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Playing Live To An Audience

Creating A Journey

Being a DJ is about spreading good music and creating an exciting atmosphere.

An audience needs a DJ to create a musical journey, and the DJ needs the audience to feed off their energy.

When you are playing live, your crowd determines whether you are doing a good job.

Playing in public can dramatically improve your skills because real-life experience is precious.

The first gig is a paradox because you can't call yourself a DJ before you have mixed in public, but you can't get your first gig unless you tell people you are a DJ.

DJ Skillset

If you are reading this, I'm assuming you have mastered the 3 fundamental mixing skills, and you are confident in your ability on some level.

You may not feel entirely "ready" for your first gig, but you need to push past that. The Only way to grow as a DJ is to push yourself past uncomfortable feelings.

There is every reason to be nervous, and that is how we all started.

If you do manage to get a gig, I can tell you that mixing in front of an audience is one of the greatest feelings possible once you get started.

DJ Business

As a DJ, we need to treat ourselves like a business. 

Playing gigs is a business transaction (Even though you may do your first gig for free).

Building a good company is about creating value and trading that value for money.

The Key To Providing Value Requires a Frame Of Mind Where You Question;

  • How Can I Create Value For The People Around Me?
  • What are The Intentions of The People Who Hired Me? (Promoters, Club Owners, Wedding Couple etc.)
  • What Does a Great Experience Look Like For All The People Involved?

DJ Marketing/Branding

Social Media can be a great help to build your audience. I suggest creating a dedicated page for your DJ antics. This is where you will tell all your family and friends to support you and spread the word that you are now starting to mix.

You can post about your progress, as well as your upcoming gigs.

  • It is worth thinking, "What is, or could be, different about me?" as an advantage to stand out from other DJs.

It may take time to build momentum, but you do have to create engagement actively. If you don't ever post or promote yourself, then no one will find or endorse you.

You can use your DJ persona as an alter-ego to get through the awkward stages of starting up and putting yourself out there.

Many of my first gigs came from putting myself out there and telling my friends that I started DJing.

You can start with something simple like this:

Getting The Gig

Check Out The Venue

Go to the club or event that you want to get a gig.

Notice the type of music playing at different times of the night.

See if you can scout some of the VIP's and if you get a chance to talk to them, get their names and compliment them on the event.

Try not to push your ideas on them or for a gig before you get to know them and how you can add value to the situation.

The trick is to try to speak to some people and enjoy the night.

Promo Mix

A Promotion mix is what you will usually send to the promoter or person who books you.

Your Promo can be in the form of a link (Usually Soundcloud or Mixcloud), or you might hand it to them in person on a USB.

Customize your set according to the client.

There is no point in sending a Hip-Hop mix to a venue that focuses heavily on electronic music genres.

Playing The Right Music

Music taste is subjective and influenced by opinions and feelings.

As a DJ, you should intimately know musical styles and genres when building a music collection.

In addition, it is essential to understand the venue and your crowd because that will determine what music they are used to.

Another factor to consider is "when" you will be playing.

Have you been booked for an opening set?

The opening set will be very different to the headline set. Playing all your high-energy songs at the start of an event can overwhelm people and even affect their mood to dance in the later stages of the event.

Know Your Equipment

It is important to understand the gear that you will use.

If it is not your own gear, get a list of the equipment and learn as much as you can by watching videos if you can't access the equipment.

You Will Make Mistakes, We All Do.

You will inevitably make some mistakes when mixing live. This is part of getting better.

Learn to recover from your mistakes and do your best not to highlight them. Most people will not notice if you fumble.

Anticipate Your Gig

If you are in an awkward position where you have never mixed live before, you can perform a mental exercise to help with your confidence.

The practice involves envisioning your gig with as much detail as possible.

The human mind can play through the scenario in your mind. You can imagine your friends dancing, the equipment, the atmosphere, and you can live in the experience before it happens.

  • Above all, The most important thing of all is to have fun! You have one of the best jobs imaginable!

Think About The Value That You Can Create Instead of What You Get. What Are The Intentions Of The People Hiring You?

Know Your Equipment and Master the Basics DJ skills first. You May Never Feel Ready, But Do It Anyway.

Build Your Confidence By Practicing as Much as You Can. Envision Yourself In The Gig.

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