DJ sets

Extended sets: the battle for a new standard [Magazine Featured]

For some years now, there has been a debate about the standard time for a DJ set. In the early days of electronic dance music, sets were longer, then the industry adopted a new form that is more for less. What does that mean?

It has evolved from the concept of being able to bring together as many artists as possible into one event to diversify the line-up and audience, with the downside that the time slots are short. For many artists and music lovers, however, 60 minutes is not enough.

Let’s consider this through a metaphor. You’re a fan of sweets, so you like to eat them very much. Imagine attending a banquet where you only get half a bite of several different desserts. Can you really taste any of them? Yes, that’s right. If there are a lot of artists playing for 60 minutes at an event, it means that the visitors get to see a large number of different artists at once, but do they really get to know the sound of each of them? This is quite a contradiction. Seeing a lot of artists at once can alleviate the fear of missing out, but it can also make you miss the point. Also, narrow time slots can cause anxiety. At events with multiple stages, you’re forced to constantly run back and forth between stages, or you’re afraid that the concert is over even though it has just begun. In the latter case, it’s an unease shared by the crowd, but also by the artists.

In rave and club culture there was no such term as extended sets. All sets were longer than two hours, nothing shorter than that was acceptable. Today all-night-long shows are a rarity, but that’s how it used to be. People came to see an artist for as long as he wanted. Until the bag of records was empty or the vibe ran out. It was part of the job of the DJ, to create a varied performance in terms of mood, tempo and energy. It was a symbiotic construction that unfolded naturally. Building a solid sonic journey takes time. Artists still want that today, but the industry has established a tyranny of time.


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