Learning how to DJ at home is great and super important. However, at some point, you’re gonna want to get out start performing to an audience. And that begs the question, how to get DJ gigs?
Getting gigs is one aspect that a lot of new DJs struggle with. Networking with people in the industry is key, as is building a brand and creating content so that people can find you online. There are many different ways to go about the above which is why it is worth channeling efforts in the most efficient way possible.
The sooner you get out and start performing the faster your DJ career as a whole will progress. In an ideal, world promoters and bookers would come directly to you. While social media has made this easier, initially you’ll have to reach out to them to get your first bookings.
There are many different ways to get gigs and we’re going to run through a lot of them in this article.
Making Best Use of Your Time
Many DJs starting out will feel the pressure of needing to do so many different things. Learn how to DJ, learning how to produce and then spending time getting gigs.
The good news is that you can use any or all of the methods below. It really depends on what you are most comfortable with. Simply choose the best ways that maximize your time to give you the best return.
There are many different ways of getting DJ gigs, some easier than others so let’s break them down.
How to Get DJ Gigs by Networking* (*making friends)
As is the case with virtually any industry networking is the key to getting your first DJ gigs.
Because you are trying to get into DJing, then actually going out to clubs and having fun counts as networking.
The one thing you want to be careful about is not getting too drunk or high when you are out clubbing. At least not when you are actually meeting and talking to people.
When you are in a club find out who the promoter is and go meet them. Don’t ask them for a DJ gig straight away. It’s better to just engage in a chat about the night, the genre or running events.
Be around, and be valuable
Perhaps even offer to help in some way. Whether you can help with promotion or perhaps you do graphic design. Whatever your skills, then you can offer to help the promoter to further their cause.
There is a very simple reason for this, promoters will always book the people closest to them first. So, if you offer value upfront then next time they have a DJ slot, you will be first in mind.
There are few jobs where going out is considered useful, DJing is an exception, however. It really does pay to be active in the scene. Going out to meet lots of promoters/event organizers in lots of different clubs really does help.
You can of course also take this networking online.
Follow any (relevant) promoters you find on social media. Then anytime they share a post, write your thoughts in a comment or again offer to help. This means your name will keep popping up in their feed.
Make sure your online presence is ready
This technique is going to benefit from you also having active and optimized social media profiles.
Make sure they contain your tracks and your DJ mixes. Then the promoter knows exactly what you’re about and how to get in touch whenever they have a slot available.
The key with networking, as DJing is such a community, is not to think of it as networking. Instead, think of it as trying to make as many friends as possible, that have the same interests as you.
And this goes not just for event organizers, but also other DJs or anyone that support club nights.
People like the venue owners themselves, graphic designers, or photographers covering the event are all worth making friends with. You never know who might be the actual key to getting you in the door. Trust me when I say it’s not always the most obvious person.
A Further Note on Drink and Drugs
Because they’re so prevalent in DJing, then you stand out when you don’t act the same as everyone else.
If you are professional and friendly then a promoter will always go with the more reliable choice when booking.
Promoters have so much to think about when running a night. They don’t want to worry about a DJ not showing because they love their drink or drugs too much.
So, don’t be that person.
Run Your Own Night
This is one of the most labor-intensive methods but can be one of the most rewarding. Firstly you learn all sorts about running a night, such as booking other DJs and promoting. Secondly, it also encourages people to network with you. Perfect.
So rather than you having to go out and find people you will have people coming to find you. Again, this may be other DJs but it can be a great way to make friends in the scene.
Another benefit is, aside from the networking, is there is the potential to make some decent cash. This can then either support your DJ practice or maybe even let you quit your job. Then you can focus on your DJing and producing career full-time.
There are many different ways to run a night and agreements you can have with a venue.
How to Get DJ Gigs While Minimising Your Money Risk
A low-risk way in is to find a venue that you like and has a decent sound system and. Running a good night will be is a lot more difficult when the club is shit, to begin with.
Offer to run an event that is free to get in, but you earn 10% or 15% of the bar take. This is a very low risk for you and a win-win for the venue. If you bring in more clientele than normal, they can easily afford to pay you from the increased take.
The only bit of money you will invest will be things like creating graphics, promotion, and marketing. And, if you choose to, pay for guest DJs (if you want a big name on the lineup).
That said, it is a good idea to start small and work your way up, this minimizes the risks for you.
Dropping money on a big-name DJ means you are relying on selling a set amount of tickets just to break even.
Going too big too quick is why a lot of nights, and even festivals, fail in their first months and years.
Added Perks of Running Your Own Night
Another benefit of running a regular night is that you have a regular DJ slot. There is no better way to learn the art of performing and reading a room than to be doing gigs.
The fact that it is at your own night also gives you added freedom and comfort to try out new things.
Perhaps you want to play your tracks or a new style, then there’s no better place than your own night.
While you are building your night, be sure to do things like collect social media follows and email addresses.
This is essential to promote future events. Plus you will be able to promote your other DJ gigs or when you put new tunes online.
The bigger you can grow your following then the more attractive you are to other promoters and bookers.
They often look at metrics like your Facebook follows and Mixcloud subscribers to decide your popularity. The more popular you are, then the more likely you are to be able to sell tickets. The bigger you can grow your online followers and your audience in general, the better.
Share the Workload by Forming a Collective
Running a club night does involve a lot of work, and it can be very time consuming for one person.
If you have other DJ friends, then it can be worth forming a collective and running the night together. Especially if they have similar goals than you.
This has a few benefits:
- you’ll further your reach as everyone will be sharing via their own social media
- it spreads the workload
- solidifies a support group for you and your goals
This is often a model that is followed in the live music world.
Artists such as Daughter, Ben Howard, and Gotye all became established thanks to “Communion Presents”. Communion is an “artist-led music organization” that regularly puts on live events to showcase artists. They put new acts on bills so they can piggyback on the success of those already making waves.
Sharing the running of a club night is worth some serious consideration. Doing it right can be incredibly helpful in the long term.
How to Get DJ Gigs, by Swopping… Careful Though
This is a very simple method that almost circumvents promoters and bookers. Basically, you speak directly to other DJs at a similar level to yourself.
If you have a regular DJ slot then you need to find another DJ who also has a regular slot. Preferably at a different night or club so you can offer to do a swap one month.
This allows them to play somewhere different and you to play in a new club.
Just make sure they are good at what they do. If so then the promoter will normally be happy enough to go along with it. Aside from anything else it gives a bit of variation to their lineup as well.
This can also work overseas and can be a great way to get your first gigs abroad. Just be mindful that there’s generally no money involved in this sort of deal. So when it comes to travel and accommodation you’ll generally have to pay your own way.
Even so, this is a great way to play around the country and overseas, just treat them as DJ adventures!
Get Yourself in the Door by Playing for Free
When you are starting it’s not at all unusual to not get paid for DJing.
In fact in a lot of cases, and when I began DJing, we would instead be paid in drinks. So, aside from having a fun night, we also got to learn how to DJ in front of a crowd.
This can be a great way to prove yourself as it’s very low risk for any promoters you approach. They have nothing to lose by putting you on for free.
When doing this you’ll probably find yourself playing early or very late i.e the first or last slot. Sometimes you may even play to some largely empty rooms but, again all of these are learning experiences. It’s important to never despair at any gig, always be professional and always do your best.
Weigh up the Benefits & Costs
A further note on this would be to just be mindful of how helpful a particular gig is to your career.
If you play House and are offered a free EDM gig 100 miles away, then consider whether it’ll benefit you. It could actually end up costing more in time and travel costs than it does in helping your career.
All of this should be taken into account when offering your services for free.
The ideal would be to play events that directly align with your music tastes as this puts you in front of the exact audience you want to attract.
It’s also a bonus if the gigs are close enough that you don’t spend too much money on traveling.
There are lots of misconceptions around DJing. Many venue or bar owners, for example, think they don’t need to pay DJs. This is mostly because they don’t understand how much time, effort and practice has gone into being building up a good skill set.
While DJing for free is fine early on in your career, never forget that your time is valuable. Don’t let people take advantage and be sure to progress to paid gigs as soon as you can.
An Important Note on Events
Make sure you are supporting locals and any events that you hope to play. This is critical in how to get DJ gigs.
Think of it this way, if you’re not supporting the nights that you want to play then are they likely to support you in what you want?
Promoters recognize regular attendees so if you can’t go out all night every night of the week, that’s totally understandable.
Instead, choose your favorite events, the ones you most want to play or the ones most beneficial for your career, and become a regular at those.
Being a known regular at a few nights is better than being showing up occasionally at lots of different nights.
Make an Impressions, Arrive Early
If you are going to/playing at an event then arriving early will give you a chance to network and speak to the main people before they get to busy.
Sometimes you may even help in setting up the event which again, makes you memorable to the people you are trying to network with.
How to Get DJ Gigs at Minutes Notice
If you are going clubbing/networking, and get there early, be sure to go and say hello to the promoter. While doing this, let them know that should anyone not show up, then you have your pen drive with all of your tracks on you. Tell them you are ready to jump on the decks and DJ at any moment.
Be sure that you’re confident in your skills of course. If this happens, then you’ll have to get on the decks and start performing with only minutes of notice.
When you start performing sets, treat every gig as if it might be the one that makes your career explode. Even if there are five people in the room then one of those could be a booker for your favorite club.
Every gig is important. Always give your best effort to every show, you never know who is going to be listening!
How to get DJ gigs, by paying… Careful though
There is a practice in the music events of “letting” people play at events…in return for them selling tickets.
There is some debate as to whether this is a fair practice or whether it is a promoter being lazy and outsourcing the job of actually promoting the event. By asking others to sell tickets (and cover the cost of any they don’t sell), are they are ultimately just mitigating and minimizing the risks to themselves?
The main thing to consider when being asked to sell tickets is the name of the venue or the name of the night.
If it’s a hugely recognizable name and it looks good on your CV and socials then it may be worth considering. Playing at famous nights or venues adds credibility to your profile.
However, if your local shit nightclub is asking you to do it and the other DJs are all unknown, you may choose to pass. It could well be that the promoter is just trying to share the burden of selling tickets.
As with a lot of these methods, if you feel the opportunity is going to benefit your career long term then go for it, anything is worth trying once!
Contact Promoters and Venue Managers… Loads of Them
In the old days, you used to have to walk around every venue in town and ask to speak to the manager to hand over CDs of your mixes. This used to be how to get DJ gigs.
While this does still work, it can be done a lot easier online. Although both have their positive and negative points.
Face to Face? Good
Doing these things in person means that you can build a connection and make an impression on someone. This makes you more memorable to those you want to DJ for.
However, it can be time-consuming, even hit and miss. If you go during the day, then the right person might not be there. If you go in the evening, then they might be too busy running the actual event.
That said it is always beneficial to meet people face to face when possible.
Online? Also Good
Doing this online allows you to find and contact many more people in the business. Although of course, emails or messages are easier for promoters to ignore than someone standing in front of them.
So really a combination of both is the ideal.
As mentioned above, you will want to go out regularly in your scene and meet promoters face-to-face. This is definitely one of the best ways of making yourself known.
This alongside using an organized approach online allows you to stay in people’s minds, so as soon as they need a DJ, you’re just right there and easy to contact.
What I suggest, and what will set you apart from other DJs trying to do the same thing, is to be organized.
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Get Organised, Because Others Aren’t
A great way to do this is using Google Docs to keep a spreadsheet of every contact you find. Remember that, unless they do everything in-house, clubs often have several event promoters running different nights at the same venue.
Every time you look up a club, be sure to track down
- what events they have
- what the events are called
- who is the promoter behind the event
- The contact details for those promoters
List all of these events, names and contact details in the spreadsheet.
Then, when you’ve reached out to them, make a note in the spreadsheet, with the date, that you’ve messaged them.
Not all promoters will come back to you, some may not even see your message. But, by keeping a list and noting the dates allows you to go back and follow-up.
Nobody likes a Needy Nelly…
Make sure to not be annoying or needy, instead, do it in a way that shows you are keen and organized. By always being polite, professional and patient, this can be a great way to get in front of promoters.
Putting out mixes and releasing your tracks online can also be a great reason to be messaging them after your last message i.e
“Hi Steve, I have been loving your club night and had a great time there last week, DJ x was awesome. If you ever need a warm-up DJ, or if anyone drops out last minute then please drop me a message.
Here is a link to my latest mix so you can hear my style.
Cheers, see you at the club next week!”
You can use this free Google spreadsheet template to track your contact lists (Go to File > Make a Copy to start filling in your own version).
Make Yourself Memorable
There are many different styles of DJing. Some examples include having the best tune selection or being the most technical or having the most tricks. Even being the most stylish and having the best dance moves while performing has a place.
So, if you have any particular skills or an element of DJing you enjoy most, then this can give you an avenue to focus down.
If you’re a technically minded person then go deep on being a technical mixer, like how turntablists operate. This will make you memorable as crowds and other DJs will love watching you perform live. They will want to learn from you and this makes you memorable.
Similar, if you are a good dancer when you are normally clubbing, then don’t be afraid to show those moves behind the decks as well. Audiences love to see the DJ having fun, and anything that makes you memorable makes you more likely to get extra DJ gigs.
Become a Producer and Make Your Own Music
If you are using it as your only way to get DJ gigs then it is probably one of the longer ways to go about it.
Ultimately, it is something that most DJs will do in the long term. Even DJs that don’t produce at the beginning will start making tracks at some point in their careers.
It is DJ/producers that undoubtedly get the most gigs, and make the most money in the long run.
This is also the best way of getting promoters to come to you. Once you are an established artist then of course promoters will start to chase bookings. They will want you on their lineups to help sell tickets.
However, producing is an entirely different skill to DJing, even though there are a lot of crossovers. So, you are going to want to split your time equally between learning how to DJ and learning how to produce.
The great thing about learning how to DJ is, once you know how then you need to practice less. Meaning you can then focus primarily on producing new tracks.
If you already know how to make music then make sure you are putting your tracks online consistently.
Don’t spend years and years making a 10-track album hoping that that’s what is going to go viral and get you the exposure.
More often than not this, sadly, won’t happen. I wish it was that easy!
However, if you are releasing tracks regularly, showing people your progress and even your evolution of styles should it change over the years. Then this gives you much greater exposure as people start to learn who you are as both a producer and a DJ.
And remember nothing is stopping you from taking down tracks if you no longer feel they represent what you’re about.
How to Get DJ Gigs by Interning (And Having Fun)
Offering to intern for free can be a great way to get a foot in the door of the music industry, and get more DJ gigs as a result.
The amount of places you can intern varies massively so choosing which ones to work for really depends on what your interests are.
The obvious route to getting DJ gigs would be to offer to intern with either a venue, event managers or promoters directly. This is obviously the closest to DJ gigs. Plus, aside from the opportunity of doing shows, you’ll learn all sorts about the planning that goes into the execution of the night.
Another place you could intern, that not only offers DJ gigs but also gives you other insights into the music industry, would be an established record label.
Interning with Record Labels
With record label budgets and income being squeezed in recent years, then they are often very open to offers of free work.
They regularly do their own events so there should be opportunities to do DJ gigs. You will often be able to learn about production and maybe even studio work. Depending on how established the label is then they might even have a studio on-site.
Interning can be a great way to learn how to get DJ gigs as well as making strong connections in the DJing and music industry.
This is how drum & bass producers The Qemists got their big break. One of their members interned for the Ninja Tune record label, owned by legendary producers Coldcut.
Your own gigs aside interning can be great fun. I have done two internships (radio & a music mag) and loved every minute. Both were very aware they weren’t paying so heaped guestlists and gig tickets on me to make up for it. I partied and saw every one of my favorite acts, basically, for free.
Be a Mobile or Events DJ
This is a step that many people won’t even consider in how to get DJ gigs. However, I think it is incredibly undervalued.
By DJing at all sorts of events like fashion shows, store openings or weddings.
Being an event DJ has a few benefits:
- Allows you to practice playing to different types of crowds
- Has great networking potential (you never know who’s going to be there)
- They are among the easiest DJ gigs to get paid for
Plus, the extra income could perhaps allow you to quit your job so that you can focus fully on the side of DJing that you are really interested in.
If you are concerned about people getting confused about what type of DJing you do then there is an easy fix. Simply have a different DJ name for your events than you do for club gigs.
So Obvious You Probably Haven’t Done It… Ask Around
As I mentioned earlier, you never know who will be the key to getting your first booking or regular gig. So, never be afraid to ask around.
You don’t know who your family and friends know, so ask around and see if they know any DJs or anyone that works in events.
One of my housemates at university did this when he started producing tracks and started asking around.
He found out a family member a producer at a top film studio. Not only did he visit the studio, and get a lot of advice, but he was also given a load of official, professional-grade software that the studio had spare.
So don’t be afraid to ask for help, you just never know who is loitering in the fringes of your network.
Make a Spectacle of Yourself (Kinda)
This can be a bit of a risky move, and it can backfire. But, if you are confident, have the skills and the online presence then it can skyrocket your profile.
We all know the press loves a good story, so you could put up some kind of PR stunt.
Be creative, but be careful.
The band Imperial Stars tried this one by blocking a major 3 lane highway in LA with a truck before performing their latest single. The driver ran off with the keys leaving the band to get arrested and served community service and 3 years probation.
Always Be Carrying….Cards
Again this is an opportunity missed by a lot of DJs. When you are out networking (or performing), people who love what you do will want to find you online. However, if you’re busy behind the decks (see which we recommend), or they cannot get to the booth, then you need an easy way to communicate who you are and where to find you.
That’s why you should always have business cards in your pocket with your DJ name, social links, and website (if you have one). This makes sure you are always prepared if you meet promoters when you are out networking, partying and making friends.
When playing a show then put a few cards somewhere near the decks. Make it easy for anyone enjoying your set to grab one and put them in their pocket.
A New Spin on Old Charm and Physical Mixtapes
Anyone can send an email which means they are incredibly easy to ignore. Promoters will often get tens or hundreds a day, so you need to find a way to stand out.
One way to do this can be to go (slightly) old-school and send a CD or a USB stick direct to a promoter’s or record label office. Again, many other people will be doing this.
The Pen Is Mightier Than the Email
But, one simple way to stand out would be to handwrite a letter.
I told you it was simple, but NO-ONE does it anymore.
The pure act of doing it, showing you know who they are and giving a very specific reason why you contacted them, will make sure they read your letter.
I know this to be true for a fact as, when I was working on the radio, one of the presenters there got her job by doing exactly this.
She handwrote letters to around 100 radio stations based around the country. She not only got a couple of job interviews but she got a reply from almost every single station, even if they didn’t have a job for her. That in itself is virtually unheard of.
She was also told a few times that the person who had opened the letter had walked around the office showing people. Just because it was so uncommon for them to receive a handwritten letter.
There is still a charm in the old school, so don’t be too quick to don’t write it off.
Busk, Cos No One Else Is
This is one thing that a lot of people don’t even think of when considering how to get DJ gigs. It is fairly understandable given that you will need to power your equipment yet it’s possible, as this video shows.
Being a DJ who busks is still pretty unique so it will draw attention when you are out and about.
You’ll have to play a wide variety of music (sometimes even cheese) to keep random passersby interested. After all, people love to hear stuff they know, but you should be able to make a fair amount of money each day.
Money aside it can be a great way to get your name out there.
When you do busk make sure you have a banner that shows your DJ name with all of your social media profiles and online links. Also, have business cards where someone can easily pick them up if they wanted to book you for their club or party.
For someone who does this well, there is a great opportunity to get famous through DJ busking.
For too long busking has been dominated by the live music performer, but it doesn’t have to be.
How to Get DJ Gigs? Sell Your Soul to the Devil…
It’s a sad fact of the industry that the truer you are to ‘proper’ dance music then the harder it will be to get gigs. Some of the biggest, most successful clubs in the world just play generic chart and pop music.
If you can keep your eye on the money then you can make a fair amount of money. You just have to deal with a bit of your soul dying by playing chart music in trendy but generic clubs.
Be a Pioneer, Be a VR DJ
One of the most established places to do VR DJing at the moment is the online world of Second Life.
If you google you’ll find much discussion around how to do this as well as the legalities and how good DJs are making a go of it. You can actually earn money DJing in Second Life, not much, but some.
However, with VR on the rise, and soon to become the new standard, there will undoubtedly be a whole new wave of music and clubbing experiences that comes with it.
This means there huge potential for anyone willing to learn how it’s done and establish themselves as a VR DJ. They will be able to make a huge name for themselves as they positioned themselves as a pioneer of the industry.
This is a case of using cutting edge technology as a way to guarantee a great career in the next few years.
How to Get DJ Gigs on the Radio
Well, now I’ve probably got you wondering, how to get DJ gigs on the radio?
This is actually a lot easier than it used to be. Not only are there plenty of internet radio stations available but also lots of smaller independent, underground and pirate stations.
One of the hardest bits about running a radio station is finding enough content to run 24/7. Meaning, if you offer a free mix then you’d be surprised how often it gets snapped up.
And, if you approach a pirate or underground station that plays exactly your genre, then you’re going to be exposing yourself to exactly the right type of audience you want. They are going to enjoy what you do and want to follow you online.
You can also ask to do regular shows and, although it may be time-consuming, it’s a great way to establish your name. You will also get the benefit of being sent free music, often months before it comes out on general release.
Working in Radio Is Easier Than You Think
The best way to get radio and presenting gigs, believe it or not, is to just ask.
This is exactly how I got mine when I started producing for radio stations. I contacted them directly and offered to work for free.
Or, as discussed above, a great way to make yourself stand out is to handwrite a letter. Particularly if you can find a specific person within the radio station, the owner or the station manager for example. This way you can address your handwritten letter to a very specific person.
If you do get radio plays or a regular radio gig, make sure your online and social media profiles are optimized with all your details and mixes. Make it easy for people to find you online and know exactly what you do and how to book you for gigs.
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Why Leave the House? Just DJ Online
How to get DJ gigs without leaving the house? DJ online…
A great way of getting out there is to start your own virtual DJ residency and stream it online. This will also give you plenty of regular social media content to put out.
The big names are obviously Facebook and YouTube but it is worth streaming to other platforms as well, basically the more the better.
Regular streaming has many benefits:
- will help build your following
- a great way to document your journey as a DJ
- gives the audience a true insight into who you are
- the archive you build will show where you have come from
This all makes your audience like you even more.
The more your audience likes you, the more likely they’ll come to your gigs, and the more attractive you’ll be to promoters.
Compete in Comps
This is not only a method in how to get DJ gigs but it also serves as great practice in a couple of areas.
There are many types of DJ competitions, ranging from the well-known, worldwide competitions (like the DMC championships) to smaller local and online competitions.
It can be worth entering as many as possible. You may not always win, but it will get your name in front of people who may be interested in what you do.
You may find you pick up a load of social media follows from people that enjoyed what you did, and thought you should have won.
It will also give you some great practice at meeting deadlines and performing in front of a variety of crowds.
How to Get DJ Gigs by Faking It (While You Make It)
This is a common technique in not just in the music industry but in film and TV as well.
DJs, Musicians (and actors) will often set up a separate email address, or even a separate website, to act as a booking agent for them.
Essentially you email people from your “booking company” saying you represent a DJ (yourself) and asking clubs/promoters has any slots available.
Looking like you have a manager or booking agent adds a layer of professionalism to your profile. Which also makes you more attractive to promoters.
Another benefit is that you will probably find it easier to negotiate and discuss price when you are pretending to be someone else rather than if you are being yourself.
Your DJing persona might be nice and polite, whereas your booking agent persona, although always professional, might be a bit more hard-edged when it comes to negotiations.
This can be a great idea that adds the appearance of professionalism, just make sure that you don’t get caught out!
How to Get DJ Gigs by Buying Followers and Placing Ads
While this applies to event and mobile DJs, it is also an excellent and legitimate tactic for club DJs.
Of course, the ideal way to build a following is by consistently putting out content and have your likes and followers grow organically. Although this used to be a lot easier than it is now.
These days platforms, like Facebook, tend to be pay-to-play i.e they want you to spend money on advertising so they have choked organic reach.
The upside of this is that, if you have a good brand and a professional-looking website, then it can pay back in spades. And it is a guaranteed way to quickly grow a large following and start getting yourself out there.
Of course, this guarantee takes a bit of money to get going, but once you are established and earning money from your gigs then you will make that back tenfold.
There are published stories of this in action. This one is a great example of journalists setting out with the deliberate intention of being a cliche, and tricking their way into being successful. Spoiler, it worked.
How to get DJ gigs from Mashups and Remixes
Although this area may be considered ‘saturated’ now it can still be a great way to get your name out there and become known.
Creating mashup mixes i.e you mix two or more well-known tracks to make a new song, works so well because people love to hear songs that they know.
Already a successful band, the two brothers from Soulwax exploded onto the DJ scene (as 2manyDJs) when their mashup mix “As heard on radio Soulwax pt 2” went viral.
It was them that essentially created the mashup craze that we know today, Girl Talk is another musician who has exploded in popularity because of this technique.
So, create mashup mixes & remixes, put them online and share them.
Some Notes on Mashups & Remixes
However, be aware that you can never charge for these due to copyright restrictions. They are only useful for getting your name out there, but you can make money from the bookings that follow.
Also, always be prepared to take them down if anyone contacts you for copyright infringement, it is never worth trying to fight it.
Be sure to tag and label your mixes/remixes correctly. If they do go viral, you want to make sure your DJ name and contact details are right there along with them.
Your remix/mashup being properly tagged is definitely how to get DJ gigs from a track going viral. Just be ready for the deluge!
Gimmicks Work, Just Make It Cool
Part of getting more gigs is being memorable to the audience and its promoters. So things like wearing a giant mouse mask or a marshmallow on your head do work.
Just make sure your gimmick is good and you’re not going to regret or resent having to see it through if you do get popular. Also make sure that people can find you if they google you, like when you search “DJ with a mouse head” then Deadmau5 is the first thing that comes up.
Don’t be afraid to niche down
How to get DJ gigs if you love one particular genre? Go all in, that’s how…
What promoters are looking for varies massively, some will only be interested in booking their favorite genre and nothing else.
For example, if you want to be a Techno DJ, then make sure your social media profiles reflect exactly. Spend your time building knowledge in it and make sure it is what you are known for.
A Techno promoter is not going to want to book a generalist DJ, they’re just going to want the best.
So, if you love one particular genre, then make that your focus.
There is money to be made in all genres and niches, so don’t worry about that side of things. Just choose the genre you LOVE.
How to get DJ Gigs Online… Get Involved, Engage & Learn
I have mentioned several times that DJing is very much a community.
If you are engaging online and posting mixes online then don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and comments from that community.
Then, when you upload new mixes, you can tag those that left comments and explain the feedback that you followed. This shows you value their advice and it will make them love you, plus it guarantees that they’ll listen to your new mix.
And you never know, one of these could be a promoter that loved your mix. They could then book you to do a gig as you’ve proven you are serious about your profession.
Remember that Social media is Social
As promoters, and people in general, become more savvy about social media then it becomes less about having millions of followers and more about having lots of true fans.
What does that mean? That engagement rate trumps numbers.
This means you’ll want to interact with your fans and make sure they actually enjoy what you do.
Because having 100,000 Facebook fans means nothing when only 10 listen to the mixes you post. While having 1000 fans that genuinely enjoy what you do and give you 1000 listens is far better.
So if you’re wondering how to get DJ gigs from social media. Make sure to engage with your fans, start conversations and build their trust by never being spammy. Doing that is the quickest way for people to unfollow you and that leads to a dead Facebook page.
Don’t Think of DJing as a Hobby
Those serious about DJing realize that it’s not just something you do on the side, but it becomes an entire lifestyle.
Aside from anything else, performing DJs are often up very late at night, meaning that their sleeping hours are totally different from most people.
The sooner you realize that DJing is a lifestyle and that you can be working constantly (like always listening to mixes & finding new music). Then the sooner you will start taking it seriously. You will then give it the time and dedication it deserves.
If you think about DJing as a hobby and something you do in your spare time, then that’s all that it will ever be.
The DJing world is 99% made up of amateurs, essentially doing it for fun and hoping that they’re going to break the big-time by the right person discovering their mixes.
The reality is that the most successful DJs (the ones whose names you know) are the 1% that put in the grind. Proper DJs learn their craft and get themselves out there to network.
Skills & Connections Are Way More Important Than Gear
If you think that how to get DJ gigs is to always buy the latest great bit of equipment, then you’re not going to win.
The best DJs can still do a great set on even the poorest bit of equipment so this is where you should be focusing your attention.
Learning the craft, not working to save up for the latest bit of equipment, hoping that it’s going to get you more DJ gigs, it’s not.
Increase Your Credibility with a DJ Website
Building a website for your DJ profile is easier than ever, you can do it very quickly and even for free.
If you spend three hours using something like Wix then you can have a great looking website. Even to upgrade it and make it look fully professional won’t even cost you more than about twenty dollars.
A few key things you want to include on your website are
- Your mixes of course. Embedded using Mixcloud
- A clear explanation of you do and what your music tastes
- Upcoming gigs
- Gigs you’ve done previously
- A way to capture email addresses (so that you can tell followers about new music or gigs)
- Photos of yourself, including high-resolution versions
This last one is an area where a lot of DJs (and record labels) don’t help themselves at all.
How to Get DJ Gigs by Helping Those Who Want to Promote You
When I was a Club Editor for a magazine I was often under deadlines and had to write and cover events quickly.
It was shocking to me how many event promoters, record labels or DJs themselves were poor at providing assets to journalists & bloggers.
What I mean by “assets” is information about the acts/DJs playing. Usually, high-resolution images to download and use in the magazine or on the site.
Given a choice between two events, I would nearly always choose the event/DJ/record label that had provided press materials. This could have been a variety of images, information or links to videos to use online. After all, I was trying to help promote their event so it should be made as easy as possible.
If you want coverage from blogs & press, then include info and many pictures of yourself so you are giving the writer options.
You can even go a step further and offer various resolutions from full-resolution/print quality to pre-optimized images for use on the web. Be sure to say that these images are copyright free and anyone can use them in any manner they choose. This can only increase the overall likelihood of you getting coverage.
A DJ website doesn’t need to be complicated, just make sure it has the essentials and it can absolutely help support you in your DJ career.
Pro Tip, Follow up After Going to Gigs & Festivals
This is a ninja trick on how to get DJ gigs as it can get you on the radar of some big people.
It’s a method that I discovered by accident after we had played at a festival.
I had taken loads of photographs throughout the festival site and also gathered some pics that friends had taken during our set.
Very quickly after the festival (within a day or two) my DJ partner and I had put together a new video. It was essentially a slideshow of those pictures that used one of our tracks as the backing music.
Not only does this avoid copyright issues but we had a great reason to share it with the festival’s Facebook page. We were helping to promote their festival after all. We even put their logo at the beginning and end of the video, along with ours, of course.
Not only did the video get lots of views (as people were looking for themselves in the video), but lots of people heard our track. The festival themselves even shared it through their various socials to give it even more reach.
Although this can work for a festival or gig at any time, the sooner after that you do it then the more impact it will have. And the more reach you will be able to get.
This is essentially a way of creating value to a festival, gig or event as you are giving them content with zero effort or input needed from them.
How to get DJ gigs? Easy, play in Bars
Generally, DJ gigs in bars are a lot easier to get than club slots.
They are also a lot less pressure and you generally get to play a much longer set. This not only makes for great practice but you can also play a broad range of music and show exactly what your musical tastes are.
However, if you want to play club gigs in a specific genre then make most of your bar gigs that genre too.
You will find that people speak to you often as a bar DJ, so there is plenty of networking opportunities.
Getting these gigs is quite simple.
It’s a case of just visiting every single one of your local bars, asking to speak to the manager and offering to DJ either for free or for drinks. There will be some bars that will pay you of course.
While they should have some or all of the equipment already there it is not uncommon to have to take your own decks (see our recommended ones here), controller (which are way more portable) or laptop. This is something you can also offer to the bar if they don’t already have the setup.
When You DO Get a Booking
If you have found a promoter that’s giving you a chance then help them out by going the extra mile.
Don’t just stop working because you figured out how to get DJ gigs. Help your booker to promote and ask if there’s anything extra you can do to help them run the night.
Even if the night is small to begin with, then that booker knows you are willing to go the extra mile. This will make them much more likely to book you again in the future.
Being reliable and helpful goes a long way in the DJing world, a lot of people aren’t so you’d be surprised what makes you stand out….
How to Get DJ Gigs and Have an Amazing Career? Be… Wait for It… Patient
I’m going to say this again. Be patient. Really, really patient. Like everything, being a great, skilled DJ takes time.
It takes time to learn how to DJ and it takes time to learn how to produce (if you’re going to). It takes time to make connections and it takes time for those connections to truly like and trust you.
However, if you’re patient, just keep going, believe in yourself and always be practicing then you will get there.
The successful DJs are, basically, the people that just never gave up.
Have a Plan, Don’t Get Disheartened and Don’t Give up
All successful DJs will have got used to one thing a long time ago… Dealing with disappointment and rejection.
Not every promoter you contact is going to book you or even email you back, it is essentially a numbers game.
This is why I suggest above that you use Google Docs to be organized with your contact list. This means you can contact enough people so that even if only 10% of them get back to you, then you’re gonna find yourself fully booked with gigs.
The important thing is to never get disheartened and always keep going.
Those who put in the most effort, and have the dedication, are the ones that actually make a full-time living from their DJ career.
If you have any questions about anything that is not covered in this article please drop them in the comments. I’m more than happy to offer advice to your specific circumstances.
- Need a DJ name? Use this guide to choose one that won’t embarrass you later
- Want to become an EDM DJ? Check out our serious guide to get you on the circuit in no time!