Starting your career as a professional DJ may not go as smoothly as you’ve always dreamed of…it never does. Most of us dream of putting on a killer set that has the crowd going wild and the club promoter booking us from here to eternity, ending with smiles, flashbulbs and superstardom…right? Yeah I had those same daydreams and then I had my first night inside the DJ booth.
I won’t say it went horribly but I was such a bundle of nerves that I wasn’t really able to focus on what mattered because I was focused on a lot of things that really didn’t. I want every DJ to enjoy their very first time inside the DJ booth and to do that you have to be prepared for any and every thing.
So here are a few things to remember your first DJ gig out the gate.
Focus On The Big Picture
This is your big break as you see it, your chance to prove that you’re capable of the life you’ve been building for the past year or more. So of course it carries a huge significance but trust me it isn’t as big as you’re making it out to be.
You need to focus on the night as a whole, the broad strokes. Do you have your set list queued up and on a backup form? Can you see your DJ equipment inside the dark booth? Is the crowd responding to your musical genius?
These are the things you need to focus on, not how this one night will transform your career. Make sure you perform to the best of your abilities and learn how to improve on any trouble you run into. The great thing about being a DJ is there’s always another gig around the corner where you can do better.
Prepare For The Worst
If you need something to worry about during your first gig—other than stage fright—then worry about DJ equipment malfunctions or missing cables and connectors. These are the mishaps that can make a laid back night in the DJ booth a crazy nightmare.
So in the days leading up to your first gig make a list. Write it down or get an app that helps you remember. Pack what you need and then a backup for anything that has a backup. Remember that as great as this digital age has been for DJs it also presents way more opportunities for the crap to hit the fan. Blackouts, brownouts, malfunctions, random equipment failure are all a regular part of pre-gig setup for DJs.
So do yourself a favor; bring a backup of your music, backup cables and if you’re a worrywart have backup DJ equipment on standby.
The first thing you’ll feel when you step inside the DJ booth, aside from awe, is overwhelming discomfort. It is your first time there as the occupying force and it will feel foreign to you. Your first job—after you set up your equipment—is to get comfortable being there. Put your water where you want it for easy access, figure out where you’ll stand and how easy it will be to get to your equipment.
Once you’ve figured that out and you get comfortable inside the booth, it will be your favorite place on earth.
The Music, Not The Tools
One of the biggest problems new DJs have is that they worry too much about learning how to use all the DJ hardware and software that they forget DJing is about the music.
So my tip for you is to focus on making the best set list possible. Make it creative and do something that will make you stand out as a DJ. If you don’t know how to use every button, knob and jogwheel on your equipment, don’t worry about it. You will in time. Spend your time on your music because you’ll get more comfortable with the equipment the longer you use it.
Of course you should know the basics of how to use your equipment, but don’t spend all your time becoming a repair technician for DJ equipment, spend your time DJing.
Practice For Next Time
The good thing about your first time inside the DJ booth is that it is your first time. That means the second time will be better than the first, and the third better than the second. Each performance is another chance for you to improve your skill on both the DJ equipment as a musician.
Don’t worry about the mistakes you make as a new DJ in any other terms other than how you can do better next time. If you focus on always becoming a better DJ then you’ll have nothing to worry about.
If you’re feeling down just remember, there’s always another DJ gig.
I hope I helped you kill it on your first trip inside the DJ booth. 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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