Becoming a great DJ is not something that happens overnight – it takes a lot of hard work and dedication, and also involves overcoming a lot of mistakes, especially when you’re just starting out. At the same time, every new DJ shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel; there are plenty of people who have gone before you and made mistakes along the way, so why not learn from their experience and avoid making these same mistakes again? If you want to set yourself apart as an experienced DJ rather than a newbie, here are the top 10 beginner DJ mistakes to avoid.
1. Not Giving Yourself Enough Time to Set Up
Not knowing how long it will take you to set up is a classic newbie giveaway. If you don’t know how long it takes to set up your gear, practice doing it at home with a timer on. Then double that time (at least) to account for the time it takes to figure out how everything works in an unfamiliar venue, plus the time that will be added from the constant interruptions of staff and patrons trying to talk to you. You’ll also want to leave some extra time to get yourself mentally prepared to play, so you’re not having to start playing moments after you’re done setting up.
2. Using Gear You’re Not Comfortable With
As a general rule, the gear you practice on at home should be the gear you use when playing gigs. If this isn’t possible, then make sure to set aside a decent amount of time in the weeks leading up to the gig to learn the ins and outs of any new gear you’ll be using. The worst thing that could happen would be to get to a gig and not understand how to use any of the equipment.
3. Not Bringing Backup Gear
Whether you’re using your own gear or the club’s gear, Murphy’s law should always come into play. Anything from your cables to your mixdeck could break on you at any point during the night, so make sure you have a plan B in case they do.
4. Not Understanding Gain Staging
Many beginner DJs are quick to want to learn about fancy mixing tricks, but not so keen to spend time understanding basic skills like gain staging. This is one of the biggest beginner DJ mistakes. Without proper gain staging, your tracks won’t sound any good, and any fancy mixing tricks you do will go unnoticed because of the poor sound quality in the room, so take some time to get gain staging right before you move onto the fancy stuff.
5. Trying to Get Too Fancy
Even if you think you’ve mastered those fancy mixing tricks, your first DJ gig might not be the best place to bust them out. Playing to a crowd can be a drastically different experience than playing at home by yourself, so if you’re new to the game, it’s usually best to keep things simple, at least for the first little while.
6. Paying Too Much Attention to the Crowd
Plenty of beginner DJs spend far too much time trying to “work the room” and not enough time paying attention to their mix. Once you’re super comfortable with playing to a packed house and making smooth transitions every time, then you can spend some time hanging out, but when you’re just starting out, make sure you’re focused on doing a good job at what you were hired to do rather than trying to mingle with everyone.
7. Forgetting About the Crowd
Of course, you shouldn’t get so focused on your decks that you forget about the crowd either. Remember: your job isn’t just to play good music; it’s to play good music that people want to dance to. What you had planned for the night might not work as well as you had hoped, so make sure to keep an eye on the crowd and read the energy in the room as often as you can so you can make adjustments to your playlist as needed.
8. Letting Others Control Your Playlist
When it comes to taking requests, there are no real hard and fast rules; some DJs will take them while others won’t. If you do take requests, however, you shouldn’t let these requests take over your playlist. Just because one person wants to hear a certain song, that doesn’t mean everyone in the room will want to hear that same song, so make sure you’re using your intuition to gauge which requests will work rather than just blindly accepting them.
9. Peaking Too Soon
Starting off your set with a couple of great bangers is a strong temptation for many beginner DJs, but giving in to this temptation can often leave you with nothing left in the gas tank for the end of the night. Think about what happens when you go into a club. Do you want to start dancing right as you step in the door, or after you’ve had a few drinks? Starting off strong is important, but make sure you’re not tiring everyone out at the beginning of the set or using up all of your good material too early.
10. Dwelling on Your Mistakes
The most important thing to remember as a beginner DJ is that we all make mistakes. So don’t dwell on them – just accept them as learning experiences and move on. Dwelling on your mistakes won’t make you any better as a DJ, but learning from them will.
At the end of the day, the best way to avoid beginner DJ mistakes like these is to spend plenty of time practicing and learning from the pros. That’s why we created Spin Academy – to provide in-depth instruction on how to DJ from professional DJs that anyone can access through professionally produced, on-demand tutorial videos. Check out all the online DJ school has to offer for only $19.95/month.