Wanted: DJ – Mixing Optional

The ad from the local paper says it all: looking for a multi-skilled DJ to bring in a crowd, and we’re not too worried about your mixing skills.  What has gone wrong in the club scene that having mix skills is no longer a priority?  In case you have been living under a rock, draw power is high on the list of promoters criteria now. Being able to bring in the crowd is considered by some to be greater than being able to keep the crowd.  How do you keep up with the Jones’ and get gigs in this type of club climate?  Read on…

To succeed as a professional DJ in the 21st century, you have to treat it as both an art form AND a business.


On the business side of DJing, the way to get paid more is really very simple. Offer More! Here are 5 simple value-added things you can do for a club/bar that will raise your pay-out.

  1. Do sound tech work – make sure the system is running smoothly and sounds great all the time
  2. Create a flyer if there is none – time to brush off Photoshop!
  3. Offer to pass out flyers – ideally with some trackable item on the flyer like a coupon code for half-off entry before 12 that shows what your efforts yielded.
  4. Build a facebook event page and promote the hell out of it
  5. Find opening DJs or off-night filler djs for low cost or free. The best way to keep your job is to manage the clubs bookings- duh!

Create Your Brand

These days, there’s always going to be another DJ who’d like to do your job for free, regardless of their capacity/skill.

Set yourself apart by creating your own unique DJ brand. It pays to stand out!

  1. Define your Brand – The music you play, the way you conduct yourself and even the way you look determine people’s impressions about you. Each time you play out is a chance to promote your own brand of music and style of DJing. Dress for the gig and play like the professional you are!
  2. Give out a Mix – All those people having a great time on the floor probably won’t remember everything you played. Giving out a mix CD is one way to keep you in the minds of your loyal audience. If you don’t want to spend $ on CDs, you could upload your mix on sites like http://soundcloud.com and just hand out flyers to people advertising it.
  3. Collect e-mails – Every gig is packed with potential fans, but its your job to convert them. Go out and pro-actively give them another chance to hear you play.
  4. Create a website/social networking page – The online world has become as much a part of the working DJ as the real world. Skip Myspace, and go straight towards building a facebook fan page if your just getting started. This will be the least expensive way to leverage social networking tools. Have a bit of a budget? Create a custom home page- but be carefull of having too many destination spots (myspace, facebook, web-page, blog, etc.). Its better to focus everyone to one place and optimize the hell out of it.

Stay Competitive By Staying Ahead

It’s easy to dream about being the next big name in DJing. What’s difficult is figuring out how to get there!

  1. Innovate – Bring something different to your gigs that the crowd will remember you for! Having a successful night every week might tempt you into resting on your laurels, but let’s not forget that with today’s fickle crowd, you need to keep stepping up each and every time.
  2. Integrate – There’s a lot of new DJ technology and techniques out there for you to incorporate into your current set. Slip a MIDI controller like the Midi Fighter in with your DVS system for some new routines, or go perfect that FX transition you saw the other night on YouTube. Never be content with the skills that you have today! There’s always room to improve and build on your strengths and work on your weaknesses.
  3. Promote – Unless you have a professional promoter working for you, you’re going to have to do this on your own. Work those social networking sites, get your web presence up and take some time out to talk to people at your gigs. Meeting people is interesting in itself, and once you do, you’ll end up with a deeper understanding of your audience. What they think of you just makes it that much more important for you and your career. Good promotion is self-promotion (Check out John Thomas’ article).
  4. Get a Manager (booking agent?) – To free up some time and create a bit more mystique, you could ask for some real from a professional manager. I’m not talking about that buddy of yours who likes the ladies (“I can ‘manage’ you AND your girl fan base!”). Your manager should be a good negotiator, play bad cop well, and be effective at creating a sense of demand for your services.

Sell Yourself as the Human DJ

We, as living, breathing DJ’s, must push to position ourselves by constantly developing relevent skill sets and taking it beyond what machines and software can do on their own. Here are a few areas where the human DJ still excels.

Phrasing and Beatmatching
It can’t be done properly by software alone, and it really goes without saying that the true Human DJ must excel in them. Train wrecks in 2010 are a no-no!
Harmonic Mixing
Do you play an entire set based on the relationship of your songs’ keys with each other, or do you break cadence and throw a wrench in the works to foster an element of surprise in your mix? The perception and interpretation of key is a uniquely human experience so make it something that you do very well.
Read The Crowd
What kind of group has gathered on the floor. How are they moving? What is the atmosphere in the air? These are all questions that a good DJ will take into account and work into his mixing decisions though the night.

This is Joey’s first article for DJTT, lets show him a little DJTT love. He works as a DJ, producer and sound engineer for a recording studio.

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