First DJ Gig Observations
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013

    Default First DJ Gig Observations

    Did my first, I guess, "Pro" DJ gig, and I thought I would share some thoughts. I was a lurker in this forum for a couple months, and it was immensely helpful, so just paying back my dues.

    First a little background: I've been a long time bedroom DJ (over 10 years), have done a couple of house parties for friends, and even did a couple sets in bars/club places (all of them just subbing in for friends). So I'm not a complete newbie. The goal is to get people to dance and playing to the crowd. Nothing feels better than having a whole room full of people dancing to music that you're playing.

    So for my first Pro gig, I was booked to DJ for a Boat party carrying 500+ people (DJing for 2 floors). I had recently bought decent gear and speakers and rocked a friend's house party, and one of the guests there reached out to me to for this gig. My first thought was: I'm going to need better speakers. Factoring in the cost of renting speakers and a sub for the night, I nervously gave her a price that would still give me an okay profit, and was shocked when she quickly came back and said yes. Looking back, I probably should have asked for more, but this was the first time I ever had to do the whole negotiating a price thing.

    After I got signed and booked, the amount of nervous energy I had built up was crazy. Used these boards and other places for general advice. Overall conclusion was just do what I usually do, since it must've been right. Play to the crowd, and save the bangers for later.

    Just some observations:
    1) Always put together your entire set up at home first (especially if you are renting). Good thing I did this. I went through whole effort of putting everything together, only to realize that the rental place forgot to include the AC cable for the Sub. When I went back to the place, the dude told me he was wondering where that random cable from. Would've been nice if he had given me a call. If I hadn't set everything up at home first, I wouldn't have realized I had nothing to power the sub with until after I got on the boat.

    2) There's a ton of work involved before and after actually DJing. Moving my tables, 2-K12 speakers, 2 stands, and an 18 inch Sub into my Accord and then onto a boat probably took as much effort as actually DJing for the night. Since it was my first time with this setup, it didn't really help my nerves having to deal with all that right before going straight into playing music. Good thing I got a friend to help me out for the whole night.

    3) I think one of the things that's often overlooked when preparing to go from Bedroom DJ to Crowd DJ is dealing with random people coming up to you talking. DJing is hard work. Requires constant uninterrupted focus for hours. There's definitely an art involved with dealing with people. You don't want to piss people off and you also don't want to lose your focus. My usual reply is "I'll get to it." And if they are really being a pain, I just ignore them. Again, good thing I had a friend there to help me out. He kind of acted as the default filter between the crowd and myself.

    4) I was really slow and shaky in the beginning. I was so preoccupied with not getting the party started too early, that I was probably boring in the beginning. That, combined with nerves, made for a bad start. Nothing fatal: no dead air or horrible mixes. Just awkwardness as I was feeling out the crowd. It didn't matter too much, because 90 percent of the people were jammed into the bars. But still disappointing. Definitely something to work on in terms of opening, feeling out the crowd while still keeping everyone engaged.

    5) I sat most of the time. Next time I'm going to make sure I stand most of the time. Just helps to engage the crowd better.

    6) Once I got the crowd, it was amazing. Everyone dancing, giving me pounds, singing along to the songs. Once you hit that groove, it is surreal. You get that crowd control when you know exactly what the crowd will do before they do it. "If I drop this now, everyone is going go wild." "They'll sing along to this song, I'm going to drop the sound at the chorus and have everyone sing a couple of the words." I ended my set with a couple of slow songs, and to see everyone going from grinding and wilding, to hugging and slow stepping exactly how I anticipated was awesome (Last song was Boys II Men - End of the Road. I know, cheesy, but seeing everyone on the boat hugging and making huge circles bellowing the words was dope.)

    7) Bring business cards. Right before the gig, I decided to make business cards and discovered that Staples can turn them around in a day. So the I made them the day before and put them out for people to take. They were mostly gone by the end of the night. Good advertisement.

    8) Practice. Practice. Practice. Don't listen to Iverson, practice makes perfect. Your set is never going to be in the order you practice and you can never predict how the crowd reacts to songs. But can learn the songs and anticipate cue points and good transitions. One things that I'm slowly building up is knowing good songs to transition between genres and tempos. Having these in your arsenal lets you keep a good flow through the whole night. Unfortunately, in the beginning of the night, I played a couple of songs that didn't have a lot of practice with and that hurt the flow (Ex. Didn't know what to do with Lorde - Royals).

    9) Most of the songs you think you are going to play, you probably won't end up playing. Don't force it. Crowd never took me to a lot of the songs I anticipated playing, so didn't force squeezing them in.

  2. #2
    Tech Guru VanGogo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    L.A. (lower Alabama)


    Sounds like a good gig! Good advice on everything too.

    Mobile gigs are quite a bit different than club gigs. Especially the pricing. The mobile DJs that make a career out of it also have lights, insurance, business license, ect., and charge quite a bit per gig because of the expense of doing everything 100% legal. That maybe why they had no problems with your fees.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2013

    Default Yeah

    Dude congrats and your step by step play and rules Mint nothing worse then not having a plan
    my first real big gig i was so nervous i forgot my usbs

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