DJ Gig Checklist
DJ Gig Checklist - Everything you need to prepare for a DJ gig!
Wondering what you need to take to your DJ gig? Our DJ gig checklist will help you prepare for your DJ gigs and overcome common hurdles that might affect your performance. Preparation is essential for professional DJs who want stress-free DJ gigs!
There are lots of different types of DJs who need to prepare a varied range of kit of and essentials. As not every DJ is the same, we will break down this guide into types of DJs and provide a checklist for each type.
If you're a bedroom DJ preparing for a birthday party gig or a seasoned pro preparing for the festival gig of a lifetime, this list has it all. We help by detailing everything you need to prepare for a DJ gig of any type! Our expert DJ course tutors have compiled this checklist to help DJs prepare for their DJ gigs and prevent any issues that might arise on the night.
DJ Gig Checklist - Club & Bar DJs (USB)
One of the easiest ways to DJ nowadays is to store your music on a USB stick and plug that into the clubs Pioneer DJ setup. This is famed as the most reliable ways to perform because it's unlikely anything will go wrong.
USB DJs don't have to take much equipment with them other than their USBs and headphones. This means it's super convenient and especially good for DJs who don't want to cary equipment from gig to gig.
The main technical issues that can arise for USB DJs is simply knowing and understanding all the functions on the Pioneer DJ setup. If you know the functionality of the decks and mixer well and you have back up USBs you'll have a stress-free DJ performance as a USB DJ.
Because this method of DJing is the easiest and most reliable in terms of what you need to bring, it's the most popular choice for professional DJs. The only thing is that the venue needs to have USB compatible Pioneer CDJs but most professional venues do have them as standard.
Here are the things a USB DJ should take with them to a DJ gig.
Two or more USBs - the link cable doesn't always work, so you need to have at least two USBs.
Headphones - DJs need to take their own headphones to their DJ gigs.
Headphone Adapter - Not all DJ mixers have the mini-jack connector type for headphones so make sure you also have the quarter-inch jack adapter for your headphones. You might also want to consider having spare headphones and adapters because they are so crucial.
Microphone - Many DJs will use a microphone to hype the crowd. It's not for everyone, but it's still very common. It's worth having a microphone in your DJ kit bag. We recommend the Shure SM58. If you're taking a mic, remember to take the cable and a small bag to protect your mic from damage when not in use.
Earplugs - You need to have hearing protection if you're going to be in an amplified environment for a long time.
Photo ID - Most venues require photo ID on entrance. This can also sometimes apply to DJs as well as customers so make sure you have ID. It's also worth checking the door policy, perhaps there is a dress code.
Phone & Charger - You should take your phone for communications and also to gather content like videos and photos. Make sure you have a charger available and in many cases it's also a good idea to take an extension cord incase the booth is lacking plug sockets. You can also charge a phone directly from the CDJ but it is slower than using a plug socket.
Mix Recorder - Many DJs like to record their DJ set and this can be done with a mix recording device or a phone. Most modern Pioneer mixers will allow you to connect you phone and record directly into the DJM REC app. Check the model and compatibility before the gig. If you need an external device check out the Evermix or the iRig brands.
Torch - Many DJ booths are quite dark so most DJs will take a small battery-powered LED touch or small lamp with them to their gigs.
Business Cards - Every DJ gigs is a networking opportunity to make sure you have either a traditional business card or and NFC smart digital business card.
Visuals - Many venues have screens suitable for animated visuals. Check with your venue if this is an option and check to see which format you will need to provide your visuals in. If you're not sure take a spare USB with your DJ logo and any visuals you have in the most common formats including .JPG, .MOV and .MPEG.
Merchandise - Every performance is an opportunity to promote yourself. DJs will often take some merchandise to share with their fans. For example, it's common for DJs to have stickers, promo USBs with their music or mixtapes and t-shirts. Often you will need to check with the promoter and venue ahead of time if you wish to distribute or sell merchandise.
DJ Gig Checklist - Club & Bar DJs (Plug & Play)
Plug & Play DJs are DJs who bring their own DJ controller or DJ equipment to the venue. This is common for DJs who prefer to work from their own decks or are working with venues that don't have DJ equipment. Plug & Play DJs would have to arrive and plug in their DJ equipment to the venue's sound system.
As these DJs are taking a lot of equipment to the gig they are many more things to consider and prepare than your standard USB DJ.
The issue here is that when there are more things to do or more components involved in the DJ setup more things can go wrong!
These issues can be avoided with correct preparation and having back-ups in place. It's essential for plug & play DJs to check the details of the DJ booth and sound system before arrival to avoid any stressful technical issues on the night.
Top Tip - Remember it's advisable to have your gadgets and equipment insured and also to have public liability insurance.
Plug & Play DJs will need to take all the things that a USB DJ would take, apart from the USBs. (Although they may wish to take the USBs as a backup if the venue does have USB decks) The essentials would include: Back-up USBs, Headphones & Adapter, Mic, Earplugs, Photo ID, Phone & Charger, Mix Recorder, Torch, Business Cards, Merchandise and Visuals.
In addition to these items plug & play DJs will need to consider the following:
Booth Check - Plug & Play DJs need to know everything about the DJ booth before the gig including the dimensions and space available. If you're taking your own DJ controller and laptop you need to make sure there is ample and suitable space to set it up. You also need to check there are enough plug sockets for your equipment and that your DJ setup won't inconvenience other performers.
DJ Equipment - If you're a Plug & Play DJ you need to take your own DJ equipment. This would most likely be a DJ controller. We recommend that you take your DJ equipment and check that you have a suitable case for safe transport to avoid any damage. It's also wise to check that you have the power cable, audio cable and USB cable.
Cable Management - If you are using any type of cable including power, audio or date cables you need to have back-ups. Make sure you double up on every cable you need incase any cable fails on the night. You should also take suitable tape to secure any cable and to avoid any trip hazards.
Laptop - The essential hub of a play and play DJ setup is the laptop. Many laptop DJs will even have two laptops at their gig just incase one of them fails or is damaged. DJs using laptops will need to take their laptop, check there is space to set it up, plug it in and in many cases take a laptop stand. Make sure your laptop's battery is fully charged before a gig.
Branding - Many plug and play DJs will take branding materials with them. The most common form of branding for a laptop DJ is a custom laptop case with their logo displayed. Other DJs might take light boxes or even neon signs.
Table or Stand - In many cases venues that don't have DJ equipment might not even have a DJ booth! Plug & Play DJs will often take their own DJ stand or table which is at the correct height for DJing.
Clipboard or Tablet - Many Plug & Play DJs are open-format DJs and often playing for the crowd. That means that they play music that the crowd vibes too, and take requests. One of the best ways or taking requests is either on a clipboard or an iPad or tablet. The clipboard is cheap and easy to manage, just tie a pen to a piece of string and attach it to a clipboard with paper. Guests will write down their request for you. Tech-savvy DJs might use a tablet and a digital form, this is always a way of building a mailing list of fans. Just remember you need to follow GDPR guidelines about handling data.
DJ Gig Checklist - Club & Bar DJs (Vinyl)
Of course not all DJs play with digital players, DJ controllers or laptops. There is still a huge community of DJs who play with vinyl records and turntables. They have special requirements which deserves a special DJ gig checklist!
Vinyl DJs will need to consider all the things that a USB DJ would take so that they have all the essentials covered, along with the USB back ups.
Needles - One of the most essential items for a vinyl DJ is to bring their own needles and cartridges. Clubs do not provide needles and cartridges for vinyl DJs so you should take your own to the gig. Many vinyl DJs will prefer the sound and feel of their favourite brand. Just make sure you take spares and also a case to protect them.
Adapters - If you're playing older 45 records (7 Inch Records) which are perhaps from an old jukebox you may need the adapter to fit the record onto the player.
Record Bag - You should have suitable record bags or boxes to carry and protect your precious records! You should also make sure your record storage allows you to flick through the records easily at the gig to assist you in selecting the records.
Record Brush - Records can attract dust a dirt which can affect their playback. Make sure you have packed a professional vinyl brush or cleaning kit.
Slipmats - Most venues have slipmats on their decks but it's not guaranteed. They are also often very dirty so it's best to take your own slipmats. You might also want to consider having custom-made slipmats with your own DJ logo! Spare slipmats can also make great merchandise or giveaways!
Height Adjusters - Sometimes the turntables are not level. It's a good idea to have something you can use to adjust the height of the turntable if they are wonky. Sometimes the feet can be adjusted, but it's good to also have a plan B. Even some cardboard can help level the turntable. Many vinyl DJs will even have a small spirit level in their DJ bag.
Weights - Some DJs will take weights that help stabilise the record and increase the audio fidelity. It's not common for club DJs but in specialist audio cafes it's common to see vinyl DJs using weights.
Spare Sleeves - Sometimes when you're flicking through records and taking them in and out of their sleeves the sleeves themselves break. It's a good idea to have some spare sleeves to protect your records.
DJ Gig Checklist - Wedding DJs
Wedding DJs are often plug and play DJs that also take the sound system and lights to the event. There is a lot more equipment involved and therefore their checklist would be much larger.
Wedding DJs will need to make sure they have many backups in place to avoid any technical problems. They also need to make sure they follow health and safety regulations and good practice to keep themselves and the guests safe. Insurance is a must!
PRS / PPL License - DJs who play at venues that don't already have a valid PRS or PPL license will need to have their own. For example, wedding marquees or village halls are not the kind of venue that will have a license to play live music, so the DJ will need to have one. Click here to learn more about DJ licensing.
DJ System - Wedding DJs often take their own DJ system, decks or controller to the gig. They will need to take all their own equipment and the associated cables and extension cables. It is wise to have spare of the most essential components of the setup.
DJ Booth - A suitable and aesthetic DJ booth is essential for wedding DJs.
Sound System - Wedding DJs will often take their own sound system including speakers, stands and amps. Most mobile DJs will have a spare amplifier and double up on every cable needed.
Lights - Most mobile, party and wedding DJs will offer disco lights as part of the package. They will need to be safe and well maintained. Often lights will need stands.
Cables - When setting up an entire sound system, DJ booth and lights you'll need many cables. It's essential that a mobile DJ takes back up cables and spares to their gig. They will also need to take tape to secure the cables or cable conduits.
Decor and Theming - Many mobile DJs will also offer a theming service to create a unique and memorable party, event or wedding. You might need to consider props and decor to spruce up the venue. Some DJs will even bring a light-up dancefloor.
Health & Safety - A risk assessment is essential for professional mobile DJs and required by most insurers and venues. Make sure you complete a detailed health and safety risk assessment and identify any hazards. Be proactive about any issues and mitigate any risks with action before the event starts. You may also wish to have a first aid kit on hand and take first aid training.
Insurance - Mobile and wedding DJs will need to have equipment insurance and public liability insurance.
Vehicle & Parking - Wedding and mobile DJs will need to plan their travel, parking, unloading and loading. Make sure there is suitable parking close to the event space. If not a trolly might be needed to transport equipment. We recommend employing some help and making sure you don't hurt yourself carrying heavy items.
DJ Gig Checklist - Festival DJ
Festival DJs will almost always be USB DJs but some take their own DJ equipment. Some Festival acts can even veer toward live acts or semi-bands. For the purpose of this guide we will focus on Festival DJs who use USB.
Festival DJs will need to take all the items that a standard USB DJ would take. Festival DJs who are taking their own DJ equipment will need to take all the equipment a standard USB DJ would take and also the equipment that a Plug & Play DJ would consider taking. In addition festival DJs should consider these additional things:
Artist Credentials - Festivals are organised with military precision. Artists will be given credentials that they are expected to have on their person at all times. This is normally in the form of a wristband, identity card or lanyard. Make sure you check with the artist liaison where you should collect your artist credentials.
Food & Drink Tokens - In addition to artist credentials, festival DJs will often be allocated drink and food tokens. It's a good idea to have a small bag or bumbag to hold these (fanny pack for our US readers!)
Suncream & Sunglasses - Many music festivals are held outdoors in the summertime. It's essential for you to pack suncream and sunglasses for festival DJ gigs. You'll also want to wear appropriate clothes to keep you cool. If the festival is in the UK you might want to think about taking a raincoat, umbrella and wellies!
Props - Music festival stages can be massive! This means that the DJ will be quite small. If you want to make more of a spectacle you may consider using props, flags and gimmicks! In all cases these will need to be cleared with the promoter and festival organisers, especially for health and safety. Will you be putting on a show?
Map - Make sure you have a map of the festival grounds including the toilets and artist areas. You might need to dash from one arena to another so familiarise yourself with the layout of the festival.
Booking Details - Festival DJs are often booked through a booking agent. You will need to make sure you have all the details of who to contact handy. Make sure you know who the artist liaison is and how to contact them.
Phone & Batteries - Make sure you have a fully charged phone and spare batteries.
Medication - If you require any sort of medication or pain relief make sure you have it along with any relevant prescription details. You will need to clear medication with the festival organisers before bringing it to the site.
Overnight Kit - If you plan on staying over night, in a tent, trailer or hotel make sure you have everything you need for an overnight stay.
DJ Gig Checklist - International DJs
International DJs will need to take all the things that normal DJs would need to have for a gig in their home country on top of these items. There are many special requirements for international DJs to take into consideration which would differ deepening on the country they are performing at. Here are some of the most important things on an international DJs gig checklist.
Passport & Identity Card - It's essential to use a passport and/or identity card for travel between countries. It's advisable to make sure your passport is up to date and in good enough condition. Some countries will refuse you entry if your photo doesn't look enough like you or if the passport is damaged in any way. Make sure you get yourself a passport wallet to protect it. You should also make sure there is more than six months valid left on the passport for international travel or long stays.
Insurance - You need to make sure you have suitable insurance that will cover you as a tourist, worker and also to cover your DJ equipment. You might need multiple policies for this.
Visa - Many countries will require a valid visa for permission to visit or work in their country. Make sure you have all the documents in place before your trip.
Trip Itinerary - Most DJ agents will provide a trip itinerary with all the details you need including contact numbers for the person who booked you. If you don't have an agent you'll need to create a document or list for yourself to refer to when you need information. You'll want to have this list backed up as an email in case you lose your devices or paper copy.
Transfers - Many international DJs will need to have transport from the airport to the gig. These are often in the form of private taxi transfers. Either way, you need to have this organised in advance with ample time to reach the venue even if there are flight delays.
Hotel Stays - You'll need to make sure you have accommodation arranged for your stay and make sure you have a late checkout! In many cases a promoter will book the hotel for a couple of nights because it's not reasonable for you to checkout at midday if you're working till 6am!
Travel Adapters - Make sure you have packed travel adapters for all your electronics.
Sim Card - In many cases you'll need a local sim card to help you use data services at an affordable price. Make sure you have everything you need to stay connected.
Top Tip - Make sure you are aware of the local laws and customs. In some countries jaywalking or using chewing gum is an offence and can wind you up with a hefty fine. Petty laws can often catch tourists and DJs out and in some cases more serious laws can affect a trip, leave you with a prison sentence or worse. If you are from the LGBTQI community you'll need to check that the country you are visiting is welcoming and you're not going to receive discrimination or any kind. Being LGBTQI is illegal in some countries and punishable by death. Do not accept DJ bookings in unsafe countries.
We hope you enjoyed this guide for DJs detailing what DJs need to take to their DJ gig. These checklists should help you avoid any potential issues ahead of time and result in stress-free DJ gigs!