What Exactly Does A DJ Do On Stage
Many say that all that a DJ does these days is press a few buttons on the players and getting paid silly money. But is it really just that? Or do they sometimes also operate some Clubmax lasers, LED screens and lighting fixtures?
At first we should specify what kind of DJ it is, what sort of party it is and where is the party happening. Surely the amount of “work” done by the DJ will be different from situation to situation.
* yes, some get non-sense money for what they do!
If the DJ is performing at a large festival or party, it is quite likely he will have his set prepared beforehand. If that’s the case, then he really will be just pressing buttons on his decks from time to time. But that doesn’t mean there’s no work behind this. Most likely it will be many hours of preparations of various mixes and tracks that he uses for his final “mix”. Only then can the DJ jump up & down together with the audience while performing on stage.
At a small illegal rave in the woods the DJ will probably “spin the wheels” without any serious preps at home and try to make it all nice and brain-washing without need of theatrical performance in front of the audience.
However, there are also other activities that are or could be (should be in some cases) performed by the DJ:
Watch the audience, assess the atmosphere and choose the tracks to steer the party mood to right direction.
Make sure the speed of played back tracks is matched and the tracks are synchronised on the beat (these days this applies mainly to turntables – other machines can do this automatically). Also all the transitions (mixes) between tracks should be flawless – a good mix is when the audience don’t realise it was a mix.
If the DJ is a mobile DJ or he is responsible for other entertainment media, the above would also apply to any lighting, projections, SFXs and laser displays – they should all be nicely synchronised to music and between themselves too.
A big mistake by many lighting operators is using all they have at the same time.