How to Overcome DJ Gig Nerves
Overcome Your DJ Gig Nerves!
Many new DJs will experience anxiety when thinking about their first live performance. Your first gig is often a baptism of fire but if you fully prepare yourself, you'll be more relaxed on the big day. Here are our top ten tips for calming your nerves at your first DJ gigs.
1. Correctly prepare a killer playlist
The music you play is more important than your actual DJ skills. You could be the best DJ in the world technically, but if you play the wrong music for the crowd your set will go down like a lead balloon. Research your audience and curate the perfect set list of killer tracks that will set the dance-floor on fire!
Make sure that you have enough music in your playlist so that you can adapt with the way the crowd is reacting to different styles on the night.
Once you've found the ultimate playlist you need to prepare the music files in your DJ software program, unless you're using vinyl of course. Make a playlist or crate in your DJ software and analyse all the songs. Once they have loaded, check the beat-grids and set cue points where you want to start the mix from. Some DJs also set cue markers or hot cue markers to help them see different parts of their tracks, like a good place to mix the next song in or the end of the vocals.
Find a method that works for you, but remember you need to play for the audience and a strict plan might hold you back.
Now you've prepared your playlist, you need to export it to your USB correctly. Double check it's been exported correctly on the software or on your decks and then eject the USB safely. Always eject your USBs safely to avoid corrupting them. If you're using your laptop at a gig make sure that it's working correctly, it's fully charged and it's fast enough to process the audio with no lag.
2. Know all the settings of your hardware
There is nothing more scary than standing in front of hundreds of people and not knowing what all the buttons do on the DJ decks and mixer. As a DJ, you need to know your DJ equipment inside-out so that you can be calm in the face of any technical malfunction. Knowing the settings and buttons will allow you to quickly fix any issues and let the music play again. Imagine if the music stopped and you didn't know how to turn it back on again? Super embarrassing!
Look at your decks and make sure you know every single button, input and output. If you don't know what something is you must find out!
Naturally, we teach all of this and more in our DJ courses so if you're a student at DJ Gym you will know all of this. You'll also have a dedicated tutor at your first DJ Gym gig!
3. Practice, Practice, Practice!
The best way to calm your nerves before a gig, and in general as a DJ, is practice. The more you practice and the more you perform the easier it gets. If you don't have the club-standard DJ equipment at home book a studio session at DJ Gym or another music studio to get more familiar with the equipment you know you'll use at the venue. It's also good to practice with other DJs so you can swap tricks and tips.
Make sure that you practice mixing many times with the tracks you've selected for your gig. You need to know your songs like the back of your hand!
4. Avoid the common pitfalls when switching between DJs
Remember, when you play a DJ gig there is often already a DJ playing before you take to the stage. Mixing into their music can be difficult and they might be using different technology or settings. Make sure you know all the potential mistakes a DJ can make when changing between DJs and follow this guide:
5. Simplify your set-up
Don't bite off more than you can chew. If it's your first gig just simplify things. It's easier to DJ with the industry standard Pioneer CDJs and a USB than bringing your own decks. Check in advance to see what the venue have and if they do have decent Pioneer CDJs go with USBs because it's less likely that something will go wrong.
If you take your own computer and DJ controller there will inevitably be more potential issues. More components equals more problems. The simpler your set-up the better. Don't forget you headphones and make sure your know your DJ cables.
Don't push yourself too hard also. Some new DJs will try and showoff at their first gig with complex mixes and FX and get into difficulty. Just keep your first few live performances simple and easy to perform. Leave the fancy tricks for later down the line.
7. Have contingency plans
It's always a good idea to draw up a list of potential issues and then make a plan B just in case. For example, if you're setting up the DJ equipment is there going to be enough power? and what about if you amp blows? do you have a backup? Another example is what if your music is not going to work with the crowd, do you have another playlist you can switch to?
If you can, visit the venue before they are open so you can do a quick soundcheck. Sometimes a club o bar will let you do this out of hours and it means you can take your time to get used to the acoustics and check for issues. It will also make you feel more relaxed because the space will be more familiar to you.
9. Keep a level head
At the gig itself, keep a level head. Make sure you've eaten a light meal before the performance, nothing heavy, just something to help settle your stomach. Some people swear by eating a banana before their gig to help ease their anxiety. The potassium helps calm you.
You should also make sure you avoid excessive drinking or drugs to make sure you're of sound mind and don't make sloppy mistakes or in general look a mess behind the decks. First impressions count to remain professional at all times.
10. Learn how to laugh at your mistakes
All DJs make mistakes, all the time! You just have to laugh at it and move on. It's a live performance and you're only human so embrace it! There isn't a DJ out there who has not messed up multiple times! If you stop the music my mistake just play another track quickly and move on. Hold your head high and give into the humour of the situation! It's only a disco!