When preparing for live sets, performance technique is often one of the last things DJs think about. But even though DJs don’t inhabit the same space as, say, a live rock band, that doesn’t mean things like stage presence and audience rapport aren’t important – in fact, having a good stage presence can help set you apart from other DJs who are technically proficient but have no idea how to engage an audience. So in the spirit of improving your live gigs, here are 5 DJ performance tips that will help you play better in front of an audience.
Know Who You’re Playing For
Not every DJ is deadmau5, and not every DJ gig is in Hakkasan. On the contrary, most of the sets DJs play will be in local clubs or other alternative venues
, and the stunts that work in big Vegas clubs probably won’t help you much if you’re playing at a backyard pool party in your hometown. There are, however, other techniques you can use to engage your audience at these smaller venues. So before you start to think about what your performance will look like, get an idea of what your audience will be looking for; all the DJ performance tips in the world won’t help you if you don’t understand your audience.
Invite the Audience Into Your Set
Good performance technique is all about establishing a relationship with your audience, and a lot of that relationship comes down to the first impression. As a DJ, the first few songs in your set are your opportunity to shape that first impression; this is your chance to play some tracks that define who you are as a DJ. If people can make a connection with you early on in your set, they’ll be more likely to stick with you throughout the rest of your set, even if you make some mistakes along the way.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
One of the best ways to get DJ performance tips is to practice being an audience member yourself. What do you like to see from DJs when you’re the one on the dancefloor? What are some of the things other DJs do that annoy you as an audience member? Answering these questions will help you shape your performance to be more appealing to your audience.
Control Your Energy Levels
While we like to think that our gear and our technique are what set us apart as DJs, it’s important to keep in mind that those things don’t matter to audiences at all. What audiences really care about it the flow and energy level of your set – not which tools you use to create that flow. Some sets will call for lower energy levels while others will call for more energy from you, and knowing the difference is key to being a good performer. (For more on the difference between different types of live sets, check out our members-only video lesson on Opening vs Headliner vs Closing DJ
The most important of all DJ performance tips is to be prepared for every set you play. The more comfortable you are playing to a club full of people, the more comfortable your audience will be with getting up and dancing.
One of the best ways to prepare yourself for your live sets is to spend time practicing at home with online tutorials. That’s why we created Spin Academy
– it’s an online resource that helps DJs learn everything they need to know about making and performing great music, all in one place. And for only $19.95/month, you can have access to all of our exclusive video lessons, which include celebrity interviews and lessons from some of today’s top pro DJs.