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DJ Tips: Playing To Nobody

Every DJ at some point, will have to play to an empty room. Here's DJmag.com tips on how to survive those quiet nights.

1. Practise


Use the fact that no one has showed up as a chance to practice your technical skills.

No two DJ booths are the same, so take the opportunity to figure out how to use the different equipment, learn the ins and outs of the soundsystem, CD players, turntables, and mixer.

A good DJ should be comfortable and able to rock it using any equipment, not just on a preferred home set-up.

2. Test


Test different songs or mixes.

As you may have noticed, music on a home system does sound different to music on a club or bigger system.

This is an ideal opportunity to get a feel for certain songs and mixes, and hear what your punters will be hearing.

3. Experiment


Why not use the opportunity to try out tracks you are unsure about?

Most DJs have a vast music collection, but tend to only play a small percentage of it at gigs.

It may be a matter of habit but it's probably because those tracks are tried and tested.

This is your opportunity to try out different music and see the reaction of a small crowd.

4. Network


Socialise with the staff working at the venue.

If you're DJing at a club or in a bar, you ought to be friends with the staff.

Get in their good books, and it is less likely you'll be fired.

Plus if they become mates, they'll probably be more willing to let you play what you want, because they'll trust your judgement.

Ask them for feedback, and find out what they think will work in the venue.

5. Learn


Investigate why the turnout was poor.

If you are a resident at the venue and less and less people show up each week, it's time to be concerned about your future.

If the venue is losing clients because the punters don't like your music, start looking for a new job or consider what needs to change.

Remember, you're not a superstar yet, so you can't just play what you want to hear.

You need to find records that both you and your crowd like.

Be prepared to compromise a little.

Having some friends around will help too – because they'll support whatever you play, which will have a knock-on effect on the crowd.

6. Don't slack off


Never, ever slack off, even if a night appears dead. You never know who might be listening, so always play like your life depended on it.