I'll be honest with you DJIng can be the best feeling in the world especially when everything goes right, but what happens when everything goes wrong. In this video I will give you some tips on how to get out of sticky situations like a seasoned pro.
I honestly feel all sticky situations can be avoided by being prepared and also by adopting a positive mindset. Let's first of all talk about being prepared. So let's face it the worst feeling you can have is not knowing what song to play next. It's like a ticking time bomb - the track playing is counting down and you have gone blank, and to make things worse you won't even sure what to play the previous track and every track you have played so far has made the dance floor go from bad to worse and all confidence has been drained from you. The crowd looks bored and people are leaving faster than they are coming. Worse yet, you feel disconnected from the crowd and the more you recognise the problems, the bigger they become and all you want to do is run for the hills and never DJ again.
Yes I have had this feeling more than once, but I have also bounced back from this most times and here's what I learnt. Firstly it was the nights I turned up under prepared that always caused the most heartache. Now I am not suggesting that you need to create an exact playlist of tracks, but at least create a playlist of tracks that are suited to the event that you are playing and always have way more tracks in that playlist than you could possibly play in one night. So for instance let's say you are playing for 1 hour and in that time you could play 20 tracks, then have 70 tracks to choose from and perhaps even put them into a loose order and practise mixing them that same day before the show.
By playing around with your tracks that same day, you get ideas and familiarise yourself with the material and then when you play that night, it's all fresh on your mind which will help you to have more ideas on hand when playing.
But what happens if your whole playlist is wrong? Well this could be avoided by going to the events, as a punter, on a night you are not playing, and feeling out the crowd before your show. See who's playing what at what time and see what the people there are responding too. But then again, I have also done that, and prepared what I felt was the perfect playlist for a specific event, only to turn up and the vibe on the night was completely different to the vibe I had prepared for. So again, being over prepared is king and let's say your playlist isn't working, then you may have to jump across into another playlist.
For instance some nights people may be responding more to classics or even music that's a little more commercial, so perhaps have some options in you main playlist and lets say you drop a classic and it goes nuts, then, again if you are prepared, you may have a past playlist full of classics and you could jump playlists to something more suited to that night and event.
Another method I found worked really well is, listening to my intuition. Now I know this sounds random but it always played a huge part in my DJIng. So firstly intuition is that little voice in your head that we often ignore. For instance it says perhaps grab an umbrella today, and you don't and then it rains and your like, oh, I should have followed my intuition earlier. So for instance let's say I go to load a track and I have doubts about it, TBH, you need to abandon that track (at least for that moment) and pick something else, but this is where people get stuck, what do you play. I'd skim my playlist and if any track makes me hesitate, for instance I think hmm maybe, I quickly load it into the deck not being used and preview it. When you load a track and quickly play it in your headphones and let's say you think a big yes, then go with that. The key is to load the track and quickly listen to it as this sparks your memory and you can get a feel for the track. If you're still not sure, well at least you have a track loaded ready which gives you time to find a better one or worse, go with your initial idea.
Another get our of jail free card, when everything is going wrong, is to think F this, and play a track for you. For instance perhaps you have a favourite song right now that you were on the edge about playing. As long as it is not a completely different genre, that is not the right vibe for that event, then why not. If the crowd is dying anyway and you are starting to fall into a pit of despair, the first step is to put yourself into a positive mindset and if you have a song you love that will help lift your mood, and then lets say people see you are having fun, then this can shift the dynamics on a dance floor big time. This also goes for life, if you keep dwelling on the problems the problems get bigger, instead focus on what you want to happen and you'll start moving towards that. So what do you want? Dance floors full of people rocking out big time, well, remember in earlier videos I said the best atmosphere insurance is promoting your shows and using each event as an opportunity to bring all your friends out and having support there, people there especially for you, can do amazing things for your dance floor, so again, it comes down to where you're putting your energy.
But let's say your friends bailed on you and things aren't going the way you want, well, I remember reading a quote once that said, you must commit to enjoying yourself no matter what happens. See the lesson is, if our emotions are based on what we experience then we are vulnerable to the day to day circumstances of our lives and the more you identify with the bad stuff, the more you resonate with it, and the more you invite the bad stuff, or more correctly, your interpretation of seeing something as bad, into your day to day experience.
So instead, just decide to have fun no matter what happens and aim to be grateful for, and even celebrate, the small things. By focusing on the positives, you filter out the shit and instead of seeing the dance floor as half empty you see it has half full, and with that kind of attitude nothing can effect you. Remember what you focus on expands, so if you feel yourself falling, look up, take a breath, focus on what you want and from there you are in a better position to make better decisions. They say if you wish to change something it starts by changing yourself, or if t's a situation, change your attitude towards it.
Now before I go into a checklist of more practical tips for the logical thinkers out there, another piece of advice would be to look outwardly confident. This means smile, chest out, even dance a little. There was this really interesting TED talk, that I'll link in below, where they did experiments on people adopting a superhero stance before job interviews and the people doing the interviews always commented positively on the people who expanded their energy and presence prior to the meetings. So for instance lets say your open, looking up and enjoying yourself, then that translates in a positive way to the audience. Like, come on, have you seen any of the Martin Garrix clips of him playing live - it is infectious, and I think that's part of his appeal. He is a kid living the dream and he is loving every second of it, he is 100% wearing his heart on his sleeve and trust me that kind of energy pulls people in, it makes them feel part of something.
Whereas, lets say you're freaking out, your huddled over, head down, too afraid to look up and you are fearing the worse, then as mentioned you could be self sabotaging. Wow, as I am saying all this I am realising learning to DJ really can help people in so many ways, not only does it help you to feel you are making progress by mastering a new skill, but you put yourself in scenarios that force you to grow and that's honestly why people love it so much.
When you put yourself in these positions and come out on top, which in truth, that is what happens most of the time, that is if you do your research and are prepared, then that feeling of overcoming a challenge helps you to grow and IMO there is no better feeling. So focus on that feeling now, carry it with you and carry it everywhere, as what you experience is just a reflection of what you think about most. So if you think you're going to fuck it, chances are you will, but if you KNOW you can do this and COMMIT to enjoying yourself no matter what happens and you do your prep, you will come out of it as a super star I promise.
Anyway I'l cut to the chase and give you a straight to the point checklist of things you may be worried about and solutions.
Firstly above we already covered what to do if you're not connecting with the crowd, or you're under prepared and you have no idea what to play next but now let's say perhaps your crowd looks tired and worn out:
This happens when the opening DJs go too hard too early and let's say you come on after the headliner and everyone looks tired, I would suggest that you throw a curve ball. I remember once I was playing at an electro house event and after 5 - 6 hours of heavy electro people on the floor were no longer vibing to what was considered the big tracks at that time. So I did a quick genre jump and mixed in jump around by house of pain. This split things up and sparked a new interest in the crowd and created a new platform of sorts for me to build on. Now sure I didn't change the whole genre for the rest of the night, I just threw a curve ball and then used that to build back into what that events was all about and it worked a treat every time.
For instance let's say you're at a wedding or DJIng at a function, for you it may be going into something people haven't heard in years but something that everyone knows and deep down loved at a cringy point of their lives. For instance, once everyone is drunk, you could lighten the mood with some old retro anthem that could instantly change the energy in the room and for the haters at the event, they may have fun paying it out.
However if you are playing techno and it's getting a little serious maybe you could add just a little bit of familiarity or even bring in what may be considered slightly more commercial techno, a track everyone knows, perhaps something in the Beatport top 100. Again the goal really is being over prepared and having your music sorted before each event. Speaking of, would you all like a video on how to sort and categorise your music so you're prepared for every situation and every event? If so let me know and I can make a video about just that and please also let me know what you think of this one and if it's been helpful, I really like hearing your comments.
Another issue people may have is more technical and what I mean by this is, the music cuts out, or the gear is playing up and for this I have already done some videos but I'll link them in now so 100% check them out, but just quickly, if you load the track onto the player playing and the music cuts out, my advice, own the mistake, put your hands up, perhaps also cheer, boo, again just have fun with the crowd and they'll appreciate that. Then quickly load your new track and just move on. However if you are using a controller, a little priceless tip here, if you hit command Z this is undo and this will undo your last action and your old track will continue playing as though nothing had happened, this is a cool little save not many people know about.
Now if there's something I missed or something you are personally worried about, let me now in the comments and I'll do may best to make a video about it in the upcoming weeks or if you want super fast attention, just remember my course is where all the action happens and even better I just added a whole new performance plus section where I teach in details creative mixing techniques, 3 deck mixing and advanced FX to take you from great to OMG this DJ is insane, kind of level, so I'l link that in below.
People are always telling me how much they love my course and many feel it is the best and most organised in the world, so check out the link and decide for yourself but just one thing quickly, with my course I promise you it is not my goal to up-sell, it's my goal to constantly add value and find ways to add to the course and better yet create opportunities for my students.
Anyway, remember life is 90% what happens and 10% how you react, so if something bad happens, perhaps put it down to experience and be better for it, always grateful, always finding something to celebrate, wether it be your success or the success of others. If you want to win, then first adopt a winning attitude.
With covid restrictions easing a tonne of my students are now getting shows in clubs and some of them have been asked to do a back to back DJ set. So in this article (video above) I will explain what is a back to back set, the different ways you can approach your back to back set, why the promoter would even ask you to do a back to back set, how to prepare for it and how to assure that when you both play you stand out and make an impact assuring repeat shows.
Have you ever used USBS in clubs and experienced problems? Or perhaps you haven't used club gear yet but you're open to it but not 100% sure how it works or maybe you've already jumped on club gear only to find the gear is not reading your USB properly and every time you load a track you can't see the waveform or BPM?
As many of you know I often take the positive thinking outlook side of things and I've actually done a whole heap of mindset for success videos that were really popular yet I wanted to share something I read recently that I think could really help you manage your expectations and feel victorious no matter what happens. The concept: negative thinking for positive results haha.
I love my job so much and one of my favourite things is listening to student mixes and giving them feedback. The majority of the time, I am blown away by how talented they are, and lots of the time I feel it's kind of like that grasshopper analogy, where the students have surpassed the skills of their teacher, which to be honest makes me really happy and to see so many of my students now landing residencies in clubs and getting really good gigs, it blows my mind.
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Not sure where to start? In this mini series I answer many of the questions beginners have about learning to DJ.