Getting DJ gigs is usually a little different than booking your typical band gig at a typical club. Clubs that host electronic/hip-hop usually have very different physical layouts, hours and artist requirements. Here are a few things to look out for and tips on how to manage your gig.
Booking a party
There are generally two kinds of DJ gigs: you’re either playing before/after the other acts in a night (bands) OR you’re playing a party. Booking a party basically means is that you’re responsible for the whole night. You’re booking each act, you’re promoting and you’re on the line for bringing people in the door. This sounds like a lot but there are a few huge advantages to doing it this way.
First, you get to plan the music. The club will give you some time requirements and you’ll need to figure out how many acts you want to book, who opens/headlines etc. For example, you might be responsible for 9pm-2am so if each DJ plays 1.5 hour sets you could book 3 DJs + 30 minutes for a pre-show prerecorded mix.
Second, and most importantly, if you bring a crowd and put on a good show, the venue will be happy and happy venues give you repeat bookings and better payment terms. That means not only the door is up for grabs – venues will often offer you a piece of the bar if you’re doing a great job.
Promoting the party
This is the most difficult part and if you’re running the night, the pressure is on. Playing to an empty room is a terrible feeling but you can avoid it if you work hard. If you booked the show on Gigmor, you’re in luck! We’re going to help you promote the show. You’re not out of the woods, though.
Posting a promo mix to SoundCloud is a great way to let your fans know that you’re playing out soon. Do a quick 20-30 minute set and record it. Throw it up on SoundCloud and put the info for the party in the track description. You should do this 1-2 weeks before the party because that will give people enough time to plan but not enough time to forget.
Obviously, sharing that mix and other content on social media is a good idea and might even be a requirement from the venue. Speaking of the venue, it’s also not a bad idea to ask them how they typically promote shows and where they’ve had success. If nothing else, doing this (and following through on the advice) will let the booker know that you’re taking it seriously and working hard.
Flyers are very old school but they really do work if you time it right. On the day/night of the show, take a walk around the neighborhood and pass out flyers to anyone who will take one. Ask some local businesses if you can place a few on their checkout counters, bars, tables, whatever. Don’t spend too much time on the design and get them printed as cheaply as possible. The venue might also require you to design a flyer for their website or bulletin board, so two-birds-one-stone kinda thing. Flyers are a lottery ticket – most of the time you’ll pass out 100 and get 4-5 people in the door. Sometimes, though, you get lucky.
Sound check & lineup
Sound check is just as important for DJ gigs as it is for bands. If you’re planning on using the clubs backline, make sure you know what equipment they have – especially if they have monitors in the DJ booth. If you’re using Traktor, Serato, Ableton etc. throw a limiter on your master channel and the engineer will LOVE you. Take a few extra minutes to check your cables, audio interface (if you’re using one), the levels on the mixer, your headphones etc. You do not want to be fiddling with this stuff in the dark during your set.
The other thing to keep in mind is that there isn’t teardown/setup time between DJs. You’re going to be mixing into each other. It’s important to coordinate with one another. Make sure you know what the DJ before you is finishing with so that you can choose the right track to start your set with.