ASK THE DJ: Moving to a Bigger Town

Dear DJ Ron:

I’ve been professionally DJing here in Grand Rapids, Michigan for 3-4 years and I’m in the process of moving to a big market (San Francisco). I’m aching to know how a big market will differ both in promotion and getting gigs; do I need a massive twitter following and friends over a killer demo?


Dear DJ JDV:

Remember when you started in Grand Rapids – no one knew who you are, no one wanted to give you a chance, and everything was against you?

In San Franscisco, it’s going to be like that – except there are a lot more DJs competing for the few spots that are available.

You are going to need to work every angle.

1. Think about what makes you different. These days, with an iPod or laptop, anyone can call themself a DJ. Do you produce your own tracks? Do you do video? Do you make mashups? Do you do your own remixes? Do you look hot with your shirt off? Do you sing or play an instrument in your sets? Do celebrities follow you?

2. Check out the local clubs and find the off nights. Offer to spin for free on a Tuesday night and promote it to try and build a crowd and a following.

3. There are other places to spin besides clubs – consider gyms, clothing stores, restaurants, coffee houses, and anywhere else where a good beat enhances the experience.

4. Whenever you play, collect eMail addresses to start an eMail list. Use Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook as tools to start and build a following.

It seems like the main way to get ahead now is original production. The DJs who are touring and doing well are all producers who make their own music. It is 2012, its no longer enough to just to beatmix other people’s tracks.

You’ve got a long road ahead of you and I wish you the best of luck.