“What Would You Do” is written by Jam on Sound Productions’ Mike Kindlick, where each month he explores various situations, offering insight to solutions, condolences and empathy for some of the DJ/Entertainment Industry’s most pondering scenarios.
You’d be surprised how many DJs lack a plan for a laptop crash — or don’t carry a backup at all. Especially some of the newer DJs who think their Mac can’t possibly fail or they can’t afford a second laptop.
A fellow DJ contacted me with a situation he recently experienced that strikes stone-cold fear in many of us. While running a Sweet 16 party with about 100 guests, mostly teenagers, his laptop froze and everything came to a standstill.
A fellow DJ contacted me with a situation he recently experienced that strikes fear in many of us.
With panic mode setting in, he announced that he was having technical difficulties and would be back up and running as soon as possible. He stammered on the mic as he tried to reboot.
His laptop took about 20-30 minutes to reset and then the party proceeded. I know you must be cringing and asking — where was his backup gear?
There’s the rub: He had no backup gear.
Gear fails, even professional gear, so it’s our job as professionals to prepare for the unexpected. What would you do? Here are my recommendations:
Tip #1: It’s obvious — BE PREPARED, and carry with you as much backup gear as needed.
I’ve experienced several times where my main laptop running Virtual DJ software had glitched or caught a problem. But the crowd knew nothing, since within a second or two a song was ready to go on my secondary laptop.
Tip #2: I had a DJ laptop crash plan. Here are a bunch of them:
- Bring a backup laptop (and backup external hard drives), have it set up, powered up and ready to go, with a track cued.
- Set up a ceremony speaker and bluetooth music via phone while troubleshooting the problem.
- Bring 3 laptops with identical hard drives, iPad w/Djay 2 software, iPhone w/Djay 2 software plus two controllers (Denon MC 7000 & 4000).
- A backup laptop and 2 CD decks that also uses USB drives. If one computer goes, immediately go to the decks until second computer is up and ready to go.
- MacBook Pro as primary, Razer Blade as first backup, 64GB iPad with LTE and most played songs from the library as second backup; 32GB iPad with most played songs from the library as third backup, and a 128GB iPod with lots of music as the fourth backup. All important songs are stored as playlists on the iOS devices with Djay installed.
- Bring twice as much of everything and a backup power supply battery or generator. Even if the lights go out at the venue, you still have your dancefloor lights and music.
- Carry 2 identically configured laptops, with VirtualDJ, and a netbook with an old copy of PCDJ on it, with an attached drive with all your music. Also keep 2 – 32GB iPods with a core library. If computer crashes, you can immediately play something off the iPod to give you time to reboot.
- Use CDs as a backup with a Numark Mixdeck Quad as controller with multiple formats
- Hire a roadie, and use his equipment!
- Bring a tablet that has about 30 gigs of bangers and essentials. Update it every 2 months.
- Bring backup laptop, and also 2 USB sticks with all the night’s essential music plus default floor fillers just in case.
- 5 backups in this order: laptop, iPad, phone with 128GB SD card, and thumb drive with music on it — and borrow somebody else’s laptop!
- 2 laptops (3 if you include the one running DMX software), with 2 identical mirrored external hard drives, 1 USB thumb drive with 3 hours worth of frequently played tracks, and iPad with Algoriddim DJ and Spotify (extreme last case scenario).
- Also bring extra speakers, bags of extra cables, extra projector, and a mini controller to every gig.
As the saying goes, it’s better to over-prepare than to not be ready for a DJ laptop crash. Have peace of mind that you have more gear at every event than is ever probably needed.
It’s what separates the pros from the amateurs.
This is my take on the scenario, but only one person can decide how to handle the situation. So just ask yourself — “What Would You Do?”
Mike Kindlick is the owner of Jam On Sound Productions in Reading, Pennsylvania, and has been in business since 1994.
Photo courtesy of David Dallas Bryant.
To check out more DJ tips, click here.