The pitfalls of being a student DJ

Think student DJs have an easy ride? Think again.


Completely empty rooms, getting shit for not heeding music requests and constantly having the piss taken out of you – student DJ Frankie Wates explains why one of the better paid student jobs can actually be a total nightmare:

Shameless self-promotion

The reality of DJing, the empty room

It becomes a little ironic when the club that you’ve slated for the last few years becomes the place that you beg people to come down to to watch you DJ. It’s the same as being in a band – did that too once – but the benefit of being able to say that you’re playing music you’ve actually made is gone.

You have to be even more shameless and persuasive. To be honest though, it’s not that different to generally promoting for a night. Not that that makes it any better.

Dodgy hours and missing out on the party

The life of a DJ is spent in dark and dingy rooms

Well, you’re not going to get that many DJ slots going in during the day time. I’ve not been too bothered by this, but for those that can’t hack the late nights and minimal sleep, DJing is not worth doing. There’s also the added problem that you may need to stay sober in order to DJ well – it is harder than it looks.

Missing out on whatever event you’re playing at is a bit of a drag. But I guess you can claim some responsibility if the party goes well at least.


The art of vinyl djing is much harder than it looks

DJing is actually really stressful. Anyone who doesn’t do it will always say that it’s “just pressing buttons” but if you’re doing it properly, there’s actually a huge amount to think about and focus on.

This is especially true if you’re using the more professional equipment – I tried doing a vinyl set the other day and it was a disaster. Keeping on the ball for a 2 hour slot is stressful, and also really exhausting.

No one ever seems to believe this though…

‘Play some Lady Gaga!’

Crowd participation is the worst

Two things here. Firstly, requests. People need to understand that most of the time, the DJ cannot play the track you’re requesting if they don’t have it. Without wanting to bore you, the way that most equipment works means that if they say they can’t play it, they can’t play it.

Secondly, if you’re at a house night, don’t ask the DJ to play hip-hop. Chances are, the DJ has agreed with the venue that he’ll play a certain type of music, and if you’ve got a problem with it, then you need to go to another night.

The rep

Another empty room

I would be lying if I said that putting on a work application form in the hobbies section “I’m a student DJ” hasn’t made me cringe. It does have the somewhat dodgy reputation, people slate us all the time when we tell them that we spend hours on end mixing in our bedrooms.

The thing is though, when you’ve managed to keep a crowd going, and you’ve finished your set, then the praise at least makes it worth it.