23 Tips on How To Be A Good DJ | DJ ADVICE

  • By Adrien Martin
  • 04 Sep, 2017
23 Tips on How to Be a Good DJ title
Do you know how to be a good DJ? Here's 23 tips to help you become one of the best mobile DJs in your area! From reading the crowd to cable management, this post will provide you with a lot of valuable information. Check it out!

LISTEN TO YOUR CLIENT


client meeting
1. TAKE MUSIC REQUESTS

As a mobile DJ, you NEED to take music requests to ensure you play songs people want to hear. Requests put you on the right track of where to go with your playlist. If you don't take requests, you risk flying blind into the dance with only a general idea of what music genres to play. No good. I suggest creating a form where your client can submit songs ahead of time. Consider ending song entries one week prior to the dance so you can gather the music with no surprises. 


2. PLAY THE ORIGINAL, NOT A REMIX

The title says it all. Unless your DJing a rave, DO NOT play remixed versions of requested songs . I can't stress enough how much guests hate this. If you think about it, usually, a guest requests a song because they know it by heart and want to dance to it . By playing a remixed version, you destroy their dance rhythm and ability to sing along. 


3.TAKE THEIR VISIONS SERIOUSLY

It's important for your client to know they've been heard and understood. Some of your clients may have hundreds of ideas and some may have none. For the ones with vast visions, it is your job to tie the ideas together and incorporate them into the event. That being said, don't step far out of your boundaries . Don't promise your client something you've never tried before, because you may regret it in the future. Only promise what you can deliver

For clients with limited ideas, try and discuss different parts of the event to spark some light bulbs . If you're prepared, it can be easy to make your client excited with the ideas you suggest . Try falling back on your past events and let your client know what worked and what didn't. 

PREPARE, PRACTICE, PREPARE


practice dj
4.GET EVERYTHING IN ORDER BEFORE THE EVENT

It is VITAL that everything is prepared before the event . Sure, you may not have a complete playlist but you should have a general idea of what genres you're going to pull songs from. The more you prepare, the smoother the event will go, and the happier your client will be . Make sure you practice before the event so you're familiar with all your equipment. Give yourself an hour a day to light up that mixer and play with some songs. This will give you the opportunity to troubleshoot any problems if they come up (*cough* like a crashing DJ program). 


5.GENERATE THAT TIMELINE


For every event, you should create a timeline. Yes, even if it's a small house party. Timelines are great for making sure you're not standing there wondering when the next part of the event begins. Have your client sign off on the timeline to ensure every step is listed . Click here to view an example timeline.


6.SPEECHES (GET THE NAMES DOWN)

If you'll be announcing guests during the event, it is crucial that you practice pronouncing their names . Speak with the client to jot down the phonetic spelling of each member you will be announcing. This ensures your pronunciation is on point. Practice announcing the names in order so you don't get mixed up at the event. It is okay to print off a list and keep it with you behind the DJ booth. 


7.COORDINATE WITH THE VENUE/VENDORS


Contact the venue to coordinate plans for vehicle unloading, setup space, security, and if they have any special requirements (e.g. fog/haze, dB limits, etc.). Do this BEFORE the event. You don't want to find out the day of that the venue has some strange requirement which will prevent you from performing. Ask your client if they will be hiring a photographer, caterer, photo booth, or any other service so you can coordinate with them as well. It is important to discuss with vendors where they will be setting up and if they request any special lighting. 

READ THE CROWD


read the crowd
8.PLAY THE RIGHT MUSIC

This is pretty obvious right? I guess, what I'm trying to get at is you need to be flexible with your music tastes . Don't focus solely on EDM music or play country all night long (unless the event calls for it of course). Mix things up, switch up the artists, and vary BPM for different parts of the event. Generally, I like to play lower BPM songs at the start as everyone arrives, then bump things up as the night goes on, and slow things down again at the end of the night (to motivate people to skedaddle instead of lingering).  


9. DROP IN SOME SLOWS

At most events, a couple slow dances never hurt. Mix in some well-known slows from your guests time period . It is generally a good idea to announce a slow song so the change isn't as drastic . Slows will naturally hurt the dance floor, but if you notice the dance floor is empty, it's time to mix out... quick. 


10.PLAY THOSE REQUESTS

Before, we discussed the importance of playing the original song instead of a remix. Similarly, you should play requested songs, period . Yes, there are some cases where someone requests some bizarre song that you know will obliterate the dance floor. In these circumstances, I wouldn't play the song. But... in most cases, play the song. People are literally handing you a golden nugget , telling you what them and their friends are going to dance to. Accept the golden nugget


11.KILLED DANCE FLOOR? FIX IT. (DON'T SWEAT IT)

It happens. You decide to mix in some old Hannah Montana song and all those dancing guests run off the dance floor . Don't sit there waiting for the song to end cause that's three minutes away. If you're good, mix in some hit smash as soon as you can get it ready. Otherwise, cross fade to a line dance to get everyone back . I wrote "don't sweat it" in the title because panicking only causes problems, so just relax and have a good time. 

LIGHTING


lighting
12.GET SOME LIGHTS

As a mobile DJ, you're not just there to provide audio. You NEED some lighting . This is what creates the ambiance of the dance. Colors change peoples mood and lighting can drastically effect the dance floor. If you're on a low budget, look into some simple wash lights like the American DJ Mega Par Profiles , or Chauvet SlimPar 56 . You can get a lot of mileage out of these lights. If your budget is on the larger end of the spectrum, look into moving fixtures like the American DJ Inno Spots , or Chauvet Intimidator Spot 255 IRCs . Finally, if you have a massive budget, look at getting some Elation Beam 5R or American DJ Vizi BSW 300 Beam fixtures. 


13.BEGINNER: USE SOUND ACTIVE

Most light fixtures come pre-programmed with sound active modes. This is a nifty tool so you can just plug in your lights, walk away, and let the music change light's colors . This, no doubt, gets you by for most events. Be wary if you plan to make announcements , because your lighting will flicker when you speak . This can be rather distracting for your guests. Consider getting some light fixtures with IR remote capabilities so you can change the light's settings before you make an announcement.  


14.ADVANCED: USE DMX

For those unfamiliar with DMX, it is a way in which lighting can be hooked up to a computer program or light board . This let's you create custom light shows and physically select them at the event. In essence, you are manipulating the lights for every song . The possibilities are endless with DMX control and everyone has their own way of using it. As a mobile DJ, I recommend using Chauvet ShowXpress (this is what I use), or American DJ myDMX 3.0 . If you're putting on large productions (and have deep pockets), look into some GrandMA light boards and similar software. 

AUDIO


audio
15.SPEAKERS

Find yourself a nice pair of speakers. As a rule of thumb, QSC are considered some of the best speaker manufacturers in the market, but they come at a price. You can find similar quality out of JBL and EV speaker systems. So the question is, should you go for 12" or 15" ? If you're not planning on buying a sub, 15" speakers will help you with bass. Otherwise, 12" speakers tend to have clearer vocals and give you better mid range . I also recommend getting some powered speakers (a.k.a Active Speakers) instead of passive speakers. If one goes out you'll have a backup, and plus you won't have to worry about an amp. 


16.SUBWOOFER

Subwoofers are a necessity if you want that deep bass . I only recommend 18" subs because that's all I've played around with. I just don't see yourself getting the same range with 12" or 15" subs. Make sure you adjust your lows accordingly during the event so you're not droning out softer songs, but you are boosting those heavy songs. 


17.(WIRELESS) MICROPHONES

Microphones help you send your message over the PA. Since it's the 21st century, hand your guests WIRELESS microphones so they don't drag out a long line. No one wants to have a guest trip over a wire. The nice thing with wireless is your guests can walk pretty far without having latency issues. Make sure to test this out before the event starts. 


18.DJ SOFTWARE / MIXER

Finding the right DJ software can be pretty difficult. The most commonly used DJ softwares are Serato DJ , Virtual DJ , and Traktor . There are many others out there, so it's important to download each one (free trials) and play around with them . Make sure to read about all their features, especially if you plan to use video. I am currently retiring from Algorddim Djay 2 on Android and will now be using Mixvibes Cross DJ for Windows. Be sure to look at mixers . This helps you streamline cueing and mixing songs . If you're just getting started, go for something on the less expensive end. It's easy to venture into the $600 - $1,000 mixers, but do you really need all those features right now? 

CABLE MANAGEMENT 


cable management
19.KILL THAT RAT'S NEST

This is hard , and it's why most DJs don't take the time to clean up their cables. If you take the time at home to organize how you will setup your cables , and how you will tie them together, then the rat's nest magically disappears. You have to use cable ties as you go , because trying to clean up a nest after it's already been made is extremely difficult. Something I use are velcro wraps to hide my cables when I mount them to truss. Running cables is one of the most time consuming tasks. If you prepare these velcro wraps before you arrive at the event, you'll save yourself a lot of time.


20.TAPE EM' DOWN

Safety first, right? Gaffer's tape uses a special adhesive to secure cables without damaging them or the surface it's stuck to . It's a bit pricey but totally worth it. Lawsuits and duct tape damage outweigh the cost ten-fold. If you want to conserve your Gaffer's tape, I recommend cutting small tabs and taping down small portions of the cable. 

ENDING THE DANCE


ending the dance
21.OPTION 1: SLOW THINGS DOWN

As I mentioned earlier, I typically like to play lower BPM songs at the end of the night. Don't play a slow song, but play something that's not as intense . This gets everyone primed to leave so the host doesn't have to kick everyone out. 


22.OPTION 2: PUMP THINGS UP

If you want to end a dance on a high note, play a really popular song that everyone will sing along to . An easy one is Don't Stop Believin' by Journey. You might want to end a dance like this if there's an after party and you don't want people to leave.


23.OPTION 3: ASK YOUR CLIENT

If you're unsure where you should take the dance, just ask your client . Explain to them the reasons for each method and let them decide for you. Just don't forget to follow through with your promise .  

Thank you for reading about 23 Tips on How to Be a Good DJ! I hope you enjoyed and learned a lot of valuable information.

Comment below some of your tips, or a couple things you found helpful in this post.
By Adrien Martin 04 Sep, 2017
Do you know how to be a good DJ? Here's 23 tips to help you become one of the best mobile DJs in your area! From reading the crowd to cable management, this post will provide you with a lot of valuable information. Check it out!
By Adrien Martin 10 Aug, 2017
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