Last Night An (Amateur) DJ Ruined My Life: Five Reasons To Pay For A Pro

By on November 21, 2012

DJing has undergone a seismic upheaval in the last two decades and its name is “digital”. DJs now have far greater flexibility, no longer needing wheelbarrows to lug their playlists around.But the rise of digital presents a new issue – pretty much everyone has a laptop full of music, so pretty much anyone can DJ, right?
Having run a city centre pub/club, I see the temptation to hire amateurs. Why pay someone two hundred quid when someone else will take fifty? They’re just picking songs off a hard drive, right? Well here are five reasons to think again.

1. You’d like your equipment to still work at the end of the night.
There’s nothing quite like that gut-wrenching screech, crackle and pop bursting from three grand’s worth of speakers to make you wish you hadn’t let someone totally clueless into the DJ box. Except perhaps the gormless grin and casual shrug they give you across the dance floor afterwards. If you don’t want to be a wincing wreck by the end of the night, maybe paying for a bit of experience is worth it after all. Especially if it saves you forking out for new equipment every other week.
2. It’s quite nice when a DJ knows how to mix songs.

A professional DJ will probably consider the ability to transition seamlessly from one song to the next as pretty basic. Your enthusiastic amateur may view this skill as some kind of witch-doctoring. If so, as one song changes to the next, you’re likely to see your paying customers jerk around awkwardly for a few moments, then stop dancing altogether. Or experience the awful, yawning moment when the music stops completely as your “spin-meister” fumbles for the next song. If you hire amateurs, you’ll look amateur too.
3. You don’t want your crowd dropping dead from exhaustion or falling asleep from boredom halfway through the night.

When was the last time you went to a great club that played only fast songs? Or just slow ones? Probably never, and that’s because a great set has a rhythm and flow. The DJ takes the crowd up and down with a mixture of different grooves. Years of experience enable a DJ to read a crowd, sense the dynamics and adjust their set accordingly. An amateur will be lucky to keep your crowd until the end of the night, let alone get them back the next week. Careless DJing costs lives. Or, more importantly, paying customers.
4. Didn’t he play that one last week? And the week before? And the week before?

Kind of self-explanatory – a great DJ will love music in their bones. They’ll be absolutely on the ball with all the latest and greatest tunes in their genre and this will reflect in their dynamic, ever-changing set. Many wannabes simply find a set they like and stick with it.  Customers won’t.
5. It’s ten minutes past closing.

Kindly step away from your pint and turn off the music. Sadly basic professionalism costs money. Someone who’s relying on their night’s wages to buy food and pay the rent is much less likely to get mashed off their face and become unable to work the equipment or respond to basic requests such as ‘Please stop having sex with that customer in the DJ box, you’re getting your bum all over the mixing desk.’ Pro means pro.
Make life easy on yourself, stump up for a professional. Or don’t. But don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Ed Prior is a third year creative writing student, very amateur Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner and part-time vegetarian. He has run city centre club nights in the past and is here writing for Lancashire PA Hire, a company providing DJ equipment hire in Burnley and the surrounding area.

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