Top 10 Most Common DJ Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

There are tons of articles about DJ mistakes, sometimes they name a few sometimes tens of those. This article however will remind you of the most common and most crucial mistakes that DJs at every level make and that at times make the crowd quickly lose interest even in the most promising live set. Do not be ashamed if you made those already, after all the best way of learning is learning by experience! Avoid those simple errors and in no time your djing experience will improve!

1. Whoops… wrong deck!

Everything is going just fine until you decide to load the next track, suddenly the venue becomes completely silent and all the eyes turn to you. You’ve just loaded the track on the currently playing deck and now panicked you have to make a quick decision how to get out of this situation. This is possibly one of the most common and simple technical mistakes especially with entry level controller users.

Of course that’s not the only mistake you can make that is caused by lack of attention. Believe it or not I’ve seen djs moving their crossfaders at the fast setting with the bottom part of their shirts by accident, I’ve also seen countless cases of unwanted jog wheel touches resulting in rather awkward disruption of the playback.

These things can, and in fact will most probably will happen to you at some point, but by keeping in mind when and where things can go wrong you can lower the likelihood of that. The bottom line is – whenever you mix always be mindful of what you’re doing. As stupid as this sounds, even for a dj it’s really easy to get lost in the music and make simple mistakes, especially when you start to feel more and more confident about your skills and pay less attention to details.

2. Being afraid to withdraw

Click clack, beats matched, buttons pressed, faders raised, the track intro is on and you feel that something’s wrong… Maybe you take a glance on the dancefloor and you see some people going back to their seats. You have a feeling that they are not simply taking a rest and you suspect that this new track isn’t exactly the greatest choice for now.

No matter the genre there will be situations like this. Don’t be afraid to trust your instincts and withdraw from the track early if you have a better one in mind and at the ready. Sometimes when you switch to a right track quick enough you will actually get people hooked right on! Make sure however you are wary of the song structure, choose the moment of exit wisely, otherwise it might make things worse.

Photo by: Alexander Popov

3. Wrong Timing

Timing is everything, and playing right tracks at the right moment is with no question the most important task of the DJ – that much is pretty obvious. But don’t forget that there is right time for everything.

Even if you feel that you know exactly what to play next and have it all planned out, watch the crowd, think again and if you’re sure choose the best moment to keep the natural flow of the party going. Rely on your feelings and intuition and no matter what do not stick blindly to the playlist you’ve made before your set.

4. Sticking to one genre

Mixing only the genre you feel comfortable in, or the style of music that you’re used to put on during your weekend mix sessions at home isn’t always the best idea. Although it’s great to have a favorite genre that you enjoy mixing always think about what people you are mixing for would like to hear.

Choose your playlist based on the type of people you’re playing for, during your set watch the crowd’s reactions and be prepared to change your tracklist accordingly!

5. Too much FX

One more loop roll, maybe two more and on every single buildup – don’t forget the filter. It might be tempting to abuse the fx section of your controller especially after getting a new effects unit. Keep in mind that it can get really tiring for the crowd to hear the same tricks tens of thousands of times over and over again in the same set.

Also try to refrain from abusing the slicer or loop rolls on well known songs when it’s not needed, generally speaking people won’t enjoy beat juggling on their favorite ABBA song when the situation doesn’t call for it. If you’re not doing a mix which purpose is to show off your technique try to refrain from overusing fx on the songs you’re playing.

6. Technique over the content

And this brings us to a quite similar problem. Do not forget that the choice of songs, reacting to the crowd are your main tasks. It’s always great to show off your beatmatching skills mixing four tracks at the time, do wild transitions and cue every track with that good ol’ baby scratch ;), but keep in mind that you should always be focused on the main part of your job – keeping the party going by utilizing your song selection skills.

Photo by: Susanne Neumair

7. Taking too many requests

Well, of course it largely depends on the venue if requests are even up for debate, if they are however you should be very cautious while making decisions about them. Do not promise every single person that their favorite track will be up next and certainly do not try to push the requests onto your tracklist no matter what.

It’s always great to fulfill people’s wishes but only if it doesn’t disturb the current flow and the continuity of your mix.

8. Refusing to play certain songs/genres

Wow, wow! Keep calm, I get it, in some places, venues, clubs and on festivals there is often a somewhat strict set of unwritten rules that is to be followed in terms of acceptable musical genres. When you come to the club that is well known from minimal techno sets you probably don’t want to jump into the mix with 80’s classics.

That doesn’t mean however that you should always stick to tracks that you enjoy or stay away from songs that you dislike and on every occasion keep to your personal preferences. What good is a DJ that refuses to play popular songs at the wedding or one that keeps coming back to his chilll-out downtempo playlist while up on the stage on Qlimax?

A bit of variety is alright but remember: watch the crowd, do your research before the gig and make the people happy – after all that is your main task!

9. Stopping learning

Whether you mix every day at home or every week at the venue after some time you might be subject to a sense of dullness. You repeat the same mixes over and over again using the same or similar techniques and that not only poses the risk that might become tired with what you’re doing, but also can make your DJ career stagnant and utterly boring for you and your audience.

Always remember to keep on learning: watch new mixes in your favorite genre, learn some new techniques and transitions from YouTube videos, listen to some new music to discover new tracks. The possibilities are endless, and so is your potential.

10. Not promoting yourself enough

Choose both catchy and meaningful DJ name, set up your social media accounts, share your mixes, put a sticker with your Instagram handle all over your gear; whatever works. But whatever you do be conscious of the fact that as you become valuable both for the people you work for and for the people listening to you they will in many cases want to know more about you.

It is best to prepare your DJ profile even before your first public set! It will be both very beneficial and satisfying for you once you gain a following and start being recognized!

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