Are you a DJ that loves to get to your gigs super early?
Or are you a DJ that gets to your gig 5 minutes before your set starts?
If you are an early arriver like myself, you may or may not know some of these areas which I will go through and point out. If you are a bit of a late arriver or just make it in time before you start, you are about to find out some about some helpful tips and suggestions you should take into consideration before you start your set.
1. Know Your DJ
Let’s start off with one of the most important pieces of advice before you play a set: “Watching the DJ play before you.” This is such a key factor that affects where you should start your set from. You need to properly evaluate and decide what direction your set is going to head towards, and how it can build from the other DJ. What are the limitations on your set, if any? And where can you take it without burning any of the other DJ’s, or DJ, after you?
For example: Is the DJ before you perhaps playing too hard for his or her time slot? Do you need to take it down a notch or two and it build up again? Or perhaps you should keep it the same? Do you know what type of DJ plays after you, and where they normally start their sets? Most of the time, you will have to take it up a notch and build on the previous set, to keep the energy progressing nicely and to keep the night evolving – and don't play too hard for the next DJ. The main point of all of the above is to PLAY TO YOUR TIME SLOT!
Another tip to take note of is, you don't want to get to a gig 5 minutes early and play your set, then later being told by a spectator or a friend that you ended up playing a few songs that the previous DJ played before you. It can make you look a little silly sometimes, and annoy the other DJ.
2. Know Your Audience
Reading the crowd is no doubt without question the most important factor when playing to the general public. This is what makes a DJ; if you don't know how to read a crowd, it will break you completely, so you will need to do your homework to ensure you understand how to do this properly. Simply by getting to your gig 1 hour early, or perhaps even 30 minutes before you start, you can watch the other DJ playing and evaluate how the crowd is “vibing” to the music that he or she is playing. Are they dancing? Are they even moving their feet when they are at the bar getting a drink? If not, then you know what you have to do to get them moving - you will need to take it up a notch. You can observe the reactions on peoples’ faces, too, both when you are watching as a spectator, and as you are playing up there from the DJ booth.
Another major thing to consider is that the crowds are always different every week, even by the slightest bit. More experienced DJ’s know this, and especially resident club DJ’s.
Even when you are not playing, it is always a good idea to get out and about, if you are less experienced or an up and coming DJ going to clubs or events which you will be eventually playing at and getting the feel for what is hot and what is not in the field of music it’s vital, I cannot preach this enough. The more insight and awareness you get the greater DJ you become.
3. Be Social And Interact
Why you may ask? Well there are a few reasons.
Firstly, club owners, promoters, and the public in general like to see a DJ that interacts with people and is friendly and approachable to talk to. This gives off a good vibe, and by getting there early, a club owner or promoter is more likely to book you for more gigs later on down the track. Secondly, they want to see you grow your network of people and fan base. Why? Because without your fans, there might not be a next gig. Also, from a promoter’s perspective, there is nothing worse than a DJ that gets to a gig a few minutes before they play, then leaves straight away after they have finished their set.
It looks downright rude and very snobby on the DJ’s behalf – unless, of course, you are an international act or a touring DJ; then it is more than likely that you will not have enough time to socialise, and the punters and promoters will know that. Some international and touring DJ’s do like to interact when they can; they gain even more respect from their fans.
4. Help Take That Edge Off
Getting to a gig that little bit earlier can help you get accustomed to your surroundings, and help take away some of that anxiety and nervousness before your set. Just by simply walking around the club, chatting with people, and having a drink or two definitely helps to take that edge off before you play your set, which leads me to my final point.
Walking around and doing a sound check for other DJ’s and yourself is perhaps the most obvious tip. Finding that sweet spot in the club and finding out whether or not the volume has to be turned up is a must. Volumes are always changing a little bit throughout the night, and especially before that main time slot. You also want to make sure that there are no problems before your set, and that you are familiar with the system that is being used on that particular night. There is nothing worse than showing up to a gig at the last minute, panicking and stressing that you don't know how to operate or fix a certain thing because of unfamiliarity.
So should you get to gigs earlier? Well, the choice, as always, is yours. For me personally, I always like to get to my gigs an hour early and get a feel for things before I start, so I can get a little more settled in. I also talk to a few people, and even after 8 years of DJing, I always watch the DJ before me. What do you like to do before a set?
I would love to know your thoughts on this topic!
Leave your comments below.