The Ultimate Guide For Protecting Your DJ Gear And Equipment
If you perform as a DJ for a living, then you are naturally going to need to look after your gear. From laptops and turntables to carry cases, controllers and mixers, there’s plenty to take stock of. However, many of us probably aren’t doing enough to protect our gear, or our music and data. For that reason, we’ve put together a complete guide on what you need to start doing for the better.
DJ equipment costs hundreds or even thousands to replace. While you might invest a lot of money in your gear in the first place, that doesn’t always mean it’s going to protect itself. Therefore, it does pay to look for gear that is going to be easy to clean and maintain. However, always be ready to put in plenty of work, and to invest in protection that your mixers and controllers desperately deserve.
If you’re going to be performing on the road a lot, you will need to start protecting your gear from the word go. But where do you start? Sit back and we’ll give you the full lowdown.
Before you start investing in any kind of extra protection, cases or covers, get your gear insured. There is specialist DJ insurance coverage out there from major carriers, meaning it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to shop around and compare. However, it’s worth knowing a little bit about how insurance works, and why it’s so useful, before you sign any agreements.
DJ insurance should cover you for most damage and for theft while you’re gigging and moving around. DJing is a full-time job, and as you’re on the road, you are going to be at risk of damaging your equipment, or worse, it could end up getting lost or stolen. A good policy should cover you for a small fee each month or year and should let you replace anything you break or lose with a small excess fee.
However, there are a few things you may not receive cover for. Most carriers will cover you for stolen gear or for accidental damage. However, malicious damage is a no-no. This is insurance fraud, and if there’s any doubt whether or not you may have taken a hammer to your mixer, you won’t get any support.
Make sure to check how much cover you receive for lost items, stolen goods, and accidental damage. These are all factors that you will need help with should such problems arise. Make sure you take out a policy once you have everything you need, and as soon as possible.
Backup Your Data and Your Software
When it comes to protecting your gear, you need to think beyond your physical limitations. Most professional DJs make use of the cloud. The cloud is a fancy word for off-site storage which you can access anywhere you have a data connection, and a secure ID. Plenty of suites and software offer off-site servers and cloud drives for you to save mixes to. Otherwise, you could invest in something as simple as Dropbox or OneDrive for a small fee.
Why is this worth doing? Think about the risks you put your physical hardware through whenever you perform. Your hard drives are likely to fall prey to accidents and may even be at risk of getting stolen. If you don’t have any backups, or if you have no way of accessing your data to do a full restore, you may lose stacks of work without any means of you getting it back. What’s more, if an accident happens before you head to a performance, you’re going to be stuck.
Take a look at software which offers cloud saves as standard or find yourself a cloud system where you can save a variety of documents for monthly and yearly fees. You might even find a good option for free if you look carefully enough.
You should also think about bringing a hard backup to each gig, too. You never know when you might need one! You can bring bootable hard drives and USB dongles, for example, which you can launch to restore data as well as to save to. You might even want to bring a few CDs with you, as old-school as that might seem.
Do Your Research
It stands to reason that you should know a bit about your setup before you head to a new venue. Each DJ venue is going to be slightly different. By that, we mean different acoustics, different staging, and different hardware. Before you agree to perform at any given venue or site, make sure you know where you can safely store your equipment. If you are going to protect your gear from gig to gig, it makes sense to get a handle on the places you’re playing at. Otherwise, you could end up causing accidents or leaving things behind.
Most venues should be pretty open to you having a quick glance at what’s on offer. Professional DJs need to know what their limitations are before they start playing at any venue! For that reason, always ask to take a look at what’s available. You should also ask to book a venue out for practice. You never know what the acoustics are going to be like until you start playing. If you leave that until the actual night of your maiden gig, it’s probably going to be far too late.
Dress Up Your Kit
How do you carry your gear from gig to gig? Do you carry it naked, in the sense that you just pick up and go? Or do you use carry cases and covers? We all know what the best option is here, and if you’re not already following it, it’s high time you did.
Many people choose to just pick up naked gear and lay it down without a care in the world. Sure, it’s easy to do this, and it’s probably the cheapest option around, but ultimately, if you’re not dressing up your kit, you’re putting it at serious risk.
Think about all the knocks and scrapes kit takes on the road. If you’re storing your mixers, controllers and decks loose in the back of a van, it’s likely they are going to take a fair beating. Therefore, you’re going to need to invest in some serious carry cases and covers.
Which Cases and Covers Work Best?
This will obviously vary depending on your own tastes as well as your needs. Therefore, you should be willing to take a broad view of what’s on offer. You should at least invest in a specialist bag for your gear which you can carry around on your person. This is just as much a good idea for protecting it against damage as it is against theft. It’s a great idea to try and have your gear travel with you at all times! Otherwise, you could be leaving it unattended in some seriously shady company.
You should think about buying a case or bag that you can put all your bits and pieces in. That means mixers, cables, sound cards and everything in between. Think about how much volume you need and use this to narrow down your options.
You should also think about using cases and covers that will protect your gear while in use – or not in use, depending on what occurs. You can buy protective metal casing for certain devices, and you can of course also purchase waterproof and dustproof coverings. These are very useful if you are used to playing open air gigs. You never know how much damage a stray drop of water or flake of dust might do!
Some people may feel that covering everything up might be too much protection. However, as we all know, you can never be too safe on the road! Take a look at what’s picking up good reviews online and do always ask the opinions of other DJs. They will likely point you in the right direction. We have also covered here, what equipment you can take on a plane for those of you going abroad for DJ sets.
This might not seem like too important a job, but solid lists are a DJ’s best friends. Think about how many times you’ve forgotten things – what if you forget an essential cable or mixer part when you’re about to head to a landmark gig?
Get yourself a notepad and pen. Make a list of everything crucial you’re going to need to take to the road. This way, you will not only make sure you keep everything under tight wraps before you set off, but you’ll know what to check off when you leave.
The app-savvy amongst us will probably use something like the basic iOS Notes app to keep track of everything crucial to us. However, there’s nothing that quite beats a solid notepad, especially as a physical pad and set of notes is going to be hard to miss in your bag. It’s entirely up to you, of course, how you want to go about keeping notes and lists.
Leaving items behind is always going to be a nightmare scenario. What’s more, if you’re not adequately prepared, and are a bit cavalier about leaving equipment behind, an insurance company might take a dim view. Why not avoid this altogether and just keep well-prepared?
How do you best protect your gear mid-performance? It’s not always easy to know what to do for the best, however, providing you elevate your important hardware, there should be fewer risks of them getting knocked, trampled or spilled on. Try and find stands for laptops and controllers or stack them higher than your turntables. These are going to be the most important pieces of kit you have available, so it makes sense to get them up high.
Think about protecting your laptop against a variety of problems, too. Good DJ laptops should handle a variety of problems that gigs can potentially throw at them. For example, they may be at risk of overheating. To avoid this, you could upgrade your internal fans. Otherwise, choose a good, metal case which will ensure your computer is fully protected against anything that is likely to fly at it, or spill onto it. Keyboard covers are a good idea, too.
However, what about your own protection? It’s all well and good to keep a close eye on your gear, but make sure to use earplugs and headphones or in-ear monitors that protect your hearing during a performance. These aren’t just great for making sure your mixes are on-track, but will actively help you to protect your greatest assets in years to come. If you don’t already have a good pair of plugs and cans or monitors, now’s the time to make a change.
It makes sense to stock up on a variety of tools and products which you can use to protect your gear on the go, as well as pre and post gig. All DJs should swear by gaffer tape – which can be used to secure your equipment and fix problems ad hoc. You should also consider bringing cloths – non-abrasive and microfibre – to clean down. Microfibre cloths are brilliant at picking up dust, dirt and debris, meaning they are ideal if you need to shield your laptop from anything likely to get into the cracks.
You should also have a good set of screwdrivers, some equipment grease or lubricant, and screwdrivers to hand. As you will read in our other guides to cleaning and looking after your DJ gear, these are bits and pieces you simply can’t afford to leave out of your bag. You might not do anything as drastic as break into your equipment while gigging – however, it’s worth remembering that a toolkit can be put to good use before and after you perform.
You should also swear by isopropyl alcohol. This will help you to keep things clean and free from bacteria. This, again, might not seem essential – but think about how many different people you come into contact with while gigging. Protect your gear against bacterial spread, and you’ll protect yourself in turn. Simple!
The most accidents or problems you’ll incur will likely occur once a gig is finished. That’s because people have a habit of leaving certain items and pieces behind, which can mean having to spend more money looking for replacements. The best thing to do if you’re not moving on right away from a gig is to get everything locked up. It’s normally best to look for a venue manager.
Alternatively, make sure to set up a lockbox or similar facility before you start performing. Chances are, performers and artists will have access to their own private storage box before they start gigging, which means you should take full advantage and take note of any keys or combinations. It’s the best way to keep everything under close tabs.
You should also start thinking about cleaning your gear. We have a full guide on how to get the most out of your mixers, controllers and laptop once you’ve finished a gig. Therefore, you can head straight home and clean up in preparation for the next set of performances. As mentioned, you should be using tools such as microfibre cloths, alcohol rub and even lubrication to make sure everything keeps working as it should.
Dirt, dust and grime can seriously impact how your gear performs in the long run. Therefore, make sure to take your cleaning regime seriously. If you don’t, you may end up paying more for new tech sooner than you think.
Listen To the Horror Stories
You may well have heard plenty from DJs over the years, but chances are, they know what they’re talking about. Seasoned performers will have likely been through a few problems and have made a few errors over the years. To get good at DJing, you need to learn a few things along the way. Sadly, if that means getting a ding in a mixer or losing a few cables, so be it.
Ask fellow DJs what they do to look after their equipment. Do you know any long-term professionals who can offer you some sound advice? What works for them may not always work for you, but it’s worth seeing where you might be going wrong if you’re unsure about protecting your gear for the better.
Most DJs learn that they need to look after their gear the hard way. After all, mistakes and accidents allow us to learn how to do things properly! However, you can really buck the trend and hit the ground running without making any of the errors we’re talking about. Make sure you tool up with cleaning products and protective gear. Get yourself insured and be vigilant.
Above all, treat your DJ gear with respect. This is equipment which can take a lot of money to replace. Therefore, it makes sense you should try and safeguard it as much as possible. Alternatively, make sure you check out our guide on how to increase the longevity of your DJ gear and laptop alike.
Here is another blog you may find interesting How To Extend The Life Of Your DJ Gear.