For all you DJs in the Northern hemisphere, summer is here and in full swing. The days are longer and hotter, and the nights are full of parties and festivals. If you’ve been on the DJ scene for a while, you might have even landed a coveted spot as a featured performer for a summer music festival! Congratulations! Festivals are an experience unlike anything else. But there are some things you should know about DJing a summer music festival.
Festivals are entirely different animals than clubs. Even a simple outdoor gig is worlds away from the nightclub or party life. Your performance might be similar overall, but the preparation involved beforehand, and the atmosphere of a summer music festival are what make them unique. Read on for our top list of tips for DJing a summer music festival so you can be prepared.
1. Know your Setup
Festival stages are usually set up specifically for the event, so it may not be possible to scope out where you’ll be performing beforehand. However, there are some steps you can take to make sure you can be prepared. Ask the organizers where they’ll be setting up the stage, and what equipment is going to be provided for the performers. This way you can have an idea of what you need to pack.
However, the festival organizers or tech team may ask you for a list of what equipment you might need, instead. Be prepared to give them a detailed list if this happens. Surge protectors and cable management are considered equipment, so it’s always better to add more things than you think are necessary.
Map out a plan for where you’re going to park, where your gear is going to be stored, and how you’ll be getting from point A to point B. The festival organizers should be able to help you with this or provide transportation and maps of the venue. The more prep you can do ahead of time, the better, so you won’t be lost on the day of the festival.
2. Know Your Itinerary
Make sure you get your itinerary in writing and keep a copy with you during the festival and its preparations. Include travel arrangements in your itinerary if the festival is out of town, and make sure you’re aware of when you need to arrive to attend rehearsals or other meetings before the festival starts. Last minute lineup or venue changes can happen as weather conditions or cancellations occur before a festival, so mark changes to your itinerary on your copy so you can keep track. You need to always know where to be, when, and why to keep everything running smoothly.
3. Pack Light
Remember the list of equipment from the organizers in step one? The more equipment the organizers provide, the better, because packing light is imperative for DJing summer festivals outdoors. The weather conditions or venue may be hazardous or hard to get to, so you don’t want to have to lug around any more gear than necessary. Make sure you have backups of essential gear (like headphone cables, music storage, or power cables), but don’t go overboard on the “emergency” kit. You’ll need to be mobile, especially if your set is switched to a different time slot at the last minute.
4. Heat/Sun Protection
Summer music festivals may or may not have a covered stage to protect performers from the elements, so you may need to get creative to keep yourself and your equipment cool. If your performance is on an open-air stage during the heat of the day, you may want to invest in a portable shade to cover your equipment and keep yourself out of the sun. Your turntables, laptop, or other DJ equipment can easily overheat in the sun, which can fry electrical components or cause a shutdown. Portable fans are also a necessity if the temperatures climb to dangerous levels.
And don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun! Wear plenty of sunscreen and eye protection, and make sure to drink plenty of water during and after your set.
5. Dust/Dirt Protection
Being outdoors also means that you may have to contend with dust, dirt, or mud, depending on the weather conditions of the festival. Make sure all your equipment is stored in watertight or dustproof cases as you transport it throughout the venue. Consider purchasing dust covers for your laptop, keyboard, or other equipment, as well. You don’t want to be sneezing or fighting through the muck to make sure you can perform.
6. Keep an Eye on Your Stuff
Unfortunately, the fun chaos of music festivals can also lead to some unfortunate consequences. Make sure you keep an eye on your equipment or have trusted helpers with you. Headphones, laptops, and other electronics can easily go missing if left unattended in the wrong area. Your bag should always be on your person, or with a trusted assistant. You don’t want to lose your wallet or be unable to play your set if an essential piece of your equipment goes missing.
Finally, don’t forget to put your name out there before the festival! Summer music festivals are a big deal, so there’s probably tons of social media presence advertising the event. Jump on the hype bandwagon and start letting your audience know that you’ll be there! Make sure you check with the event organizers to see if there are details you’re not allowed to disclose on social media first but otherwise go nuts! Share previews of your set, make an event on Facebook for your time slot and tag the festival pages for maximum visibility. This is your moment to shine!
There’s Nothing Like DJing a Summer Music Festival!
Summer music festivals are exhausting but a whole lot of fun, so embrace the opportunity to perform and have a great time! They take a lot of work to prepare for, so make sure you check out our other Pro DJ tips to make sure you’re ready to rock the music festival. And if you’re really looking to spice up your summer music festival set, check out our custom DJ Drops! There’s nothing like a hyped festival crowd screaming your name, after all!