Q&A: Answering your questions on Failure, Mixing Genres & when things go wrong | DJ Tips Ep07
Today I’m going to be mixing up my DJ Series with a Q&A as I’ve had quite a few questions sent to me on Instagram, Discord, Reddit and in the comments on my previous Youtube videos.
Iaintnoscout on Reddit asks:
Would love to know your thoughts on Gig Policy: I myself try to take every gig I get offered, I see them as opportunities. Even if the pay is shit. Have you ever done/been asked to do free gigs?
This is an interesting one and the answer really depends on where you are at in your DJ career. If you’ve never done a paid gig and want to get experience, it could be a good opportunity for you. If a gig isn’t paid it probably won’t be the most professional/high standard venue so it won’t be such a big deal if you make mistakes so it’s a good learning opportunity. You can also maybe get used to performing on other equipment (if you don't need to bring your own). If it's a wedding or large event then it's a definite no because they are WAY more work than showing up to a bar to mix for a couple of hours.
If you are doing paid gigs already then I would say you shouldn’t do gigs for free. Is there any other profession where you would expect to not pay someone for a service that they had delivered? Would you just get up and walk out from the hairdressers without paying, just because it’s a good opportunity for the hairdresser to cut your hair?
It costs you money to get to the venue and blocks your time out, removing the opportunity to actually get paid for a gig. Unfortunately venue owners know that they’re always going to be able to find someone else to play if their venue has a decent reputation. That means that if you say no, there’s a good chance someone else will get the gig but the industry as a whole needs to stand up to this.
In addition, by not lowering your standards, when you’ve worked with some decent people and built up your reputation a bit they’re more likely to respect your fee if they do book & pay you because they couldn’t push you around at the start.
There are exceptions to this for every situation, but my general rule is no free gigs.
Alex sent me 4 questions
Cross fader vs channel faders
Imo, the cross fader is used more in Hip Hop and genres where DJs will scratch or use quick cuts between tracks. For House and Dance music, DJs are more likely to use the channel faders. I pretty much never use the Cross Fader and often just turn it off to avoid accidentally knocking it when I’m not paying attention to it because I’m focusing on the Channel Faders. It’s personal preference depending on your style!
What do you do when a track doesn’t line up/lies about the tempo?
Sometimes your computer program won’t be able to read a track correctly and you need to make adjustments- never just rely on track analysis! Check that the beats match up on the grid. If they don’t, it’s an easy fix. Just 'Edit Grid' and there's loads of tutorials on Youtube if you don't know how to do that!
You can use Beatport to double check the bpm and Key.
Mixing different genres
Each genre has its own style of mixing and techniques that work well. A Hip Hop Dj will generally mix differently to a House DJ, for example. This is due to bpm, song structure etc. Sometimes techniques cross over, so you can think creatively to do an interesting mix with that.
It’s good to practise mixing different genres and have enough tracks that you can do a set in most of the main genres in case it’s ever needed. It makes you a stronger DJ and helps with your knowledge of mixing and music. Don’ t be snobby and avoid a genre just because you personally don’t like it. You don’t have to take gigs for it regularly but it’s just a good idea to have the skills ready in case you need them.
Do you ever use the ‘pointer’ on the laptop or should everything be done on the controller/CDJ?
Always do everything on the controller/CDJs. Do you prep and then don’t touch the computer unless you actually need to type in the name of a track that you’re looking for.
Mindset - What do you do when things go wrong & what are your thoughts about failing?
When things ‘go wrong’ (technical or bad mix?) then just fix it as soon as you can and move on. Everybody makes mistakes- even the biggest and best. Nobody is perfect and what counts is your recovery from something going wrong. Don’t panic, keep calm and carry on! Stressing and creating a drama will just slow down things getting sorted and make the whole bad thing more memorable. I don’t know how many times I’ve dealt with powercuts over the years and it’s not your fault so don’t pretend like it is!
Failure is defined in your own mind based on your standards of success. You have to make mistakes in order to learn. When teaching a kid how to ride a bicycle you put knee pads, elbow pads etc on them because you know that they’re going to fall and need to get back up. They’ll learn each time they fall but it’s essential to the learning process. One day they’ll ride the bicycle. For some reason, as adults we think that we should just be able to do everything first time and avoid failure. It’s actually super important to fail and retry- there’s no shame in it.
If you decided that you want to stop DJing before you achieve your ultimate goal, that’s fine, but don’t perceive it as a ‘failure’ as someone just starting out on their journey will see you as someone experienced and at a point that they are striving to get to. Call it learning instead of failure if that helps your mindset.
Please send me any questions that you would like me to include in a future video/blog post!