Preparing for a DJ Gig: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginner DJs
If you’re preparing for your first DJ gig, congratulations – you’ve taken the plunge and launched yourself into the world of DJing. If you’re looking for some assistance in preparing for your next gig, don’t worry – we’re here to help.
Gigs are great ways to showcase your skills, build a career, and make a name for yourself in the music scene.
However, as with most things in life, preparation is the key to success. You want your crowd wanting more after you’re finished, so making sure you’ve crossed all the Ts and dotted all the Is before you begin is critical.
How to Prepare for a DJ Gig
Understand Your Audience
Your audience will ultimately decide on whether or not your DJ gig was a success. Spend the time understanding who they are and what they would respond to best. This will help you tailor your set accordingly.
Ask yourself some fundamental questions:
- What age are they?
- What genres/themes or vibes are they expecting?
- How can you best tailor your gig to appeal to your audience?
Know Your Setting
In addition to understanding your audience, what sort of venue or event are you playing at?
A DJ gig at an 18th birthday party will be different to an onsite club gig. Think about the vibe of the event and how set up the venue itself is. You can then make informed and educated decisions around how to customise your set to take advantage of the setting.
Plan Out Your Setlist
Now, we can get to the fun part. With a strong understanding of to whom, where and how you’ll be playing you can begin to construct a setlist.
DJ gig setlists should take listeners on a journey. Begin with something captivating from the outset that sets up the mood – but don’t peak at the start. You need to build up the energy and create excitement.
Consider what you’d like your audience to be doing, such as dancing, and tailor the setlist accordingly.
If you have some signature tracks of your own, make sure to incorporate them at key moments in the set.
Remember: no matter how prepared your setlist, and the more prepared the better, there are always moments at a DJ gig when you need to read the room, improvise and adjust your set list on the fly. Embrace that reality and give yourself all the preparation time in the world so that you can follow and deviate from the plan as required.
Practice, Practice and then Practice
With your setlist read to go, now’s the time to buckle down and do the work.
Practice consistently and religiously. Focus on getting the transitions smooth and perfect. DJ gigs require you to mix tracks in real-time, so the better you can get at that technique ahead of time the more successful you’ll be in the moment.
Practicing does more than just help you technically. It will build your confidence which is especially important for amateur and new DJs looking to best prepare for a gig. The more confident you are and the more transitioning songs becomes second nature to you, the better you’ll be at anticipating and dealing with potential challenges during your actual gig performance.
Be Organised with Your Music
We’ll get to being organised with your gear in a moment. Unfortunately, many DJs do not set themselves up for success by having an organised music library. The more organised your tracks are, the smoother and better your live gig will go.
Every DJ has a different way of using folders, playlists and software tools to categorise and organise their tracks. You can use categories such as genre, energy level or mood.
Whichever way you decide to organise your music, it’s important that it works for you and helps you avoid scrambling to find the right track in the heat of the moment when the spotlight is well and truly on you.
Bring the Right Gear
Make a checklist!
From laptops and controllers to headphones, cables and powerstrips there’s a ton of gear, hardware and equipment required for a live gig. To save time and stress with your setup, develop a checklist of what you need. That way you won’t forget anything.
You may even want to put together a little step by step guide of what to set up first so that in the moment, when time is of the essence, you’re not getting flustered in the moment.
We recommend also carrying plenty of backup items with you, such as cables and even a controller if possible. Technical glitches can happen, especially with audio equipment, so making sure you have whatever you need in spare and spades could save you from potential disaster.
Arrive Early and Check Your Equipment
It’s important that you arrive at the venue or club well in advance of your gig. This will enable you to have plenty of time for setup without stress or pressure and, importantly, give you the opportunity to check your equipment and do a thorough soundcheck.
Every venue is different so it’s helpful to have time to familiarise yourself with the sound system and acoustics of the setting you’re playing at.
As mentioned above, things can and do go wrong so check all of your equipment and make sure all the right cables and adaptors are in place and working.
Create a Stage Presence
There’s more to DJing than just playing music. It’s about working and engaging a crowd. Spend some time and rehearse your stage presence. Make eye contact, smile and be receptive to the energy in the room.
Always stay professional and have fun and you can’t really go wrong!
Record Your Set
This tip is really aimed at knowing how to prepare for a gig in the future. Recording your set gives you the opportunity to review where you did well and where you need to improve.
Plus, it’s good to have footage to show to other venues, clients or promoters.
DJ City – everything you need for a DJ gig
DJing is well and truly an art! But practice still makes perfect and so the more DJ gigs you’re able to book and play at, the better you’ll be.