You might ask yourself this question a lot: How can I go about getting my first DJ gig?
If you are stuck right now in a difficult place with it, don't worry, you are not alone.
About eight and a half years ago, I did not know either. If you are reading this right now, I am sure you are dying to know how you can just make a start.
And in this blog, I will help answer that question, in a step format.
Start going out more
It starts with a change in perception. In order for you to understand how the music industry and nightclubs work, you first have to put yourself in the proximity of the action. In other words, go out to nightclubs more often. Some of you may already, and some may not. Either way it is important to be more proactive when it comes to approaching this situation. I am sure you are a passionate music enthusiast like me so it should be easy, “right”? The problem is with approaching gigs, people want to stay home as it is more convenient and comfortable to do so, rather than send a Facebook message or an email to a promoter or event organiser, as it can disguise any fears and discomfort compared to a face-to-face approach.
The reality is if you have a desire to play out in front of an audience and never go out, get involved, or start supporting the music nightclubs, how is it so that you can expect that mutual support back? Social media is a great tool to connect with people and an online network. Don't get me wrong, but nothing will ever beat showing support to the nightclubs which need it the most. Too many DJs I speak to have the mindset that locking themselves in their rooms until they are the next Martin Garrix will bring them the DJ gigs they want. They hope that people will come to them and offer them a spot. It doesn't necessarily work like that.
It’s a poor approach, a poor mindset that will only bring continuous frustration by putting yourself under that much scrutiny and pressure to get a result. You need to think of the bigger picture and learn how to start building a foundation of relationships through networking at nightclubs and music-related events like seminars.
Isolate Nightclubs you like
If you’re wondering how to get DJ gigs at clubs, one of the best pieces of advice I have for you is this – pick your targets. What nightclubs do you want to play at? Where could you see yourself playing in your mind? Before you go out, write down two or three clubs that you see yourself potentially fitting into. I say two or three because you don't want to really pick any more than that. You want to be more specific and targeted. I would not really advise you to go to ten nightclubs in a weekend. It’s not practical and you will not be able to spend the amount of sufficient time you need in a nightclub to take down some of the key points I will mention in the next section.
When I was in this situation trying to find DJ gigs and nightclubs I wanted to play at, I actually didn't have two or three places near my area. I lived in Frankston at the time, a suburb almost one hour’s drive away from the city, Melbourne, and because I wanted to play trance gigs, my resources were even more limited at the time. So, I had to drive all the way to the city in most cases, by myself, because my friends really did not want to go, as they weren't the biggest of trance fans, so I had to find where I could potentially see myself fit in by traveling to different clubs each week.
Trust me, I did not want to travel each week and spend all my Friday and Saturday nights in a nightclub, but I wanted it so badly at the time, and I knew it was essential to get me where I wanted to go.
“Ninety percent of success is showing up.” - Woody Allen
Be seen in the scene
One of the biggest points I make to people is to be seen in the scene. Go out to the clubs you want to be a part of. Take mental notes of the clubs you visit. Weigh up the pros and cons. I realise you cannot be picky when it comes to gigs, but you need to be happy with an environment you want to be a part of. Things to take note of are: Do you like the music at the venue? Do you like the music progression and flow of the night? Do you like the crowd at this nightclub? Are the people friendly? Or is there too much trouble in the nightclub, too much ego? Are there too many boys compared to girls? These are just a few examples I want to point out that can help influence where you should spend most your time at your preferred nightclub.
It is essential to be seen in the scene because people remember faces, not emails and Facebook comments. Showing up to support a club says more about a person’s integrity than someone who is not willing to make an effort and go out at all. People will start to see you and notice you more often, if you are a regular patron at the nightclubs you select, which I highly recommend. Commit to make a start. Commit to your dream to take the first steps which I did eight years ago. Become a regular patron first. Every successful DJ was once a passionate music enthusiast first. How do you think they become inspired and want to be a DJ?
It comes from being surrounded in the club’s atmosphere, aspiring to be involved at a higher and deeper level. Wanting to be the next DJ to inspire others with expressing their music tastes, to connect and make others feel the music like other DJs did with them. People remember how you make them feel. So, the key for this blog is to first show up and take more committed action. Put yourself in a situation where you are going out often and people start becoming familiar with your face in the clubs you would want to play at.
Want to know more about how to get booked for DJ gigs?
In part two of this blog, I will talk about getting to know people and networking, and what stops people from doing the work. In part three, I discuss how to add value to your DJ gigs using different methods and effects.