As with any job where you perform live, if you do it for long enough, Murphy’s law dictates that you will inevitably run into problems. With this in mind, it is important to be prepared for when things do go wrong. With no further ado, here are five more mistakes to avoid while DJing. This list is the sequel to our October 2014 article.
1. No backup plan
It’s a fact of life that sometimes technology will malfunction. It might be a scratched CD or record, a laptop crash, a power failure, or even physical intervention. Part of being a professional DJ is adequately handling (or at least mitigating) problematic situations.
There is little you can do about power failures (excluding the impractical use of power generators, of course), but you should have a failsafe for damaged media, laptops, or other DJ-related systems. You never know when you’ll need an ‘emergency track’ to throw into the mixer if things go south.
2. Not checking your source files regularly
If you’re downloading a lot of bootlegs (or tracks from unscrupulous sources), you need to manually listen through the track all the way through (including the intros and outros) to ensure all of your candidate tracks are clean of defects, and that they are properly mixed.
For bootleg tracks, it is best to screen such mixes through monitor speakers, as unprofessionally mixed and mastered tracks can often be jarring when heard using proper speakers; this is something that isn’t always immediately obvious when listening though headphones.
3. Not cooperating with other DJs
We’ve mentioned this before, but if you’re performing in a line-up at a club or music venue, it is essential that you don’t kill the vibe that is already set in place; if you’re opening for a progressive DJ (for instance), you’re probably not going to be expected to fill your set with bangers. Talking with promoters, directors, and other acts is a great way to understand what is expected of you.
4. Getting stuck in autopilot
Getting a club residency is a great achievement for any DJ, but the rigmarole of a residency can often lead some DJs to go into cruise control—hitting play, having a drink, fading into the next track, repeating ad nauseam.
It is essential to stay in the loop, which means keeping an eye peeled for new and interesting music; scanning blogs; listening to podcasts, internet radio, mixtapes; checking the charts; and constantly keeping your selection pool fresh and diverse. Don’t be afraid to get a little adventurous behind the decks, but make sure you don’t go overboard.
5. Don’t take song requests as an obligation
Song requests should only be that: a request. If the request is good, and you haven’t played the song in the last two hours, feel free to play it. The only exception to this is if the people who paid for you to play your set have a request. If a request would kill a full floor or disturb the current vibe of the dancefloor, don’t feel like you’re obligated to play the request.