13 Ways to Overcome Nerves and Anxiety at Your First DJ Performance
13 Ways to Overcome Nerves and Anxiety at Your First DJ Performance
Many new DJs will be nervous about their first DJ performances. It’s only natural to feel some level of stomach butterflies, stage fright or anxiety about DJing in front of a live audience. So how do DJs avoid getting nervous at DJ gigs or calm yourself before a live DJ gig?
In this blog we will give you tried and tested and sensible suggestions to help you avoid DJ gigs nerves. Follow this advice and you can have a stress-free DJ performance.
Here's the list of the top 13 ways to overcome stage fright at your first DJ gigs and later we add more details to help you delve a little deeper into each point.
- Learn to DJ Properly
- Practice Makes Perfect
- Know Your Equipment
- Take Everything You Need
- Learn How To Switch Between DJs Flawlessly
- Learn About DJ Booth Etiquette
- Eat & Don’t Drink Too Much
- Bring Some Support
- Start Small
- Be Flexible
- Enjoy The Moment
- Remember, It’s Just a Disco!
1. Learn how to DJ Properly
Most DJ gig nerves or DJ gig anxiety boils down to just not being prepared or having underlying confidence issues about your DJ abilities. Avoid making rookie mistakes by learning how to DJ properly at an official Pioneer DJ Education Partner like LSA or DJ Gym.
If you learn with an accredited curriculum you’ll be confident that there are no holes in your knowledge. You’ll be shown everything about the DJ equipment and the craft of DJing so when you hit the decks you’ll be well prepared and therefore less nervous.
In addition, some established DJ academies like ours will help new DJs by organising their first DJ gig. At LSA, we arrange DJ gigs for all our DJ course students and work with some of the most famous venues including Ministry of Sound. Our DJ gigs are supervised by our staff so new DJs will have the comfort of a professional DJ by their side making sure nothing goes wrong.
If you’re naturally a nervous performer we highly recommend that you take professional DJ tuition at an academy like ours that will organise and supervise your first DJ gig.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
Make sure you practice your DJ skills regularly and it’s crucial to be able to beatmatch totally by ear. Don’t rely on technology like Quantise and Sync to help you. Older decks might not have these features, or they might break. Don’t rely on crutches to get through DJing, learn how to be self sufficient with the minimum help from screens and technology in order to become truly confident.
Many DJs will be undermine their own confidence by not learning how to beatmatch properly or being too reliant on the more detailed screens. This can manifest itself as imposter syndrome, where someone can feel like they don't belong, or they are not good enough. Book some studio time on the older legacy models, like pre-nexus CDJs to master how to play on any deck.
3. Know Your Equipment
If you’ve taken a DJ course you should know all about your DJ equipment but if you’ve not benefited from professional DJ tuition you should consider reading our other blog about the most common DJ mistakes that can happen at live gigs.
In addition, you should call the venue and find out what DJ equipment you are using at the event and read the manual. It’s a good idea to even download the manual to your phone for emergencies or have a DJ friend on call. Your venue might even allow you to arrive early for a sound check. This will help settle any nerves.
If you know your DJ equipment and DJ software inside-out you’ll be less nervous about performing because you know the solutions to the most common problems.
4. Take Everything You Need
It’s important to take everything you might need to you gig. Many new DJs will make a fatal mistake by not taking enough USBs, back up cables or headphones. Read our blog on what you need to take to your DJ gigs here and make sure you’r ready for any eventuality.
Being prepared is crucial to calm any nerves you might have about your first DJ gigs.
5. Learn How To Switch Between DJs Flawlessly
Many embarrassing mistakes can be made when switching between DJs. When it’s your turn to take over from the previous DJ you’ll want to be ready for all the potential hurdles. There are many settings which different DJs prefer to use when performing and you’ll want to know how to set your own.
One of the biggest mistake to avoid is just unplugging the wrong USB or the wrong cable! Make sure you know all these potential pitfalls off by heart.
6. Learn About DJ Booth Etiquette
There are many unspoken rules of the DJ booth. Make sure you learn about good DJ etiquette and how to act around other DJs, security staff, venue staff and clubbers. Putting your foot in it or making a lapse of atiquette can only add stress to a DJ gig and make your more nervous that you need to be. Make yourself aware of the DJ booth rules and you'll encounter less hassle.
A smooth DJ gig is dependent on proper communication and understanding throughout the booking process and on the actual night. Make sure you have a strong rapport with the person who booked you and a clear understanding of what music is to be played. Know your set time and make sure you know how to contact in the event of a sound tech issue, a security issue or an emergency. Make sure your music suits your set time and learn how to play a warm-up set.
On the night, make sure you have the contact details of the promoter, booker or artist liaison. You’ll need to ensure your phone is fully charged set to the loudest ring and vibrate.
8. Eat & Don’t Drink Too Much
One of the best ways to calm your nerves is to eat some food. However, be careful not to overeat because you don’t want to feel bloated or uncomfortable at a gig. Having some food in your belly will help calm your nerves.
Science shows that eating certain foods can help with anxiety, boost your serotonin and give you extra energy to perform optimally.
Make sure you are hydrated and have some water for the performance and avoid over-consumption of stimulants like caffeine.
Some DJs will drink alcohol but be careful not to take it so far that it inhibits your ability to DJ. It’s not a good look to be drunk behind the decks and it will increase your likelihood of making mistakes. Promoters also don’t like to see DJs being drunk and out of control, so keep it professional. If you are a drinker just stick to one drink before a DJ performance.
9. Bring Some Support
If it’s your first gig you’ll want to bring some moral support. It’s always easier if you have some friends to talk with to take away any negative emotions anxiety or stress. Having too much time along over thinking will naturally make you super nervous. Just have fun with your mates and you’ll find it much easier.
If you’ve not got many DJ friends who enjoy clubbing try to reach out to the community at events like our monthly networking DJ get-togethers. Get in touch to find out when the next meet up is happening.
10. Start Small
In some cases, a slow start is a sure start. If you’re naturally nervous you might want to consider starting with very small gigs where there is no dancefloor. Pubs and bars often have DJs and there is less pressure to perform at these venues. Open deck nights are also the perfect springboard for new DJs looking for a gradual start to their live performance experience.
A word of warning though; some smaller gigs can be more stressful if they are disorganised or the DJ equipment is in disrepair or is different to what you’re used to. Do your research to make sure this is going to be an easy gig.
11. Be Flexible
When it comes to live DJ performance you have to be flexible enough to adapt to the crowd. If you have a rigid set list you will often start loosing the attention of the audience. They vote with their feet and their hands. If they don’t like your music they will leave, if they like it they will raise their hands often.
Pay close attention to the crowd and make eye contact regularly. Observe them and learn from their subtle cues. If they are not digging your music swiftly change styles.
This means you need to have a few different playlists in your collection ready to adapt to the audience. There is nothing worse for your nerves than watching a busy room empty when you hit the decks. You can avoid this by being ready to react to what music like like.
12. Enjoy The Moment
The DJ is the leader of the pack. You body language and enthusiasm is infectious. If you look like you’re having the time of your life they will pick up on that energy and copy you. If you look down in the dumps of nervous they will also reflect that. Make sure you give it all you have, fist pump, hands in the air, bounce around the booth and express yourself.
If you win your audience over in this manner they are likely to overlook even the biggest of mistakes! DJs who have natural flair and energy behind the decks can get away with murder! Even if you make a mistake learn how to smile and laugh it off, your audience will love you for it.
13. It’s Just a Disco!
Remember, don’t get in your own head, it’s just a disco! People go to parties to rave, get seats, get drink, dance off a week of stress and just have fun. It’s really not that serious. Mistakes happen and are an important part of live music. They actually add something special, so learn to love mistakes and embrace live DJ gigs.
We know your first DJ performance can be nerve-wracking. For many people it's not just their first DJ gig but also the first time they have ever been on stage. By following the advice in this article you can learn how to be confident, prepared and ready to conquer any obstacle. Events can be fast-paced and hectic environments but please remember it should always be creative and fun. Mistakes do happen and should happen in live performances. No one wants a robot, unless it's a Daft Punk concert!
The key here is preparation and and practice. Before attempting your first DJ gig you should know how to DJ to a professional level and be well practiced. The biggest source of anxiety and pre-gig nerves is simply that niggling thought in the back of your mind saying you're not ready, or you're faking it. The only real solution to this and way to build your confidence as a DJ is to truly know your craft in detail. Make sure you know your decks inside-out.
As ever, if you're a budding DJ and looking for excellent DJ tuition or your first DJ gigs you should contact us and find our closest academy.
Most importantly, remember it's just a disco. The crowd is there to have fun, not judge. Live music is unpredictable and that is part of the magic, no performance should be the same! Focus on good body language and deliver positive energy behind the decks. Your crowd will ignite if you give them the right fuel.