Being a DJ is not for the faint of heart, and anyone who has made his or her mark on the industry will tell you that. That said, there is nothing like the rush of having a crowd under your wee little finger. Once you can do that on a consistent basis, word of mouth will set you afire. But as most successful DJs will tell you, it takes hard work, long hours, patience, and determination to arrive at that point. You have to also try and avoid the pitfalls most new DJs will make, and we can help with that. Read on for tips for new DJs on how to stand out and make your musical dreams come true.
Pick a Lane
This might sound counterintuitive, as no one wants a DJ that only plays one kind of music. However, you also want to know what scene or niche you are in and perfect that. Doing so also helps you to market yourself in order to get gigs, as no one wants the guy who says when asked what he plays, “Oh, I play a bit of everything.” You’re either Hip-Hop or you’re not. You’re either drum ‘n’ bass or you’re not. Anyone who knows anything about DJing will know that you’re not going to only play this genre but it’s better to be able to at least somewhat define yourself.
Networking is the name of any game, but none more so than in the world of music. Go see other popular DJs perform. Talk to producers. Get your name out there. The power of social media can’t be denied but when it comes to making it as a DJ, word of mouth can just as, if not more, powerful.
Consider Free Gigs … At Least for a Bit
No one likes the idea of giving services away for free, as time is money. But when it comes to music, this is how it’s often done when getting started. Musicians give music away for free so you might have to do the same as far as gigs. Make sure you ask everyone you DJ for to write a review so you can strengthen your online reputation.
As a DJ, you must have a ton of music. Be on the lookout for new stuff and everyone’s favorite old tunes. Building your collection of online music and records can take time and resources. Stay organized so that you know where everything is when that gig comes. Play around with what works and throw away with what consistently hasn’t. Make your own audio visualizer or geometric shapes that dance and move in time with the beats. Guests at your events will love this added touch. If you love it, too, you can download your presentation to sites like Vimeo and YouTube.
Find a Mentor
This could be said of any industry but, with DJs, it is even more important. Not only will you learn a ton of techniques from an experienced DJ, but he or she could even let you in on the act here and there. Online tutorials are phenomenal but nothing can get you up to speed more than hands-on experience. You’ll learn about equipment choices, how to scratch, mix, and share your creativity with your audience.
Become a Marketing Expert
As previously mentioned, word of mouth is fantastic but, as with all things, social media and marketing are musts when trying to promote yourself. Hey, if you’ve got the funds, hire a company to help you. Most people getting started likely don’t have this kind of cash flow, though. Fortunately, learning the ins and outs of social media isn’t all that difficult. As long as you keep up with the posting best practices for each social media platform, you could and should be able to get some of your stuff to go viral.
Sharing photos is great but videos are even more apropos when it comes to showing off your DJ skills. You need to present yourself as a company when it comes down to it. As DJ Nappy notes in this Complex.com article, “People don’t have to look to hard to find me. There is artwork for every full release that I’ve done. Booking me isn’t difficult. Logos have been created. I have a video Electronic Press Kit. You need all of this in order to stand out.”
Be Well Rounded
Most seasoned DJs will tell you that you can’t just spin tunes and be a success. It is far better to dabble in producing, writing music reviews, bookings, conducting interviews, cinematography, and anything else that goes hand in hand with DJing. When industry folks go to make a booking, these added skills will make you far more marketable than being “just a DJ”.
This is no time to be intimidated. If becoming a DJ has been your lifelong dream, follow these tips and go for it.