Previously, our friends over at Turntable Lab in New York gave us three steps beginning DJs need to follow.
These were 1. Hibernate & Practice, 2. Know Your EQs, and 3. Mix When The Song Is Ready. If you'd like to go back and review these in detail, click here.
Now that you have mastered those three simple yet crucial practices, you're read to move on to steps 4-6. These more advanced steps will help you reach your ultimate goal- playing for a crowd.
4) Create Go-To Mini-Sets
It's inevitable that you'll loose the crowd throughout your DJ career. You'll mess up. You'll get insta-sweat and feel a primal panic jolt through your body. To get back into your sweet spot, create several go-to track combinations that you've mastered. Pick timeless songs with broad appeal, memorize the places to drop the mixes, drop an acapella, add tricks, tweak the EQs, etc. Every advanced DJ will have a couple of these mini-sets in their pocket.
Advanced technique: Learn how to scratch. It's therapeutic, humbling, limitless, and fun. Plus when you're friends say "show me something", you don't want to show them how good you are at scrolling through playlists and watching waveforms.
4) Get Familiar With Various DJ Setups
Whatever your preferred DJ setup, you should take time to learn the 3 main DJ setups (CDJs, turntables, and controller). You're at a club and your DJ friend is like "want to hop on play some songs?" You reply: "Yeah, do you have an S4 in the booth?" Chances are, they don't. Or you're a strictly vinyl DJ, there's a good chance a venue will only have CDJs. Now apply this scenario to a house party, another DJ's studio, etc. Don't let the equipment limit your ability to DJ.
Advanced technique: This is one is a bit esoteric: learn how to use a rotary (fader-less) mixer like a Urei. It's rare to come across these mixers, but many house music DJs swear by them. It's a different mixing experience that many DJs argue is more fun / pure (and generally, they sound better too).
6) Form Secret DJ Crews
Yeah, DJ crews seem so 1990. It's cooler to be that lone badass who travels and wrecks metropolises leaving only a trail of Instagrams and empty water bottles. However, dig a little deeper and those guys have unofficial crews that helped to get them where they are. If you think about it, Mad Decent and Fool's Gold are nothing more than well-organized versions of the 90's turntablist crew. DJing is a creative endeavor, you need peers and everything that comes with it: music knowledge, shared techniques, criticism, group luck, and hook-ups.
Advanced technique: Aspire to put together a crew compilation on vinyl. Huh? Vinyl might not be for everyone but it announces and marks a moment better than an MP3. It will give your crew a shared goal and a real world, tangible reason to celebrate. Plus, you can always release both formats in a strategic staggered fashion for a more potent one-two punch.
Bonus DJ Etiquette Tip #2
Don't take yourself too seriously. Your DJ persona can be as big as you want behind the decks, but being humble when you're off the decks will take you far. DJing, at its core, is a hustle… a very nerdy hustle. Nothing will hurt your hustle more than being a dick. We've seen a lot of DJs become successful, and they've always been personable, humble, and open. A-holes and douchebags / douchettes… not so much.