Starting out is hard to do. Think about it, you have to convince someone to put you on when no one knows who you are and has never heard of you…..but it can be done. We’ve all been there at one time or another. So here are some tips to get you thinking.
What to do?
Demos: I’ve said this over and over again; having a demo helps a lot. Make it good too…and give them to EVERYONE! Also, don’t give out something that isn’t HOT. If you give someone a mix CD that has crashes on it, low quality sound, and out-of-key blends…you’re leaving them with the impression that this is the best of your work. Your mix CD demo should be recorded with good quality sound, smooth transitions, and ideally it should be tracked. One track mixes are a pain to skim through. And for God’s sake…please label it properly. I’ve received CDs with sharpie writing that I couldn’t even read and even completely blank tops…no info as to what it was at all. I keep it simple and inexpensive by using a simple mailing address label I print off the computer in pages of 30.
Who do you go through?
Promoter vs. Owners: Promoters are usually the key to getting your foot in the door. They can often put you on in several different venues. They do want something in return…NUMBERS! Remember their job is to promote and they wants DJs who will help achieve this. They want to know that you’ll bring in people…friends or fans and definitely drinkers. Some owners hire DJs directly and they want the same thing. They are usually limited to just their club though. So getting to know owners means one relationship –one club. Getting to know promoters could mean one relationship-multiple clubs. But a great relationship with and owner could lead to a residency, or reoccurring weekly or monthly gig.
DJ friends: If another well known or simply working DJ vouches for you this can help a lot. They may be able to talk a promoter into having you open for them. This can help you get in the door. Just don’t make your DJ buddy look bad. Promote the event and get your friends to come support you.
Self Promotion: Show that you are willing to work hard promoting yourself and the night and your chances increase greatly. Someone will put you on if they think you have a ton of friends or fans that will come and support you. One way to show this is to approach a promoter with an idea that will allow you to prove your powers of drawing people to an event. For example, have a birthday party for you or a friend at their venue and arrange to bring in a sizable group in advance with the promoter. They may give you a guest list or a drink special. If all goes well, I’m sure you will be on their radar or even let you play that night. Anything can happen.
Throw your own event: Many DJs get their start by throwing their own events and putting themselves on the bill. This is not a bad way to get started but be prepared to deal with your new role as a promoter as well as a DJ. You will obviously have to have a relationship with an owner as well. Numbers will be expected of you….head count, door take, and bar ring. You may also have expenses such as flyer design and printing, door staff, other DJs, or even sound rental. This may be more than you bargained for so enter into this world carefully and bravely. It’s not all the fun it’s cracked up to be and don’t do it on your own. It is best to have a team of people involved that can all help bring in numbers. Though there are now more people to pay. I’ll leave Night Club Promoting 101 to someone else brave enough to write about it.
Hope this helps.