If you plan to become a professional DJ, you have to be aware that things might not always go as they should. Technical failure can happen to beginners right through to world superstars. If you do not want to be booed and you want to avoid awkward situations, make sure you have a few solutions on hand. To help you get prepared, we’ve put together some useful information on how to create a safety net as a DJ for worst case scenarios.
Scenario 1 - CDJ or Mixer Crashes in a Stand-alone Setup
If it’s a prestige venue, the crew will most likely have some extra gear for emergency situations and the replacement should be pretty fast. If it’s a local club party, and you don’t have extra hardware, play with the other CDJ as it will most likely still work. Of course, you will not be able to mix with just one CDJ, so make sure you burn a CD with a pre-recorded set, bring it on and act like you are mixing live. Come on, you have get out of situation somehow!
Scenario 2 - Laptop Crashes in a PC-Controller Setup
If you are playing on a DJ controller and a PC, then a possible computer failure would mean you have to restart and load your virtual DJ software again. This can take what seems like an everlasting minute. To avoid an awkward silence, prepare a smartphone back up at home. Bring all your planned tunes to the gig, and use your smartphone as a plan B while you restart your PC/MAC. Remember there is a small chance you won’t be able to reload the OS, therefore we recommend dual booting it.
Scenario 3 – CD or Flash Drive Won’t Read
Create a safety net for this common problem by bringing both storage formats with you and testing them before the gig. If none of the formats work, it is most likely a CDJ problem not the storage you keep your tunes in. If you still don’t have any luck and you don’t have gear to switch, use a solution from the first two scenarios.
Scenario 4 – PA System Stops Working
This is rare and if it does happen there are two likely causes. Either the amplifier has broken, or the speakers have blown out. You can avoid this by using amplifiers with multiple output channels (so you can switch between them if one goes out). Or you can use an active PA system with integrated amps built specifically for particular speakers.
Scenario 5 - Power Goes Off
This is the worst nightmare of any DJ. At massive festivals there are always back-up systems to cover an hour or so if there is a short power break. However, if you are a resident DJ at a local club you can use a UPS and laptop battery to power your laptop and DJ controller for a short time, but you are not protected against power loss on a larger scale. The chances are you will not take a massive generator with you, so ask the technical crew to bring back the fuse switches as this is likely to be the problem caused by an overload in the line.
The most important thing is not to panic, as you will lose concentration. Identify the cause of the failure as quickly as possible. If it takes a bit longer than expected, use the microphone to apologize, or play some Indiana Jones instead.
If you are creative enough, you might think of even more inventive ways to get out of this tricky situation. Some DJs like Deadmau5 have done this on purpose to troll the crowd. So try not to view it as the end of the world, but more as an extraordinary way to interact with the crowd. They will forgive you after the first drop.