I’m always happy when someone books me for a gig. I could always use the extra cash, because, well, college life, but also because it allows me to blow off some steam in a fun way by doing something I love. College can be so stressful sometimes, and also very structured – I mean, you can only play Beethoven so many times! This way, I get to play my favorite music, meet new people, hang out with some friends, dance a little, you know. I’m happy if the audience is happy.

I don’t get booked every single weekend, but some weekends it’s both Friday and Saturday, and others it’s just the one or the other. This one time I got booked three times that week and that was so much fun. It was all I could think about in classes and the days after. It gave me life force for rainy days.

I recently started thinking about uploading the mixes from my gigs to mixcloud. I’m still not sure if I want to do this, because I usually do my mixes on the spot. I just like to feel the atmosphere at the party, see what the people react to best, and build it from there, no preconceived concept. So I’m thinking, if I upload those online they may not make that much sense or something? I don’t know. My friends keep convincing me to do it, widen my audience or at least release them out there into the world, but I still haven’t decided.

The best part about preparing for a gig is the excitement. Which is why I don’t drink beforehand. Contrary to convention, I drink on the job, haha! I do have an AppliancesReviewed soda maker at home so I’m perfectly happy sipping on some homemade soda while I decide what to wear, which records to bring with me, and what equipment I need that night.

Lately, I’ve been into dramatic makeup and glitter. A little glam, like a 70s rock star. I don’t like to go overboard with it, but when you’re DJing and you’re behind that counter, you want to feel like a rock star. Plus, I’m just looking for an excuse to wear glitter on my face – I don’t have gigs that often, so I’m just trying to take advantage of the situation.

DJing is super cool, even if you don’t do it professionally, it’s important to have fun, so rock on!



As a DJ, your job is to inspire the crowd to feel something. Whether you want them to dance, raise hell, or find some romancin’, a good DJ gets the crowd going. They are depending on you to set the mood and keep the party going. But in order to inspire a room, dance hall, or arena full of people, you yourself have to be inspired, too!

This can be a daunting task when you’re first starting out. Been there, done that, hahaha. You can look online to find the gigs of other DJs, and I highly recommend doing so. It’s a great first step to get yourself familiar with venues, crowds, and other DJs. While this is a competitive business, it’s also smart to get in with the more established DJ crowd in your area. Be humble. Introduce yourself. You never know when someone is going to get sick or accidentally double-books, so you might be the go-to person in a pinch.

But what if you can’t make it out to a gig, or if there really isn’t anybody out there doing what you do (LUCKY YOU!!!)? What other options do you have? Since we live in an amazing age of digital sharing, there is a slew of places out there offering mixes for you to listen to and download. It really depends on what you want to spin and how much time you feel like spending on the internet. You can probably find anything if you look hard enough, especially on youtube.

To get you started, though, here are a few of my more DJ specific go-to places:

I have found a great selection of cool stuff on the site MixIr that really gets me inspired. There’s music there from all over the world, so you’re bound to find something interesting that will get your creative juices going. This is especially helpful if you’re doing a gig for an event where they’ve requested a type of music you don’t have a lot of experience with.

Another good place to check out is the DJ channel on SoundCloud, you get a nice list of stuff there too.  I especially like the downloadability of it. It’s great for last-minute gigs where you want something totally fresh on hand to mix with. There are a lot of options on that site, so I recommend searching around for awhile to be sure you’ve found all the cool stuff they have to offer.

The DJ list also has some cool stuff for your listening pleasure. They have over 25,000 house mixes available ALONE, and there’s plenty of other types of music too. Definitely worth a listen!

Also, check out the free music section of Club Starters. They also have music for purchase, which is handy. They organize them by categories and let you know what’s been popular so that you can stay up to date.

Some regionally famous DJs will also offer edits on social media, so it is worth it to check that stuff out too. It will give you an idea of what is popular in your market and what people are playing.

What are some of your favorite music sites? Did I leave someone/something out?


Hey there! Molly again, with a bit of advice for all you digital music fans:

Back it up!

Those digital crates, when you add them all up, cost you money. You paid hard-earned money for them. Mixes and edits cost you time and hard work. That kick-butt playlist that it took you hours to create for your gig next week was mega time consuming. So again: time + money + hard work + creativity + hard drive failure=one sad panda of a DJ. Don’t be a sad panda.

All of us have had a device fail on us at some point—whether it be a phone (oh, man, there go all my contacts!), an SD card in a camera (noooo don’t say you need to format card on the LAST day of my vacation you stupid camera) or a computer (blue screen of death, doh!) or maybe something else decided to act like it doesn’t know you anymore. I know you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about (and if you don’t you’re just lying to yourself). Especially if you have an extensive or expensive collection, or if it is your livelihood, you really need to do what smart companies have been doing forever and back it all up somewhere safe.I don’t care if you put it in the cloud, on a billion flash drives, a server, a detachable hard drive, or on another computer. Whatever you’re comfortable with, but for the love of cake (and I love cake), back it up. Preferably have two types of backup, because if you have, say, a backup on a portable hard drive and your house is broken into and they take both the computer with all your files and the hard drive, guess what? You’re still out of luck. I wish that was just a ridiculous hypothetical but it actually happened to a friend of mine. So. Yeah. I regularly backup my complete library to the cloud. I have upgraded laptops since I started, and it was great to be able to just log into my account from the new device and TADA, everything was ready and waiting for me. Whoohoo. Plus, it is somewhere different than my computer and I have access to it anywhere.

I also tend to put my favorite and most popular stuff on a flash drive that I keep on my keychain. First of all, I like having my music with me. I’m just weird like that. Second, I’m always paranoid that I’ll have equipment failure and no internet access to get my stuff out of the cloud. But also, I have found that when you’re at a party or gathering and people find out you’re a DJ, they tend to want you to perform. Maybe I don’t mind feeling like a circus monkey but you give me an audience and a way to play my tunes, I am ready to go. I’ve also known other DJs who do this, and a couple have been able to pull last minute gigs when somebody had either equipment failure or canceled for whatever reason at the last minute. So it’s good for business.

Some people who are savvier than I use programs to make bootable drives of their stuff, so any computer with the same operating system becomes their computer when they attach the bootable drive. I think this would come in handy if you had a huge library that didn’t fit on a USB keychain drive. I’ve also heard of a much more low-tech version: just downloading everything to an mp3 player and carrying that around for worst-case scenarios.

No matter what you decide, make sure this is a routine part of your business practices. Have a plan and protect your investment!

We had a long weekend recently, and a friend (his name is Chris) wanted to know if I wanted to come with him to a music festival. He told me that they might have an opening or two for some DJs to do a couple of sets. It was a couple of hours’ drive away, but he has a car and was willing to drive. I was promised at least a free ticket to the festival, so it sounded pretty win-win to me. Either I got to listen to some free music for a couple of days or I got a paying gig. Or both.

We headed out, and we were already on the highway before it occurred to me to ask Chris what the sleeping arrangements were going to be—I know, I know, should have asked before I agreed to it. Lesson learned, trust me. He said that the cost of a hotel in the area had skyrocketed because of the festival, and if he got us a room, it would be more than we’d get paid (if we even got the job). But he had been able to secure us a camp site near the festival with access to real bathrooms, and the car got to stay on the site with us so we could keep an eye on our DJ equipment. I totally hate sleeping on the ground and started to freak. Chris laughed said to check the back seat.

There were two of the best inflatable beds back there, along with a pregnancy pillow for the drive up, a tent and two sleeping bags. Sweet! Real bathrooms and a mattress to sleep on is the kind of camping I can fully support!

There was hardly any traffic until we got near the festival. After some rerouting, we made it to the campsite. The area was nice. We had a few trees, a BBQ grill, a campfire ring, and a nice flat place to put the tent. Chris got the tent set up while I read the instructions for the air mattresses. They were self-inflating and ran on battery power, so I got to work getting fresh batteries out of their box and into the pump mechanism for the beds. Once the tent was ready, I dragged them in and started ‘em up. They didn’t feel all plastic-y, which was promising, and inflated quicker than I thought they would. The pumps weren’t very loud, either. It helped that Chris had his laptop out and was blasting some music, though. I unrolled the two sleeping bags and tested out one of the beds. It was surprisingly comfortable!

We headed over to the festival, watched a few acts, and then checked in with the person Chris knew. They had one slot available, and Chris offered it to me. I felt terrible that after all the thought he’d put into this and his kindness in bringing me along, he was going to be out in the cold like that. So I asked if we could do a set as a duo, and the promoter agreed. He showed us to where we would be doing our set later that night. It was so exciting!

We had a great time and a decent crowd by the end. It certainly looked like they were enjoying it, and judging by the tip we got from the promoter (it was an energy drink; our job had basically been to attract people to his tent for free samples and purchasing product), he thought we did a great job, too. We headed back to the tent, exhausted. I was expecting the beds to have deflated a little but they hadn’t, and they didn’t the whole night either. The mattress was as firm when I woke up as it was when I fell asleep. I deflated the mattresses—also surprisingly easy–and dragged them out of the tent while Chris took the tent apart. We went back to the festival and caught a few more performances before we made our way back to school.

All in all, a really good experience and a really productive weekend. I am so glad I went.



Everyone is new to something at some point, right? I started DJing in middle school and looking back now, I am embarrassed just thinking about how clueless I was. So consider this my way of helping you avoid cringe-worthy performances. I recommend starting with some decent but basic gear and volunteering at gigs when you start out. This way, if you decide this isn’t for you, you aren’t out a whole lot for equipment and if you don’t do so well your first couple of shows, nobody gets too pissed—you get what you pay for, right? But hopefully, you impress them and when they compliment you on your awesome job, tell them to recommend you to their friends. Word of mouth definitely helps in this business.  Eventually, you can start charging money for your services, and it helps if you do some background digging and figure out what your competitors are charging so that you can charge a fair price.

Okay. Let’s start at the beginning: gear. Regardless of how many songs you can fit on an IPod, if you show up with that and a speaker, you’re going to get laughed at before you even get started. Soo…what do you need?  First, invest in a good set of headphones and a DJ Mixer. Then decide how tech you’re going.

  • Do you want that vintage vibe? You’ll need records, needles (aka DJ cartridges), and turntables. I would scrounge up records at garage sales and specialty websites and the like; they aren’t quite as easy to come by anymore, although there are some current groups that put stuff out on vinyl just because. You will also need cables to connect everything. Anyway, this isn’t quite my thing, so… let’s move on to the next option.
  • A good first setup (and where I started) is purchasing two CD DJ turntables to connect to your mixer. Many of these have digital file capabilities, too, which gives you even more This is especially good if people want you to play certain music and give you a flash drive or something.
  • If you want something super-portable and tech-y but doesn’t just look like you + a laptop, you can get a DJ controller and some DJ software. This will give you a lot of control over the music as far as your effects and sound, and it can be cheaper (depending on the route you go) and it is easy to pack up and break down. Less setup, too.

I highly recommend not getting super high end at the beginning unless you’re buying good quality used stuff. It might be harder to get started than you think or you might change your mind. Check secondhand stores and craigslist. There’s a reason there’s so much equipment out there 😉 Don’t be one of those people!! If you want some other ideas or need visuals on setup, check out this site. They do a good job of explaining the different setups.

Once you’ve got your gear and setup figured out, PRACTICE. Figure out what everything does. Seriously. Experiment. You can be as terrible as you want in your own room with a set of headphones where nobody can hear you.

Next: advertise. Anywhere you can think of. Dorm lobbies. Frat houses. Sites like Craigslist. Event Halls. Be SMART. Don’t go into a building that looks sketchy. Meet potential clients in a public place to talk about the gig first before you accept.

Protect yourself: Look online for a general contract (even if you’re doing it for free, it’s good to get into a habit of it, and it helps for record keeping) that you can have clients sign. You’ll look more professional and it will protect you if you’re getting paid.

That’s all I can think of for now.  Good luck and have fun!


(By the way, the answer is nothing.)

Hey, everyone! Hope you’ve been enjoying the blog so far and have found some useful info and helpful tips. Today’s topic, in case you haven’t figured it out, is mashups. Whether you know them as boots, cutups, blends, or smashups, they’re awesome and so much fun to do. For the uninitiated, this technique overlays the vocals of a song over the instrumentals of another. There was a radio station I listened to as a kid and they used to do it—it was the most amazing thing I’d heard (until I got older, obviously). It opened an entire world of possibilities in my mind of what could be done with music. Then I got older and started listening to DJs like Danger Mouse (ahh, The Grey Album) and Girl Talk.

Now, thanks to the internet, I have access to DJs all over the world who love creating mashups. There is a subreddit where people post lots of fun mashups. But I am a huge fan of the site Mashup Town because they give you a good variety of big, downloadable files. If you want more of a “yearbook” type recap, I’ve got two favorites: Check out Daniel Kim’sDanthology site, this year was so big, he had to make two mixes; and there’s DJ Earworm, who does summer AND year-end mixes.

Creating a successful mashup takes a good ear for music—you have to be able to hear how the songs will work together, adjusting the tempo and key as necessary. There is some software out there to make the job easier, however.  There’s Mixed In Key’s Mashup software, which lets you do things like add vocals to instrumental music and even pull out the drums while it matches the key for you. It makes things incredibly easy and is pretty reasonable as far as cost goes. Audacity, on the other hand, is free open sourceware that gives you the capability of splicing, changing pitch and tempo, and recording your own audio. It’s a pretty robust program considering it is free. I like to mess around with it when I’m bored.  Obviously, there are copyright issues. Some artists clearly don’t WANT you to mess with their songs, and I get that. But if people never improved on a product, there would never be progress, right? We’d all still be using ridiculous analog flip phones and all kinds of other nonsense. Most DJs feel that the music created through a mashup falls under “fair use” laws, but that is some murky waters that I’m not gonna stick my toe in at the moment. I’m mentioning it so that you understand if you post your mashups online or play them publicly (which is why you won’t find any of mine on this site; host rules) there is the potential for someone to get a bug up their butt about it…and well. It can be sticky. And that’s my PSA for the day. Don’t let it discourage you, though. Mix it up. Stand out.  Play YOUR music. Have fun!



This seems like an obvious one, but when somebody is interested in hiring you for a gig, you should really be interviewing them, too. First of all, it gives a more professional impression. People want to be sure that their expectations are going to be met, and when you ask them what they envision for their event, you are showing them that you are interested in making that vision a reality. Find out what type of music they want you to play so that you have time to get more in that style if you need to. If they’re giving you free reign because they’ve heard you before, find out what they liked about it and what they didn’t so you know what to do/not to do. Ask them about the crowd. Ages, what they consider a good turnout to be, if they like to dance, that kind of thing. Ask about the venue: if there’s equipment already set up, if they’re cool with you bringing your own gear, where the DJ booth is located, how big the dance floor is. Anything you think you’ll need to know to ensure everyone has a great time.

Find out how you should handle requests if you’re given any. Sometimes people don’t care and will let you do whatever the crowd is feeling. If this is a club event and people have paid specifically to hear you spin, then forget that one or two people if you don’t feel like playing what they ask for. But if that’s not the case, take stock of the situation: if you’re playing house music and somebody comes up to ask if you have Free Bird, you may not want to honor that one if you don’t have to. Or make it fun and do a mashup. Who knows, maybe they’ll dig Free Bird: House Edition. Give it a try and see what happens. I’ve also heard of DJs who basically assign blame. If someone requests a song, the DJ takes it very seriously and asks the person’s name. Even if the song is a terrible idea, they’ll play it and make sure everyone knows who asked for it—and you don’t have to be a jerk about it, just be loud and clear—and put the tune on. If you see that it is crashing and burning, you can always transition to another song after a minute or two just so the requester will stop bothering you. But this way, you’ll still have technically done what they wanted and if it kills the crowd’s energy, they all know it wasn’t your idea to put it on. I know, you’ll probably get sick of having people ask you for the same earwormy dance song over and over but remember this: your success as a DJ depends on how much fun the crowd is having and how much people like what you’re playing. You may have the greatest edits in the history of DJing but if the crowd wants to hear dubstep and your stuff is all hip hop, guess what? Nobody’s going to care about what a cool and creative guy you are. All they are going to remember is the crappy DJ that “didn’t play anything good.”

Look out at the crowd from the DJ booth. If nobody’s dancing after one song and they were all on the floor a minute ago, give it another song and see what happens. If still nobody goes out there, start reading body language. Are people taking a break for some reason (maybe you wore them out, man) but still seem interested in what you are playing? Are they tapping their feet, nodding their head, or inching ever closer to the dance floor? Are they talking amongst themselves, or worse, looking bored? Making some quick musical judgment calls can save a floundering gig if you’re paying attention to the audience.

While the crowd may not be the ones paying your salary, if they are happy, they can help your reputation and credibility as far as landing future gigs. Happy crowd = better rep = more gigs for you. I may not be outstanding in math but I know a good formula when I see one.

Oh, and you’re welcome for today’s tip, brought to you by the should-be-obvious queen.