DJsEditorialMusic Festivals

Less Artists, Longer Sets: It’s What The People Want

A proper house/techno set is two hours long. Everyone who knows anything about house or techno knows that to be a fact. Everyone who knows anything about house or techno also knows that sets that are shorter than 2 hours aren’t ideal.

DJs complaining on Twitter is not uncommon by any means, but Riva Starr and Will Clarke aren’t the only ones who feel this way. At Ultra 2016 Skream and Lee Foss opted to go back to back for two hours rather than play alone for an hour. So did Seth Troxler and The Martinez Brothers.

House and techno sets aren’t about playing as many records as possible or showing off fancy tricks. The constant beat allows the DJ to seamlessly grow and decay the music as he/she sees fit. An hour simply isn’t enough time to do that. Well, at least not enough time to do it properly.

On Sunday of Ultra 2016 (when both of the aforementioned back-to-backs occurred) there were 10 DJs booked on the Resistance Stage across an 11-hour period. The opener had 90 minutes because he was playing while people came in, but everyone else had an hour. Other than the people I already mentioned, Guy Gerber, Jackmaster, and Black Coffee were also on the bill that day.

These are DJs who play for anywhere from 2 to 10 hours depending on the gig. None of them are thrilled to play an hour, and the fans aren’t thrilled about it either.

We recently conducted two polls on the subject. The first was on Twitter, and 59 percent of people who voted preferred less artists and longer sets over more artists and shorter sets.

The second poll was on Instagram. We posed the same question and asked people to respond in the comments. Out of 146 comments, 100 of them indicated a preference for less artists and longer sets.

These numbers represent a rare opportunity within the dance music scene. There is a way to make both the artists and the fans happier that isn’t farfetched at all. In fact it might even make the lives of event planners easier.

Fewer artists on the lineup means fewer artists to accommodate which would be a huge time and money saver. Way less spent on booking fees, fewer trailers, less P.R., fewer agents to argue with, fewer guest lists to handle, everything about the event would be easier to put together. Plus, if artists have more time to play they’ll be happier which leads to better sets in general.

Despite the extra work, a large roster is appealing to promoters because each artist increases the potential to sell tickets. After all, if an event sells out it’s a success on paper.

However, considering overstocked lineups aren’t a new idea, people will be attracted to an event that goes the other way. For the last couple years festivals have been trending towards intimacy, and booking fewer artists aids in this goal.

Fewer artists means cheaper tickets, which is something concert-goers desperately want. Doesn’t matter which genre. One of the reason bigger events aren’t as viable anymore is because of the outrageous ticket prices.

Fewer artists means fewer set time conflicts, which makes everyone more relaxed in general. They’ll be able to chill and enjoy more of each artist. People won’t be pushing their way in and out of the crowd as much, and many will be in the same spot for the duration of the event. Besides if two of your favorite artists have the same set time at different stages, then it’s not as big of a deal if they both have two hours. An hour of each isn’t really that bad.

Fewer artists means less variety. Not that variety is a bad thing, but when an event has a small roster, the artists usually fit a theme. Whether that theme is a genre or a label or something else, that format generally attracts a more tight-knit audience represented by parties like Desert Hearts and Dirtybird.

Dance music is social music. People are over being in a gigantic crowd just for the sake of it. They want to be in a crowd of people with whom they can connect. If a festival is based around an idea other than filling it up with people, it’s much more likely the crowd will share points of view…

…just how both artists and fans share the point of view that we need longer set times. Imagine going to an event like Crssd or Splash house, but instead of having 10-15 DJs to fill up 10 hours, they had 3 or 4. Festivals are such a huge part of music culture now that long sets shouldn’t be confined to the club.

I for one would love to go to Coachella one year and see that the Yuma tent has 4 DJs booked per day, and now I have proof I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Written by
Harry Levin

Hi my name is Harry Levin. I live in LA and I'm an absolute lover of music.

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