Take a moment and imagine that you are a start up DJ. You are at the point where you can DJ really well – you can mix seamlessly and create great playlists that would drive the crowds crazy. What do you do next? Well, naturally, you’d have to start landing a few gigs and put those mad DJ skills to use, and eventually who knows… maybe even earn some money? Unfortunately, sometimes this is easier said than done and it can be one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish. With that in mind, what do you have to do to land your first gig, and eventually move on to getting paid to gig?
Step 1, Skill:
First of all, you must be a good DJ. Even if you land a gig and get a chance to perform in a club for a Record label or event promoter, if you suck, it is likely that you will not be hired again to DJ for those people. Furthermore, first impressions count. Now, I want to be clear that I am not talking about being nervous. It’s normal to get nervous when you start performing (and the promoters will expect this). My advice is the following:
- Know how to use club standard equipment (Pioneer CDJs and a DJM mixer).
- Be able to beatmatch and mix between your tracks at the right phrases.
- Know your tracks and have a few prepared playlists that you can use. Preparing your set isn’t something you want to take as gospel, because a great DJ is able to read the crowd and pick tracks you may not have initially thought of playing. However, being somewhat prepared for your first few gigs can make the experience on your part a bit easier.
Step 2, Portfolio and Social Media:
You need to build your portfolio of work. I am not implying club gigs (although that is good as well). I am referring to recording DJ mixes every week and uploading them on all main social media networks DJs use such as Soundcloud, Mixcloud. You also want to be promoting your mixes whenever you upload one. You do this by creating a post of Facebook and Instagram (and any other platform you use) linking to your mix. Make sure those Facebook and Instagram pages are artist pages and not your private ones. If they are artist pages then they will be tagged when you are listed for an event and people who attend the event will be able to follow you. You should also create a Resident Advisor artist profile as it will help you down the line when you start performing for bigger events.
Step 3, Connect:
This is the part most people fall short on. How do you connect with the people that can get you gigs? Let me tell you a little story about how I got to play the 103 room in Ministry of Sound for Pukka Up. I had an event promoter as a friend on Facebook. He was not my friend, nor did he really know who I was. I simply contacted him on Facebook, and I explained how I was a DJ and have been consistently uploading DJ mixes, and whether there was an opportunity for me to DJ for one of his events. The next day he replied offering me a slot for Ministry of Sound, and I got paid almost £300 for that gig! The fact that I had followed Step 1 and Step 2 was the reason that this worked. I had a lot of mixes already surfing the net for him to review. The number of followers I had didn’t matter, what mattered more was the fact that I was polite in the way I messaged him, and that he could see that I was uploading on all my social media and my music networks (Soundcloud and Mixcloud) consistently for at least a few months, therefore he knew I was serious.
Step 4, Attend:
Attend as many gigs as possible, preferably in clubs where it is easy to network with the DJs on the night. Make sure you have a business card to give them, but most importantly add them as a friend on Facebook and follow up with them in the following days. It is widely known that Deadmau5 signed Skrillex after he went up to him and handed him a CD of his music, and there are many more successful DJs have been made that way.
At Soundflow Music Academy we try to offer an easy way into the music industry – we will find you gigs upon graduation to get you started, and we will introduce you to a few record labels and promoters, so that you can start making a name for yourself. We are proud to say many of our students are making a living by working in the music industry and have performed in some of the worlds best clubs. However, even with our help, you will only reap the benefits of this if you put in the work yourself. Therefore, here is a quick recap of the steps you should take:
- Actively practice to hone your skills
- Regularly produce new tracks which are of professional quality.
- Record one DJ mix per week and publish it on Mixcloud, then promote it on all your social media.
- Actively pursue collaborations with other DJs and producers who are slightly more successful than you are (you’d be surprised how easy this is to do if your tracks and mixes are very good)
- Be active on social media.
- Follow up with all the industry people you meet.
That’s about it for now, see you on the dance floor!
About Soundflow Music Academy
We offer one to one audio engineering, music production & DJ courses. Taught by experienced and accredited tutors in studios utilising only top of the range equipment such as Pioneer CDJ 2000nxs2 and DJM900nxs2.
Our goal is to provide the best possible music production and DJ tuition, as well as incredible real world opportunities for our students such as club gigs, label releases, industry meet ups and more.
If you want to learn how to DJ from scratch or simply hone your skills, you can enrol on the Intro to DJ or Complete DJ course. If you want to learn how to produce music at the highest standard, you can enrol on our Intro to Music Production, Music Production & Sound Engineering or the Mixing & Mastering courses!
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