Your career as a bedroom DJ is absolutely booming! You absolutely rock the place, night after night!
And it’s not surprising because your DJ skills are nothing short of mind blowing, and you’ve always got the freshest, greatest music.
But you can’t keep on, keeping it all to yourself.
Time to move out and launch your career by getting real DJ gigs in the real outside world.
With your dazzling potential waiting to be unleashed, here’s a list of our top tips on how to get DJ gigs right now:
Support Events You Would Like To Play At
Shortlist a few events that you would like to play at and that you also reckon you could be in with a shot at landing a gig at (don’t try for Pacha Ibiza straight out the gates).
Get there as often as you can, and don’t be shy, get to know the people who work there, most of all the event promoter.
Very few promoters hand out DJ spots to someone they’ve never heard of and have never seen at their night.
Get there, get to know the people, let them know you DJ the style of music their night is about, and let them know you’re on the look out for warm-up spots.
Start Acting Like a Pro
Stop thinking of DJing as a hobby and go all-in pro!
Unless you start acting like a professional no one is going to take you seriously.
Start thinking about really developing your personal style instead of trying to imitate someone else who you think is good; that way, you will start creating your brand.
So, instead of taking DJing as your pastime activity, identify yourself as a DJ and do whatever it takes to improve yourself.
Think of the top sports players, musicians…just about anyone who is at the top of their game in a competitive industry, and ask yourself how they got there?
They worked their butts off honing their skills, maintained laser-beam focus on what they wanted, and they hustled.
You do the same.
Define Yourself As a DJ
This is a massive opportunity for you because most aspiring DJ’s aren’t bothering with this bit.
Most of your competition is lazy, finding their music on the Beatport charts and maybe a couple of other online dance music charts.
Never has it been easier to find fresh original music but this hasn’t resulted in most DJ’s playing fresh, original sets.
Everyone of your competition can beatmatch and mix, but none of them have the exact same taste in music as you, and none of them will be able to put records together in the same way you do.
Work harder and dig deeper, a lot deeper, when you’re looking for great DJ music online.
It will be worth it I promise you that. There are few greater feelings than dropping an amazing tune that you’ve uncovered and that nobody else at the club has heard before.
Be yourself, define yourself…and you will begin to stand out.
Promote Your Own Club Night / Throw Parties
Here’s a thing…
…warm-up DJ’s at a lot of smaller club nights and parties, are very often promoters of their own, different, club nights or parties.
Not really, and actually pretty normal.
If you don’t know about this, it’s called a booking swap.
A booking swap is when a DJ (and promoter) gets invited by another promoter (and DJ) to play at the night they promote. If they accept, and assuming they understand the DJ etiquette of the situation, they then return the favour.
If you want to get your own event going, so that you can play this game too, start making approaches to club owners/managers and get pitching your unique idea.
Make your approaches to bars and clubs that look like they aren’t exactly rocking every night, tell them about your target market and how much you’re going to be promoting the event.
You may have to all but give tickets away for the first event, but if you can drum up a buzz around it you should be able to recoup any losses fairly quickly.
Don’t get hung-up on playing the booking swaps game, prioritise great music that pulls in the right crowd, put yourself and other DJ’s you like in the booth before getting involved in all of that that.
Get this idea rolling and before you know it you’ll have some real-world DJ experience to put on your CV.
Enter DJ Competitions
DJ competitions can be great…but in reality, most of the time, they’re absolutely terrible!
And the reason for this is because the people running DJ competitions are often trying to get too much out of it for themselves.
So before you enter, always ask yourself this: What’s in it for you?
Yeah, it’s time to get selfish.
If the prize doesn’t have the potential to move your career forward in someway, move on.
You should be looking for a warm-up slot at a bar or club at least one level up from where you’re already playing, or your winning mix getting in front of some industry big-hitters.
Play For Free
A lot of successful businessmen and women offered to be unpaid interns before anyone had heard of them. Likewise, since you are at the start of your DJ career, seeking exposure and experience, do not always be after the money; it will come once you have established yourself.
Until then, be ready to work for free.
Keep the quality high, and once you’ve played a handful of times at an event, ask the promoter about starting to get paid. If you’re good, and the promoters decent, chances are it will be them bringing the subject up after a few gigs.
Network / Hustle
Networking, hustling, they’re the same thing.
And most people with normal sized egos hate every second of it, but this is a stone-cold fact of life;
Stay silent hoping that someone big on the scene will notice you, and you will remain forever unnoticed…well, 99% of the time anyway!
Just suck it up and start marketing yourself every chance you get, learn how to network successfully. I know it sounds super corporate but get yourself some business cards made up and start handing them out in exchange (always exchange for their’s so that you can contact them) for those of people you want to stay in touch with.
You can network and hustle online too, find promoters on social media and start follow them and their events. Post comments, start a conversation, try and get them to interested enough to check out your online presence, they might even bother listening to five or six minutes of your latest mixtape.
Get An Online Presence
An online presence is kind of expected these days, promoters who you’ve managed to get on the hook are pretty likely to try and find you online when thinking about giving you a gig.
Get website, keep it small but great.
Get a facebook page set up.
Get on Twitter, probably Instagram too.
Every time you get more real world DJ experience, get all of these updated so the world can see your no longer playing to the four walls of your bedroom.
Target The Warm-Up Slot
Personally, I’ve always loved the warm-up slot.
I love the challenge of building a mood, an atmosphere of anticipation, and coaxing the first people onto the dance-floor.
A great warm-up DJ will hand over the decks to the headliner with a busy dance-floor that is buzzing with expectation.
It’s a huge skill. A great skill. If you don’t already love playing the warm-up slot, you should learn to.
When you’re starting out as a DJ, looking for your first DJ gigs, put yourself in the shoes of the promoters you’re pitching to; they’ve spent time building up their event, they’ve got a loyal following and the night has a great vibe…they’re not going to give the booth to a newbie for anything other than the first hour, at best.
When you do land that first warm-up slot, put the big-floor bangers away and find yourself some beautiful, warm, tension builders.
Load and lock, then let the headliner pull the trigger!
Put the time into making a few well thought-out mixtapes.
Really take a lot of care when putting your track selection together, make sure it’s a true reflection of you as a DJ.
When you’re finally ready to record your mix, play on the DJ setup you always play on, and don’t try to show off any skills you can’t fully pull-off.
Make sure you link to your uploaded mixes from all of your online social media profiles, as well as from your website.
Work On Being a Better DJ – Every Day
Every single day. Do something, even if it can only be one thing, that will make you a better DJ.
I promise that this will give you the edge, because most aspiring DJ’s will not be doing this.
Work harder than all of your competition. Practice mixing, BPM tag your music collection, search for great original music, organise your music by key.
Learn your music collection so well that when you hear something new, you know straight-away which tracks in your collection it will be a great fit with.
And when you get that big gig you’ve been chasing, your daily pursuit of excellence will shine through.
Get Used To Hearing The Word ‘No’
When you’re out there trying hard to get DJ gigs, before you make it, you are going to hear ‘no’ a lot. I mean a real lot.
Don’t worry about it, don’t be offended by it, don’t let it dampen your enthusiasm.
Bar and club Promoters are constantly being pitched by aspiring DJ’s, and aside from the newbies, they already have a long list of established DJ’s they can call on anyway.
Nobody likes being rejected, but you’re going to have to learn to just move on from it, don’t give it a second though. If you’re getting blanked by the promoter of a night your really want to play at, start trying to build a relationship with them, rather than pitching them all the time. It may be a long road, but if that’s the event you really want, stick at it.
How To Get More DJ Gigs – Wrapping It Up
The beginning of your DJ career may be rough, but once you start landing those gigs it will all have been worth it.
And once you start landing those gigs, landing more gigs will get a lot easier because you have some real experience under your belt.
Keep working harder than your competition, develop your own style and start building relationships.
I wish you all the luck in the world.
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