I recently came across this very interesting post on DJ life on the Scratch DJ Academy Blog written by one of my former instructors DJ Noumenon. The post discusses the DJ code. Many DJs today are unaware, do not understand or completely disregard the code. I have been fortunate enough to have trained with some of the best DJs in NYC. Not only did I learn how to be a DJ, but I was also taught the rules. This is definitely a post worth sharing. Enjoy!
The DJ Code According to DJ Noumenon
1. Never undercut the competition! As bad as you want to play, the pay scale has been set for a reason, and it took a lot of time and work to get the pay scale to where it’s at. By undercutting the competition, in a way, you are negating what previous DJs had worked so hard to achieve. At the same time, it’s also putting the thought into Club Owner’s heads that anyone can do this and that it’s ok to play for peanuts. It’s not. If the place that you want to play at is booked already, simply leave your demo with the appropriate person and keep searching. We are all in this together, DJ’ing is a culture!….
2. DON’T BITE! No one likes a biter, find your style and build on it. Of course you will have your favorite DJs and they will inspire you, but in order to keep this art-form progressing, you should always try and be original.….
3. Like what you are playing! If you don’t like what you are playing, then it’s going to show. Figure out exactly what you want to do in this scene. If you want to be a club DJ, know that you are going to be playing music that you may not necessarily like. If you can’t deal with it, then maybe you should look into being a mixtape DJ or radio DJ.….
4. MIX MIX MIX MIX! Stop and drop only does not make you a DJ…it makes you a human jukebox. Get your mixes tight and know the fundamentals behind it.….
5. Don’t get stuck in 1 genre! When you play one style of music, it limits you to where you can play. The more styles of music you can play, the wider the audience and the more potential gigs you can get.….
6. This is a job treat it like one. Yes DJing should be fun, but it’s also a job. When you step into that booth, make sure you are focused and ready. Being lazy at your day job will get you fired, and being lazy in the club will also get you fired.….
7. Be patient. You have to learn to walk before you can run, and you definitely have to know how to rock a crowd before you can really start playing out. The best approach is to do house parties, cook-outs, birthday parties, etc. for free. Consider this training for the real thing. The club scene can be very hard to work in and without the proper training you can crash and burn. Make sure you are confident in your playing style, your mixing skills and your library before you start booking those bigger club gigs.….
8. Be Humble. Just because you rocked one party doesn’t mean you are “NYC’s Finest”. It is difficult to work with a cocky DJ, if you’re good, your skills will speak for themselves. ….
9. Know your DJ History! Learn about the DJs that have paved the way for you to now step in and become part of the culture. Whether you are trying to be a battle DJ, club DJ or mixtape DJ…RESPECT THE ARCHITECTS! Watch videos, listen to radio shows and mixtapes, and go to their club nights and events. By doing this, you are not only expanding your knowledge, but you are also supporting the art-form.….
10. I have 2 ipods and a computer…I’m ready for the club! No you’re not. If you try and step into a club/lounge with 2 ipods or just a computer, you are contributing to the disrespect of this art-form and culture. It is definitely a starting point, but get yourself some Turntables or CDJs and learn it the right way!….
11. I’m trendy and have an insane fashion sense…I can be a DJ! Fortunately, you can’t. Again, DJing is an art-form and requires time and patience to learn it correctly. Just because you look good behind those decks, doesn’t mean you know how to rock a party. Of course you want to look presentable at your event, but your trendy outfit doesn’t improve your skill level.….
12. Taking Requests. This is something that all DJs encounter on any given night. Be respectful to the person that is asking for the request and if it’s something you can fit into your set and it makes sense, by all means play it. But if it’s random, then be nice about it and tell them it doesn’t fit. Remember, you have to play all night, so be wise in your song selections at certain times. Requests are entirely up to the DJ, remember, you DON’T HAVE to play it.….
13. Play hard or don’t play at all! Whether you have 5, 50, 500 or 5000…always play at a top performance level. You never know who is in the crowd and it would be a shame if you lost an opportunity because you slacked on your playing level. ….
14. Always be prepared. Before you head out to your gig, double check that you have everything you need to get through your night. Make a list if you have to. Bring back up needles, Serato records, slip mats, etc. If you are a Serato user, it’s always a good idea to bring a bag of records for those “unexpected” situations (computer crash, drink spilled on computer, etc).….
15. Don’t party too hard! It’s ok to have fun while you are playing, but if you start having too much fun, and we all know what that means, it can result in you losing your crowd and potentially your gig. Be responsible. Always.….
16. If you can, record your set. This is a great way to monitor your progression and to also have a live demo of your performance. You can always go back and review highlights of your set and things to possibly improve on.….
17. Make good with the club staff. You have to remember, you are not only playing for the club patrons, but you are also playing for bartenders, cocktail waitresses, bouncers, etc. Try to get in good with them and sometimes play their requests (if it fits obviously). If you make good with the staff, that just secures your spot even more at the club.….
18. Don’t scratch people to death! Be tasteful with your scratching. Never scratch over a verse or scratch too much in general. The club is not the place for it. People want to dance…they don’t want to hear you practice!….
19. Keep it moving! If it’s a classic club banger, let it rock! But if you notice your energy level drops, keep it moving! Usually you want to play 2 verses and then switch to your next song (power set) to keep it interesting and the energy level high. ….
20. GET “THE DJ” BY KRS-ONE AND DJ REVOLUTION! No need to explain, the song speaks for itself!….