Learning how to DJ is hard enough, but figuring out how to work the room with your sound and your programming is another thing entirely. While learning to DJ has no hard-and-fast rules, the tips below are based on years of real-world experience. Read on for some advanced DJ techniques that will help you make your live performances more electrifying.
Practice Makes Perfect
Going into a set with only a slight idea of what you’ll play usually creates confusion–and it’ll undoubtedly lead to a half-baked DJ set. You’ll likely see that accomplished DJs have all spent many hours perfecting and polishing their sets. We’re not advising you to plan every minute of every set, but you should learn DJ techniques for beginners before you perform. Take some time to find tracks that go well together, and make playlists to use in the future. Create different playlists for different kinds of gigs, and remember that it takes time to find tracks that blend together seamlessly.
Be a Little More Flexible
As a DJ, you don’t always have to take requests; you can go with your own style and set list. However, playing multiple styles of music is a great way to gain more gigs. There are numerous different kinds of events and clubs, and every crowd is different–a good DJ will find tracks from their collection that work for every group.
Learn About Your Audience
Before you step out onto the stage to perform, learn about your audience. It’s about more than finding out what they like and then playing it–you’ll need to know the approximate room size, a rough estimate on attendance, and the evening’s general “vibe”. By doing so, you’ll be aware of your time slot and you’ll know what kind of mood your audience will be in when you take the stage. Empathy is a big part of DJing, and the most successful DJs take the time to get to know their audience and the types of sounds that resonate with them.
Go Easy on the Effects
While it’s the artist’s choice whether or not to use effects, we recommend that you go easy on them at first. Many of today’s DJs use sound effects to ease transitions from one album to another and to enhance the overall performance; neither practice is bad, but DJ tech tools can easily become a “crutch” to be leaned on. Use EQ and levels to add interest before turning to sound effects, and when you finally do drop an echo, it’ll have more impact.
Don’t Forget Your Backup
As a DJ, you probably know that things can go wrong when you least expect them to. For that reason, it’s a good idea to bring along backup music in a variety of formats. If you’re in love with vinyl, bring CDs; if you’re into CDs, bring a few drives full of mp3 files. Those who use laptops should ALWAYS bring vinyl and/or CDs as backup, and an mp3 player full of your latest mixes can come in handy when a source fails mid-set.