air.

By setting your Hot Cue’s as described below it will allow you to quickly bounce to the instrumental portion of your track (either at the beginning or the end) buying you time to get your next track ready.

First Hot Cue

The first Hot Cue set on a track should be the first beat of the track. Typically all songs will have a few bars of music at the beginning of the song. Most DJ’s belong to DJ Pools for obtaining their music which is great, a big reason why is because of the extended intro/outro’s they add to tracks. Tracks with intros and outro’s.

Last Hot Cue

The last available Hot Cue is best used on the first beat of the outro of the track to allow for quick mixing out and into another song without the worries of vocals of both tracks playing over each other.

I have a large library and it will take me forever to set these hot cues!

That’s the most common misconception regarding this topic. It only takes a few seconds and some discipline.

Every DJ after a tracks downloaded plays it for a few minutes in their home or studio to find out how they will utilize the new track in their sets. When you are playing this song set your cue points (first and last right away). This takes discipline, but if you do this for every new track moving forward you will gain ground.

Now let’s cover those songs that are existing in your library. You can set hot cues live instantly and easily. When you load any older track to your deck even if you don’t spin it much set your first and last Hot Cues . By doing this you will be adding the Hot Cues to your existing library quickly, easily, and with no added effort as you are already playing the track.


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