5 Things To Do After You've Played Your DJ Set

You just wrapped up an amazing DJ set where you had the crowd eating from the palm of your hand. Before you head out of the club, make sure you go through these five steps first.

You just wrapped up an amazing DJ set where you had the crowd eating from the palm of your hand. Before you head out of the club, here are some cool things you can do first...

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

UDG

Fight the temptation to dump all your gear into your DJ bag, and get an organiser for all your bits and bobs.

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 at 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 organised, 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 organised, 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 for the club or head home after the show. And always double check that you've got everything before leaving.

2. Hang out and get cosy with your audience

Hanging Out

Hanging out needn't be this extreme. Having a chat and asking if they liked your set is enough - no stage diving required!

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 clamouring 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 recognise 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

Promoter

Build trust between you and a promoter by connecting on both a professional and a personal level.

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

Lineup

You don't have to stay on the dancefloor for every single DJ's set that evening (especially if the line-up is more akin to that of a festival), but spending some time checking out the other DJs before or after you is always a good idea: it's a display of your support for them, which is always appreciated.

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 favour 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

Fees

While your DJs fees may not turn you into a millionaire overnight (unless you're reading this, Calvin Harris), taking home what's due you is never a bad idea. I'd even say it's one of the best ideas in this list!

Pretty self-explanatory - don't forget toget 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 is 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.

Finally...

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 with in 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.

What do you think of this list? Any other steps you think should be added to this list? Share your thoughts below.

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Comments

  1. DJ Vintage says:

    I thought it would be a 3-step program:

    EAT - SLEEP - RAVE (repeat)

  2. It's so easy to leave shit behind in the booth. Sometimes I create a packing list so I don't forget to pack the right gear for gigs; check items off when they are packed before the gig, cross them out when packed on the way out.

    Another option is to create a nursery rhyme style packing song. I do this for snowboarding "Hats, goggles, gloves, and boots..." It sounds dumb but it makes life easy.

    • Love it! Another way is to learn a habit-forming "WHEN...THEN" list:

      WHEN I pack my headphones, THEN I break down my laptop stand
      WHEN I zip up my main DJ backpack compartment, THEN I will unplug my adaptor and put it in the side pocket

      etc...

      • Ade Sands says:

        Then some muppet asks if you are finished, or asks you to play that 'one more tune, that'll get the place pumping'
        Even when the lights are up..! :(

    • Dennis Parrott says:

      AMEN ROB!!

      I was doing weddings this past weekend. One on Friday night, one all day on Saturday. Packed the car with my gear (I am a mobile DJ and own my own PA) and, I had a list.

      It is far too easy (even if you aren't working a club) to misplace/lose/forget gear. Lists are essential.

  3. DJ Elektrichan says:

    I'm just a normal club DJ and I got my residency through my dj company I work in. It's so weird that people come ask autographs and selfies with me even though I'm not a star or anything. Also I'm quite young (20) and quite a beginner and it makes me gettingt that kind of attention kinda weird

  4. Ade Sands says:

    Don't get drunk. You might think you sound better, but you won't, keep your wits about you and stay professional. A drunk DJ will be either easy to take advantage of, (bad requests from that one annoying clown) or could even become aggressive.
    Which kinda goes hand in hand with don't be arrogant, arrogance will turn a portion of your audience against you, as well as other DJ's.
    If you are good, be good at it, no need to be arrogant in the absence of praise.

    • Definitely 😀 thanks Ade

    • Dennis Parrott says:

      You know, DJing is one job where NOBODY seems to say anything about drinking on the job.

      I figure that if you are paying me to spin tunes and entertain it is my _responsibility_ to remain mostly sober. My daytime job would have a serious problem with me being drunk on the job. I don't see why it should be any different for my after-hours, avocational job...

      I am not saying Do Not Drink, period. I am saying that having a beer or cocktail or glass of wine (okay, maybe two...) is fine. Ultimately, getting obliterated every time you play out is not going do you any favors. (...especially if you are a mobile DJ and have to drive you and your gear home... DUIs get expensive...)

  5. Alexandre Kieffer says:

    I always thought these steps, in this particular order, were the best way to leave the DJ booth... I'm glad I did it right without any previous advice!

  6. Step -1: take a well-earned pee!

    • Dennis Parrott says:

      #1 Rule of the Venue: Know where the loo is in relation to where your DJ booth is...

      #2 Rule: always have some songs you can drop that are LONG so you can slip out quick to pee.

      #3 Rule: have a song to drop after the LONG song in case you get back just as the LONG song is ending!

  7. Grant Courtney says:

    Great article. I never leave a venue without doing 1 final check that I have packed, and taken everything, just before I leave. It saves the hassle and stress of having to go back if you left anything, and chances are it will have gone missing when you go back.

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