All DJs would like feedback or tips on how to improve their DJ sets, regardless of type of event.
Here is a list of 11 DJ Tips to improve your DJ sets!
1. Create Mini Sets – Using 3-7 tracks that mix together well, I will create mini sets. During the event, mix the mini sets together with other mini sets to create longer sets. This doesn’t always have to be the case however when I did this, I found that I would go to these mini sets more often than not. The benefit of this is you can mix and match the mini sets so your not stuck in a complete full hour set, or longer!
2. Record-Wait-Listen – One of the most useful tips I feel I can give that helped me blend songs better is this. I would record the set, wait a week, then listen and critique. The week waiting period is essential so you come back as a semi-new listener and you’ve let enough time pass to where it sound almost new again, so you can critique it accordingly.
3. Use the EQ – This is a tricky one. Most think they should add EQ while mixing but in fact, you should subtract. Whether 3 or 4 band (knob) EQ, all should always be at 12 o’clock. If you want to add bass, plan ahead and subtract the mid/high, don’t turn the bass up more past 12 o’clock. This seems backwards, but it will sound much better. Pro Tip: When blending 2 songs, only use one bass line at a time. Using both will phase cancel and sound bad!
4. NO Red Zone – This seems obvious, however there’s more to it than you think. First of all, when your the one DJ that does stay out of the red zone, you will impress the venue/staff your working with and will ultimately stand out amongst the rest. Second, your music will sound better. When in the red, equipment is pushed to max and sound is distorted, making the crowd assume the DJ’s tracks are bad!
5. Treat DJ’n Professionally – This should be a no brainer, however many times I have seen DJs showing up to their sets drunk, or worse, wasted. This is a more relaxed industry than most, however that doesn’t mean push the bar to the limit, pun intended! You are a representation of yourself. You are the mascot of your brand. By conducting yourself professionally, you are putting yourself out there that you take this business seriously. At the end of it all, this is still a job, payment is received for work completed. If you had one of your contractors show up to work on your project intoxicated already, what opinions do you form of this person right from the beginning? It should be no different for DJs.
6. Plan Your Set – This doesn’t mean plan the exact set a day before to the tee without deviation at all. There is a time and place for that and it’s normally not at Mobile Gigs, Weddings, Corporate Events and the similar. Planning your set here means reading the crowd. Programming the music in such a manner that you do not play all the hits or top tracks right at the beginning, or at the wrong time. We go into programming in detail on another article, but for this tip here, and to keep it simple, forecast your time you will be playing live, with the crowd present, and the music you intend to play. Keep this at a push-pull where your always teasing the crowd with more energy or a mixup, but never too much. Spoiling the top hits too early leaves you empty handed later on. Wearing the crowd out too early may also leave you with a slower responsive crowd later on as well.
7. Play As Much As You Can – As they say, practice makes perfect! Play as much as you can to keep yourself relevant. New songs are released every day. New remixes are also put out daily. If this means playing a set daily or few times weekly for friends or at your house for your dog, do so. Record it and listen back to it later, as mentioned in Number 2 above. This is a feedback loop for yourself, constantly making you better.
8. No Loud Volume – Too many DJs feel the need to constantly turn the volume up. Three things to take into consideration here. 1. You are behind the DJ booth and the sound level where the audience is may be much louder than where you are currently, depending on speaker setup. 2. You may think the sound is not as loud as it really is to others, however you have been listening to it since you started the gig, and more so, listen to louder music more often than the majority of the audience. 3. Louder music does not make a DJ sound better, it will actually reflect negatively on the DJ as if the DJ does not know what he/she is doing. Points 1 and 2 above may give the DJ a false since of volume, especially over time, in the respect that the volume is actually louder than the DJ perceives it to be.
9. MC Style – This is stated with caution. Every DJ has their style. However, style and amount are two different factors. Generally speaking, enough MC’ing to keep the crowd informed, carry out what the clients MC requests are (this pertains to music sing alongs also), and necessary ad-libs, to accent your style or the specific song, should be sufficient. Notice the keywords on the last one were “necessary”. Case and point, when the DJ overdoes the MC, becomes to comical where it takes away from the focus of the event or clients, or blatantly put, makes the show about him/her (DJ), this is where clients may have an issue. Every event is different, but as a collective, using MC style as mentioned here, you’ll be in the safe zone.
10. Broadcast Your Sets – Record your sets, publish them for others to listen. This plays on two positives. You can get feedback from others and you are promoting yourself. Don’t be afraid of criticism. Treat it as valuable advice you are getting for free from genuine listeners. Now, with the exception of those that purposefully criticize those in attempt to put others down out of hate, anger, or jealousy (self internalized issues- trolls/haters), you should take this advice for whats its worth. Don’t change anything immediately because of one portion of feedback. Assess it, see if there are other similar feedbacks, and determine if the feedback will make you a better DJ. If you don’t know, ask another DJ, we are a family.
11. Thank The Crowd – Obviously certain events may not allow this, however those that do, you should do this! Thanking the crowd at the end, and using a formal MC outro to convey you really enjoyed playing for them, will leave a lasting impression on them once the music stops. At the end of the day, without the crowd dancing and enjoying your music, style, mixing, and skills, you wouldn’t have a crowd. So why not thank them. For weddings, leave off with something such as: “Ladies & Gentlemen, on behalf of the Bride and Groom, thank you for coming as some of you have traveled far distances, and on behalf of myself and the guests, congratulations and thank you ______ and ______ (couple). Let’s get one more big round of applause for our newlyweds! …..Please have a great rest of your evening.” Of course it doesn’t have to be word for word, however the point made is shown.