As you all know, getting a gig as a DJ today is not like it used to be. You used to have to just be good and not be an asshole. Today, it’s all about how many people you bring, who you know, AND how good you are, in that order. If those three things are taken care of, you’re set. Here are some things I think will come in handy for your future as a successful DJ.
1. 1. If you’re trying to make a name for yourself as a DJ, you have to stand alone – Try not to be lumped in with a specific look for too long. For example; playing with the same DJ’s all the time or being attached publicly to a promotional team. Promotional teams are great and get people for you, but then everyone thinks that it’s the team that gets your crowd for you and that you’re not a DJ who can draw people on his own.
2. 2. If you accept a gig, make sure you can get people to that gig – You ever notice DJ’s out there that play gigs at a spot and then basically never play there again? That’s because he promises “X” amount of people and falls short. You only get one chance at a first impression.
3. 3. NEVER promise more than you can deliver – This will completely screw you in every way possible. You should assume that the club owners all talk to each other. If you fall short at let’s say club Y, and you’re trying to get a gig at let’s say club X, the owners could be friends and fill each other in.
4. 4. Be nice to EVERYONE – The worst thing you or your manager can do is upset the people who work at the clubs you’re playing. Guess what? You’re lucky to be there. The club doesn’t owe you anything except your fee! Don’t act entitled because right behind you is another DJ who’s as good, or better than you, who will be humble and thankful to be there. I’ve hung out with the biggest DJ’s in the world, and they have all been very nice to everyone around them, even the bathroom attendants! If you’re a dick, nobody will want to work with you or do you any favors.
5. 5. Don’t lie about how “packed” your gig was – Everyone sees right through the bullshit, and you don’t want to be labeled as “that guy.” There’s nothing wrong with simply saying something like “thanks to everyone who came out to my gig. I had an amazing time.” Don’t be like “We sold $5,000 in bottles and had the place packed wall to wall” and then just show pictures of you from the front with no crowd in them. Do you think people are idiots? You’ll just look like a cocky lying jackass.
6. 6. Track selection – You shouldn’t still be playing “Epic” or any other tracks that were beaten to death over a year ago, unless you want to just be a dime a dozen DJ.
7. 7. Know your spot in the lineup – If you are warming up (opening the club) it’s a good idea to just play some groovy tech or house. I know you have friends there and you want to kill it. DON’T! All you’ll do is make the club owners think you don’t know what you’re doing and you’ll never spin there again. Have patience, and you’ll work your way up to the point where you can play what you want.
8. 8. Buying likes or followers – DON’T DO IT! If you see any local DJ’s out there with over 1,000 likes on Facebook with like “5 people talking about this,” guess what, 99% of them bought their likes. And guess what, EVERYONE CAN SEE THAT! Please don’t think you’re fooling anyone. You just look pathetic. There’s no shame in having a small fan base that grows over time. Everyone, take a minute and look up some of your local DJ’s and check the stats. On top of that, followers on Twitter are the best. You can actually see who follows anyone. Just randomly scroll down and click a couple of followers. I’m sure you’ll find ones with less than 10 tweets and ones that don’t even speak English.
I sincerely hope this helps out up and coming DJs who were thinking about doing anything shady, and I also hope this can help you spot the fake DJs as well. Don’t ever think that a DJ is worth more because of likes or followers. I urge you to go check out your local DJs and make up your own minds!
-Adam for EDMNYC