Many beginner DJs are eager to get their first DJ gig once they’ve practiced their beatmatching and grown in confidence. Once you have the confidence to string together a fairly smooth mix, it’s time to do something with your skills. It’s time to find out how to get a DJ gig.
Tip #1. Don’t Be Too Picky
Everyone has to start out somewhere. Your first DJ gig might be playing to a near empty room, a school formal or someone’s 50thbirthday party. It doesn’t matter, since it’s all experience. Think about it as adding DJ gigs to your resume, just like you would for a regular day job. As you gain experience and notoriety, you will be get your name out there and score bigger and bigger gigs.
Tip #2. Make a Soundcloud
Soundcloud is possibly the best way to share your mixes with others. Even if you think you’ve still got a way to go with your mixing skills, it’s still worth uploading a few mixes to show people how you’re improving. Getting more and more listens each time should boost your confidence, and will help you get your first DJ gig.
Tip #3. Try and get a DJ gig on a small radio station
Finding a DJ gig on a small radio station, such as a community station, college radio station or an internet radio station can help you gain more renown. You never know who might be listening. The best way to get a DJ gig on a radio station is to ask friends and acquaintances. It might be worth even contacting a radio station directly to see if they have any slot openings, since some smaller stations often struggle to fill all their timeslots.
Tip #4. Consider your mixes
There is a difference between creating a mix for a live audience and uploading a mix on the net or something similar. The difference is the ‘party vibe’. Although fellow DJs and music connoisseurs will appreciate your ability to find the most obscure beats from new and hip genres, if you aren’t willing to fill a set with hit songs that people want to dance to, then no one will want to give you a DJ gig.
Tip #5. Focus on a scene
Don’t get caught up in the trap of playing too many styles of music. If you are going to make a name for yourself, it’s best to target one genre only and generally one ‘scene’ only. You can’t be part of all the scenes (unless you go out 7 nights per week). Depending on what music you like and what you like playing, pick an area. For some people that might be raves, for others that might be clubs or house parties.
Tip #6. Social Media
Social media is an excellent way to market yourself, for two reasons. Firstly, you can make fan pages for yourself and like or tweet your Soundcloud mixes. Secondly, you create a name for yourself as a DJ. When you have the guts to link all of your Facebook friends to one of your mixes, go ahead and do it, since it’s one of the best ways to go about getting your DJ gig.
Tip #7. Throw your own party
This seems a cheeky way of ‘getting a gig’, but what you’re trying to do is the usual theme of establishing a name for yourself. Throwing your own party is a fair bit of work and may not necessarily work for all genres of dance music, but is a fantastic way of getting going. Make sure to invite plenty of people in the DJ scene along so that they can hear what you can do. Getting your own first DJ gig this way will also give you much needed practice playing to an audience.
Still can’t work out why you can’t get a gig? Here’s the number one reason people fail…
Tip #8. Network
The old adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is very true when talking about getting a DJ gig. Networking comes above anything else: skill, technique, the tunes you play, the club, the environment, anything…you just need to know one of the right people. Getting to know promoters is far and away the most important factor for getting gigs.
If you know some promoters, you’re already on your way. If not, get out there and meet promoters! Chat to them about your love of DJing, about how good their gigs are (feel free to suck up as much as possible), or just chat about whatever and make acquaintances. Getting to the stage where you can nod or say hi to the guy/girl is where you want to be.
Make sure to talk about DJing enough to let him or her know that you are one, but not so much that you become irritating. The hints will sink in, and if you network with enough people someone will eventually have an opening for you.
It’s also important to get out there and start meeting people in the scene, not just promoters. Most of these people will be DJs as well, and as with any community, people will support each other. Promoters are generally part of this community as well, so if they see you out and about and begin to recognise your face you will be recognised as being part of the community and worthy of a DJ gig.
The more people you are friends with and bring to gigs, the better. You can get people along to see you however you like: social media, texting, personally inviting people, begging…as long as people rock up to see you. Usually clubs will give you an audition, and most important is how many people you get along on the night. More people means more money over the bar.
Keep practising and networking, and don’t give up. You might find that you will get a DJ gig sooner than you expected.