[Editors Note: This article was written on DJ Tips.]
It’s finally over – you’ve just delivered a killer DJ set. The performance of a lifetime. The crowd can’t get enough of you! All good things must come to an end, and unfortunately for your audience, your set has come to a close. Well done…
Before exiting the DJ booth and making your way back to the hotel/motel /Airbnb / basement of your mum’s house, go through this checklist of five things you should always do after your DJ set before calling it a night.
5 Steps To Take
1. Pack up and store your gear properly
You’ve played your set and the crowd loved it – now random people are pulling you from the decks to go have a drink and a smoke with them in the back alley parking lot. Cool! Hanging out with your crowd is a good thing – but don’t forget to store all your gear properly.
Don’t: Dump your laptop, USB sticks, headphones and leads into your DJ bag so you can do shots with that cute girl who kept saying “play more house please” (she knows her stuff!). Worse, don’t dump everything in a bag and leave the club because you’re too drunk to bother checking – I’ve lost everything from USB sticks, expensive leads, power adapters, and even a pair of headphones this way.
Do this instead: Get into the habit of going through a “set up / strike down” routine so it becomes almost automatic even though you’re on your fourth pint. Keep a microfibre cloth in your DJ bag and wipe your laptop clean to remove dirt, dust, and drink spillage. Do the same with your DJ controller using a larger piece of fabric. I got into a bad habit of leaving all that cleaning for the day after, and I’d always regret not clearing all that cigarette ash and beer gunk before leaving the club.
If you take a lot of cables along, buy a pack of velcro cable ties and keep them organized, or use something like the Grid-It to keep them tidy. Your DJ bag can quickly turn into a rat’s nest if you don’t tame those leads before and after a gig. That cloth you used to wipe down your controller should also be used to clean your cables and connectors as these get dirty the more you gig out.
If you really want to stay organized, use something like the UDG Ultimate Digi Wallet to keep all your DJ bits and bobs stored. It also makes it easier to spot if one of them is missing before you leave the club or head home after the show. And always double check that you’ve got everything before leaving.
2. Hang out and get cozy with your audience
Now that your gear’s back in your bag and safely stored, get out of the DJ booth but don’t leave the club just yet. Unless you’re an EDM superstar with a 10-man security detail and seven bowls of Skittles arranged according to the rainbow’s sequence, you really should hang around and mingle with your crowd – make this an opportunity to gather feedback on your performance by asking if they had fun and what they thought of your performance. I’d say that you should do this even though you’re already at mainstage megastar levels – nothing wrong with connecting with your crowd beyond the DJ box.
Don’t: Think that you’re limited to connecting with folk loitering about the DJ booth, or your fans clamoring to get a piece of you by the booth’s entrance.
Do this instead: Head to the bar and have a chat with the bar staff and get friendly (long as they’re not too busy). Or head to the club’s entrance for some fresh air and talk to people outside who were there during your set. If you made an impression, chances are they’ll recognize you and will be open to making small talk.
Use this as a chance to hand out your latest mix, whether it’s burned to a CD or you’ve got a link or QR code to share. You’re giving away something you’ve worked on, and instead of asking money in exchange for the mix, ask for folk to join your mailing list or to like your Facebook Page instead. Let them know when your next gig is – the more punters you can bring, the better you become in the promoter’s eyes.
You may also want to sell merchandise: anything from T-shirts and stickers to physical copies of your music are stuff to sell at shows, and it’ll be easier to do that after you’ve just DJed since the people in the club have already heard your music.
3. Chill with the promoter and get to know him or her better
So you’ve done your bit of networking with your audience by making the rounds and talking to them, now spend some quality time getting to know your promoter – ask for his or her opinion regarding your set, get some feedback, and find out how you can be of help to her or him.
Don’t: Ask for another booking straight off the bat. You’ll make it feel like your entire booking is merely transactional – DJing, like any other profession, relies heavily on building good relationships. Good DJing combined with a good attitude and authenticity lead to more bookings.
Do this instead: Break the ice and go beyond the professional relationship that you’ve already established. The promoter is the bridge between you and the club, so make it a point to spend time and get to know her or him better throughout the evening. Of course, your main job is to spin tracks, but part of your job as a DJ is to strengthen your professional connections by adding a personal touch to every encounter. Talk like a pro in formal communications, but act like a human being when you have a face-to-face.
4. Show some love for other DJs in the lineup
You’re probably sharing the bill with a few other DJs, so stick around for their sets if you’re the opener, or come a few hours before your slot to catch whoever is spinning before you. It shows that you’re not just there to do your thing, pick up a paycheck, and head home – being there for the other DJs on the bill is a show of support, and I have yet to hear a DJ complain that there were “too many other DJs enjoying my sick tunes”.
Don’t: Split right after your slot, unless you’ve got something urgent to attend to right after your performance. If you really have to, at least have the courtesy to inform the promoter and other DJs, if possible.
Do this instead: If you’re the night’s closing DJ, you’re doing the promoter and the club a favor by arriving much earlier than when you’re supposed to be behind the decks anyway. This also lets you get a feel for the room, and can help you decide which direction you’d want to take your crowd on once you’ve done a switchover with the previous jock.
5. Pick up your full payment immediately after your set, at the latest
Pretty self-explanatory – don’t forget to get your fees! Can’t recall the number of times I’ve forgotten to do this when I was starting out because I was too wasted at the end of the entire evening. I was able to claim my fees in most cases, and in some I had to do a bit of chasing just to get my cash, but I can count a few times where the fees just “vanished”, whether through a promoter who “swore” he’d already paid me, or a bar manager that had an acute case of amnesia. How convenient!
Don’t: Think that you can come back the next day to get your paycheck – it’s a hassle for everyone involved, especially if you have to chase the cashier or the promoter in order to get your wages. You shouldn’t leave the premises without getting what is due you.
Do this instead: Money should be on your mind – you can’t keep the creative juices flowing if you can’t pay the rent! Some clubs and promoters may opt to pay you through a cheque or cash deposit after the night are over. If this is the case, make sure that you’ve got the agreement in writing, whether through an email or text message – verbal agreements never seem to hold any water, especially if they’re decided on the spot in the small hours at a club! Best to grab the money ASAP.
As DJs, we sometimes think that our responsibilities begin and end in the DJ booth. Nothing could be further from the truth – while playing music is a big part of what being a DJ is about, creating meaningful relationships with your audience and those you work within the nightlife industry, and connecting with other players are key to building a lasting DJ career.
It’s tempting to think of DJing as being a very egotistical or self-absorbed hobby, especially with the superstar DJ image burned into our minds, but the truth is, DJing is one of the most altruistic musical pursuits: you play music for others, you give them emotional moments to remember, and you add value to the people in your social circles and professional networks. Giving always comes first.