10 Tips for DJs: Out of the Bedroom, Into the Club

10 Tips for DJs: Out of the Bedroom, Into the Club

by DJ Wolfie
11.06.2007

Brace yourself. This list is not for the faint of heart. You may not like some of it. You may feel that some of these suggestions are not a DJ's job. Well, what's it going to be? Perfect mixes for your underwear drawer, or are you going to put some effort into becoming a real DJ?

Only 3 of the 8 bullet points have anything to do with the actual art of DJing--and they are waaaay down on the list. The rest are useful, pragmatic, and practical tips on how to really make it.

It takes some effort--and some elbow grease--to get your name out there. Follow these simple steps, and you'll be able to play your music in front of a crowd.
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As a DJ, you will get your gigs from one of three people: promoters, other DJs, and yourself by throwing your own parties. Of the three, the main person you need to know to get gigs is the promoter. That should be obvious. Now, what isn't so obvious is what promoters care about. Sadly, your mixing ability is usually the last thing on their mind. I have spun at, helped promote, and created over 300 events in the past 6 years. You know what promoters focus on? Getting bodies through the door. I love the scene, I love people dancing, and when I promote, its a game of numbers. I look for DJs that will put bodies into the building.

On a deeper spiritual level, keep in mind that to really be successful as a DJ, it's not about you. It's about the music, the dancers, and the scene. If you're just looking for attention, that type of vibe takes from the scene. The more you give to the world of DJing, the more the world of DJing will give back to you.

Here are 10 ways you can start contributing to the music scene. The more you contribute, the more your DJ career will grow. These tips will improve your DJ skills, get you entrenched in your local scene, and make you the sought after DJ for upcoming events.

The following tips are given in the order of importance.

1. Get an e-mail list together and promote parties.

This is the biggest one of all. 9 times out of 10, the promoter will go with a lesser quality DJ with a mailing list over a talented DJ that doesn't promote. Start a mailing list now. Ask people for their e-mails. Do not give out your card and expect them to join up. Get their card, and then you'll be able to add them for sure. Start a collection of friends on tribe, myspace, or whatever social network site your community uses.

MAKE SURE EVERY PROMOTER IN TOWN IS ON THAT LIST. Then, send out info on what parties are happening. Even if you're not spinning, start sending out the info. Just by having a mailing list, people will start associating your DJ name with great parties. When a promoter starts seeing your name every week on those emails, and sees that you get people out to parties, you will now suddenly be in a whole new category. Once a week, tell your list where the party is happening. Talk about the good parties afterwards. Talk to promoters about giving your list special treatment. Ask promoters to let your list in for $5 less. That will reward people for being on your mailing list.

2. Take pictures and post them on your website.

Fresh content gets repeat traffic to your website. You do have a website, right? If you don't, talk to a toaster until you get over your technology phobia, then have your nephew to set up a website for you. Check out HOTTORRENT.COM--not only is it free, but they have all the tools you need without having to build your own website. They have mailing list functions, photo galleries, and everything else you might need. Be sure that people can add their name to the mailing list as they look at pictures.

People forward out photo links. You want to catch them the second they think "wow, those look like fun parties." Take photos of the pretty people, take crowd shots, make the party look like it's going off. It may be shallow, but you are building your scene with these techniques. After a few photo galleries like this, you'll see a rise in attendance, and people will start to recognize your name. They will also have this impression that you're involved with great parties.

(Editor's note: for a fine example of a DJ Web site, check out, well, www.DJWolfie.com.)

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3. Make a list of promoters and DJs you want to know in your local scene, and start working with them.

Your DJ career will come from your circle of friends. It's that simple. So pick DJs and promoters you vibe with, and find a way to meet them. Go to as many parties as you can that they are spinning at or throwing. Say hi to them each time you go to one of their events. After awhile, you'll be a regular, and you'll find yourself being given much more respect from promoters and DJs. Don't ask them for DJ slots until you get to know them. The goal is to become friends and help them throw events, or carry record boxes, or pick up fliers at the airport, or give them DJ rides to the airport for out-of-town gigs. Promoters and DJs really need support staff, and usually can't pay people for this. They end up with a network of up-and-coming scenesters and bedroom DJs that work with them and are on the move.

Don't be a suck up. Be real, be yourself, and be up front that you enjoy what they create for the scene, and be persistent in offering them help. Come at them as an equal. Hero worship is fine from fans, but you're going to co create with these people. E-mail the promoters each and every time they throw a party. Offer to help each time. Promoters deal with many flakes, so don't expect them to welcome you in right away. They want to get to know you, and you have to just keep offering until they let you in to help. You'll learn a lot about the scene, and party politics, and make friends. This will put you as a person and DJ on the map as someone deserving a break on the decks. Then you can ask them for a gig.

4. Make demo CDs.

There are two reasons to make mix CDs. First of all, it's good for you to record your sets, all the time. You'll learn much faster by reviewing your work. Songs are introduced into your headphone long before the mix. Because of this, many bedroom DJs end up doing short blends, without realizing it. When you listen to your mixes, suddenly what you missed jumps out at you as a listener. The other reason for making demo CDs is obvious--you will have CDs to give promoters to let them hear your style, track choice, and mixing skills. Give these CDs to everyone, BUT ONLY WHEN THEY ARE GOOD. Never give out a badly mixed CD with obvious train wrecks. It will do more damage to your career than good. It's easy to get a promoter to listen to your first CD. But if the first one sucks, it's very hard to get them to listen to a second one. Give CDs out to everyone after your DJ mentors give it the thumbs up. Start building that fan base.

5. Spin with DJs that are better than you to learn new skills.

If you mix with good DJs, several things will happen. First, when you tag team practice, it will make you more comfortable when you're in a club environment, taking the decks and dance floor over from another DJ. You want to practice this. It'll trip you up if you haven't played with other DJs.

Next, practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. So find great DJs, ask them to coach you, and learn why their mixing sounds so good. Last, once you start growing as a DJ, many times these DJs will get you gigs once you're ready. People help out their friends. When th
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