13 Tips To Make Sure Every Mobile DJ Gig Goes Smooth 🤜
As a professional DJ and a music industry expert you want to ensure every single one of your DJ gigs runs smoothly and according to plan. Most clients will only have a few large celebrations in their lifetime and you want to assist them and yourself in reducing the stress on their big day/night.
Here I’ve put together a checklist that will guarantee every one of your gigs runs smoothly:
1) Make A Checklist
Have a checklist of all the vital equipment and documentation you will need at the gig and mark it off before you leave your place of business. Something I usually do is count how many items I have and do a quick count check of everything. For example, you could have 2 speakers, speaker stands, cables bag, 2 lights, laptop / controller, so that’s 7 things. Doing this makes it easy to remember and quickly check you have not forgotten anything. I also like to keep the important cable separate from my main cables bag, for example these could be your USB cable, laptop charger, headphones and of course don’t leave home without the infamous headphone jack.
– Have you packed all your cables?
– Have you packed any back up equipment you may require?
– Do you have your headphones, song requests from the client, any documentation you may require?
2) Calculate Your Travel Time
Have a look at how far the venue/event space is from your place of business and calculate how long it will take you to arrive. Calculate your travel time using Google maps before the day, so you know exactly when to leave in order to be on time. If Google tells me it is a 37 minute trip, I’ll round my travel time up to 45 minutes to account for traffic, and be aiming to arrive at least 1 hour prior. So for a gig starting at 7pm, aiming to arrive at 6PM, you should leave no later than 5:15PM, allowing extra time for roadworks, traffic and any stops you may be required to make on the way.
3) Arrive At The Gig Super Early
I like to arrive at least an hour before the gig officially starts and my set up usually takes around half an hour – this timing may be different for you but always give yourself ample time so you can setup and relax before the gig and have a talk to the client about what they would like to achieve on the night. Arriving late or even less than 1 hour prior to start time can also really stress the client and set you off on the wrong foot. Panic will set in and leave the customer in a bad mood before you even arrive so do yourself a favour and just get there super early.
Arriving early gives you time for the following:
– To familiarise yourself with the venue and allow for extra time for set up (there may be things that extend your set up time such as stairs, slow elevators, loading docks, other suppliers/vendors requiring loading dock access at the same time or a large area to walk through to arrive at your station).
– To introduce yourself to the venue and discuss sound restrictions, the run sheet/timing of the night, catering requirements and starting and finishing times.
– To introduce yourself to the client and assist with any questions they may have. This also gives you the opportunity to discuss with the client their vision for the gig and any last minute song requests/requirements they may have.
– To relax, get your equipment set up properly and to ensure you are comfortable and ready to go at the start of the gig.
4) Find Good Parking
Here’s another good reason to arrive early, to find good parking. Make sure your vehicle is parked in a safe area without parking restrictions – you don’t want to be running out during your gig to move your vehicle constantly due to parking restrictions or worrying about getting a ticket/getting towed! Make sure you park in an area that doesn’t block guest’s access to the venue or take up a car park that a guest will most likely use. You can move your vehicle at the end of the night to a prime position when guests have departed
5) Dress Appropriately
Always dress the part for a gig, this is something that may go over (or under) looked and yet is so important with every event you do. The way you dress actually affects the way you feel and can have a big impact on your confidence level, and therefore your DJ performance. Sometimes you don’t know how formal an event is planned to be, you may think it’s okay to go to a 21st birthday in jeans and a plain shirt and once you arrive realise it’s a sit down dinner with a 3 course meal and every one is wearing formal wear and now you stick out like sore thumb… embarrassing. Generally it’s better to over dress than under dress, so just make sure you discuss with the client before the gig what sort of event you will be performing at (18th, 21st, wedding), how formal it is, or if perhaps it is a themed event. Doing this ensures your dress code will meet the requirements of the client and that you will fit in with the guests. If in doubt – always dress professional! Think of what you would wear in a corporate/office environment – a plain shirt and black pants with dressy shoes always looks great!
6) Collect All Monies Upfront
Collect any payments owing before the start of the gig – this is very important! Invoice the client for your booking deposit/retainer and on your invoice state a clear due date for the booking deposit/retainer payment and a clear due date for full payment – ensuring the due date is before the gig. Preferably you should collect all payments before the day of the event so you don’t have to be worrying about chasing money on or after the event, the last thing you or the client wants to be worrying about on the night is money – eliminate that stress and ensure you always have payment before the gig starts.
7) Make A Quick Game Plan
Discuss with the client before the start of the gig (during your early arrival time) a rough timeline of how you plan to have the music throughout the night (example – I begin with background music, progressing to pop/top 40, progressing to 80s, 90s, 00s, progressing to sing-a-long classics). Also discuss with the client if they are doing speeches, approximately what time they will be doing speeches and where in the venue space they would like to do their speeches. Instruct the client that the speech time and music progression throughout the night is flexible and that you will find them 15 minutes before their allocated speech time to check if they would still like to perform their speeches at that time.
8) Take Initiative & Be Prepared For Formalities
Before any formalities, make sure everyone and everything is ready. This includes if there is an event photographer, videographer any important people making speeches. Before you commence the speeches make sure there is a knife with the cake. If there is no knife make certain that you ask the venue to get you one. If, after the speeches the room is too bright, speak with the function manager and have the lights turned down. I think you get the idea, take initiative and don’t wait around for people to tell you what to do, take it into your own hands to make sure everything happens as it should.
9) House Keeping Rules
Immediately before speeches begin ask for everyone’s attention and introduce yourself/run through any housekeeping. Say your name clearly and make yourself accessible to guests throughout the night. Advise the crowd that you take song requests and to feel free to come to the decks and say hello – guests will respect you and will feel comfortable approaching you.
10) Play To The Crowd
Make certain you play to the crowd at the gig. You may have no song requests at the gig or you may have a number of song requests at the gig – listen to each person that approaches you. They may be requesting their absolute favourite song or requesting a song that means a lot to them and the client – don’t ‘poo-poo’ all song requests instantly. With your expertise see how you can incorporate that song/genre or elements of that song/genre into your set, I can assure you that the person requesting the song will be very appreciative of your efforts.
11) Be A Team Player
Help other suppliers where possible and if required. If you can see another supplier (such as the caterer, venue, photo booth) are having difficulties and it could affect the outcome of the night, give them a hand. Keep in mind that you should only try to assist if this doesn’t hinder your ability to DJ. Even if you only assist in a small way, such as picking up glasses for the venue or helping the photo booth retrieve their props, this will help the night run smoothly and eradicate any chance of a stressful atmosphere.
12) Respect The Venue Rules
Always ask the venue what time they need you to be packed up by. There are some venues that close almost instantly after the gig and staff will leave at this time also – make sure you advise the venue at least an hour before the end of the gig how long you will need to pack up so you can avoid any confusion.
13) Have Fun!
Last but not least – have fun! Be your entertaining self, enjoy the gig and vibe with the crowd. Remember that you are an industry professional and that you are there to provide a brilliant, exhilarating atmosphere! Connect with your client and the guests and be present in the moment, you got this!
I hope this list helps you at your future gigs – now put this into practice, go out into the wonderful world of entertainment and be awesome!
Sierra Jane’s vision for every event she performs at is to create a joyous atmosphere, a safe, comfortable space on the dance floor and a unity of people through music and entertainment. Sierra Jane has ample experience in entertainment, public speaking, children’s entertainment/games and MC’ing having performed at over 300 diverse events and counting!