5 Common DJ Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Are you making the same mistakes time and again?


new DJ mistakes

Let’s face it; there is so much that new DJs don’t know about DJing that learning through trial by fire is pretty much guaranteed. But there are some mistakes that can be avoided or at the very best, mitigated so as to prevent a complete disaster. Being prepared for the unexpected isn’t just a rule for Scouts the world over…it is also a necessity in the life of a professional DJ.

Whether it is unruly partygoers, a ruthless promoter or a domineering partner DJ you will have things happen that test your patience, your resolve and your desire to be a working DJ. The good news is that you can get over most of this crap. The bad news is that most DJs wait until they’ve been screwed over a time or ten before taking proactive steps to avoid those same issues.

So here are a few DJ mistakes we’ve all made…and ways to avoid them!

Mistake #1: Letting It Slide

As a new DJ you often take the ‘golly gee willikers I’m so pleased to be working’ attitude and take a lot of crap that you won’t in a few years. When you’ve been promised/guaranteed a certain rate, time frame or gig date you expect that to be true…right? Of course. But many DJs have found themselves on the wrong end of the old switcheroo only to let it slide.

How to avoid this mistake? This is actually pretty simple: get it in writing. Whether it is an email confirmation or a contract, make sure you know exactly what you are expected to do, for how long and how much you will be paid. Don’t let these ‘oops’ moments catch you unaware. You want to be a professional DJ so…handle your business!

Mistake #2: Not Knowing Your DJ Gear

One of the worst mistakes you can make as a DJ is being unable to hook up your DJ equipment. Don’t expect the star treatment at your DJ gigs, especially if you haven’t put in the work to grow your brand and name recognition. During the early days, and honestly during much of your DJ career, you will be responsible for loading and unloading your equipment as well as setting it up.

I know you’re thinking of course you know how to set up your DJ hardware, you did it at home. The truth is that most new DJs never think to practice this without the help of the startup guide. So avoid this mistake practice connecting your equipment without guidance until you’ve done it properly.

Mistake #3: Acting Like A Diva

Okay yes, technically you are the talent. But you are not some world famous actor with a specific rider to have nothing but green M&Ms in your dressing room. So act like the humble artist on the rise you are. Basically, don’t be a dick. Be gracious and accept what is offered (in terms of perks, not contract issues) and avoid acting like you’re worth more than you are.

I don’t mean that you should downplay your skills but you shouldn’t expect the world to bow down to the greatness of some new DJ they’ve never heard of. Avoid being a diva by taking a daily dose of reality. Yes you are a talented DJ and yes you are going to be a great DJ…one day. But today you are one of millions of struggling artists so instead of acting like a diva take those opportunities you get and show’em what you got!

Maya Jane Coles @ TOGETHER BOSTON 2011

Mistake #4: Playing The Wrong Music

New DJs sometimes go out of their way to try and be different from the competition. They often wear strange get ups (hey it works for some guys!), try to play weird Avant garde music to the wrong audience or put on a DJ persona. Sometimes this stuff works and sometimes it doesn’t. But playing the wrong music is almost always a surefire way to make your first time playing a venue…your last time.

Avoid this mistake by doing your homework on your gigs. Go to the club ahead of time, especially a week or two prior on the same night you’ll be playing. Look around and see what type of clubbers show up and what kind of music the DJ is playing. Take note of this and if you really want to play something new; play something new that your audience might actually like.

Mistake #5: Beat Yourself Up

As a professional DJ we deal with all types from unscrupulous managers, backstabbing DJs and promoters shaving off your rate. It’s easy to beat yourself up over getting screwed over and it’s also normal. But it doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t get that $50 tacked back on to your promised rate and it doesn’t keep you in the lineup you were booked for so…get over it.

Avoid beating yourself up by putting a timeline on your anger or humiliation. Give yourself an hour to vent, to rant and cry at the people involved in your beloved industry and then get over it. Look at what happened and try to avoid allowing it to happen again in the future. People are almost always going to try and pull one over on you because you’re inexperienced and because people suck. Just remember don’t take crap and get it in writing and you’ll be fine.

After about six months as a professional DJ you’ll be slightly cynical and ready to be your biggest supporter.

I hope I helped you avoid common DJ mistakes in your career. 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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