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Thread: How to get your first gig

  1. #1
    New Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Los angels

    How to get your first gig

    I've been a bed room dj for a good 5 years and have gone to schools to learn but i dont know how to get a gig. i go out to different bars,venues, underground raves.
    i heard you want to talk to promoters or the management of what ever said venue.
    i get worried if i try to talk to someone i will ruin opportunities .

    any advice on how to start?

    as well im 25 and i freaking love to dj and hope to make a career out of it regardless where i end up and this is my first time ever using a forum so i hope i'm doing this right.

    thank you!

  2. #2
    New Member davidphoenix's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    I have the same problem. I send messages to promoters and organisers but they don't really answer. I also asked a few labels if i could do a podcast for them, but nothing. I could use some advice here too.

  3. #3
    New Member Icewind's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Honestly, it's pretty hard out there. My advice is to just do it for the love and not put so much pressure on yourself to make a career of it. Try and find a genre of music to focus on, with preferably a small tight knit scene, and then attend every single event...Get to know all the people, and make connections. It takes time and even then it's still hard to get regular gigs, but if you become a regular at events, opportunities will surely arise. Best of luck.

  4. #4
    Echoing what Icewind said, it's about networking. You need to attend events in the local scene and make a point to get to know regulars you will find there. Ask questions about how each show works and who organizes it, but don't be pushy. You need to do this consistently to become recognized and part of the community, but you need to be authentic about it. In the process you'll also make new friends and learn more about music and DJing.

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Fort Worth
    Exposure, as in networking. Do some free gigs. I started up in 1978, did a $50 gig on a Friday night in a backyard 21st birthday party for a friend of my first partner that he worked with.

    I stayed in it 11 years - over that time ended up with a degree in Theatre Arts Lighting and Sound, then took off on a career in aerospace. Getting back in again, building systems now. I'm setting up for sound reinforcement, general PA service and one mobile DJ system targeted for wedding receptions. Consulting with a couple of pals that I met back in the day that are still in it they talked me into two areas for weddings - 1) PA service for the ceremony, 2) Add uplighting to the reception lighting system.

    Getting started out in central California in '78, I did several freebie gigs at the local university frat and sorority houses. Then got called back and did many for $50-$75. The key is exposure. While in aerospace the past 30 years, I've done some freelance sound work for a local university via networking at my job. Also talked my way into a local cabaret house to play Saturday nights from 6pm when they opened until 8pm when the main DJ showed up. That was great experience.

    Getting back into it now, I did a garden wedding in December, wireless mics on the bride-groom-clergy and uplit the gazebo and surrounding trees, provided a generator. Basically did the service for free, paid my roadie to help. It was a test run for the new gear and the first time I did the wedding itself as a part of the gig. For the receptions I am going to use hired gun DJ's and just move the gear in and out, handle contracts/bookings. The wedding in December was for a lady that works at the place where I get my shirts laundered - just talked my way in.

    You sound like you want to do clubs. Same thing applies - you gotta talk your way in - if it takes some freebies, with your gear or theirs, that's what you need to do. Talk to lots of people, bars, restaurants, etc and to DJ's working in them. Hang around Guitar Center in the DJ equipment area, get some business cards printed up you can hand out.

    Bottom line, just like a siding salesman, you've got to sell yourself and do whatever it takes to do so. You're worried about blowing it at the interviews - as has been posted, do it for the love of doing it - that will come across - practice, practice, practice your introductions. Practice it at the cashier at Walmart, everywhere and I mean everywhere. It'll begin to flow.

    As posted above, hang out - help out. Get there early, assist with unloading and setup, teardown and loadout. Immerse yourself in it - once you leave the launchpad there's no looking back. Talk to people at "events", tell them who you are and what you want to do, how much you love the music. Unlock the music monster inside you.

    Then, always remember to help the newer guys/gals. Work with others, never against anyone - just walk away from those types.

    Good luck brother!

    EDIT: Forum is for beginners, I'm a beginner here n this forum and restarting my DJ business career, but not really a beginner - if I shouldn't be posting here let me know.
    Last edited by SWS Productions; 02-08-2020 at 11:01 PM.

  6. #6
    1. Make a mix or two, post on mixcloud (one place where it won't get taken down bc of copyright issues)

    2. Print some business cards with links to your mix, plus your contact info

    3. Visit some of the bars in your area; bring those cards. Have a drink, talk to the bartender, ask about the dj situation there, and mention your situation. Then either try to talk to the manager, or just leave a card with the bartender (giving a small tip can help)

    This is what I used to do ~15 years ago, with physical cd's instead of mixcloud links, and it got me some good opportunities. Didn't know anyone in the industry. Local craigslist (or whatever the popular gig site or app is these days) could also be a resource

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