Avoid These Three Beginner DJ Mistakes
Become a more confident DJ by avoiding these three beginner DJ mistakes.
As a beginner DJ you need to learn how to DJ properly, without shortcuts. The best way is to sign up to our Beginner DJ Course and learn with us in the studio. Click here for our Beginner DJ Course.
Imagine standing in front of an audience and making a mistake, it’s not a good place to be!
To make sure you can stand there confidently, knowing that you know your stuff is worth it.
As a DJ who knows how to DJ properly you’ll go much further than someone who thinks they can perform without putting in the homework. DJs who don’t learn properly end up making embarrassing mistakes in front of live audiences and they can easily tarnish their reputation with a few bad gigs.
To help you start on the right foot we’ve come up with three simple mistakes to avoid!
1. Not learning how to properly prepare a playlist.
Preparing a playlist is so important, ultimately the music you play is either going to win you the crowds love or make them leave the club. In addition, you need to have prepared the playlist for live performances on the latest DJ software or hardware. If you cut corners here or don’t fully understand your DJ software you can make your DJ sets a lot harder and more problematic.
Step one is to make sure that you download good quality tracks. If you download tracks from bad sources like ripping music from YouTube, not only is it illegal, but it will be low quality. It’s important to have high quality lossless files to get the best sound at your gigs; and to show your level of professionalism. While MP3 320kbps is the most common format for DJs to use, the lossless formats of WAV and AIFF are better. We love the AIFF because it gives you more metadata, like the cover art, when you download the file.
Step two is to make sure that you organise your music in a playlist suitable for the audience at your gig. Playing the wrong music is going to clear any dance-floor. Make sure you really think long and hard about what is the right music for them but also what music really represents you as an artist. Once you have the right music make sure you organise it into different playlists on your DJ software and make sure you make backups!
Step three is to make sure that you analyse the music files in your DJ software. Programs like Rekordbox, Serato or Traktor will do this automatically. You need to be able to see the wave-form, key, BPM and any other metadata you want to see like the cover art.
Step four is to check your beat-grids. This is a skill you want to learn how to do because it’s fundamental to how all DJ software works and helps you with live performances. Click here for a more extensive blog about how to beat-grid your music. While the software will beat-grid the music automatically you will often find a few tracks in your playlists that need that human touch to get them just right.
Step five is to prepare cue-points where you want to start playing the track from, hot-cues and loops. This will make it easier to perform without mistakes at your DJ gig!
Step six is to make sure you export your music properly, and eject the USB safely to avoid corrupting it. It’s really important that you also have back up USBs so that you are not relying on the flimsy link cable that links the decks together. They are simply not reliable enough. If you’re not using a USB and you’re taking your laptop to the gig make sure you have all your cables and a fully charged laptop. Top top; get it insured and make sure they have a spare plug socket for you!
An additional tip is to explore every setting and button on your software program. Make sure you literally know every tool and even option in the menus. If you're looking for online help for Rekordbox click here for a zoom lesson.
2. Not taking the time to learn all the buttons
One of the things that will really undermine your confidence as a DJ and cause you many embarrassing moments is simply not knowing your equipment. It’s not even that hard to learn all the buttons and functions of your equipment and the industry-standard decks you’ll be using at your gigs. You can always download the manuals or watch YouTube videos. Just take the time to learn every button because if something goes wrong you’ll need to act fast and solve the problem. How are you doing to solve problems if you don’t even know half the buttons? It’s like trying to fly a plane without knowing how to! Don’t crash and burn at a live gig, make sure you know how to react in an emergency like if the music stopped!
3. Relying on sync
So many DJs want to use sync before they have learnt how to beat-match by ear. This is like never taking off your training wheels when you learn how to ride a bike. Essentially, using sync will hinder your progress learning how to DJ. What you’ll find is that you won’t be training your ear as well as other DJs, and when you play a gig you won’t hear exactly how bad it is but other DJs will tell you it’s not perfectly beat-matched. Quite embarrassing really!
It’s not even hard to learn how to beat-match on modern equipment anyway. All you need to do is get used to setting the BPM correctly, hitting play on the first beat of the phrase and using the jog-wheel to align the beats. If you want to take your beat-matching to the next level, learn how to DJ like a vinyl DJ and cover up the BPM and screen entirely. This method is called pitch-shifting or ‘riding the pitch’ and when learnt will give you a massive confidence boost! Ultimately, if you rely on the software and computer to do the work you’ll get caught short when it malfunctions! Learn how to beat-match the right way and you’ll have lots of confidence at your gigs.
For more information about learning how to mix and DJ click here for our full range of DJ courses. We are also available if you have any questions about this blog or DJing. Feel free to contact us. You can also follow us on Instagram!
You can also sign up for DJ courses at our partner London Sound Academy! Click here for LSA.