There is only one chance for a good first impression – that’s why you should make sure that you are completely prepared for your first DJ gig! What exactly do you need to do? Let’s find out!
I remember my first gig at a small, private party of an acquaintance. While it was very spontaneous and informal, I didn’t want to come unprepared so I needed good equipment and I needed to learn how to use it in a live-setting. Here is what I’ve learned both from my first performance and many which followed:
First of all, avoid taking on a last minute gig, especially as a beginner. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first gig in total or the first gig for a particular client. Give yourself at least three days to practice and plan before playing a gig. There are many things that you need to prepare during those three days. A very important thing is to play to the crowd. You are not there to play the music you enjoy, but to entertain the masses. When playing your first gig you need to keep in mind that their tastes, and your tastes, may not line up completely.
This ties in with the next thing: as a DJ, you know it’s best to start strong and end strong. That’s why you need to plan out your set. Multiple solid playlists that you can switch to depending on your crowd will allow for a more dynamic performance. If all the techno lovers go out for a smoke, you may use that chance to play some alternative rock music. Having pre-planned “mini-sets” will help you cover the different tastes of the crowd.
You probably have a lot of equipment including controllers, cables, accessories and microphones. Keep a list so you can make sure everything you need makes it to the gig and back home. You also need a plan B in case that stuff happens. Whether it’s a frayed cable or a crashed laptop, it doesn’t matter: the music must not stop. In the worst case scenario, make sure you have a way to connect battery-powered speakers and your mobile phone and a tracklist read on it. It will at least buy you some time before you can solve the problem properly.
A way to avoid having to resort to the plan B is having good gear. My personal favorite is the Allen & Heath Xone:DB4 4 Channel Digital DJ Mixer With Effects because it has everything a good controller needs to have and because it’s not the most expensive one available. But for many even that model is too pricey. Luckily there are many decent models for less money available. If you want to check them out, take a look to this excellent DJ controller buying guide!
Lastly it is good to remember that you don’t have to rush things and be on your own during your first gig. Breaking the first-gig-experience into smaller parts will allow you to make more mistakes and give you the chance to correct said mistakes without feeling the harsh consequences. Your “first gig” can be a small performance for your friends who can give you constructive criticism and feedback. You can ask a more experienced colleague to take you to one of their gigs where you can play some portions of the show. Lastly, to the first real gig where you are in charge you can bring along another DJ who will be able to help you and keep track of everything when you need a bathroom break or something similar.
To summrise – your first gig is probably going to be very stressful, but by simulating the experience beforehand, by being prepared and by having good gear and solid backup, you can find your way out of almost any situation that can happen. And remember – the people are not there to judge you, but to have a good time. Even if something goes wrong – it’s not the end of the world! It’s all part of an important learning experience. We hope that you’ve enjoyed our article and that you will take your time to take a look at our other DJ and
performance articles on our website The Musician Lab! Till next time!