Preparing for Your First DJ Gig


Every single DJ has been there and it can be a daunting and stressful occasion – your first ever DJ gig. Luckily there are plenty of DJs out there who’ve shared their experience and more importantly their rookie mistakes that you can learn from and not repeat.

This article will focus mainly on the actual event and the surround times rather than planning your set, we’ll cover this soon.

First of all it’s important to ask yourself a few questions and be as honest with yourself as possible. Do you feel ready for your first live DJ gig?  Have you practised enough that you can mix tracks with out too much effort?  Is the nights music policy similar to yours?  If the answer is no to any of these questions it’s worth reviewing if this first gig opportunity is right for you. This the start of your career so getting it right and being prepared is essential, don’t just take the first gig you are offered, there will be more (and potentially better suited) ones for you.



Overall key advise: PREPARE PREPARE PREPARE!

  • Make sure you know the tracks you are going to play and practise mixing them.
  • Create a ‘bangers’ playlist of well known tracks to draw for when needed.
  • Prepare your music, playlists, grids so they are ready to go (check out our Ultimate Digital Management guide to get yourself organised).
  • Think about a few possible options for the first track, you’ll want to go in big!  These can be reviewed when you arrive and settled into the club atmosphere.
  • Make a check list of everything you need to take to the gig – controller, laptop, audio/USB/power cables, headphones, USB sticks (check our Best USBs for DJs guide) – list everything! On the day you’ll be distracted by the upcoming event so make sure you have a thorough list to refer to to ensure you don’t forget anything.
  • If you are taking your own set up make sure there is space and power and that the venue/promoter is aware what you are bringing with you.
  • Take a back up – USB, CDJs, Vinyl – what ever medium it is having a good selection of essential tracks is key especially for those laptop crashing moments. You can even take an iPod (with 3.5mm jack to RCA Y-lead) with some tracks in a playlist to just get you through any technical problems. Whatever you take, just having these with you will give you some piece of mind.
  • If possible, check out the night the week before to get a feel for the crowd, what tracks are making them move and of course the DJs.
  • If you get a chance, also check out the DJ booth and see what kit is installed.  Is there any free space for controllers & laptops? Is there a decent monitor speaker for the DJ?  Before you do this be respectful of the DJ who’s playing. If there is kit in there you’ve not used or is a different model then do some research online and check out video reviews for basic functionality.
  • Confirm your set time, duration and room with the promoter.
  • Get a feel for the events history, check their website and socials.  What DJs have played in the past?  Do they have residents?
  • Post the flyer around and tag the event page, promoter and venue – show your support on your social networks.  If there is a Facebook event then invote your friends along.
  • Not essential but if you have a DJ buddy with experience see if they will come along with you.


BONUS TIP – If you want to try DJing to a live audience before your gig then why not do one with Facebook – check our Guide to DJ’s Live Facebook Streaming for more info.  A site like will also facilitate a live stream you can share round to your mates.




  • During the day avoid caffeine, energy drinks and anything that gets your heart racing, your natural adrenalin will be doing this enough as it is.
  • Get there with plenty of time, don’t turn up to the booth sweating and out of breath because you got there 5 mins before your set starts. Get there at least an hour before and settle in.
  • Bring some mates for moral support.
  • Have a 1 or 2 drinks to take off the edge but DO NOT GET DRUNK!
  • Don’t do drugs, you’ll want all your wits about you.  This first gig maybe just another night out for your mates but this is the start of your DJ career.
  • Watch your attitude, don’t turn up like you’re the biggest deal in the world just because you are now the DJ. Be humble, enthusiastic and professional – this is the start of something big for you!
  • This is the most important one: HAVE FUN!  A crowd will respond to an active and enthusiastic DJ so enjoy the moment!
  • After the set get networking – chat to the promoter but don’t hassle him for feedback, if you’ve done good he will say so.  Find the other DJs and start building some contacts.

Screenshot 2016-06-21 16.51.17


  • Share any pictures or video you or your mates may have, tag the event/promoter/venue – this shows support for the event and hopefully you will get asked back.
  • If you recorded your mix then take some time out to listen back to it and see if there were any areas you can improve on for your next set.
  • Reflect on the night and think about what worked and what you could have done better, never beat yourself up over any mistakes you made, use them as a learning experience to improve.



  • Always be prepared.
  • Enjoy yourself.
  • Keep pushing forward.

OVER TO YOU: How was your first gig experience?  Any solid advise to share?  How do you prepare for a gig?  Do you have any rituals before a gig?


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About The Author

Lead Tutor

On The Rise DJ Academy is owned and run by Jay Cunning and Terry from Atomic Hooligan, both have been professional DJs since the late 90's. Find out more about our tutors here:

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