Congratulations! You’ve booked a live gig. You have all the right equipment, and you’ve mixed up a killer setlist. The crowd is ready to hear your set, but once you get up on stage, you pause. What are you supposed to do up there?
DJ stage presence is a key component of live shows. Many DJs can overlook stage presence as they are so focused on the music, they forget their gig is essentially a live performance. The crowd is coming to hear the music, but if your venue is well-lit and your DJ booth is front and center, they also have come to see you, the DJ, perform!
How do you develop a DJ stage presence to keep the crowd engaged? You’ve got the music skills, and you promoted yourself well to fill up the audience. Now is the time to highlight your acting skills and work the stage!
Here are our top tips for cultivating the best DJ stage presence.
Smile and Have Fun
The most important thing to remember about DJ stage presence is you and your audience are there to have fun! Your crowd is there to drink, dance, and have a good time. You’ll need to be the party master extraordinaire! Everyone is a little shy at first when they start performing but let the crowd’s energy feed you. Use the music genre and venue as a guide. If you’re playing a hyped-up, four-on-the-floor set, then you better be jumping with your audience! Is your set a little more psychedelic, a little more subdued? Sway with the music, put your free hand in the air, and encourage the crowd to do the same!
If you’re still stuck or feel stiff, the most important thing to remember is to smile! A killer smile will show the audience you’re having fun, and it will encourage them to have fun too. Relax your shoulders, wiggle out your tension before you get on stage, and just get lost in the music. If you love your set as much as the audience does, it will show through your movements and facial expressions.
Speaking of movements, your audience came to dance, so you should too if you can manage it without damaging your equipment. If you can’t bust a move and mix at the same time, that’s okay, but make sure you’re not stiff as a board. Sway, bounce, and bop your head to the beat as you mix your next track. A static DJ is a boring DJ. You want your DJ stage presence to shine.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to get too crazy with dancing if your stage is dark. But even if you think the audience isn’t looking at you, you still want to put on a show for the people who do glance your way. Your energy will feed theirs and keep the party vibes going no matter what your venue is.
Engage with the Audience
Does your venue have a front row of the audience? Or do you have a couple of people on the dance floor who insist on dancing right up next to your stage? These people are going to be your hype masters, so make sure you pay attention to them! Engaging your audience is a great way to improve your DJ stage presence and amp up the energy in the crowd.
You can engage your audience in a couple of ways: smile at them, encourage them to put their hands in the air or make noise, or even talk to them with your microphone. A couple of call-and-response shoutouts are a great way to get the audience invested in what you’re playing next. You can even do this with some DJ drops sprinkled into your set, so you don’t have to talk at all!
Practice Practice Practice
You probably already have a killer set that you’ve practiced to death, but you need to practice your DJ stage presence too. Your body will remember movements. Make sure you practice your set a few times for an invisible crowd! Pretend that you have an audience or practice your set and DJ stage presence for friends or family. They can give you live pointers and feedback as well as help you get over the awkwardness of performing for people. You don’t necessarily have to practice your entire hours-long set multiple times, but a couple of half-hour run-throughs should get you more used to making facial expressions, dancing, and engaging with the audience.
Watch Yourself and Improve
Have you performed a few gigs before? Next time you play, set up a phone or a camera and record your performance! Not only do you get to listen to your transitions and the crowd’s reactions from their point of view, but you can also look at your DJ stage presence and see how you look on stage. From there, you can improve on things for your next show. Make some observations and ask yourself these questions:
- Are you too stiff?
- Does your smile look forced?
- Are you having a good time?
- How’s your engagement with the crowd?
Take notes and apply your observations to your next show.
Learn from Others
Finally, pay attention to your favorite live DJs! Attend other DJs’ shows or watch performances online of local and famous DJs to see how they exude DJ stage presence. Observe how animated they are, or if they have a schtick they use to engage with the crowd. Some pro DJs will have a persona they carry into shows, like Deadmau5, Marshmello, or even the famous (and now disbanded) Daft Punk. You don’t have to go to extremes like light-up helmets but having a persona that you carry onstage like the greats can help you immensely with your DJ stage presence.
Enhance Your DJ Stage Presence with Drops from NYE Countdown
A great DJ has many tools in their belt to add to their DJ stage presence. Engage your crowd even more with a custom video opener for your set, or custom DJ drops to use for call and response so you don’t have to say a word. Check out our shop for all of our top DJ audio and video products today!