ASK THE DJ: DJ Starting Out

Dear DJ Ron,

Yo dude. I spin the phattest choons at my friends houses and parties. I want to spin club but can’t get no gigs. What’s the deal? How do I get a residency?

Signed,

Next Big Thing

Dear NBT,

Getting your first break is a challenge and there is no magic answer. Here are a few suggestions which might help.

1. Get started. If your goal is to spin at clubs, you need to get your foot in the door. Try applying for other jobs at the club – barback, doorperson, or, even better, the light person. Working as a light person is a great way to watch a DJ read the crowd and play music as an entertainer. Building a rapport with the current resident will also be a good way to get a reference when a position opens up.

2. Promote yourself. Sounds like you have a bunch of supporters who are friends – but do you have an eMail list? A web page? A Facebook page? Twitter following? If you can approach a promoter (or club owner) with a confirmed list – that will make you more attractive.

3. Volunteer. Are there any charity events? Local house parties? Art openings? Salon parties? Play anywhere you can to get your name out there.

4. Make a demo. Do you have a current CD or podcast which demonstrates your mixing and programming skills? Does the music reflect the venue you are looking to play? If the resident plays trance with great success, a demo CD of hip-hop tracks might not be the power move. Pass the demo out to friends for feedback.

5. Practice your approach. Using club lingo and slang is cool with friends, but when talking to potential employers it is best to take a more professional tone. When you are ready to approach a club owner or promoter, dress appropriately and speak in a respectful tone. Consider calling during the afternoon to arrange an appointment to discuss possibilities. However you do it – be sure to refrain from drinking when it’s time to submit your demo CD.

Good luck with your career!

~RS

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