You may be having fun mixing beats in your spare time, but becoming an actual DJ is more intimidating and challenging than that. I will cover 35 Most Common DJ Mistakes. Performing in front of thousands of people who expect a really exciting time can surely make a DJ vulnerable to mistakes. For beginners, nothing could be more impairing than falling victim to the worst “rookie” DJ mistakes ever.
From hitting the wrong player button to not reading into the crowd’s demands and everything in between, this post lists the worst DJ mistakes you could possibly make. Even the best DJs have made mistakes in the starting of their careers, and you will too. Although, you can still learn from their mistakes and hope to avoid them.
Here are 35 most common DJ mistakes beginners can learn to avoid:
If you have the talent to make it within the DJ scene, then get the gear that is compatible too. You seriously don’t want to let your talent go to waste just because your gear was not able to support. Take it as an investment; both for your success and buying better gear later on. Good-quality gear does not only produce the premium performance but has great resale value. So even if it stops working out for you after a while, you can sell it to upgrade.
Of course, you should always save a little to keep improving your gear. To find the best gear, put your research skills to practice. Consult with peers to learn what they are using. Remember that this could be a trial and error process. Your style may require a different type and quality in comparison to others.
While we are on the topic of DJ gear, let us mention another mistake related to it. Newbies are often found guilty of not being familiar with standard DJ gear. Many gig sites often use a certain standard of controllers, mixers, and turntables. This is also categorized by the niche of music these clubs promote.
You might prefer your own gear but so do the sound techs at the clubs. Some might accommodate you but it could be at the risk of annoying the promoters. To avoid a bad experience at a gig you worked hard to get, make sure you have practice with gear most clubs offer. Not only it minimizes the number of adjustments you might have to make but it actually adds to your learning experience.
Locking The Decks
In your own comfort zone, you are almost the king of control. Jump into a live experience and you should never make the mistake of assuming that you have the ultimate control of the decks. When practicing on your own time, it is easy to manage the controls on the player deck. You are not intimidated by a crowd or the loudness of the environment. On stage, the entire ambience is something else.
Even the best of DJs in the industry have made the mistake of pressing the wrong deck load button at least once in their life. In order to avoid the embarrassment, you can activate the automatic lock on the playing decks. You may also find software that comes with features to avoid such a situation. For example, Serato allows to reload the previous track from the point it would be at if another track was not loaded.
Train To Become Better
Most DJing beginners will reach out to experts, either online or otherwise, to discover how they can improve. The most common advice they get is to ‘teach yourself’. Now, it is not a bad advice. It is totally cool to self-learn. Although, it is important to remember that this advice mostly comes from personal experiences. It is not the only or most effective method for becoming a great beat mixer. Don’t just teach yourself; broaden your horizons too.
Nowadays, DJing is no longer a just a hobby or passion. It is steadily catching on as a profession. Therefore, you may be able to find educational resources on becoming a successful DJ. So don’t just stick to the hard effort of teaching yourself. It might be effective but is slow as well. Take advantage of any expert knowledge you can get your hands on.
The Music Dilemma
Many beginners are told to or they just assume that knowing about all the latest music is necessary. No doubt, one should know about what latest beats are taking over the hearts of an audience. Although, a combined knowledge of the classics and new beats is more realistic for a successful DJ scene.
Some specific gigs may require you to collect new music but the classics have survived the test of time. This is why a classic beat is more likely to get the attention of the floor. Most new music can be upbeat but disposable at the same time. Nightclubs prefer solid beats that won’t fail their environment. If you ask music selectors, they will probably give you the same advice: not questioning the judgment of time.
Mixing With Effects
Being in the DJ scene, it must be your hobby to tune in to the local radio or hear other artists. You will often come across mixes with bizarre effects. The beat itself will be worth listening to but the effects make them a torture after a few minutes. This is often due to a lack of experience and knowledge of mixing beats.
A few expert DJs will advise you against using the flanger and beatgrid when you are just a newbie. Others will totally prohibit you from playing around with effects unless you have gained a passable understanding of using them effectively.
You may feel this is counterproductive to the essence of being a DJ. But trust the ones who have been through the embarrassment of being a stage fool. Better stick to the beauty of actual beats than ruin them with poor mixing abilities.
Ripping Off The Tracks
Imagine the disappointment and anger you will feel if someone ripped off your mixed beats. A DJ or any other artist put as much effort into making a track as you are for becoming successful. It is incredibly against the ethics of working in this industry if you rip off other artists’ tracks.
Several newbies have been seen on stage playing ripped off tracks from Soundcloud and YouTube. Not only it can create copyright issues but the sound quality of such tracks is poor. Put the horror of adding unwanted effects to it and the entire situation will become a nightmare. No matter how convenient it feels, don’t compromise your repute so early in the career. Instead, save money just like you do for the gear, get subscriptions to sources like DJcity to access good quality tracks meant for the purpose.
The Social Media Celebrity
Social media seems like a great platform for kicking off your career. It gives you a connection to the DJ community as well as interested audience. However, it can turn out to be a disaster if used recklessly. It is easy to get lost in the world of social media that gives you a gateway to attention. But your DJ story does not need that level of hype.
You can instead put an equal effort in your actual work, which will be more fruitful for fame in the long run. An excessive use of social media for self-promotion is unprofessional. If you research well-established DJs, you will discover a subtlety to their social media pages. Limit your exposure through such platforms if you don’t want the fans to associate a monotony or boredom with your name.
This one mistake may not be just true for only DJing. There are plenty of other professions that don’t offer a kick start. DJing and other such professions require hard efforts to earn your first reputable gig that also pays.
For many beginner DJs, money is less of an issue than getting exposure. The true artist always wants to be heard. Although, this a mistake of greatly devaluing yourself. In search for establishing a foundation, newbies will often take any offer that comes through. This includes charity and volunteer work. It is totally ethical but club owners might be scamming you as well.
Avoid falling into this pit of devaluation. Not only are you harming your own chances of a lucrative career but for other DJs as well. You are probably not going to get high-paying gigs from the get-go. But some money is still better for paying the bills and maintaining your DJing path than none.
Learning To Adjust The Volume
Beginner DJs commonly ask about the how much volume is the right volume. It is a good question to ask because volume mistakes can be disastrous.
DJing is not all about music, it involves basic science of sound as well. When a room starts to fill up, the sound is bound to get absorbed. This requires DJs to adjust the sound levels as the number of people changes during a gig.
As a beginner’s tip, the maximum volume suggested is 60% of what you will be playing at the peal time. By the time you start getting loud, the floor will begin to crowd. Another tip for avoiding volume mistakes is to take sound checks seriously. If you have someone to do it for you, it is quite a blessing. Otherwise, don’t hesitate to step off the booth and ensure the quality of sound around the room.
Knowing other DJs in the business is not just about learning and training. Networking can get you access to more and better gigs. It is not necessary that you get to know only the best. There should be a connection with other newbies as well.
Getting to know the DJ community is also essential for having a sense of support. When you are a newbie in a creative industry, it is healthy to appreciate others and gain some for yourself. It really fuels your motivation to do better.
For these reasons, don’t make the mistake of delaying the effort of knowing about other DJs and connecting with them. The earlier you start, the more chances you will have to develop a repute through better gigs and community support.
Prepare For The Unexpected
Preparing for a gig is not just about having your mixes and equipment ready. A newbie will often make the mistake of assuming they have control. The reality is that a gig is like many aspects of ordinary life. The situations and circumstances you may face once you get to the location could be varying.
You should be well-prepared for all kinds of consequences. You might have to set up in a different direction, mixes might trainwreck, the audience may not turn out to be the way you expected, equipment failure, etc. The bottom line is to accept that live environment are always prone to changes. You are never in full control. To reduce the overall risk of landing into a situation that leaves you clueless, increase your attention skills as much as your preparation.
Know The Music
This one is similar to the mistake of using excessive new-age music and ignoring the classics. Many newbies are into experimenting. It can result badly. It often has to do with mixing music one is not so well-versed in.
When discussing common beginner mistakes, experienced DJs advise going with songs you know best. Even if they don’t make up to a large number. This is much better than expanding to a large variety of songs that you may end mixing horribly.
Mixing songs you know best gives you a better opportunity to show your talent for mixing. Once you know you have done your best with a certain number of songs, you can start expanding that number.
As we told earlier, a gig can get out of control due to lack of preparation. Therefore, don’t commit the mistake of having no backup. In addition to basic preparation to manage a gig along with attention to the environment, technical back up is a must. The most minor of technical faults can disrupt your show.
Instead of watching your gig go to waste, be ready with your rescue kit. The kit could contain adapters like extension cords and RCA couplers. You might want to keep a breakout strip. This will help you tremendously when you happen to share a booth with another DJ. No more trouble of getting in each other’s way.
It may seem totally exaggerated when you are already struggling to make it in the industry. But at this point, you don’t have the luxury of non-preparation. This kit could be your saving grace.
Maintaining The Equipment
Your gear is a conductor of your talent. Also, it happens to be an investment. You have spent a good amount of money on buying the best and it helps you present your art to the world. So why should you ever make the mistake of ignoring its maintenance?
Beginners are often so invested in several aspects of their struggle that the gear’s maintenance may become a far thought. Don’t let that happen to you. It is not just dust making your equipment look less reflective under the neon and low lights of a club. The same dust can collect within the nook and crannies of the gear; effectively damaging it from the inside. Imagine having scratchy fades or sticky contacts when you are in the middle of a gig.
Lack Of Social Media
An improper use of social media is one mistake; no use at all is another. When you are starting out in the DJing industry, social media can be your initial gateway to an interested audience and peer DJs. Nowadays, one has such a variety of platforms to choose from. These platforms not only help you showcase a peek of your talent but meet and connect with people you must.
The way you use social media is important. Once you have decided on discovering the social media’s power for a DJing career, remember that it should not be used for spamming. Your goal should be making targeted posts, which should also be engaging.
In your beginner phase, you will feel limited about using the social media; may even feel isolated. But this is why you actually need to use it for developing connections. Once you get a couple of gigs under your belt, you will have more and better to share.
Learning The Shortcuts
As a rookie DJ, you might find yourself too dependent on a controller. It could turn out to be a mistake. You should try to learn keyboard shortcuts for the DJ software being used. It seems like a lot to ask when you are already learning to mix and struggling with landing gigs. However, you can start with the basics. It can truly change your experience as you perform your initial gigs. Furthermore, it will only add to your expertise in the long run.
There are several advantages to learning the shortcuts. It can help you practice when you don’t have an access to a controller. For example, while on a plane. The keyboard will become an extra collection of buttons; great for adding cue points. Also, it works as a backup plan when your controller fails to respond, which can happen to the best.
Lack Of Goals
A common mistake among beginners is a lack of defined goals. Any profession; especially when it is as creative as DJing, requires a set of goals. These give you a path to follow.
Learning to mix and aiming to become a successful DJ is just too simple a goal. Your goals should be more specific than that. Perhaps you can define a certain type of music niche you want to master as a DJ. Maybe you want to join a specific DJ scene; like apart from nightclubs and the usual.
Goals give you focus and motivation. They also stimulate your mind to develop strategies to achieve them. Ask the experts: when you are really struggling to enter the industry, these goals could be the driving force.
Remember to keep your goals smart i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time specific. Also, keep adding further goals as you become successful. It keeps the spirit alive.
Significance Of Software
Beginner DJs may end up focusing on hardware more than software. In reality, both have a unique significance, which can’t be ignored. Although, if you have been ignoring the importance of a quality software, then you are making a drastic mistake.
Choosing the right software can greatly help you find your way smoothly into the world of DJing. Hardware like controllers will get out of date. When you buy new hardware, compatibility can be an issue. In terms of software, you will be required to keep at pace with updates but compatibility remains.
If you manage to find the right software, you will only have to worry about buying a controller that works with the same one. This eliminates the hassle of re-cuing and looping your entire collection every time you have to change the controller.
The earlier in your career you learn to take care of your gear, the more solid of a habit it will become. Beginner DJs will take a lot of interest in finding the right and best-quality gear. We have already talked about maintenance; it is equally important to store it properly when not in use.
After an electrifying performance at a gig, it is totally acceptable to feel exhausted. You feel this sudden laziness as you are coming down from that high. Therefore, many will stick to just placing their equipment in a car and going home.
No matter how tired you feel, just make one last effort of packing properly. It will totally save you from hassle of repairing damage that could have been easily avoided. Similarly, if you are traveling long distance for a gig, ensure that the gear is protectively packed.
Choosing Gigs Carefully
Just as you should not agree to volunteer excessively, don’t consider performing every gig coming your way. Being a rookie, you want to get more and more gigs. So it seems like a bad idea reject some when it finally seems to happen.
Every gig you land might seem like a blessing but not each one is in your favor. Some promoters and nightclubs are likely to take advantage of your beginner naivety. You are at risk of losing money and value as a DJ if you don’t choose authentic gigs.
It is also recommended to have contracts made. This will save you from financial and legal issues. Avoiding bad gigs can also prevent you from getting demotivated about your DJing career.
Save yourself a lot of hassle by having a backup of the tracks. We all take so much care for backing up all the important data associated with other aspects of our life. So why not do the same for a DJ career?
Not having a sufficient backup for the tracks and mixes is a mistake that can cost more than just time. Technical faults are known to happen during gigs, which could result in loss of original data. A back up on cloud or a quality storage device will be your best friend in such situations.
As a beginner, it is understandable when you don’t get a lot of gig opportunities or trust all the promoters. However, it is advised not to get comfortable with a single promoter. Doing gigs for the same promoter can limit your experience.
While being careful is necessary, try to get a variation among your gigs. Working with multiple promoters helps you discover the industry. It will give you the opportunity of learning to navigate through a tough environment.
Broadening your gig horizons also means meeting more DJs. You will also get to practice your skills on different software and hardware. Although, always work with reputable promoters.
Attention To The Crowd
Beginner DJs can often lose themselves in the nerves of performing. They are likely to get focused on technical details. They might also prefer playing it safe by sticking to tracks, volume, and other details they have always worked for them.
This means that you are totally ignoring the crowd. Being a DJ, you should never make that mistake. The crowd will define different levels of energy during the entire gig. And it is the DJ’s job to respond with the right volume and sounds. Identifying the mood of the crowd will help you make the most out of a performance.
Avoid LE Software
Thinking about buying the Lite Edition of a software you like? It is better that you don’t. It might save you money but will cause problems later.
Lite Editions are limited in features as compared to the original versions of the software. It is better to save money once and buy the full version. It gives you access to the full features at the first go and prevents problems later on.
If you have no other option than to stick with LE software, then use those that come in bundles with hardware. Although, ensure that a vendor offers to upgrade and the summed cost is similar to you would pay for a full version.
Several beginner DJs cringe away from wedding gigs. This is like you are holding yourself back; both from earning money and getting experience.
The regular gigs at nightclubs and similar locations seem cooler. Rookie DJs often want to get that electrifying experience if performing for floor filling crowd. Although, a DJing career can be taken beyond the mainstream. You need to discover the wonders of this industry as well as the extent of personal skills.
Besides, weddings are becoming unique now. You will get to be part of creative themes as well as earn hefty money.
Don’t Play Every Request
Refer back to the mistake of not paying attention to the crowd. Beginners believe they will make points if they pay heed to every request. By playing every request coming your way, you are at risk of disrupting the mood of the crowd.
The request makers are mostly never the representatives of what the crowd wants. It is okay to fit in a couple of requested tracks. Overall, play for the entire crowd.
Too Attentive To Mixing
You might be a beginner but no need to announce that to the world. Some DJs are found hunched over their setups; trying to develop the best mixes. It is the simplest signs of spotting a newbie.
On the other hand, it takes away from the fun of the experience. You need to get your head up and live a little. The crowd will stimulate your personal energy and it is always proud to see that you are making the floors fill up.
Instead of focusing excessively on the mixing, try playing great tracks one after the other. If a single mix takes too much time, try performing simpler ones.
The Wrong Tunes At Wrong Times
One of the best DJ qualities you can learn is patience. Pleasing the crowd and making them groove to your mixes is not an easy job. It requires time.
Beginners are prone to playing the big tunes pretty early in a gig when the room feels empty. This is a drastic mistake and what is even worse is that newbie DJs seem to make this mistake over again.
Revealing the big tunes at the beginning means you will have nothing to impress when the actual floor fillers come in. Wait for the crowd to unfold itself. Being insecure will only reduce your performance.
Keep The Ego In Check
We have talked about meeting peer DJs in this post. Beginners can learn a lot from the experts. But this is easier said than done. When it comes to trying to connect with DJs, you will often be obstructed by their egos.
Even the ones with not much experience but having made a name will often be hard to approach. Don’t make the mistake of having such an ego yourself. You will find more success if you have an easy to get along personality.
Even the promoters and nightclub owners will appreciate this quality. They like working again with DJs who are easier to communicate with. Overall, controlled egos provide a happy experience for everybody involved in an event.
Avoid The Fancy Stuff
It is easy to lose yourself in the charm of fancy mixes. In the beginning, it is advised that you actually avoid such fancy stuff. Whether you think you can create a mean mix or not, keep things simpler for your first few gigs.
The fact is that you might be talented. However, you are still inexperienced when it comes to playing in unfamiliar environments. In addition to technical details not working out to your liking, you may get nervous. Even your most practiced mixes will feel overwhelming to manage in such a situation.
Give yourself time to adjust with a few gigs. Bring out your best gradually as you become more comfortable.
Ignoring The Setup Time
Most beginners forget about setup times. What good will be your tracks when you can’t actually have enough time to set up the hardware and software properly?
In your own comfort zone, you are not under any pressure. You have all the time to make adjustments to your heart’s content. With a gig, you should have an estimate on how much time is needed to set up. Although, it is always hard to ballpark it.
The best way is to practice setting up before you attend the gig. Time yourself. Since you are never familiar with a venue’s actual environment so double this time. This way you can plan accordingly and reach the gig site to accommodate the setup time. You won’t have to worry about being constantly interrupted by techs, staff, and other patrons because the time is pre-adjusted.
It is extremely wrong to assume that all a DJ’s job is to mix tracks. Beatmatching is an exciting part of becoming a DJ but it is not all they have to do. In reality, excessive beatmatching could also lead to trainwrecking.
Don’t ignore song selection in favor of beatmatching. A crowd loves good mixing skills but they don’t fully care about your skills. They are more interested in having fun and if you can deliver that. Besides, you will be limiting yourself to a single skill with such excess blending of tracks.
Instead of spending time mixing tracks your entire time on the stage, identify what the crowd wants. Play good tracks and you will be halfway to becoming a good DJ for that particular event.
Compromise and Advantage
Remember when we discussed that beginners should be careful about working with promoters? When you don’t work with reliable promoters and nightclub owners, one consequence is not getting the slot you were actually hired for.
Although, this also happens in normal situations. As a beginner, you might be advised to compromise and play whatever slot you get your hands on. Well, compromise is a good thing but you can prevent this situation in the first place.
Make good use of emails, messaging, and calls with your promoters. Communicate well to ensure that everybody is clear on what is being required of the job.
In case, you do find yourself in the wrong slot, you have two options. If you were booked for a specific time slot but are given the complete opposite, it could completely set your off track. It is understandable if you protest to protect your interest. If the situation is salvageable, it is advised you take the given slot. It will be a good opportunity to try something new.
Overthinking About The Mistakes
If you are a beginner DJ, you will be able to discover a lot more mistakes and first-hand bad experiences of peer DJs than we have discussed above. But in conclusion, we would like to leave you with a mistake that is more troublesome than any of the above.
Overthinking and dwelling on all your mistakes will lead you nowhere. Unfortunately, we are all prone to this specific mistake related to various aspects of personal and professional life. The reality is that all mistakes can be improved and corrected. Any damage; it could be minor or last longer, does not remain forever. You can reverse the consequences.
However, dwelling on past shortcomings will ruin your future. It destroys the self-esteem and motivation to do better. Instead, turn your mistakes into lessons. If anybody in the DJ industry tells you that making mistakes makes you lesser of an artist, simply ignore them. The best of them have committed some drastic errors but they are successful because they transformed them into positive results.
Being a DJ is an exciting job. It will take you places and you will experience moments that you will remember for the rest of your life. It is a journey of a lifetime, which comes paved with highs and lows like any other. DJ-ing is a creative process. It is naturally prone to trial and error. Expect yourself to make mistakes but most importantly, learn from them. Hopefully, the above list of beginner DJ mistakes will be helpful for you.
Keep expanding your knowledge. Apart from self-help, seek out professional DJ training as well. Also, care about other artists who are struggling just like you. Connections with both experts and amateurs develop a sense of community, which will be helpful in avoiding unwanted situations, as discussed above.
Do you have any other mistakes or bad experiences to add to the list? Share below.