As a talent buyer and event promoter at one of the hottest clubbing destinations in the Australia, one of the most frequently asked questions I’m asked is “How Do I get DJ Gigs?” The answer isn’t simple but there are many things you can do to take your DJ career into your own hands. Getting out there and getting involved in your local scene is the best answer in most cases, but before you do, here’s some essential qualities that almost every promoter is looking for when hiring a DJ.
5. Do you think you’re a rock star?
No one likes a rock star until you are one! If you act like you’re God’s gift to the DJ world, it’s unlikely that you will make a lot of friends on the way up – if you ever get there. Nightclubs thrive on repeat business from clubbers that like to interact with the DJ’s, so acting like you’re superior will get you nowhere. Be respectful of your peers and especially the other staff that all have important jobs to do to keep the club moving forward.
4. Are you a good support act?
Part of being a resident DJ is supporting special guest DJ’s when they come to town. If you can be a flexible DJ that can adjust the way you play in order to maximise the experience of the night as a whole, promoters will trust you and give you opening and closing sets after premium acts. There are a lot of things to consider such as playing the perfect ‘warm-up set’ or in same cases – playing the ‘sure-fire set’ when closing after a special guest that didn’t play to the crowd.
3. Do you play to the crowd?
Keep your eyes and ears on the dance floor! If you can’t read the crowd and keep the dance floor full, you have next to no chance of holding down a residency. Nothing will test a promoter’s patience more than an ignorant DJ that only plays for him or herself. The venue has a responsibility to entertain and the music played is ninety per cent of the equation, so if you’re one of those DJ’s that only plays the records you love the most, make sure you choose the right room.
“The only time the dance-floor should be empty is when the club is closed!”
2. Do you play the right music?
Most clubs will have a music policy. Some promoters will be much more flexible than others but generally speaking venues are known for a particular genre of music. If you take to the decks and play a style of music that’s foreign to the room, you’ll most likely clear the dance floor quicker than you can say “What the f*ck happened here?” This doesn’t mean that the music you’re playing isn’t killer. People go to venues expecting a certain sound and when they don’t get it, it can leave them feeling ripped off.
1. Can you pull a crowd?
The brutal truth – the music industry just like any other industry and has to turn a profit in order for it to survive. The nightclub industry is a large part of the music industry, particularly for dance music. No promoter is expecting a brand new DJ to fill a club, but bringing your friends along to support you is a great way to get a head start. As a resident DJ, the locals need to get to know you and love your music if you have any chance of sticking around. Bring your crew! Fill that bar and max out your guest list! Simple things like getting active on social media, rounding up all your friends to come into the club on their birthdays, sticking around before and after your set... it’s not rocket science.
Other factors to consider are things like image, reputation, who you know and how you are representing yourself on social media. Pay attention to how the club you want to play at operates and how they market themselves to their patrons. You can learn a lot just by watching and going to as many of your local club nights, long before you ask for a gig.