Many would argue that the role of the DJ has changed considerably since the early days of 1210’s and vinyl. However, knowing how to mix the right record at the right time is still at the core of the discipline and key to enable you to get more DJ gigs in 2023
Technology has had a massive impact on the way the DJ’s deliver their performance.
Whether Technology itself has “dumbed down” the art of the DJ mix is massively subjective. Personally, I believe that it has shifted the emphasis firmly back to the core values that I mentioned earlier. In other words, while you’re not spending time wiping the dust of a knackered 12” and beatmatching, you can spend more time working out which record is gonna heat up the dance floor next.
Anyway, the debate on this will continue raging and I personally prefer to concentrate on the benefits that technology brings rather than the “good old days”
One indisputable change brought on by technology is the fact that the barriers to entry into DJ ing are lower now than they ever have been. We’ve all been at a party where someone has whipped out their iPhone and smashed it with Virtual DJ
I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, in fact, quite the opposite. The more people that have access to a new hobby or profession, means a greater potential pool of talent.
This brings me on nicely to my next point. You need to stand out!
The following 2 sections walk you through the basics of how to present and promote yourself, which is essential for all newcomers who want to get more DJ gigs.
Personal branding is more difficult for some than for others. The more extrovert amount us may find this part appealing, while the more demure may opt for being anonymous.
However you approach your branding, it’s important that it’s considered and fits with your musical stylings. This is why it’s important to have a branding strategy in place so that your sound, logo, pictures and clothing all tie together.
Take Run DMC as your reference for this. Their logo is completely iconic, their profile pictures capture everything about their brand and the trademark Converse with no shoelaces set their own fashion trend.
Choose your DJ name
This is something worth taking a bit of time over because it’s difficult to go back on.
Think about the successful DJs in your style and consider what message they are conveying with their name.
If you’re a serious deep techno guy or girl, then you may decide that your own name works. If you’re a party mix DJ then you not you may want to consider something with a bit more personality
I often find putting an hour or 2 aside and looking through magazines or blogs to see if anything jumps out is a good trick.
Once you’ve decided on something its important to google it and see if anyone else is using the same name. Trust me, this will avoid a big headache later if you get some success and 2 years down the line there’s a copyright claim in your inbox.
Fact for the day- The Chemical Brothers were once called the Dust Brothers…
Our online course teaches students how to programme a pro DJ mix in Ableton Live.
It contains over 5 hours of video content and covers:
Track warping / Harmonic Mixing / Mash Ups / Mastering
Get your image sorted
By this, we mean everything from your logo to your promo pictures to what you wear to gigs
Learning a software design package like photoshop or GIMP (free) is worth its weight in gold when you’re a one-man-band
If you don’t have the time you may want to consider paying a designer to make a logo for you.
Whichever route you take, make sure to keep it simple. Choose something that will work just as well as both a large image on a poster and a thumbnail for youtube and Mixcloud.
Sometimes a club promoter will need a DJ promo picture to use to market their event either online or physically
The nature of this kind of promotion is that it’s usually last minute and often you will need pictures to hand.
As with choosing your name, you will need to think of how you want to be perceived by your audience.
If you’re on a budget I recommend finding someone who does graphic design and photography (not that hard) and offer them a price for logo and pictures. Sometimes local colleges or universities have students who want to boost their portfolio and will do the job for a small fee. Maybe you can cross-promote each other in some way or give him a free DJ mix….?
It goes without saying that promoting yourself as an artist is essential to raise your profile to start your DJ career in 2021 in the right way and those bookings rolling in.
Established DJs who have the luxury of being signed to a management or booking company may be able to leave this to others but the chances are, when you’re starting out, you will have to do this yourself
Social Media is the obvious place to kick off your promo, but think about what you are trying to communicate to your fans.
If you have a strong visual element to your brand then Instagram makes sense.
Check out some of your favorite artists and see what they’re posting.
Some tips on DJ promotion with Instagram
- Mix it up and include different aspects of your life. Fans love seeing “life on the road” as well as backstage shots and you in the crowd for some selfie action.
- Use some DJ hashtags to get your content to the people who want to see it. These hashtags are generic but really popular.
- If you’re a specialist DJ or playing to your local crowd you’ll probably want to include some more niche tags as well like:
- Make sure to use stories and video. Traveling to the gig, the gig itself and the afterparty can make a great Instagram story when edited well.
- Use the description text in bio to link people to your main point of contact like your webpage, or use it to send fans to something you are currently promoting like a gig or DJ mix.
There has been a lot written recently about “black hat tactics” used by some DJs to raise their perceived profile. This is often done through paying for social media likes and follows, to appear more popular than you actually are.
Doing this is a great way to alienate yourself with promoters and fellow DJs. Keep your social media authentic and organic and it’ll pay off in the long run.
Resident Advisor did a panel interview a few months back which addresses this in some detail.
Organizing Your Own DJ Events or club nights
Events can be a great way to develop your brand as a DJ and give yourself experience of mixing live.
If you look at most successful DJs in 2020, they tend to have a number of strings to their bow.
Owning a record label, having a podcast or radio show, releasing music and promoting club nights give DJs an extra platform to engage with fans and build their brand.
Organising events is a competitive business but if done well can be a great way to build a community of fans in your area. It can also act as a platform to network and showcase other DJs who may, in turn, repay the favour with future gigs.
Our number one tip for starting your own club night is collaboration
- Find a group of DJs in your area who share the same taste in music and enthusiasm as you do.
- Start small and find a venue that you are confident you and your DJ crew can fill with friends. A 60 capacity basement bar is a great place to start. If there’s 5 of you DJing and everyone brings 10 friends, then you’re in for a nice night! The atmosphere will be great and the owner will want you back again.
- Having a group of DJs around you will also help your mixing skills develop
- Just because you have 100 people “interested” in your event, it doesn’t mean anyone will actually turn up. If you don’t have a big following then word of mouth and getting friends of friends down their is your best way to start.
- Make sure that the venue you choose has a half-decent sound system and there are no noise restrictions. I’ve learned this the hard way and have put on parties where the noise limiter attached to the mixer kicked-in at a stupidly low volume and the night turned into a farce.
- Go down to the venue before you hire it and play for free for a couple of hours to give the system a road test
- Another great, low-risk way to start off in club night promotion is to find an established event and collaborate with the promoter. Tell them that you will fill the back room with 50 people and arrange some kind of kickback with the door money or a cut on the bar takings. This way you can test out your concept without having the stress of running the main promotion.
We’ve taken a look at some of the ways you can market and promote yourself. Now its time to get a bit more hands-on with the craft of DJing itself.
Think about the type of DJ that you want to be and hone in on the specific equipment that would suit your style and more importantly, your budget. For example, a hip dj might gravitate towards turntables, whereas a more mobile party DJ may want an all-in-one setup.
It’s nice to think that one day your DJ career will involve traveling the world with a set of USB drives in your back pocket, but the DJs who have the luxury of living that life, have spent years practicing to get to that level.
So, first things first, you need to buy (or have access to) the right gear to practice with. I’ve done a rundown of some of the best options for beginner DJs.
We’ve focussed on “all-in-one” DJ bundles as you can often find some good deals this way. Most of these deals come with music players /mixers /speakers and headphones so have everything you need to start up.
If you’re oldskool, you may fancy going down the turntable route. DJing with vinyl adds a touch of authenticity to your performance so I’ve heard.
It’s worth remembering that there are fewer and fewer venues with functioning turntables around these days, so you may be taking yours with you to the gig….
If you don’t want to get into vinyl buying, you should consider a Digital vinyl setup
Here’s a good starter setup for turntables:
Controllers are the most popular choice for new DJs as they are pretty affordable and mobile. You just need to figure out which software suits you the best and match it with the most appropriate controller.
On the downside, you will have to take your laptop to the gig which is a turnoff for some.
Traktor, Serato, and Rekordbox are the 3 main players and all offer varying pricing rates for their software.
Here’s a good package to start your DJ career in 2021 if you like the idea of controllers.
All In One Console
If you don’t fancy taking your laptop to a gig and like the idea of DJing off USB’s, then you could consider an all-in-one solution. These tend to be quite expensive but are pretty convenient
You will also be appealing to a club promoter or venue owner who needs a DJ setup for the evening and therefore books you. The downside is that people will want to borrow it 🙁
Make a DJ Mix
Once you have put in some hours and your skills are progressing, you should consider making a DJ mix.
There’s no doubt that having a digital product to promote yourself with is the quickest route to success. Ideally, this would be a killer club hit or remix that’s impacting the charts. Failing that, making a DJ mix will give you something to promote yourself with.
A mixtape is also a great way of showcasing your skills and creating content at the same time
Some final thoughts on how to get more DJ Gigs.
- You should be drawn to DJing because you are obsessed with music.
- You should also want to share the music that you love with others.
- Remember that success won’t be instant so treat DJing as a passion project to start with.
- It may seem overwhelming when you’re just starting out, so take things one step at a time
- Your skills and music collection should come first before the marketing and promotion.
- Take advice from more experienced DJs and keep focussed on learning and getting better.
We hope you enjoyed our rundown. Check out our blog for more DJ stuff