This Is How To Make A Living From DJing
It’s the big dream, right? There you stand behind the decks and in front of a crowd that’s hanging on every track you play … and then you wake up.
If you’re new to DJing, your reality is going to be a lot different. You’re probably struggling to land gigs. Maybe you’re still making some errors when you try transitions or connecting cables. It’s almost a given that you still haven’t mastered the art of reading the crowd.
Don’t worry, though. Keep at it, and all those skills will come. The most important job for you right now is getting a job. You’re going to need to hold on to that day job for a while yet while you’re working at getting more gigs.
Getting hired as a DJ is probably the one thing that DJs struggle with the most. It would be so easy if you could spend your days perfecting your DJ skills and have club managers and event promoters come knock at your door. DJing is something you’re comfortable with. Marketing yourself, on the other hand, seems alien to most people.
The truth is that marketing your skills is time-consuming, but it’s not actually hard. You already know how to do it.
Follow your heart.
There’s no way that you’re going to be an expert in every music genre out there. Pick one, two, or even three, and get to know the hits and the styles as much as possible. Focus on playing the gigs that are centered around your chosen genre. While you’re playing those gigs, begin learning the ins and outs of a different genre. If you have a plan of which genres you’d like to eventually master, you’ll find that five years down the road, you’ll be able to play a wide variety of gigs and events. The beauty of mastering more than one genre is that tastes change. Disco was huge. Hip hop’s taken over. Who knows what the next big trend will be. If you’ve done the slow grind of learning what makes each genre is about, you’ll be well placed to move on to whatever’s next. Don’t forget, too, that the mix you create thanks to the rich body of music you’ve been learning about, is going to be far and above anything your average DJ will be creating.
Technologies come and go, sometimes over the course of a few weeks. It’s really hard to keep up. But, you absolutely have to do it. You don’t have spend your life savings buying every new mixer, controller, or whatever tech is introduced into the market. But, you do need to know about it. You should know enough about it to be able to recognize the equipment, understand how it works, and maybe even be able to use it. You just don’t know what you might encounter when you arrive at a club or event. You also need to know if the new equipment or technology would improve your DJing or not.
Yeah, this is the big one. You could be the best DJ in history. But, if all you’re doing is spinning tracks in your bedroom to your audience of adoring pets, your dream of making it big just isn’t going to happen. Lots of different steps are involved in marketing. It can seem really daunting, so don’t feel put off. We’ve got lots of tips on how to market yourself. Basically, you’re going to need to develop a website. There are lots of easy platforms out there that will help you do that. Here’s one developed by DJs that we’ve reviewed. You’re going to need to develop a press kit that you can give to promoters and hiring managers. Spend the money on a professional photographer who will provide you with high quality images of yourself. Spend as much time and money as you can on marketing yourself. If you really are a talented DJ, the money will come right back to you.
A lot of DJs project an image of disdain for rules, laissez-faire attitudes, a lot of drinking and partying. Whatever image you want to project, you need to remember the most important rule. DJing is your business, and you need to act business-like. So, that means answering emails promptly. Be on time for meetings, gigs, wherever you’re going that’s business-related. Take what sets you apart, and use it as a negotiating tool when you’re talking about money. Are you better at mixing than most other DJs? Do you incorporate art into your show in a way that grabs the crowd’s interest? Whatever you do, make sure that you remain polite and helpful while you’re convincing the hiring manager that you’ve got what it takes.
Over to you: Based on your own experience, what tips would you offer DJs who want to make a living off DJing?