Updated: Jan 23, 2021
In the second instalment of my series of DJ Tips, Tricks & Hacks, I'm talking about different types of Venues! This knowledge is definitely overlooked by many Content Creators in the Industry. I wish that someone had been able to share this information with me when I was a beginner DJ! Not only do I talk about the physical limitations or things to consider, but I also share knowledge nuggets on equipment, payment, music and dealing with clients.
You can check out the video here or keep reading below...
Outside- hot places
• Always ensure you & your equipment are in shade. It may feel ok for the first few minutes but after you’re there for an hour- or more- you’ll definitely feel it. If in direct sunlight, the decks will get very hot to touch- not fun. If you’re using a laptop and controller they may overheat entirely, crash and then you’ll have no sound at all. Shade is your friend! Catch those rays later.
• Don’t keep water bottles in the sun. They can release toxic chemicals when heated- that's the same reason you should never drink from plastic water bottles left in your car or from bottles stored on sunny shelves in shops.
• Matte screen protector- sun makes it a nightmare to read them and you’ll only be able to use 1 hand for mixing because you’ll be using 1 hand to shield the screen. Obviously this is more relevant to venue owners with decks or it you're using your own equipment.
• Worst case scenario: if you are outside in direct sun and using a laptop + controller, put a piece of clothing over your laptop to protect it from the sun. Obviously you need to look presentable but if the venue owner hasn’t been prepared & considerate then you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your equipment.
• Drink lots of water and keep turning your body so you can try to limit any sunburn.
Outside - cold places
• Touchscreen gloves!
• If you have a heater, be considerate of any other Performers/Photographers who might need to come and warm up themselves or their equipment.
• Dress in layers.
Watch what happened when I DJed at a Ski Show in -15C: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRXpgyndtrA&t=114s
Bars & Restaurants
• Think about the vibe that people are there for- they’re not there to dance and be engaged with the music. You’re crafting the vibe. Obviously it depends on the venue, but generally you don’t want to be noticed- keep the bpm low and the volume appropriate.
• Think about the theme of the venue and make some selections based on that. If the venue has a reputation for cool deep house or tribal house then take that into consideration.
• Just because no one is coming over to tell you you’re doing a great job, that doesn’t mean that you’re not! You don't get the same reaction as when you're DJing in a club.
• Make sure that you have a suitable pre recorded mix. In my experience these gigs are longer so you’ll probably need a toilet break at some point. Putting on a pre-recorded mix gives you plenty of time and you don’t have to push anyone out of the way as you rush to get there and back for a track ends.
• You may be asked to bring your own controller or be playing on older equipment so double check the tech before you go. In any contract/emails/paperwork that you exchange with whoever books you, make sure that there is a clause stating that they are liable for the costs of repair or replacement if you equipment is damaged by a client of the venue, staff member or some other fault of the venue/promoter. Never let any customers near you with a drink! I've been known to ninja-swipe drinks away from the decks as a reaction when people lean over to pass you something, just because of the number of time I've had drinks spilled on my equipment. My friend Tim Henri wraps his laptop in cling film before gigs when he knows there's going to be champagne showers!
• Do your research! What genre are you expected to play? What day of the week are you playing on? What time of night have you been booked for? What part of the month are you playing in- near or far from payday? More people party on or just after pay day!
• It's important to have a great EPK [Electronic Press Kit] and have it easily accessible. It's a good idea to take it on a spare USB stick with you as a backup. Obviously it should be sent to the venue beforehand but they might have forgotten to pass it on to the Tech Team who need your logo for screens or to the Social Media Person. It's always better to be prepared.
• Get there early to have a drink and listen to the DJ before you. If you get a chance then move around the room and see what the vibe is like in each area- this will help you to win over the crowd as you can take it into consideration later. Many club layouts are quite misleading because the dance floor is directly in front of the DJ booth so you end up playing just for that crowd and not considering everyone else in the room.
• First time at a venue: Nightclubs value professionalism so be on time (or early), don’t drink too much and be friendly to all of the staff that you meet. The staff will be the ones that sing your praises or slate you to the management so could be the decider between you getting booked to play again or not! If they like you, they'll also promote you to the regular clients the next time you perform there which will get you a good crowd and the management will be happy to book you again!
• I think private venues are the most challenging to perform in. I’ve played in quite a few different chalets and sometimes I’m there as a surprise so it’s so hard to be musically prepared. You have to be ready for anything!
• It's often for a very small crowd so it’s important that you get the music right and don’t be judgemental about anything that they ask for- even if it’s the same song multiple times. Practise your poker face!
• It’s likely to take a while for the crowd to warm up (have a few drinks) to get the courage to start dancing so don’t feel worried if that doesn’t happen straight away. It may not happen at all but that doesn't necessarily mean that they haven't had a good time as it depends on the dynamics of the group.
• 99% chance you’ll be booked by people who have absolutely no idea about what you do. Don’t expect them to be able to provide any cables or equipment. They’ll usually assume the cost/use of equipment is included in the price that you give them. The number of times I’ve arrived somewhere and been asked if I can connect to the bluetooth sound system is ridiculous. Don’t react negatively- why on earth would they understand that you can’t connect a DJ controller to bluetooth? Make no assumptions & be prepared!
• Be careful about overloading plug sockets. In private venues there's rarely enough closely located plug points to power your laptop, controller/decks, lights, speakers etc. I 100% recommend using a laptop and controller for Private Gigs because if you get thrown off guard with song requests, you can always hotspot from your phone and download them on the fly.
• Be strict about your timings & make sure that payment is arranged before you leave. Include a clause in the contract that states your overtime rate (usually 1.5x your normal hourly rate) so there is no confusion or excuse as to your total invoice amount. You shouldn't assume that it's ok to play longer if you have rented equipment (such as speakers) because there may be another booking for it after you have used it.
I think that I’ve covered the main ones here but if there’s any that I’ve missed, tips that you can add or you’ve learned something then let me know in the comments!
Thanks so much for watching, please don’t forget to subscribe and i’ll be back with a Vlog on Tuesday and a Tutorial + Blog Post on Saturday!