If you want to play gigs regularly as a DJ, it’s critical that you get a good workflow going for the day of the show. Every artist has experienced gigs that went wrong, oftentimes because the artist themselves neglected something. Even though the amount of shows has decreased significantly in 2020, now is a great time for you to prepare yourself for once the current situation passes. While it may seem pretty simple, having all the basics covered makes sure you’re good to go for your gig with as little hassle as possible. So, where do you get started? Let’s start with the basics.
To make sure things go smoothly, ensure that your music is synced in a way that is readable by the CDJs you will be using. If this means you use Rekordbox, make sure that your tech rider states that CDJs must be updated to the latest firmware, and that you are using the latest version of Rekordbox. The last thing you want to have happen when you show up at a gig is a formatting error, where you’re stuck without a working music collection. If you want to avoid the hassle and embarrassment of borrowing another DJ’s music last minute, take this very seriously.
Headphones are your most important tool in the booth when it comes to knowing what’s actually going on. They’re also the number one item DJs lose the most. Be very careful and aware about where your headphones are - they tend to disappear backstage. Always make sure you have headphones before you head out, unless you want to spend some stressful moments before your set running around asking for a pair from someone else.
Earplugs are critical for any musician who wants to have a long and healthy career. If you were a painter, you wouldn’t stare directly into the sun right? In addition to having custom earplugs (an expensive but worthy investment), you should always carry spare basic earplugs in case you happen to lose yours. 99% of the time, you won’t need them, but you’ll sure be glad you have them with you when that 1% comes.
- Don’t eat too soon before the show
Promoters love taking artists out for nice dinners, but remember to not go overboard. DJing is physically intensive work, and playing a set right after dinner can be very uncomfortable and might impact your performance. Stick to light meals, and if you’re still hungry, wait til after your set to eat a big meal. Don’t starve yourself before the set either - just make sure you have enough in you to keep going, and that you don’t overindulge.
- Don’t get too drunk
When you’re in a new place with new people, its easy to turn to alcohol to make things easier. Be aware that this is a habit that can effect you greatly down the line, and can also impact your performances if you’re not careful. Of course, a few drinks won’t cause any permanent damage, but if you treat every gig as a college party, you should probably re-evaluate your priorities and make sure you’re not headed for a burn out.
With these five tips, your gigs should become a much smoother experience. As you play more and more, you’ll pick up the skills you need to handle these situations intuitively. Keep your eye on the prize, don’t get too distracted, work hard, and you’ll do just fine!