What makes a good DJ? Insider Article

While venue, organization, artist-line up, etc. all play a role in the success of a party, I would argue that the greatest responsibility lies on the shoulders of the DJ.  Their choices have the power to make or break a party.  All too often we see the same “big name” DJ’s in international events and the lesser-known talents are overlooked.  But what happens when these big names don’t live up to their reputation?  Not much… They continue to be booked, regardless, simply because of their name and how good they used to be.



Free DJs

Making a name for yourself is no easy task so in order to create opportunities, some DJs will offer to waive their fee in exchange for exposure.  But should this really be common practice?  Should anyone be working for free?  Perhaps rather than waiving the fee entirely, a special entry offer rate can be offered.  After all, it costs money to purchase the music and equipment.  Organizers should be helping to search for new talent and helping those with talent get fair opportunities and not take advantage of them.  A high-profile DJ will naturally cost more, but surely a fraction of the budget could be dedicated to giving new DJs a chance.


Knowing your equipment

In an age of technology, it is a wonder that we still have so many technical glitches during parties.  I understand that all venues have their own equipment and a DJ never knows what they are going to get, but have you ever noticed that some DJs ALWAYS have an issue?  Sometimes it’s just a CD that skips but other times it’s a complete loss of sound!  And yet they still get rebooked.  While you might not be able to control the actual equipment provided, a DJ’s choice of personal equipment (CDs, Laptop, iPad, Vinyl) needs to be in top condition.  If you keep playing cheap, bad quality CDs, or use a laptop that has issues, you are always going to have problems.


Purchasing Music Legally

Technology is great but it needs to be used properly.  There are some wannabe DJs that go to parties and sit there and steal another DJs entire set by using Shazam.  They then find that music, whether it be on Spotify or worse, YouTube, looking for it as cheaply as possible and certainly paying no attention to the actual quality of the track.  They proceed to play the exact same set, sometimes even in the same order, as the DJ they stole it from at another event.  We wouldn’t accept plagiarism in any other profession, so why should a DJ have to?  A DJ needs to take the time to find a reputable source and ensure that the songs he is playing are as high quality as possible.


An Organizer’s Responsibility

While variety may be the spice of life, an organizer should remember that having too many DJs can kill the party for the DJs.  Once upon a time you would have just one DJ per night, regardless of the party, and maybe 3-5 for an entire congress.  This meant that DJs played more often and longer sessions, sometimes up to 5 hours straight in one night.  Some parties have up to 6 DJs for a single night.  Each DJ plays no more than one hour around during the whole night, spending more time waiting around than actually playing.  They barely have a chance to get warmed up before it’s all over.  Considering that the organizers are running a business, hiring multiple big name DJs but not using them to their full potential and ability seems like a bad investment on their part.


What makes a good DJ?

It’s really not as simple as just pressing play.  A DJ needs to…

  • know their music and what songs will work with different audiences;  
  • be able to read the crowd;  
  • think about whether a song is even danceable, although if they don’t dance that might be hard.  

Having a rare gem of a song or album that was near-impossible to find and that no one else has is great for a collector, but if it’s a horrible song that people can’t dance to, they need to keep that for their private and personal collection.  DJs should also be protecting the hearing of the dancers and by consequence the quality of the song.  Blasting a song out at full volume not only causes irreparable damage to the ears of the dancers, but the song will be distorted and listening will no longer be a pleasure.

Your Thoughts – No DJ Bashing!

So here is where you come in: Who do you think are the next great DJs, that perhaps no one has heard of yet?  Who do you feel has been grossly overlooked?  Which awesome local DJ do you think should be more present on the international circuit?  Which of those big names live up to their names and can actually keep you on the dancefloor when your body is screaming in protest that it can’t take anymore?

Salsa Insider

What makes a good DJ? Insider Article