There are talented DJs across the globe and Chicago certainly has no shortage. However, in today’s market it takes a lot more than talent to stand out. I can’t tell you how many DJs have come up to me over the years saying; “When are you going to put me on.” My answer; “What are you going to bring to the event?” They then say “I’m gonna rock the party!” I respond; “and what else?” Then they often look puzzled and reply “What do you mean?” And that is the problem.
What promoters really want
I assume that every DJ that feels confident enough to ask for a gig has some intention of “rocking the party.” For the sake of this article, let’s assume they are a talented DJ. However, what promoters really need you to do is bring people to the event. This is why big name DJs make big money….because they bring in a lot of people who spend big money. They spend it at the door and on the bar. As much as we would like to think our industry is about great music and “rockin’ the party,” like any other business it all boils down to money.
What is a “big name DJ?”
Big name DJs are big names because they have an established following or have done something note worthy enough to create interest, like producing a hit track or being nominated for a Grammy. It is similar to celebrity status. By putting their name on the promotion, that alone will bring people in. Big name DJs don’t have to ask for gigs. Promoters seek them out and pay them well because they can anticipate the event turnout.
And I’ll tell you “what else?”
So the answer to the question of “and what else?” should be….“I’m gonna bring 50 of my closest friends to support the event.” That’s what promoters really want to hear. But how do you do this? Do you really have 50 people ready to come out and support? You may have 2,000+ FaceBook friends but that does not equate to event turn out. The truth is that very few DJs can make such a promise.
So what is realistic then?
Well for starters, if you learn how to promote yourself and your events in such a way that is visible, promoters will notice you and what you’re doing. They don’t actually expect most local DJs to bring in 50 new people. They do however, expect you to put in the effort and to visibly promote the event via e-mails, text messaging, social networking, etc. Sometimes just reinforcing the promotion that is already out there is enough to make a promoter happy and feel like they booked you to be more than a DJ, but to be part of the event and part of the promotion team.
Long term goal
The real goal here is to build a fan base that you can access at any time. Gather names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses. Create mailing lists and other ways to get your events info to them. The ability to bring people out to an event is a major difference in begging for gigs and actually getting booked. With consistency, this level of promotion can lead to more than a gig or two; it can lead to residencies….regular work.