DJ Tips: Working With Other Acts During A Gig

By Guest Blogger – Steven Nicholls (A UK based Mobile DJ with over 40 years of experiance selecting music) 

If you have a DJ gig where you will be working with a non-musical act, such as a comedian you would want to DJ differently than when working with a musical act.

With a speaking act you want to keep the music at a lower level so that when the act is set to perform there isn’t a noticeable drop in volume of or excitement. This applies mainly if the act is on early during the event.

If the act is on later, I would suggest slowly reducing the volume and excitement over 10 minutes previous to the acts performance. The last thing you want is a violent change in proceedings; everything should flow rather than erratically jump up and down during the gig.    You should also always speak to the act and find out how they want to be introduced, since they might want you to play a tune or make a special announcement during their performance.

This last part also applies to working with bands and singers. Apart from you wanting to know a little background the band or singer for your initial announcement when they take the stage, they will let you how they want to come on.  Some bands bring a track of dramatic music to play with no spoken intro, so be aware.  If you discuss the requirements of the act they will appreciate it and it shows you’re a true professional to the act and the audience. The truth is so many acts truly despise DJ’s as they feel that the DJ is only concerned with their own performance.  Make friends – get more referrals.

The approach at the beginning of a gig with a band (or singer) already playing is slightly different to working with a comedian.  Whereas you would make sure the volume of music decreases leading up to the comedian, the opposite applies when working with a band or singer.   You’ll want a seamless transition from the band to you, so adjust your volume UP accordingly. 

Normally a band plays at a significant volume and it can a shock to an audience if one moment they are hearing low-level background music then suddenly a loud band, so for about 10mins or so before they take the stage, gradually increase volume to a level near where the band will start.  In your pre-gig chat with the band or singer find out the sort of music they perform and try to edge your 10mins before they go on towards the type of music they play, so no culture-shock for the audience.  Ask the band/singer what song they will be finishing each set with in case they forget to announce that during their performance so you’re ready to cue up a tune.

Don’t wander away from your DJ equipment for too long during the performance so that you are ready for any breaks in their performance due to random stoppage or equipment failure and otherwise unexpected occurrences.

If the timing or ambience of the event means that the band or singer finish the night instead of you, don’t take it as a personal insult to your plans for a great finale — but do check with your client that this is how they also want the event to end. Sometimes the act has a different view from the client and it is the client you need to please.

I hope this post helps any DJ that plans to work with acts during any of their gigs!

Steven Nicholls