DJs don’t use microphones, right? That went out in the 70s, yeah? Well, if you’re a mobile or wedding DJ, or a personality jock in a mainstream weekend bar, you of course know different. But for this article, I’m talking to “mixing” DJs, producer / artist DJ types who day-to-day would never dream of “getting on the mic”.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know how to use a microphone – far from it. Because as you are the person in charge of the sound system, there are still times when you may want, need or be required to talk to your audience. Here are just four:
Four microphone moments…
- To introduce a guest DJ – You run a small club night, and have managed to book a guest DJ to come and play with you and your crew. It’s a big deal for you, and you want your guest to have a good time (and go and tell all their other superstar DJ mates how great it is to play at your little club night). The anticipation builds, and it’s time for your guest to come on. Wouldn’t it be good to flick a microphone on, just for a change, and say: “We’ve waited a long time for this moment, so please give a massive cheer to one of our favourite DJs, _________!” You’ll get them off on the right foot, and the fact that you’ve come on the mic will mark tonight as “special” in your audience’s mind
- To announce your next party – This is a silly one to miss up on, in my opinion. You’ve done all the work getting a gig or getting your audience to come and hear you, so why the hell not get on the mic at the end of the set/night and announce when they can next see you play, or where your next event is? I once DJed at a daytime festival (10k+ people) and at the end of my set, got on the mic to announce my club night in the same city later on that evening. We were sold out within an hour. It’s well worth doing…
- To explain technical issues – Technical stuff happens, it’s part of life. In the end something will go wrong when you’re DJing (laptop crash, air conditioning fails in the amp room causing the amps to overheat and cut out, fuse blows, CDJ jams, pure human error – whatever). If it’s serious enough to keep stuff quiet for a few minutes or more, being able to tell the crowd when you’ll be back online can stop a bad situation getting worse
- To pass along management notices – This can be from the serious (bar closing!) to the very serious (there’s a fire upstairs!!). The point is, it’s not your call; if you’re DJing somewhere that has a microphone fitted, even if you think you’re an “artist” and you never, ever want to talk into the microphone as a matter of principle, as soon as the guy paying your wages asks you to announce anything from a lost phone to a police order, it’s over to you: The choice isn’t really yours
A pitfall is that as soon as someone sees you with a microphone, you inevitably get the requests for “birthday shout outs” and so on. Just like requests for music, you need to have a strategy for dealing with this. Me? I hide the microphone to start with unless I need it, and then just tell people it’s for official use only, and we’re not allowed to use it otherwise. With a smile, of course.
Do you regularly use a microphone? Have you been asked to do so and felt uncomfortable about it? Is this something you’ve conquered, and are glad you did? Please share your thoughts in the comments.