Many of us DJs have wide eyes and high hopes for playing those mega, big-room, headliner spots and getting paid to travel the world. Realistically, the more common scenario for a club DJ is to be an opener for such an act.
The “warmup DJ” has a very specific and important role, and it can often feel like an under-appreciated position to be in. But it is an art form all its own, and one that we should find joy in.
When you have a crowd full of people who have arrived to see someone who is not you, it can be intimidating to be put in the position of convincing them to like you while simultaneously restraining yourself (as to not overstep the headliner). Conversely, many people feel that the openers should bring everything they've got, since it's their time to shine.
The role of warmup DJs is often debated, and there are a lot of arguments which all hold merit. In episode 42, we talk about various approaches to warming up a room for a top-billing act.
We discuss the struggles of the warmup DJ. For example, how easy it is to get stuck doing warmup gigs, once promoters figure out that you're good at it.
We also use our buddy Mister Shifter, from episode 34, as an example of pivoting a set based on reading the crowd before a big headliner. Hopefully he doesn't mind! Surprise, Jack! 🙂
Since the three of us have had experience in various roles outside of DJing (such as being event promoters), we try to approach the discussion from various angles and give a fair assessment of what we think non-headliner DJs should be doing at big shows.
P.S. – make sure you listen all the way through after the outro, as Trip ends the show with a great story!
Resources in this episode include:
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