Getting Your First DJ Gig – My First DJ Gig!
One of the most important things you need to do to get DJ gigs aside from constantly working on your DJ skills is to make friends with other DJ’s, Clubgoers, Promoters and Managers.
Honestly, when I first started getting gigs. I don’t think it was because I was a great DJ. I think it was because I was a nice guy with a real enthusiasm for music and clubs. Enthusiasm goes a long way in replacing experience and I see it again and again, a young dj who really seems to enjoy playing, even on computer being supported by his friends and the club management because he’s a nice guy or girl and has enthusiasm!
Getting Your First DJ Gig
So now you have music, you can mix on a computer, and you have friends in the biz! What next? Make a mix cd, about one hour, a little over is ok, but better over than under, between 1:00 and 1:10 is best.
Record your mix using your TRAKTOR DJ and then burn it to a cd. Name the mix, come up with something creative that you feel captures the essence and sells your style. Make it look professional by creating cover art to place in the jewel case of the cd and a cd label. The outer cover should have the cover art, title of your mix and you DJ name. On the inside cover, I put the mix title, mixed by, tracklist including artist – track title (remix if it is one), booking contact info, and on the bottom I have some logos of clubs where I’ve played (if you haven’t played anywhere yet don’t worry about it, it will come.) Then, I also print a label for the cd, I use the same background image on the cover, the tracklist, and the cd label. On the cd label I put the mix title, mixed by, and my contact information.
Now you have something that represents you as a DJ that you can give to your friends in the biz. Be humble and open. Tell them you really love music and DJing, you’ve made this mix and would love to play in their club. Also be clear that if you are mixing on computer you tell them you are using TRAKTOR DJ. Or if it’s a DJ friend, tell him or her you’d love to warm-up for them. Ah, and the key here is FOR FREE. Be open to doing a few gigs for free to get some references. Once you’ve played a few gigs and you can say that you’ve played at such and such place you can ask for money but also be easy and take what they are offering.
My First DJ Gig
Of course, everything I’ve written so far is a perhaps a bit over simplified. I was a music lover for years. It’s not that I just woke up one day and decided I wanted to DJ. When I first started going to clubs, I was enthralled. I went to my local music shop nearly everyday and bought new music. I always had music playing at my house and shared the love with my friends who would always say, “You have so much great music, you should become a DJ!” So, eventually I did.
I got my first gig just how I’ve written. A new club had opened and I went there frequently, even on nights that weren’t busy just to listen to the music and hear the DJ’s play. I made friends with the Club Promoter and told him I was interested in DJing. I asked him when a good time would be to bring him a mix cd and he told me that he was available in the afternoons. So I went by the club one afternoon and he wasn’t there, but the next he was so I gave the mix cd I had created. I continued to go to the club and after he got to know me better and saw my passion for music he offered me a gig to play early evening on a Sunday. I happily accepted!
He had asked me if I played on computer or cd and I told him I played on computer with TRAKTOR DJ. I asked him what he thought was better, computer or cd and he responded by saying that he thought cd was better but it was fine that I was going to play on TRAKTOR DJ.
I prepared my track selection with the knowledge that it would be early on a Sunday and with music I know he would like by our prior conversations. This is important. You can pick up a lot of clues in conversation with club promoters and managers about what they like and want to hear you play without being too direct. So I created a playlist of about two hours with tracks that began warm and friendly building up to tracks that have some energy and will make you want to move that mixed well together.
The Turning Point – To Laptop DJ or not to Laptop DJ?!!!
About a week before the gig, my hard drive crashed! Totally wiped out. I had some back-up but not all my latest tracks I had planned to play. So yes, I freaked out a bit and got my MacBook to the Apple shop. Luckily, it only took a few days for the replacement drive to come in but without any data recovery. So I had to work quickly reinstalling software and getting my music together. This changed my whole perspective on digital DJing! If this had happened the day of the gig…what to do… cancel and possibly lose the opportunity.
The smart way to save yourself would be back-up to a Portable External Hard Drive. Be sure to back-up not only a copy of your music library but also always have a back-up of you DJ software either on the drive or burned onto a cd.
Luckily, I got everything sorted out, and I went on to make the party! It was actually a great time and an overall success. I had some friends come, we all had a great time and the promoter seemed very happy. Now I had one gig at a club under my belt and my demo cd now had it’s first icon of where I had played and at the time playing at that club meant something!
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