10 Commandments For Better Digital DJing, #3

Bedroom DJ

DJing in your bedroom is only going to get you so far. Pic: Pulsar

Did you know that according to our reader survey, more than half of you classify yourselves as "bedroom DJs"? That's great (we've all got to practise somewhere), as long as all that practice leads to playing real DJ sets in front of an audience. And that's what today's rule is all about.

As usual, we've got a video explaining the rule in more detail, a list of resources (both on this site and elsewhere), and today as an added bonus, we've got a completely free, instantly downloadable PDF worksheet to let you put what this rule is all about into action for your own DJing immediately.

Today's commmandment

So, this one is particularly aimed at bedroom DJs, and DJs who say they don't want to play "real" gigs in front of real people:

Commandment #3: Play in front of an audience as soon as you can, and as often as you can.

OK - before we take you to the content, just a quick word of thanks! The whole idea of this special extra content is to spread the word about how, here in the digital DJing community, we all care a lot about the way DJing should be done. That's why we've subtitled it "Campaign For Better Digital DJing".

That's also why we are asking you to click the Facebook Like button at the end if you enjoy today's post.

By passing this post on to your friends (and hopefully theirs too) in this way, we are reaching a whole audience of people, some of whose opinions about digital DJing we hope to change by the end of the campaign.



  1. How to get your first DJ gig - We've produced a free, downloadable worksheet PDF for you to help you to get that first booking. It contains a 12-step plan to go from choosing a venue through approaching them, negotiating your fee and playing your first gig - then asking for a regular slot. Get it below
  2. How to survive your first DJ gig - We can help you with getting through your gig. Check out our article How To Play Your First DJ Set for the basics. For more specific information, here's some advice on calming your nerves, dealing with unwanted people in the DJ booth, dealing with requests, keeping a long DJ set interesting, and - that DJ's worst nightmare - what to do when people won't dance. Oh, and don't forget to take everything with you"!
  3. How to progress from your first gig - Getting paid is what's going to make you a real DJ - real DJ's don't "pay to play", whiich is what you're doing if you're turning up with all your gear, buying music, putting the time and effort in to practise, and not getting money for your sets when you play them. Read 7 Ways to Stop Being a Freejay & Start Being a DJ for advice on how to avoid this trap. From here on, the very best possible guide to forwarding your new DJing career is D-Jam's huge 13-part course that starts here: How To Succeed At DJing, Part 1: What Type Of DJ Do You Want To Be?
  4. Turning pro - If it ends up all going well for you, you may be lucky enough to decide to try and make a full-time income out of DJing. The most complete guide there is to help you make that leap that we've come across, written by a real veteran "superstar DJ" who's seen and done it all, is Danny Rampling's instant download e-book Everything You Need To Know About DJing And Success. (His sales page is a bit old hat, but the book is excellent.) By the way you can buy it from Amazon too

Remember, you're not alone! Read about how other beginners have played and survived their first DJ sets - these two articles: Laptop DJing In Bars: This Much I Know… and the funny 7 Big Mistakes I Made At My First DJ Gig (And Why It Was Still Great Fun) should help you to realise that it's all going to be ok!

We hope this material has been useful to you, and thank you once again for Liking this post in order to help us spread our campaign for better digital DJing far and wide...

• Watch out tomorrow for the fourth of our ten "commandments". And thanks again for your support - it's truly appreciated.

Check out the other parts of this series:

What are your views on our third commandment? Do you think it's possible to become a better DJ and to fulfil your potential without playing in public? What challenges did you have to overcome in order to get a first or a regular gig? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. Its a point worth making, but getting gigs isn't easy. Everybody seems to be a DJ these days. Most do it for nothing or next to nothing.
    P lus when you play out in bars you tend to be told the style you have to play -so you end up spending money on music you may not really like.
    I can never decide if its worth playing out if you're playing music that you don't feel is "you". I could probably get a gig playing RnB but I would hate it.
    My experience is you can get gigs if you can bring along people with you. You have to railroad your mates to come out when you play. That way the promoter/owner thinks you are worth having because you draw a crowd.
    Everyone wants to be a top DJ and play in front of hundreds of people but its unrealistic simply by DJing. You need to make a name for yourself by coming up with your own material and playing that out.

    • Phil Morse says:

      Agreed you have to play music you like. So play ANYWHERE - play for 1, 3, 5 people. what's the worst that could happen? You get to practise every week in public, and sometimes have an audience, and get a few free drinks. It's much better than never leaving your home.

      I agree it's difficult - I'm not saying it isn't. But one thing's for sure - you're never going to get anywhere by not playing in public.

      • I've played out lots in the past and have been doing a radio show for the past 3 years. I'd still love to play out now, but playing in local bars is all about Top40. It's really hard to play a unique style unless you're in a 'proper' club. Only in proper music venues are the crowd more open minded.

  2. Thanks for this new video. I think most of us would love to play gigs, but there is too many people who want to be a DJ. Today, everyone can mix some tunes, with just a computer. That's why it becomes so difficult to play in a Club if you don't know the manager or the staff.
    When I go to Clubs or bars, most of the "DJs" are people who know the boss or just are manager's friends, and they actually don't DJing, just playing a track after an other.

    • Phil Morse says:

      So - get to know the managers and staff. Be the reliable, go-to guy. there's nothing wrong with that. Determination is what makes most people a success at anything. someone's got to do the job - why can't it be you? :)

  3. I have to agree with Phil, despite that I consider myself a bedroom DJ and speak often on how I prefer it.

    The thing is, I had to play out live for years to make me realize I would rather play in my bedroom.

    Call me a snob or unrealistic, but I grew up in a time when the DJ was a tastemaker, and his only logic was to find good tunes and play them well. Things changed over the years, and suddenly a DJ had to become a popstar and marketing machine. Talent wasn't good enough compared to an idiot who can bring heads through the door.

    I also got tired of wanting to build a good vibe or atmosphere, but ending up in a room with girls constantly bugging me to completely toss out those ideas and just play Top-40 hits. I know this is part of a DJ's job, but to me there's a certain time and place. A cool lounge with deeper sensual music as background is NOT the place to pump popular rap music at full volume.

    I just got tired of watching my best efforts go out the window and saw how the DJ is too much a human jukebox when it comes to the majority of the scene. Plus in my older age, I honestly like being able to be home on a weekend and be lazy. That I don't have to deal with annoying trixies or drive hours on end to play a 60-min set to a near-empty room/area.

    I still say you all need to get out and play, just to figure out how and what you want to do with DJing. Some of you might get into the perfect world where you dictate the music and get great receptive crowds. Others might fine-tune yourselves into being able to please the masses and yet maintain a style of your own. Others just might decide it's not worth it and prefer making mixes in your own time for your own pleasures.

    This is why I said in that first article on why you have to pick what kind of DJ you want to be. You figure out what you want, get an idea of what to expect, and then decide if you want to play out all the time or just be a bedroom jock and play once in a great while when it's under your own "rules".

  4. its not working for me Phil

    pressed 'like' but no video :(

  5. It's not that hard to get gigs. I think some of you need to think about how you're doing this.

    Getting gigs is approx. 50% making friends, 25% promo and 25% how good you are.

    Of course, you get better at DJing once you play to people. That is when you really develop intution.

    Play in your friends' parties: if you're good then they talk about you all the time. People like saying "my friend's a DJ..".

    Give CDs to your friends or send them mixes. They love it.

    Your gigs snowball if you're a good DJ. You'll get asked for your number at parties and small bars and play at bigger places.

    Club gigs are harder to get, the promoters get hassled constantly. Make your own tunes if you want to play in clubs.

    But the whole "bar with a dancefloor" gigs are fun and are totally possible.

    • Architekt says:

      I agree it has a lot to do with who you know. I'm not trying to make it big, I just love music, and a little extra cash monthly for just playing a few hours of top 40 at "bars" with dance floors provides me with the means to keep doing things that I want to do with music and grow into a better dj. For myself it's a no brainer for the time being, be friendly to everyone, and support other dj's. Don't look at them as competition because more times than not they will aid in helping you land gigs.

  6. I believe performing in front of a crowd helps you grow. Yet, some crowd members piss me off. Just like D-Jam said, they treat you like you're a jukebox. Some of them I just want to deck.

  7. Phil will love this.

    No sooner than I say what I did...now an old buddy from the rave scene is offering me a spot. LOL

    Hopefully it'll be fun.

  8. My problem is I need to get out and promote myself for gigs I will enjoy doing; lounge/club mixing trance or house only.

    When ppl know I DJ I get all kinds of requests for parties and weddings which means I need to play top 40 music. This to me is more of a job then enjoyment. I have done pleanty of those gigs and this year refused a bunch already.

    I would DJ for free no problem as long as I can mix trance or house, thats where my passion is.

  9. Aidan Johnson says:

    No-one's mentioned free parties! I have bought my own PA etc, in order that I can put on my own parties, and play my own music (as I can never get any gigs to play the music I enjoy). It's a right laugh (if you can avoid the police and their section 63's)!!

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