So here’s our best of 2013: From DJs’ wages to laptops in the booth, music “all sounding the same” to PA systems, heartfelt career advice to picking a great DJ name, this is the very best of Digital DJ Tips the past 12 months. And just as every year for the past four years, our unique controller guide is #1…
(By the way, If you’ve missed some of these articles this year, it’s completely our fault. There’s been so much new content that the old “blog” format of Digital DJ Tips has been woefully inadequate for keeping the best stuff easy to find. So you’ll be pleased to hear our first task in 2014 is to switch from “blog” to “magazine” format, befitting the 500+ articles a year we now publish, and the 1000+ lined up for 2014. Watch out for that, it’s imminent, and it’s awesome…)
Our Top 10 Articles 2013
#1 DJ Controllers: The Ultimate Buyers Guide
This is the web’s biggest and best guide to DJ controllers, brought to you in association with UDG Gear. Whether you’re looking for your first DJ controller, an upgrade, modular DJ gear, club equipment that can work with your laptop and DJ software, or even to build a mini set-up around your iPad or iPhone – if it’s out there and worth telling you about, it’s here in our 2014 DJ controller buyers guide.
#2 Why DJs Shouldn’t Play For Free
It’s hard work becoming a professional DJ. By professional I mean a DJ who gets paid for the work they do. Whether it’s $50 or $500 for your set time and whether it’s for a crowd of 30 or 3,000; if this is you, you should consider yourself a professional DJ. And to all my fellow professionals, and especially for those readers who are aspiring to become professional DJs, I ask you all to consider never “paying-to-play”, or (more commonly) playing for free just for the sake of “exposure”, when you are asked to DJ for a promoter or venue who is making money from your audience
#3 How To Find The Best DJ Name
Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who’s happy to use their own name when DJing, one of the first things you’ll do as a new DJ will be choose your name. It’s a massively fun thing to do, of course, but it also has lots of pitfalls for the unwary. Get this wrong and you’re stuck with something you’ll regret. I guarantee you that your parents spent months thinking of your name before you were born – you should definitely put the same effort into getting your DJ name right. It’s really tempting to pick one in a hurry, but if anything comes of your DJ career, you’re stuck with it for life – so don’t make that mistake!
#4 9 Tips For Success At Your First DJ Gig
Your palms are sweating and your heart is racing. You could cut the nervous tension with a knife. The club is full of expectant people who all want to see what you can do. All eyes are on you as you step behind the decks and prepare to pull off what just a short while ago might have seemed impossible to you. It’s your first gig and as far as you’re concerned, everyone in the club is wondering the same thing: “Does this guy know what he’s doing?”
#5 Beginner’s Guide To PA Systems
Stuck understanding PA systems? Need to rent or buy one for your shows? Scared about plugging into or playing on a PA? Want to know why you need one at all, when you could take your home stereo speakers to the party and use those instead? If so, trust me – you’re not alone. This guide is here to help. I’ve helped lots of DJs like you, as well as many live acts, with getting the best from PA systems, and I’ve been doing it for a long time – even longer than the 15 years I’ve been DJing. In that time I have used lots of different PA systems, in places from small wedding venues right up to festivals with tens of thousands of people.
#6 One Simple Habit To Improve Your DJ Sets
In business, smart executives know that they often have their best ideas when they’re not at their desks, when they’re out in the “real world”. Not only that, but the truly excellent among them understand that to deliver what customers want, they need to get as close to those customers as possible – “if you want to understand me, walk a mile in my shoes”. Today I’m going to show you how this kind of thinking can make you a better DJ. It involves getting out of the DJ booth or your home studio a bit more often, but it’s more than that: It’s a whole new way of approaching your music discovery. It can help you avoid having to play chart music if you don’t want to, while at the same time avoiding becoming one of those DJs who plays sets nobody likes.
#7 Official: Beatport Top 100 All Sound The Same
A DJ’s job is to look beyond. Further. Deeper. Wider. To find music that others will like if only they get to hear it. To put that music in a context that helps people to enjoy it. To try hard to present tunes people already know in surprising new ways that adds to their enjoyment of them. To look forwards, backwards, to take risks, to do whatever it takes to say something new with the music at their fingertips. Because good DJs know this truth: Music is emotion. It’s our language. It’s important. Which is why this website has always warned against buying all your music from the same place – and worse, buying the most popular music from that place. Understand, the particular “place” could be anywhere, and varies by scene and by country. But it just so happens that globally in 2013, in the age of “EDM”, it is Beatport. And the villain of this particular piece is the Beatport Top 100.
#8 My 3 Biggest DJ Career Mistakes
I had many up and downs during my career in music. It comes with the territory. But the longest and deepest dip was at the start. So if you feel like you’re getting nowhere fast, please take heart from my story. Because it took me at least six years to make any meaningful impact as a solo artist, and around ten before I could say I was successful in any way. Now in the last couple of years I’ve hung up my headphones and stopped DJing around the globe every weekend and moved towards helping others do it. So I’ve had the time to ponder my 17-year career and identify the biggest mistakes I made.
#9 Public Gets Its Hands On Virtual DJ 8
The general public has had its first chance to try Virtual DJ 8 this week, with the software making its debut at the DJ Expo in Atlantic City. And a surprise new feature has also been added to the software, which we can exclusively reveal today. The new feature, dubbed “sandbox”, lets DJs privately “test” the next mix in their headphones while the audience continues to hear what’s currently playing – a first for a mainstream DJ software package.
#10 Is It Right To Ban Laptops From DJ Booths?
They say you’re not doing something right unless you’re upsetting people, and it seems that once again, DJs with laptops are doing just that (sigh). Check out this video in which 50-year-old DJ Leonard Remix Rroy lambasts the behaviour of laptop DJs who stare at the screen all the time as if they’re “on Facebook”. I actually find the video to make some fair points, but it’s predictably triggered another bout of laptop DJ- bashing across the internet.
Have you enjoyed our content in 2013? Anything in particular you’d like to see us cover more or less of in 2014? Please let us know below… and happy new year to you!