How to approach a DJ competition

DJ competitions, lets face it we all get excited when we hear about them, it’s a chance for a DJ to make a breakthrough in the music industry and potentially play more DJ gigs. I have had the pleasure of attending many and I have also been involved in DJ competitions in Melbourne as a youngster myself. In this blog, I want to help you with some of my personal experiences, some tips and what I believe judges and music industry experts look for when selecting a winner.

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Know your reasons why

When entering any DJ competition, there has to be a reason why. Are you looking to enter just for the opportunity to play your first DJ gig? Are you looking to gain more experience and measure where your DJ skills are compared to others? Are you going straight for the win? Or perhaps just looking to have fun? It can help to give this some thought before entering, just so you can go in with a little more clarity and confidence knowing what you want to achieve from this experience.

Entering the DJ competition

It is super important to be authentic and honest about why you are entering a DJ competition, don’t lie about what you can do, just be yourself and tell it as is. If you have had little DJ experience and then say you have been doing it for 5 years, it will show in your performance, and trust me it is not an added pressure you need to be putting on yourself before your performance. Judges can see through the B.S

Know your music

It all comes down to this. Knowing your music well so you can go in confidently,  rock your set and have a fun memorable experience. Confidence is everything when it comes to performing well as a DJ, and every time I have played going in under-prepared or overthinking things I have had some bad DJ sets. Overthinking what music you are going to play will destroy your confidence by self-doubt little by little. The key is to know what you represent as a DJ, not what you think the judges would like you to play, that is a never ending guess to nowhere.

It may seem a little hippacritacle because you have to impress the judges, but you impress them by authenticity, also playing and being comfortable in your own skin. If you go in doubting yourself, it will show in your performance whether or not the crowd are dancing to your DJ set. I have talked about differentiation in my video and my other blog How To Create Great DJ Mixes That Get Attention. As you will get more attention from being a DJ that is different to the rest, whether it is a good different or not, you will need to separate yourself from the other DJs. Revisit my blog here to find out how, if you are still a stuck.

How you can know your music?

Select 25 to 30 tracks that both you like and you think your fans and your audience will love. Always visualise a positive outcome, and people dancing to your music, this gives you a mental movie and a feeling if you think your music will work or not for the DJ competition, it also helps take the guesswork out and will settle some of the nerves before a DJ gig.

Remember DJing is supposed to be fun

So look like you are having fun, sounds like a no brainer but you will be surprised how many people can hide behind the DJ equipment and focus on the technical side instead of the performance side. It is easy to get caught up in the mechanics and try to mix perfectly, but it is not as important as you think it is. There are also those horrible thoughts, the what bad if’s. What if I stuff up press the cue button and stop the music? What if I play music and people walk off on the dance floor?

What I can tell you from many DJ gigs is that you will most likely stuff up somewhere, or at least be unsatisfied in some area of your DJ set. Saying to yourself, I should have done this, I should have done that. All you can do is give it 100 percent effort where you are now on your current skill level. Engaging and playing to the crowd is far more important than getting the perfect DJ mixes and looking like a statue on stage.

So, remember to move look up and engage, and most of all look like you are having fun, be confident in your music even if you are unsure how you think it will go down with the judges or the crowd.

DJ competitions are about business

Even though they give young DJs the chance to win prizes and get their name out there, it is all about business and the best-skilled DJ does not always win. As a DJ you are seen as either an asset or liability, Have you got potential to bring a crowd, get the numbers in the door, be influential and marketable as well as be a great performer and DJ. Seems like a few boxes to tick but, it’s a hard truth at the end of the day, and if you can tick them all you will most likely have a great chance of winning.

I have seen many talented DJs not win, and although they were better than the winners, in my eyes, they were not the complete package. May seem unfair, but that is the music industry for you. Business and money have to be made from you full stop.

It is all a learning curve

Never look at a DJ competition as the be all and end all. It is an opportunity but remember there will always be plenty more that come around. Use it as a stepping stone and an opportunity to grow and measure where you are now as a DJ, as to where you want to end up. Just remember to have a goal in mind. Your Shot is one of the great DJ competitions here in Melbourne and is held around the rest of the states in Australia. It gives young DJs an opportunity to showcase their DJ skills. Be sure to check them out in future.