DJ Etiquette: The Do’s & Don’ts DJs Should Know

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Published By:

DJ Fierce

July 5, 2024

DJ Etiquette

Becoming a professional DJ is about more than playing great music, whether you’re performing in clubs or picking up gigs at weddings and private parties.

Whatever the venue, understanding the do’s and don’ts of DJ etiquette is crucial for leaving a strong impression and forging long-lasting relationships.

Read on for a complete breakdown of what you should do to achieve your DJ goals and the common pitfalls you should avoid at all costs.

DJ Etiquette: The Do’s & Don’ts DJ’s Should Know

Interacting with clients and audiences, respecting the DJ booth, and mastering your gear are just some of the DJ etiquette rules you need to know.

We’ve covered a range of etiquette tips to consider before, during, and after your gigs to help you navigate the industry and realize your ambitions.

So, before you head out to your next gig, here are the DJ etiquette do’s and don’ts you should know in 2024:

The Benefits Of Good DJ Etiquette

Understanding the importance of DJ etiquette can make the difference between picking up more gigs or destroying your chances of a thriving career.

Whether you’re interested in becoming a club DJ or want to dominate the local house party scene, these rules have universal applications.

Following this guide to DJ etiquette will help you build a positive reputation with venue owners and build a loyal following of fans.

While some rules are self-evident, others are based on years of experience in the industry and hard lessons learned by professionals.

Don’t worry when you inevitably make mistakes, but take the time to reflect, learn from them, and avoid them in your future DJ gigs.

The Do’s & Don’ts Before The Gig

1. Do Double-Check Your Gear

One of the most common mistakes DJs make is failing to check that their hardware is in good working order before hitting the club.

Likewise, the best DJ software can be prone to technical issues, so it pays to check everything is working correctly before you launch your DJ set.

Whether you’re performing on your personal setup or using the DJ booth rig, a quick double-check before your set is crucial.

2. Do Review Your Setlist

A DJ is only as good as the tunes they play, so you should always review your setlist before heading out to the venue.

You can organize DJ playlists in many different ways, so don’t be afraid to create multiple lists to give you plenty of options on the night.

3. Do Communicate With The Venue

Communication is the key to avoiding misunderstanding, whether you’re playing a warmup set or performing at weddings or corporate events.

If you’re hoping to get a DJ residency, mastering your communication skills and engaging with the venue’s requirements is a must.

4. Do Prepare For Requests (Gracefully)

Whatever style of DJing you’re playing, getting requests from the audience is inevitable, and responding correctly will avoid leaving a bad impression.

If you’re learning how to become a club DJ, you can politely decline requests, while wedding DJs should be well prepared to fulfill requests in advance.

It’s a good idea for wedding DJs to ask people to put their requests forward in advance, allowing you to integrate them into their sets smoothly.

5. Do Perform A Sound Check

Just as professional DJs should check their equipment, so too should they perform a sound check before they start mixing for a crowd.

While this isn’t always possible, if you’re playing the first set, you should run a tune through the sound system to ensure it isn’t distorting.

6. Don’t Show Up Unprepared

A lack of preparation is one of the leading causes of failing as a DJ, so it pays to write up a complete checklist before you leave the house.

This is particularly important if you’re using a mobile DJ setup with additional features such as lighting and microphones for MCing.

7. Don’t Pack Unnecessary Gear

While DJs should always be sure they have everything they need for a set, they should also avoid packing unnecessary gear.

This will help you streamline the process of setting up and packing away on time and not getting in the way of other DJs waiting to perform.

8. Don’t Overdo the Self-Promotion (Before the Gig)

Successful DJs understand when it’s time to promote their services and when they should hold back from pushing them.

Understand the appropriate DJ prices and present your pitch to the venue manager, but avoid being too pushy and losing more gigs.

9. Don’t Be Disrespectful To Staff Or Other DJs

DJing is inherently social, and gigging professionals will interact with various staff and other DJs throughout their gigs.

If you want to make it in the DJ industry, be polite and respectful to everyone in the venue space, as this will make life easy for everyone.

10. Don’t Be Unprofessional

Just as DJs should avoid disrespecting the staff and other DJs they work with, they should also avoid coming across as unprofessional at all costs.

This includes avoiding using bad language in conversations with booking agents and presenting yourself in a manner befitting the occasion.

The Do’s & Don’ts During The Gig

1. Do Read The Room

One of the most effective skills demonstrated by the world’s most famous DJs is their ability to read the room and drop the best tunes for the moment.

If your track selection isn’t getting the dancefloor pumping, adapting on the fly to the mood of the room is vital for recovering the audience.

2. Do Seamless Transitions

Playing a great selection of tracks in your DJ sets counts for nothing if your mixing skills are lacking and the songs you’re playing clash.

Make sure you’ve perfected a range of transitions that incorporate a selection of filters, effects, and techniques that showcase your style.

3. Do Engage The Crowd (Authentically)

Reading the room and selecting the best tracks for the moment is just the beginning of what it takes to stand out from the competition.

A great DJ should also dominate the DJ booth and interact with the crowd to create a sense of connection that encourages a great time.

4. Do Respect The Venue & Equipment

Whether you’re DJing at parties or in a professional venue, you should respect the equipment’s owner and keep it in good working order.

Make sure you clean the DJ gear before and after your gig and avoid spilling drinks or food on the DJ controller during the performance.

5. Do Stay Hydrated & Focused

DJing can expend a lot of mental and physical energy, and if you’re lost in the mix, it can be easy to forget to stay hydrated throughout the set.

If you have a separate DJ table for storing personal belongings, use this to stock a few bottles of water you can quickly sip from while performing a mix.

6. Don’t Get Intoxicated

Just as it’s vital to ensure you’re properly hydrated during a set, it’s equally important to avoid getting intoxicated by alcohol or other substances.

This can be particularly tempting when DJing in clubs, but you can always let loose at the end of the night when you don’t have to focus on mixing.

7. Don’t Hassle The Staff

Performing a DJ set requires intense concentration, with little time to head to the bar and pick up a refreshment during a mix.

With that said, it’s not an excuse to hassle the staff and ask them to attend to your needs, as they have paying customers to prioritize.

8. Don’t Trash Talk Fellow DJs

While many DJs prefer to work alone, others like to perform back-to-back sets with their fellow DJs and share the time slot and limelight.

This requires a new level of etiquette, avoiding trash-talking another DJ’s set, whether you’re partnered together or sharing the time over the night.

9. Don’t Overstep Your Time Limit

To show respect to the next DJ at a gig, you should strive to avoid running over your time limit and cutting into their set.

Monitor the time so you know when to bring in the last track and give the other DJ time to switch places and cue up a mix.

10. Don’t Forget To Have Fun!

DJing can be stressful, particularly for newcomers who are unused to a crowd, turning what should be a fun time into an unpleasant experience.

If you’re feeling the pressure, remind yourself that DJing is about having a good time and sharing your passion for the music that you love.

The Do’s & Don’ts After The Gig

1. Do Show Gratitude

A little gratitude can go a long way in helping you advance your DJ career by forging healthy professional relationships built on reciprocity.

This means thanking people for their time and effort, whether you’re dealing with bar staff, security, or the venue’s owner or booking agent.

2. Do Pack Up Efficiently

Another common DJ etiquette to remember is to be prepared to pack up your gear efficiently once your set has finished.

To save time, you can start the process once the last track is playing or ask friends to help speed up the process and clear the DJ booth.

3. Do Network With The Resident DJ & Staff

Becoming a successful DJ requires a proactive approach to networking with staff and other DJs working in your area.

Don’t sit around waiting for a DJ meeting that might never happen, instead get engaged with your peers and employers to bring opportunities to you.

4. Do Follow Up With Promoters

Another important way DJs should approach developing their careers is by taking a proactive approach to chasing up with promoters.

Booking agents and promoters have busy careers involving artist liaison and other tasks and sometimes might overlook replying.

Don’t be afraid to send them a reminder to get back to you if you don’t hear back after a week, but avoid being too pushy.

5. Do Reflect and Learn

The art of DJing is a constantly evolving process, from mastering the latest DJ technology to refining track selection to deliver the best results.

Dedicate some of your time to learning new skills, and record your live sets to review them at a later date so you can spot and fix mistakes.

6. Don’t Leave Immediately

While it’s important to ensure you pack away your belongings as quickly as possible after a set, that doesn’t mean rushing straight for the exit.

Consider hanging around the DJ booth, checking out the next set, and chatting with the audience to get their reactions to your mixing.

7. Don’t Pack Down The DJ Booth Early

If you’re the last DJ playing at an event, it can be tempting to start packing everything away once the last track has finished and head home.

You should avoid doing this whenever possible, as giving the audience the impression you’d rather be elsewhere isn’t a great look.

8. Don’t Become Hostile With The Audience

As with any form of live entertainment, it’s inevitable that you’ll be faced with aggressive heckling or drunken behavior sooner or later.

If this occurs, stay calm and avoid becoming angry in response, instead calling over a security guard and asking them to deal with the situation.

9. Don’t Complain About The Gig Or Equipment

Like anything else, DJing has its ups and downs, and older DJs have plenty of stories to tell about terrible gigs and faulty equipment.

They also understand that complaining about these issues never goes down well, particularly if you’re impolite and your point isn’t constructive.

10. Don’t Forget To Recharge

With its unsociable hours and easy access to alcoholic drinks, DJing can be a drain on your mental and physical health that’s easily avoided.

If you’re flagging after a gig, consider avoiding joining your friends at the after-party and head home to rest and recuperate instead.


The ins and outs of DJ etiquette mean understanding everything from leaving the DJ booth tidy for the next DJ to playing the best tracks at peak time.

Following the do’s and don’ts outlined in this article will set your career off on the right foot and ensure you avoid falling foul of the many DJing pitfalls.

As you gain more experience over time, your DJ etiquette will become second nature, allowing you to forge long-lasting relationships in the industry.

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