Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Shit DJ Booths And Fucked Up Equipment

It's been a while, but I'm back...

Thanks to everyone who's been reading the posts, and thanks to all the £50 DJs who got offended by the last few posts.. I hope it's made you realise that you're all dumb fucks.

Anyways, here's another aspect of DJ-ing that really pisses me off - nightclubs that have impractical DJ booths, dirty DJ booths, and the worst of all...DJ booths with broken/missing/unserviced equipment.

I've lost count of the number of clubs I've played at where the mixer is sticky from someone dropping Vodka and Redbull on it, the turntables don't work where they have not been serviced since about 1999, the cue buttons on the CDJs don't work because again, some twat spilt his drink over them whilst most probably fist pumping to "Don't You Worry Child" or fucking "Levels".

If that's not enough, we have to work with mixers that are missing crossfaders and knobs, limited space to place our laptops and Serato boxes....sometimes we even have to work with CDJs which are missing phono cables. The smarter DJs roll with extra cables anyway, but's frustrating.

Venues don't seem to understand that if your equipment is substandard, the performance of your DJ will also be substandard. Granted, us experienced DJs can make do with what we're given and rock a crowd, but it can be hard when you're missing a crossfader and you're having to use instant doubles because only one deck is working.

Bottom line is that DJs are human and will inevitably make mistakes. Drinks will get dropped occasionally, fader knobs will pop off (and get stolen), and crossfaders will break.

Venues please learn that equipment will not last forever. It will last a longer though, if you look after your decks and mixer(s) by servicing them regularly, replacing missing/broken items, and by building a practical DJ booth where no one can easily spill drinks over the equipment...

Next time I'll be ranting about DJs who play anything and everything to get a booking... There simply aren't enough specialists anymore.

Take care, and remember not accept £50 for a five hour booking.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Ticket Selling Bookings and Cheap Promoters

Yes, the above image is actually from an email I receeved a while ago about ticket selling bookings.... I'm back again after a short break.

Thanks for all the comments on the last article, and thanks to those who also shared it on Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate it.

As I mentioned in the last post, the promoters and club managers are equally to blame for the rise of undercutting in DJ culture, as well as the lowering standards (and DJ fees) in club nights.

First up, let me say a few things about the promoters and club managers who sacrifice quality to save a few quid. This will damage your brand and your venue in the long run. If you're happy to hire some inexperienced Joe Bloggs bedroom DJ just because you're too tight to pay extra for a seasoned professional, then the message you're actually giving out is that you don't give a fuck about the quality of service, the music, or even the type of crowd that may frequent the venue as a result.

What's worse, is that clubs are not only scaling back on talent, but also flyers and street teams.

Contrary to popular belief, cheap drinks deals to not make people flock to the club in their thousands any more. It's not the fucking 1980s any more. This is pretty much one of the reasons why most Luminar venues have gone to shit...And don't even get me started on those who rely on Facebook to promote their event also...

Times are tough, I appreciate that. However, if your main goal is purely ticket sales, and you're not willing to put in the work to build a solid brand from the ground up, then you won't have longevity. You may smash it on your first event, but repeat success? Very doubtful.

Speaking of tickets, what about these bullshit "ticket selling" tactics that lazy promoters like to try out on young, impressionable DJs?

I recently read an article on DJ Paul Velocity's blog about his experience and arguments regarding ticket selling bookings, and I whole-heartedly agree with him.

Now, if I'm booked to DJ then yes I'll happily send out the usual Facebook and Twitter updates, and also send out info via my mailing list. I obviously want people to come and see me perform, and I'll do my little bit to help push the event. Not a problem.

What I object to though, is having to actively go out and sell tickets on behalf of a promoter in order to get paid, or at the very least get the gig to begin with. That shit isn't cool.

Of course, there will always be those naive DJs who think it's a great idea. The reality is, it's not.

In essence it's just a pyramid scheme. You run around and do all the donkey work, selling tickets. You may get around £2 per head. The promoter sits back on his arse and coins the rest of the money. You're taking valuable time out of your schedule to to bust your balls for someone too lazy (and most likely inept) to do their own fucking job.

Promoters are there to do exactly what their name suggests - Promote, i.e. get the numbers through the door, organise guest list, and to spread the word about the event they are putting on. However, if you're just relying on exploiting up and coming DJs to do your own work, then you're not a promoter, you're a fucking douchebag. A lazy fucking douchebag.

As I've said before, the message you're giving out is that you do not care about quality. Your DJs may be good salesmen, but they actually suck at DJ-ing.

My final thought is that every competent and experienced DJ took a stand and said "Enough. This is my fee, lump it or leave it", then these shithead promoters and club managers will eventually have to succumb to our demand. Of course they will try out these £50 DJs who only just started spinning last Tuesday, but once they realise that the quality of service is sub-standard, numbers drop, and their venue suffers, they will eventually come running back. It's happened to me before at a few local spots, trust me.

Got any comments? Leave them below...

Next time, I'll be moaning about shit DJ booths, and venues who don't take care of their equipment. Apparently 1210s make good drinks holders now...who knew?

Take care, and remember not to take any requests, even if "they're about to leave".

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Rise Of The £50 DJ & Those Who Undercut

Technology has no doubt made our working lives a lot easier. We no longer have to haul crates of records to a gig anymore, and we can carry tens of thousands of songs with us on a laptop. In some ways it's a blessing...But I'll be real honest with you. The DJ game is pretty fucked up right now.

As all this technology and music is widely available, it means that any Tom Dick and Harry can become a fucking DJ. Once they've gone out and purchased a Serato/Traktor box and a laptop, and downloaded the Top 100 songs on Beatport or iTunes, they then automatically assume that they are ready to play out. As a result, standards are slipping. Before, we used to practise our mixing skills in order to make sure we were competent enough to perform in public. Nowadays, kids don't want to put the effort in. They don't want to practise. They don't want to learn how to put a coherent set together. They want to be able to start playing at clubs within a week of buying their first set up.

The number of DJs today are increasing at an alarming rate, and because they're all fighting for a spot to play out, and to prove their [lack of] skill, they are all willing to play for a cheap as possible, or even worse, undercut other DJs to get that gig.

Now, undercutting isn't new. It's existed for years, and is present in all other professions. But it really is at an all time high right now within the nightclub industry.

Not only do I find it morally wrong to use snake-like tactics to grab someone else's spot, I must ask you this. Do you not realise that by undercutting everyone and being happy to play for peanuts, you are in fact helping to drive prices down worldwide?

As I mentioned in my last post, you're only playing yourself if you are willing to DJ for £50; even if you are doing more than one night a week.


Now kids, you might think you're living the life by doing loads of gigs because you've undercut everyone, but let's do some simple maths and break it all down.

Let's say for instance, that you play up to 5 nights a week, from 10pm-3am (average nightclub opening times) for 50 quid a night. That's £250 gross income for 25 hours. You'll most likely leave for work about an hour before you're due to play, and will probably get home an hour later after you finish for the night. That's another 10 hours per week added on to your total.

You might spend a few hours a week getting new music, updating your social networks, etc. Let's say that takes around another 7 hours per week on average (1 hour per day). That's already 42 hours' worth of work per week for £250.

Now let's deduct the costs.

If you drive to most of your gigs, you'll no doubt have to fill up on petrol or diesel. The average person spends about £25 on petrol, so let's say for argument's sake that you spend £50, which also includes any car park fees that you might incur.

Unless you play really shitty YouTube rips in the club, you most likely buy your music via Beatport or iTunes, or a pay a subscription to an online record pool. £10 per week, maybe?

You might even fork out for food and drinks (depending on whether you get a bar tab thrown in), which might set you back another £10 per week, depending on how much you drink.

So with all those costs deducted, you work a 42 hour week for £180.

Divide £180 by 42 hours, and you get £4.29 per hour. Congratulations, you've just earned less than minimum wage! How stupid do you feel now?

Remember that DJ-ing can have its dry periods, so even if you are undercutting everyone to get work, you're not always going to have a regular income…

If you're one of those DJs who holds down a full time job however, and merely does this as a hobby, it's still no excuse to play for chump change. If you don't value your worth as a DJ, or aren't willing to take it seriously, then please stick to making mixtapes in your bedroom or playing on an internet radio station. Do not venture into our line of business, undercut those who do this as a career and fuck up their money. Not only will it hinder you from upping your fee later down the line, you could also earn the reputation as a snake within the DJ community, and even end up on the receiving end of a beat down. Trust me, I saw it happen to someone. It wasn't pretty, but that guy certainly learnt his lesson.

I propose that all new DJs must complete some kind of test or achieve some kind of legit qualification similar to tradesman, in order to go out and get legitimate work. That way, it'll separate the time wasters from those who want to succeed and build a career.

Overall, I know that as DJs, we are technically selling a service to venues and promoters. But please remember this - Cheaper does not always mean better. You get what you pay for.

Next time, I'll be addressing the issue of ticket selling bookings, and idiot promoters who expect you to play for free, seeing as they too are equally to blame for this current culture of £50 DJs.

Take care, and remember not to take any requests, even if they think "everyone will dance to it".

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Why I Hate The University Scene & Their 10+ DJ Lineups

The above image pretty much sums up these Urban events within the Uni scene...

I've done my fair share of student gigs over the years... Matter of fact, when I was first starting out a majority of my gigs were on-campus events.

If you're on the come up they're a great way to tap into your local scene and develop a fanbase, particularly if it's a weekly event. However, there are a number of things about them that really do piss me off from time to time.

Now, when I first started doing them there weren't as many DJs around; Back then it was just vinyl, CDJs weren't as commonly used, and you really had to prove your worth in order to get a spot at these events. However that has now changed and there are a million and one Uni DJs fighting for a spot...and of course they're all willing to play for peanuts.

Most of these guys really only do it because it's an image thing. They like the idea of linking girls at the rave and being able to strut around on campus saying "I'm a DJ" as if it gives them some kind of magical position within their university's social hierarchy.

Now, I have respect for people who graft hard to make it in this game. It's a tough world. Even more so now everyone rocks Serato. But if you're one of those Uni DJs who will happily travel from London to Nottingham, or Essex to Milton Keynes just for £50, then you're playing yourself. You are making no money whatsoever, and because the Uni scene is quite insular, that's really the only circle you're really going to move within if you're playing for that amount of money.

I've also found that the standard of DJ-ing is really low at these events. I've heard too many clangs to count, clashing vocals, and more YouTube rips than you can shake a stick at. If you don't aspire to do bigger things or work hard to perfect your craft, you won't be taken seriously, and you certainly won't be able to turn this into a proper career...unless you're just happy pretending to look like a don on social network sites with your laptops and Beats By Dre headphones.

One of the other main things that annoys me are the promoters who insist on booking 10+ DJs for their event. Why the fuck would you want to try and cram 10 DJs into pretty much one room for the space of 5 hours? It makes no sense. It's bad enough having to do the dreaded "Serato Swap Over" with just one other DJ, let alone a whole platoon of them. It becomes even more of a clusterfuck if they're using Traktor, Virtual DJ, or a MIDI controller. By the time you've changed over, you're lucky if you get 20 minutes before you then have to change over with the other DJ.

Because they're all so desperate to prove their worth, they all resort to playing the same fucking songs as everyone else. I swear the last time I went to a Uni rave I heard "Oliver Twist", "N***as In Paris", "Mercy" and that "Watch Me Do My Azonto" tune about 5 times each. 5 TIMES, MAN!

Hardly any of them specialise in a particular genre, so they all call themselves a "multi genre DJ", and pretty much play anything and everything under the sun in order to get that booking. Being versatile is a necessity, but please do it in a way that doesn't make you look like the a Mobile Disco.

If you're a promoter, and you're under the impression that all 10 DJs are going to bring a massive crowd with them, just to see them play for 30 minutes, then you are clearly mistaken. On campus, maybe... Out of town, let alone another county? Highly doubtful. I'm yet to see one uni DJ turn up from out of town with a whole army of fans in tow.

My advice to Uni scene promoters? Take that £500 you'd spend on (shit) entertainment, book three solid local DJs for £150 each, and then invest the change in flyers, or even dare I say it, a prize for a "like and share" competition on Facebook.

Better still, book two DJs and invest some more cash into a headline DJ or a PA. If it's a midweek event, their manager or booking agent might even do it for a discounted rate, especially if you promise them another booking later down the line...provided your night hasn't flopped.

Also, please give your raves better names than YOLO, Swagga, Overload, etc... There are probably 20 other club nights across the country who use those names. Also invest in a decent graphic designer, who will not use the standard stock template that I posted above. No one wants to see Ashanti, Drake, or any other generic woman on the flyer.

Next time, I will be be moaning about the rise of the £50 DJ, and how they are fucking up the scene.

Take care, and remember not to take any requests. Even if it is their birthday.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

The DJ Booth is not a fucking cloakroom

Here's something that really gets on my nerves. People who think it's acceptable to stash their coat behind the DJ booth, treating it like it's their own personal storage facility.

Similar to my earlier post about taking requests, if you refuse, some of these idiots get angry because you haven't granted their wish like you're the genie out of Disney's Aladdin.

There are a number of reasons why it's bad idea.

  • I'm too busy DJ-ing to look after your stuff. If it gets damaged/gets stolen due to other people storing their crap behind the booth you will no doubt blame me. I sure as hell won't be compensating you for the loss of your items, and quite frankly, I can't be arsed to have to deal with an argument with you and the club management.
  • Space is pretty limited in most DJ booths. If there is more than one DJ on the lineup, we have to store our own bags/jackets, as well as make space for our CDs/Serato boxes/laptops/vinyl, not to mention ourselves.
  • If you keep coming back and forth get your coat or handbag, it's inevitably going to distract me from doing my job. You may end up unplugging something, kocking the turntable or pushing buttons, which will not only spoil the crowd's night, but will also piss me off.
  • You may end up getting so drunk that you forget where you stored your coat. The last thing that security need is you causing a scene because you can't remember when you're stored your Topman blazer.

Moral of the story? Just pay the extra £2 to check in your coat at the club's cloakroom. If it's full, or if the queue is too long for you, then try again later. Chances are you've already paid to get into the club, and will probably pay for a cab home, so an extra couple of quid isn't going to hurt you, unless you're that desperate to spend it on a jagerbomb.

Better still, leave your coat at home. The weather is getting warmer now, so you can venture outdoors without risk of freezing.

Next time, I'll be ranting about a subject that needs addressing - University raves and events with 10+ DJs on the line up.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Why I No Longer Take Requests

When I first started going clubbing, I used to look forward to hearing new music on a sound system, alongside the tunes I already knew and could expect to hear (depending on the type of night). Maybe it's because I've always been interested in seeking out new music. Even if I wanted to hear a certain song, there is no way that I would tell the DJ to play it, i.e. tell him/her how to do their job….

Requests are one of those things that unfortunately rears its ugly head at any nightclub or bar, and have sadly become part of the job ever since someone had the bravado or dutch courage to go up to the DJ and ask for a particular song back in the late 20th Century.

Given that nightclubs and bars are an establishment where music will be played, I understand that people will want to listen to certain songs whilst they are out clubbing; some people will ask politely and wait patiently, and if told no, will accept the DJ's decision. Sometimes the request fits with the theme of the night, sometimes it doesn't.

However, I've noticed recently that more and more people are starting to think it is their God-given right to demand a track on the spot, and expect the DJ to play it there and then as if he or she is their own personal jukebox. If you don't play their song immediately, or have it in your crate, they start to moan, and sometimes resort to insulting you, purely because you haven't made them centre of your world, even if the tune they have requested doesn't fit with the music policy of the night, or if it's an inappropriate time to play their song.

I'm aware it comes with the job, but as a result of putting up with this for too long, I've decided to no longer take requests whilst DJ-ing.

I think one of the main reasons why I've stopped taking them is due to the sheer lack of manners that today's generation possess. Most of the younger generation seem to have no knowledge of the words "please" or thank you", and think it's okay to shout "oi!" instead of say "excuse me". I've been brought up to mind my p's and q's, so being rude to me will only result in you being ignored, or me returning the favour. Someone even had the cheek to complain the other day because I told them where to go after being insulted, but I digress...

Thanks to the iPhone, people can listen to their entire music collection on the go and listen to their favourite tunes over and over again….not to mention they also think it's acceptable to pass us their iPhone and tell us to play a song on there, if we don't have it in our crates.

Because a lot people like to listen to their favourite songs on repeat at home, they also think they can do the same in a nightclub too. I've never understood this. Why demand to hear "N***as In Paris" every 20 minutes, when I can hit you with a whole bunch of new (and classic) tunes that are on par, if not better?

To all the smart-asses reading, yes I know it got played it up to 12 times consecutively at the WTT concert, but I'm not exactly Jigga or Yeezy, and this isn't the fucking O2 Arena; It's just a normal nightclub.

Think about it as well. You may want to hear the same song every 20 minutes, but the rest of the club probably won't want to. If I'm to play a song up to 4 times in one night, a lot of people are going to think my selection is limited as well. If you arrived at the club late and I've already played your song, that's tough luck. I'm not going to run the risk of losing a dancefloor by catering to your individual needs.

Not only is it annoying having some drunk girl shout in your face for David Guetta, Rihanna, "Deep House", or other things like "something new" or "something good", trying to deal with multiple requests and trying to decipher your drunken speech can be pretty distracting. I mix between songs pretty quickly, and really don't have time to engage in a conversation (read: argument) with you about why you reckon "everyone will dance to this song" if I play it.

I get it though. We pretty much live in an entitlement society - today's youths (and young adults) have this flawed attitude of "I deserve this", "I'm owed this" or "I want this to happen my way because I said so".

Well kids, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but paying to get into a nightclub does not buy you the right to treat DJs or bar staff as your personal servants. You are not entitled to anything. You do not own me, nor do you have the right to tell me how to do my job. I sure as hell wouldn't turn up to your place of work, and give you advice on how to flip burgers, sell shoes, file reports, handle hedge funds, or perform something complex such as a root canal or heart bypass.

I appreciate that most punters are inebriated either from alcohol or other substances, but it still does not give them the right to treat the DJ (or any other member of staff in the club) poorly.

Probably the worst people are those who think they can command what the DJ plays, as it is their birthday. Not only is it a lame and desperate excuse for attention, it also reinforces my previous statement about today's entitlement society - everybody wants/thinks they deserve their five fucking minutes of fame. To the people who use this as an excuse to get their song played - there are probably at least 5 to 10 other people in the club who share the same birthday as you, so what makes you so special, really? Are you Jesus? Are you my mother? Are you my girlfriend? Are you even part of my DJ crew? No, so please scuttle back over to the corner and celebrate it by popping bottles with your friends and leave me the fuck alone. 50 Cent may have told you to party like it's your birthday, but please do it in a way that doesn't disturb me from doing my job, you spoilt little trollop.

Overall, I know that we cannot please everyone in the club. Like art, music is subjective, and some tracks or genres will not be to everyone's taste. I totally understand that. However please be aware that I am there to provide music to entertain the crowd as a whole, not specific individuals. Just because you want to hear a certain song right now, doesn't reflect the opinion of the whole club. It might be a hard pill to swallow, but please be aware that the universe does not revolve around you, no matter how much you've paid to get in, no matter how good you may look, or many bottles you've ordered on table service.

Until the majority of modern society grasps the concept of being polite, or understanding the concept that a DJ is not a human jukebox, the only person that can actually request a song is the person that's paying me to DJ.

Don't like it? You have two options - go home and cradle your iPod, or man up, stop whinging and just concentrate on dancing and having a good time….Regardless of whether I've just played "N***as In Paris" 20 minutes ago.


I've started this blog as a means to express my hate for certain aspects of the DJ/music industry. Some of you may agree with what I have to say, whilst some of you will be offended.

Either way, I couldn't really give a shit.

As a full time DJ, I can say from experience that this is like any other job - there are perks and there are some aspects which really piss us off.

So put the kettle on, fix yourself a cuppa and have a read through. Chances are you might find some of this shit entertaining.