Digital DJ Lab member Charles asks: “I’m spinning a one-hour DJ set for a big public event in my city. It’ll be the first time I perform for a show like this. How can I impress people during my performance? Should I create routines and perform a showcase, or should I just play it safe?”
Digital DJ Tips Says:
Congratulations, Charles! If it’s your first big public show, I understand the anxiety – you’re probably picturing yourself in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of people judging your every move, listening to even the slightest EQ tweaks and tempo changes you make (“Ah ha, I knew he was jumping from 122.45 to 123.64 BPM!”). Who wouldn’t feel butterflies in their stomach? My palms are getting sweaty just thinking about it.
However, people at your event won’t be as demanding and eagle-eyed as an elite / sophisticated underground club crowd. In fact, they probably won’t even notice you mixing tunes! That means you can relax right about now, but don’t slack off either and leave preparations for the eleventh hour.
It all depends on the context of the public event: if it’s a DJ competition (and I’m assuming it’s not) then of course prepare a showcase – you wouldn’t want to be caught flat-footed in a lineup with the next Eskei83 or DJ Qbert, would you? However, since it’s just a street / block party style event, loosen up a little bit and just focus on showing people that you can rock a crowd by playing big tunes and introducing them to a few musical surprises, too.
Actually, the real benefit here is that this is a huge opportunity for you to grow your network and maximise your exposure. Turn up early, get your backstage / artist pass, and go make a splash and meet people. Take along calling cards, mixtapes, and copies of your press kit to hand out. Make sure that you spend time getting to know the production team behind the event too – they may just book you for another show if they like what they see and hear.
Generally, these daytime public events are part of a larger programme, so you’re just a small portion of the entertainment, not the entertainment. Again, the real opportunity here is in meeting the movers and shakers of your city such as council members, online and offline influencers, and even local celebrities. They’ll all be backstage or hanging out at the VIP bar, so spend the whole day pressing palms and making yourself known as that “fun DJ” who they got to meet. In this scenario, the DJ set will be secondary to the rare opportunity to rub elbows with people who can help push your career forward.
Keep the DJing simple – play a couple of big tunes and get the crowd going. Whenever you feel nervous, run through this three-point checklist: Be yourself, have fun, and show people that you’re the man for the job!
Any advice you’d like to give our reader for his first big public show? Should he go all out, or play it very safe? Share your thoughts below.