Retro DJ: Step Back in Time to Get Ahead
If you’re serious about a career as a DJ, you need to be flexible. Broadening your horizons and catering to different audiences and styles of music can really pay off, especially when you’re just starting out. You’ll also need the right gear, and to make sure your playlists are appropriate for your audience.
A walk down memory lane
Think older audiences for example. There are plenty of high school reunions and anniversary parties about. You’ll just need to research and find out what the kids of yesterday (your audience of today) were grooving to back then.
You have easy access on iTunes to great music compilations from any era. Google will tell you who was topping the charts in 1985 or even 1975. Downloading tracks onto your laptop and playing them via a DJ controller, a device that imitates the two-turntable set up from the vinyl era, turns your laptop into an instant record collection.
Put this through a couple of wireless speakers, such as the Truesonic 115W, and you can create an outdoor disco in a backyard, old school hall, or a marquee, without the hassle of laying down cables and setting up a power amp.
To vinyl or not to vinyl?
Some people clamour after vinyl, and you may find when you DJ that people specifically ask for vinyl to be played. When you consider it, it’s not such a strange request. Older people have a nostalgic connection to vinyl, and younger people love anything retro. If you’re comfortable with vinyl, you could consider advertising this as one of your special services – the Vinyl Package! Keep in mind that this is a lot more work, since you have to build a collection. Inheriting your granddad’s album collection will help!
Get a heads up on the tunes
So you’ve expanded your playlists to cater for a wider audience, got your website up, you’re emailing media kits to likely customers, and you get a query from a motorcycle club to play their annual social night. You rock up with ‘Born To Be Wild’, ‘Thunderstruck’ and every album by ZZ Top, only to discover it’s a sixties scooter club and they want you to play The Who and Small Faces. One way you can make sure this never happens is to provide clients with set lists under headings – sixties, seventies, disco, house, hard rock, etc. Another way is to ask the client for examples of tracks they would like to have played.
Sound plus visuals
Getting off to a good start as a working DJ is not just about expanding your horizons and making sure you have the right playlist for the right audience. It’s also about having the right gear.
Having your own powered speakers means you don’t have to rely on the venue or client for the PA. Even if they have one lined up, it’s best to have your own back-up with you in case their equipment fails. Also consider buying party lights online, making them appropriate to the era you are playing.
The American DJ Dotz TPar system delivers that classic sixties and seventies rock lighting, while for disco consider the Quad Phase with its razor sharp, thirteen-colour beams to get the crowd onto the dance floor for that epic ‘Knock On Wood’.