Your Questions: How Do I Ask To DJ With My Controller In A Club?

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 2 mins
Last updated 28 March, 2018

As long as you’re prepared and confident, it’s perfectly possible to DJ with your controller in a club.

Digital DJ Lab member Elroy writes: “I had a question regarding playing at clubs, I currently own the Numark NV2 controller, so what happens if I show up to clubs which have CDJs? Do I just tell them I prefer playing on my controller? What would be the best way to convey that message, since I use Serato and have all my songs prepared in the software…”

Digital DJ Tips says:

Depending on the CDJs, they may work with Serato DJ (Pioneer Nexus and Nexus 2 gear does), and you could also consider using DVS if their mixer is compatible, or if you can get your hands on a DVS audio interface for Serato. But I am assuming that you’re set on using your controller, not only because all your music is in Serato, but because that’s what you’re used to.

So the best way to do this is to speak to whoever booked you ahead of time, and explain what you just told me. The attitudes of venue owners may differ from those of promoters, venue hirers etc – so the person who booked you is your first contact here.

You’ll also want to get down there ahead of time, preferably on another day but definitely early before the venue opens – in order to check there is nothing that’ll trip you up (like not enough power sockets, no room for your controller, and so on).

The outcome isn’t certain: Sometimes, they really don’t mind what gear DJs use, they just want them to be comfortable. Others, they can be quite aggressive in telling you to “use our gear, or no gear!”. And it doesn’t always follow that big, professional clubs insist on you using the existing gear, and smaller ones don’t mind – you can get stubborn bar owners, for example, and we know first-hand that Ministry of Sound, for instance, are happy for DJs to use anything they want.

Don’t be scared to argue your case (politely, of course). Point out that your gear can do stuff that CDJs can’t, reassure them that you know how to set it up quickly and efficiently in the DJ booth and that you won’t disrupt their booth, and that you can work with other DJs who may be using their gear. Also, point out that your gear is tested and reliable. (And if you doubt any of these things yourself, don’t do it – you need to be sure whatever gear you want to use instead of theirs is going to perform just fine.)

Finally, in the long run it is worth learning to use any DJ gear – it makes life a lot easier and means you can play all kinds of gigs where you don’t get the choice of bringing your own stuff along. (Not least when you weren’t expecting to play at all but have your USBs of music on you…)

What is your advice for persuading a promoter or club owner to let you use your controller? Or do you feel DJs should really just buckle down and use what’s there? Let us know your experiences and thoughts in the comments.

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