How to know what genre a song is?

How can we tell what genre a track is?

How to know what genre a song is?

Hey everyone, Jamie here! This week it’s my turn to involve you in everything going on in my world, and to start things off lets talk about music management.

Sub Genre Headaches! 🫠

Often at Crossfader we get asked questions like:

  • ‘How do I know what constitutes peak time, driving, mainstream, deep or minimal?’
  • ‘What’s the difference between a future house and a bass house song?’
  • ‘Should I sort my music by sub-genres such as these?’

We all deal with the headache of music and library management. We may spend 15 minutes debating whether a song should go in one playlist or the other…

So, what’s the best way to navigate this? Well, I can only give my personal experience and thoughts, so please don’t take this as gospel, but I hope these thoughts may help you out as you build up your music library!

What Is Music?

According to the dictionary, music is the written or printed signs representing vocal or instrumental sound. Others would argue it’s a form of communication, while someone else might say it’s a form of expression and emotion.

While it is all those things (and more.) It’s fluid, ever-changing and evolving. Genres help group and characterise music so humans can talk about it, share it and form communities around it. Because of its fluidity, sub-genres are formed monthly to categorise these music changes further. I’m not here to argue what elements define a hard techno track- there is enough of that on Reddit! I want to help you create a simple system.

Names of playlists

Tap into your emotions!

The best thing you can go off of is the feeling music gives you. When listening to music, don’t try to label it, but understand how it makes you feel. As an extreme example, you feel very different listening to the latest pop song on the radio to when you hear 140bpm hardstyle.

Tune into those feelings and start to organise your music in this way.

Personal Playlists!

So many times, I have created my own sub-genre names in my DJ software. I’ve been known to make playlists such as Classic Bliss! Simply put, to me, this is house music that made me feel incredible and somewhat euphoric.

Another playlist was sunset vibes, featuring those epic songs you would love to hear whilst watching the sun go down. That will be different for everyone, but a big part of being a DJ is for you to share your story through mixing and the music selection, so choose the songs that fit this description for you.

One that often came out, was a playlist named ‘Commersh’. Spelling it this way meant that these were commercial songs or remixes of those songs, but not cheesy. Remember to keep it simple! Titles like ‘Cheesy Wedding Music’ even though I didn’t play many weddings, gave that sub genre of music a label I understood. The next time I played a local bar at 2 am with an eclectic mix of drunk 40-year-olds, I knew to jump into that playlist! Likewise, I have also found myself playing boat parties, which called upon the ‘Classic Bliss’ and ‘Sunset Vibes’ playlists.

By all means, have playlists titled Tech House, Deep House, Minimal House, Hip Hop, D&B etc., but I highly recommend creating your unique labelling to go alongside it!

I’m excited to be working on a music management course with the team, which will launch in the next few weeks with much deeper tutorial content for streamlining, improving and automating this workflow!


I’m a self-proclaimed fanatic about Lego, so when this popped into my inbox, I was blown away.

Tamás the designer of this kit has made a working CDJ out of Lego and submitted it to the ideas page. If it gets 10,000 supporters, it gets considered by LEGO to be turned into an actual set. I’m backing this design, and I’d love for you to give it some love. It’s quick to make an account and support the design!

This set contains 2628 pieces. The design is following the original as much as possible. It has several playable features:

  • The USB stick can be placed in and out of the socket
  • The tempo fader can be adjusted
  • The CD can be placed inside and also can be ejected using the eject button
  • It comes with 2 individual LED panels that can be replaced
  • On one panel, the waveform can be adjusted with the jogwheel, just like on a real turntable!
Support Lego CDJS!
CDJS made of lego

What I’m Reading 📚

I am always reading autobiographies. I love hearing about the journeys real people make through life. Naturally, I like to read about leaders and entrepreneurs, trying to learn from their successes and mistakes.

Shoe Dog is Phil Knight’s (Nike Founder) story about how Nike came to be the brand we now all know, detailing all the trials and tribulations in those early years.

It’s always fascinating to lift the curtain and understand where products, brands and people came from.
Have you read this book? Let me know what your thoughts are and if you have any recommendations off the back of it.

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

What I’m Listening To 🎧

I’ve always been a huge fan of Kaytranada but I only just realised he teamed up with Aminé and created a duo aptly named KAYTRAMINÉ.

Kaytraminé – Who He Iz

Spotlight 🤩

If you are familiar with WIRED, their channel has an awesome series about different levels of specific DJ skills. My favourite is called ’15 levels of scratching.’ If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it! Shout out to Shortkut for delivering such a great video!

video preview

If you’re interested in incorporating scratching into your DJ sets, we cover nearly all the scratches in this video and more in our dedicated scratching course. It’s also filmed on a controller rather than turntables to help you translate these techniques to a controller setup. It’s a practical course that shares how to incorporate scratching into real DJ sets and not just turntablist-style routines.

View Scratching Course Here

Peace out and thanks for reading! We’re all really enjoying putting these newsletters together as a team and hope it’s bringing value to your lives, both in and out of the DJ industry!

Until next time,


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