You’ve got a new set together. You’ve organized a slot at a local party and are ready to hit it. Great! But there are always ways to be slicker, more professional and smarter when building on your reputation as a club or event DJ. Let’s break from the online DJ lessons for a minute and check out some practical tips on how to keep playing the long game.
Protect your gear
Still carrying your laptop bare naked in a backpack? Get customized and padded protective bags for your gear. Still tying cables in knots or untangling them from a snarling mess before shows? Get velcro strips and start coiling them properly every time you use them. These are the basics of handling technical equipment. Yes, it’s more time-consuming to properly pack and unpack things, so you should start factoring it into your setup and takedown time. Think about the upgrade and resell value, and don’t glamorize the idea of battle-scarred gear. You want a mixer with channels that work and CDJs or controllers without faulty buttons, pads, sliders and connections. The basics. Learning these valuable DJ lessons will save you money later. Oh, and don’t leave your stuff in the booth if you want to stick around and party or arrive early. If there’s a locked office, ask about storing your gear in there beforehand.
Have a checklist
If you’ve already got a flight case with everything waiting to go, first prize. If you’re still unpacking and wiring separate items of gear before a gig and find your RCA adapters dwindling in number, get a quick little checklist on your phone to make sure you’re leaving with everything that you came with. Less important accessories might slip your mind, so unless you have a great memory, make a note of easily forgettable stuff when packing up, such as phone charger cables, headphone adapters, iPad casings, microphone cradles and power adapters. It’s another thing to do, but it sure beats having to replace working cables that you have unintentionally donated to the underground.
Get to know the crew
Introducing yourself to security, bar staff and management on the way in is a great idea. In any nightclub, these guys generally have to deal with the nasty side of humanity more often than most, so create the impression that you’re on their side, part of the team and cooperative. Club managers would way rather work with someone positive and helpful than an arrogant or self-important figure whose demands outweigh their suggestions. Even if people aren’t being as friendly as you are, leave a lasting impression by doing on a personal level what you’re there to on a public level: create a good vibe.
When all else fails…
If technical problems can happen, they’ll happen at events. Technical failure is a disappointing reality in the trade, especially when playing on gear that belongs to the venue. Always keep a playlist or mix on your phone as a backup. Keep it plugged in and ready to play. Or if you’re bringing your own gear, have an entirely separate laptop ready. You can also bring a clone of your hard drive. Mixers can fail too, so have the necessary adapters to be able to plug directly into the front of house system. Whatever it takes, have a backup and be prepared for that moment that the sound goes down and everyone looks at you, the DJ. Be a hero, pull a solution out of the bag and get that music going again, whatever it takes!
Not only does all this advice make sense, it also makes you look good. Being able to smoothly handle unforeseen actualities is the difference between an amateur and a pro. Sure, it means more prep time, spare cables and overall work. But if you’re seriously considering upping your game, you’ll make a habit of factoring this extra time and energy into your offering and have a good time knowing that you’ve got another smooth event in the bag. Check out the learning offers from DJ Courses Online and get your pro game in the bag.
John Bartmann is an award-winning music producer and DJ.