So you've finally got your first proper gig? Our regular columnist Harold Heath has some words of wisdom to ensure all goes well
Sooner or later, if you stick at it long enough, you'll convince someone to pay you to DJ. It might be to warm-up at a local club night, or it might be a huge booking that you've fluked due to an accident you had in Ableton Live getting to No 1 on Beatport. Either way, it’s a great opportunity and also a big responsibility: you might be single-handedly liable for a substantial portion of a night's entertainment that the public has paid for.
If you take nothing else from this article, take this one simple bit of advice given to me by a highly respected old-school DJ very early on in my career, right before I went on: "Don't fuck it up". Great advice no doubt! However, there are a few more specific steps you can take to ensure a smooth and successful first gig:
1. Tell your mates
2. Buy some new tunes
3. But don't worry about playing some older stuff, too
4. Stay (reasonably) sober
5. Get your equipment sorted
If you need cables or connectors, bring your own. Assume the venue will have absolutely nothing, make sure you've got your name on them and bring spares. If your set-up absolutely requires a particular cable in order for you to play, and you only bring one, you will not be able to find it. If you bring two, the little fuckers will be the first things that come to hand whenever you put your hand in your gig bag.
This is just a fact of life, as is the fact that all audio cables are descended from one ancient, giant audio cable and they will always try to return to their original form. This is why if two neatly coiled up cables are in the same time zone, they will eventually manage to tangle themselves up. If nobody ever untangled any audio cables, eventually, they would all knot themselves together in one huge, planet encircling cable before returning to the mothership.
Just a little preparation can make a huge difference on the night and lead to more bookings: promoters love a professional. And also, don't get all wrapped up in the excitement and forget to get your money on the night. Promoters also love DJs who forget to pick up their wages!
Harold Heath's productions have graced the likes of Lost My Dog, 3am Recordings and Urbantorque. When he's not DJing and producing, he also writes about music and teaches music technology