Things that Don't Actually Make You A Better DJ

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Jeff Romard

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Great article
 

DJ TJ

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I think the final paragraph sums it up nicely:

"Bear in mind that what other DJs do or say has no bearing on your own value as a DJ. Cater to your own needs, audience, venue, and talents… and let them cater to theirs".
 

Ausumm

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I think the final paragraph sums it up nicely:

"Bear in mind that what other DJs do or say has no bearing on your own value as a DJ. Cater to your own needs, audience, venue, and talents… and let them cater to theirs".
Considering the article seems to be written for CLUB DJ's...
that was the most impressive statement for me, too!
 

Albatross

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I've often found myself wondering about how another DJ would handle a crowd or situation that I've been in. Some nights I feel like I've nailed it, and nobody could have thrown anything better at them. Some nights, I feel like I struggle with the crowd to find a groove - and I wonder if there might have been a different DJ that would have had better luck. It's totally an insecure thought, and more often than not I believe I did everything I could to make their night as great as I could. But it's impossible to know how two different DJs could have ever done with the same crowd.

Since we can't compare that, we compare the things that we can. What's your gear like, what's your website like, what's your branding like, can you spell properly on the DJ forums... silly stuff. None of it matters except that we can measure it accurately.

My first years as a DJ were as a teenager. I had no confidence, and no understanding of business. I undercharged, I had crap gear... all the mistakes you could make.... I was 15.

But as I did more, got pro sound equipment, etc... I still undercharged. And then I saw another DJ or two. And no offense to those folks, but I formed the thought for the first time... "If they're worth $400, I'm at least worth that... or maybe $450."

That point of comparison was critical for me. I needed to know where I stood in relation to my peers. Was I worse, adequate, or better compared to my peers? That's why we compare. That's why we all want to look at what DJ works on. It's not because it actually makes a difference, but because we don't know how else to compare ourselves.

Maybe the key would be to truly leave ego at the door. But I still feel to this day that pricing yourself effectively means that you have to honestly understand yourself and your market. Ignorance to either of those means you're basically just guessing what people will pay you.
 
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ittigger

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In honesty, there's so much that affects an audience and their responses.

Realistically, on 2 consecutive nights, you could have the exact same DJ play the same exact songs in the same exact order at the same exact times to the same exact audience and you would have 2 completely separate outcomes.

How someone else would perform is irrelevant because it's not taking place. FWIW, I have moments where I also wonder what if I did this or that or played this or played that. To me, it's 'normal'. I am my own worst critic and I know that. I also rebook alot of events, so I think that validates me doing the right things (pleasing the client / guests).

You are worth whatever you can demonstrate to your paying customers that you are worth. If you charge 1k and are getting consistent events and are happy with that amount of work, then so be it. If you are getting no work, then you're missing something. If you are booking at 400 all the time, maybe its time for a raise. Somewhere among the trial and error, you'll find your sweet spot. Alot of it has to do with your market. If you're in a $100/hr market, it'll be tough to sell a similar show at $300/hr.
 
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DJ Ricky B

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I have rocked parties in the past using single deck CD Players, and a Radio Shack Mixer plugged into an amp, and 2 speakers on stands. No Beat mixing. Simply segueing the music from one song to another. I remember doing a house party where I was told it was the best party people had ever been to, and the music was amazing. I was using maybe $1,500 in equipment, and brought about 120 CDs with me.

The notion that you need to be awesome at scratching, beat mixing, or use vinyl, or have a beautiful looking set up, or have an amazing light show.

Having great, top of the line equipment helps your image, but it's not a measure of how great of a DJ you are.

Being likeable, providing stellar customer service, establishing a strong connection with your audience, and putting together an excellent program via song selection is KEY.

It doesn't matter what you use, or your effect and mixing skills. It doesn't matter if you Sync your music, or beat match. It doesn't even matter how much you charge your clients. (As long as YOU are Happy with the $$$ you earn when you DJ)

If you are regularly/routinely working gigs, and the DJ business provides what you truly want it to provide for you, and your clients are happy with your service...that is what matters.

If you are struggling to earn money, and don't work often in this business, and it's being a DJ is not yielding what you want it to yield for you, then you know you need to improve as a DJ!
 
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Ausumm

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I've often found myself wondering about how another DJ would handle a crowd or situation that I've been in. Some nights I feel like I've nailed it, and nobody could have thrown anything better at them. Some nights, I feel like I struggle with the crowd to find a groove - and I wonder if there might have been a different DJ that would have had better luck.
Realistically, on 2 consecutive nights, you could have the exact same DJ play the same exact songs in the same exact order at the same exact times to the same exact audience and you would have 2 completely separate outcomes.
Kinda tested that theory several times. Had a client that hired me for Xmas parties 5 years straight. Absolutely killed it first year. Went downhill from there. I was getting tired of them, just as much as they were getting tired of me. I actually offered to bow out and let someone else do it. For my sake and theirs. The new guy didn't have to do a better job, he just had to do a different job. Tell the same joke to the same person every day for a week and see how funny it is.
 
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Albatross

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The new guy didn't have to do a better job, he just had to do a different job. Tell the same joke to the same person every day for a week and see how funny it is.
I don't want to derail this thread because it's a good one. But, that's why it is important for DJs to not play the same show every week. I've had couples hire me that had seen me at 3 or 4 or their siblings and friends weddings in the past. If I was doing the same thing at each, there's no way they would keep bringing me back. I'm constantly looking for ways to mix up things that I know work, and to keep expanding that library of "things that work" so that I'm not pigeonholed into one routine.

I'm not sure I really knew how to do that until I started playing in clubs. It's much easier to get away with in the private event world since you're not always facing the same audience. But, when I started having regulars, and bartenders that heard my set every week... it forced me push further and do it differently.
 

Handinon

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I'm not sure I really knew how to do that until I started playing in clubs. It's much easier to get away with in the private event world since you're not always facing the same audience. But, when I started having regulars, and bartenders that heard my set every week... it forced me push further and do it differently.
Most on this forum don't mix a dozen songs to death, trying for 20 minutes of YouTube fame. Besides that, how do you make things constantly different on a weekly basis, besides cheesy bar games?

It is a very fortunate DJ who works a Club where the music nights change between Oldies, Disco, EDM, Latin, etc., and the DJ is not being rotated as well!
 
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Albatross

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Most on this forum don't mix a dozen songs to death, trying for 20 minutes of YouTube fame. Besides that, how do you make things constantly different on a weekly basis, besides cheesy bar games?

It is a very fortunate DJ who works a Club where the music nights change between Oldies, Disco, EDM, Latin, etc., and the DJ is not being rotated as well!
Play different songs, in a different order, and don't MC with the same schtick. I'm not talking about reinventing the wheel. But if you always play Soul Man into Mustang Sally, try something different.

And I consider myself primarily a wedding DJ, it was just something I understood better after playing for a regular crowd.
 

Jas

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I don't agree that music theory knowlege makes one a better DJ. Rhythm is the only thing that's somewhat important as a DJ. Pat Martino said that rhythm doesn't need to be taught because it's as natural as intercourse.

OK, knowing what key signatures go well together helps for flawless mixing but many successful DJs do very well without considering it.
 

Ausumm

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I don't want to derail this thread because it's a good one. But, that's why it is important for DJs to not play the same show every week. I've had couples hire me that had seen me at 3 or 4 or their siblings and friends weddings in the past. If I was doing the same thing at each, there's no way they would keep bringing me back. I'm constantly looking for ways to mix up things that I know work, and to keep expanding that library of "things that work" so that I'm not pigeonholed into one routine.
To clarify, it was an ANNUAL Christmas party. Not a weekly gig.
It wasn't the same SONGS that made the annual event stale...
it was simply that it was the same audience for me, and the same DJ for them.
Bar gigs are a COMPLETELY different animal.

And I have several "family" groups that I have done multiple gigs for.
Never the same twice, unless of course they want it that way.
(doing some of "same things" is why they hired me for the second, third, and fourth time)
 
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