4 DJ Gig Mistakes To Avoid

Do You Often Make These DJ Mistakes?

dj mistakes to avoid

It doesn’t matter how long you have been a DJ: mistakes will be made. Most of the time they are unavoidable but there are times when you forget hard-earned lessons or you second guess yourself. We often worry about seemingly small mistakes like forgetting a backup USB or bringing the old headphones and while these can impact your gig, it is the bigger lessons that can shake your confidence as a DJ.

You can’t expect to never make a mistake because DJs are artists and humans—two species prone to mistakes. What you can do is keep a few hard and fast rules that you abide by and trust your instincts. You won’t always be right but your instincts will hardly steer you wrong.

Avoid these mistakes at your DJ gig and every gig thereafter.

Mistake #1 – Listening To Everybody

I’ve heard new and old DJs alike beat themselves up over making this mistake. It’s a paying DJ gig and you want to everyone to have a good time because it’ll reflect better on you, right? Of course. So you listen to everything everyone says to you with a hint of authority. They want oldies; you play oldies. Crank that shizzle up: you crank it to ear-splitting levels.

These are the kinds of mistakes that will not only make you look bad but make you question your skills as a DJ. If you aren’t talking to the person who is booking you or paying your bill, then you shouldn’t really be listening to them. If you want to take song requests that’s one thing; but letting every guy in a suit dictate your playlist and volume level is not a good way to DJ.

Look, part of the reason you wanted to be a DJ is because you didn’t want to have to answer to a hierarchy of people, right? So don’t let a bunch of wannabes tell you how to DJ…unless it’s the wannabe that hired you!

Mistake #2 – Arguing With Partygoers

We’ve all been there before, inside the DJ booth when some drunk or pretentious partier decides he (because it’s almost always a dude) knows more about music than the person, you know, hired to do the music. He yells about your awful music taste, complains the even the most underground tracks are “too commercial” and generally is a PITA all night long.

You have two choices: you can give the punk the knuckle sandwich he so richly deserves OR you can ignore him for the drunken d-bag he is. My advice is to choose the latter. The guy is probably either drunk, itching for a fight or both. Whatever his beef is, it is exactly that: his beef.

You’re deep in the DJ both with controllers, playlists, headphones and a bunch of other things you can pretend to focus on while the music pro rages. As long as they don’t step inside the DJ booth or touch your DJ gear…no harm and no foul.


Mistake #3 – Obscenely Loud Music

You are a professional DJ so you know the music needs to be loud enough for the entire venue to hear, but there are many venues where gauging “loud enough” it close to impossible. I know it’s an impulse to crank up the music. We do it in our cars when a jam comes on and we blast it in the house, but as a professional musician you know that any music played too loud starts to sound a bit…crappy. No one wants to hear fuzzy music that’s slightly distorted and also busting out eardrums.

Avoid this mistake by setting up for your DJ gig early and testing the different volume levels. This will give you an idea how it sounds, albeit in an empty venue, so that you can make proper adjustments when the room begins to fill up. Trust me when I tell you that having a solid starting point is essential if you don’t want ignorant venue owners or bookers messing with your volume. They’ll forget to adjust EQs and any bad sound will be blamed on, guess who: the DJ.

If possible walk around during a long track and see how it sounds for yourself or get one of your friends to provide input on sound volume and quality throughout the night.

Mistake #4 – Playing “Whatever”

If you have a ‘whatever’ attitude about music I’d question your current profession first and then I’d ask you why you don’t know what you should be playing at your DJ gig. This is where planning becomes an essential part of your life, especially if you don’t have a team of people dedicated to making your career a success.

When you meet with someone about a gig one of the first questions you should be asking is “what type of music will I be playing”. If you’re not playing a club this answer could be wide and varying. Music played at a fashion show will likely be very different than that for a bar mitzvah or wedding reception or sweet 16 birthday party. While they may want your genre, they may also want Top 40s, oldies or even a particular era.

Avoid this mistake by asking tons of questions about the music. This is your business and if hearing “Last Dance” will make the guest of honor cry…you’d probably like to avoid that song all night.

Mistakes are inevitable but you can do your best to make sure you avoid as many landmines as possible with each DJ gig. Ask questions, consider every possible outcome and always be prepared. 

I hope I helped you avoid these critical mistakes at your next DJ gig. Email in the box below to get access to Free video DJ lessons that will answer all of your questions on how to become a disk jockey!

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