5 Reasons Why You Should Play Different Types Of DJ Gigs

College DJ football

DJ gigs are everywhere if you look for them - even spinning at college football practice sessions! What different types of gigs can you take to broaden your work and experience? Pic: USAToday

We just ran our most successful coaching webinar for our members ever, on the subject of making more money from your DJing. One thing that came out of the research for this webinar, as well as having the pleasure to talk to some of the hundred of DJs who attended, was that pretty much all DJs who get success regularly play - or have played - more than one type of gig.

So let's take a look at the type of DJing out there. You could be a high flying, world-touring DJ/producer. Totally differently, you could be a high-class wedding DJ, or a more "all-rounder" mobile DJ. Or, maybe you're the type of DJ who just loves playing in cool bars or lounges, specialising in setting the mood rather than getting people dancing. Then again, you could be a highly enthusiastic "play anywhere" type of DJ, just as happy rocking your office Christmas party as the opening of your local clothes shop. Maybe you could be a radio DJ, a club resident, or even taking care of the playlists for your local restaurant scene.

There are, indeed, many ways of earning some extra cash from programming and playing music for people to enjoy in public! And I'll bet that among those there's one type that you particularly feel you are, or at least, want to be.

Maybe you are hankering after a residency in your local club. Maybe your thing is to chase that DJ/producer goal. Or you want the steady income that all decent wedding DJs enjoy. Or you just love playing sundowner tunes in your local beach bar scene. Great! Thanks for sharing. :)

Now, what I'm asking you to do here as well as chase THAT type of gig is pick another type of DJing, and make damned sure you chase some gigs in that one, too. If you're a club resident, try some mobile work. If you're a party DJ, try some web radio. If you're a wedding-style DJ, try a gig where you'll be expected to beatmix, and so on. Be imaginative. But give it some thought. You will help yourself hugely in your DJing by doing this. Here are just a few reasons why...

Why you should play more and varied gigs

  1. You'll get more gigs - Stands to reason that the more flexible you are as a DJ, the more gigs you'll end up getting. Especially early on in your career, think hard before saying "no" to anything. Apply what I call the "10% rule", which says that if even 10% of you wants to do a gig, do it! Dreamers talk, doers do. Doing it makes you right. Gigs make you a DJ, not practising in your bedroom
  2. You'll earn more - Again, stands to reason: The more gigs you play, the more money you're able to earn. Also, some types of gigs pay more than others, and so if you try and introduce a balance in what you go for, you can considerably improve your earning potential. Do you play great underground basement clubs for less than 50 people, that earn you nothing but that let you play the exact music you love? Why not take some mobile bookings that pay you hundreds but mean you have to play music you don't, too? It's all DJing...
  3. You'll learn more - "Earn more, learn more." Got a nice ring to it, hasn't it? Fact is that unless you're pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, you're not growing as a DJ - and standing still is actually going backwards - to succeed in anything, you have to be getting better all the time. Scared of playing pop music? DJ a commercial bar. Can't set up equipment? Learn how to play mobile gigs. Can't mix? Take a club warm-up. You get the idea. Booking unfamiliar gigs has a strange knack of making you do the work you need to do to improve (read: to stop yourself making a fool of yourself)
  4. You'll get referrals - You want to know why nobody gets booked from giving out mixtapes (they don't, by the way)? It's because a mixtape proves nothing about you. It doesn't show how you behave, how reliable you are, how well you can read a crowd, whether you know what volume to play at, how easy going you are (or otherwise). Watching you DJ tells someone all of those things. Just 'cos it isn't your preferred type of gig doesn't mean you won't start chatting to people who may well be able to give you work more in line with what you want
  5. People are expecting you to anyway - When you tell people you're a DJ, they take you at face value. They think, y'know, that you're a DJ. So it's only natural that when someone wants a DJ, you may end up getting asked. So it goes something like this: "You're a DJ, aren't you.." "Yes..." "My cousin needs someone to play her birthday party, would you be interested?" "Er no, actually I'm a deep house DJ, I don't do parties" "Oh". Wouldn't it be better to take a few of those gigs, if only to make the people around you happier and get them telling their friends that you're the real deal?


This goes further than just playing a wider choice of gigs than any narrow definition you may have, than any exclusive idea you have about yourself as a DJ. UK veteran DJ Mr C, who has had a long and successful career in DJing and the music industry, puts it better than I ever could:

"If you want to become a DJ, you have to be the full package and dedicate yourself 100% to the art. This includes making music, running your own events, running your own record label, having a strong image, being social, and enjoying the riches of our wonderful community. ".

Can't manage all that just yet? Then start by just taking one more type of gig than the one you like best. Baby steps.

Do you habitually play more than one type of gig? Is this something you know you should do, but don't? Or do you think it harms a DJ's brand to do anything other than the one thing they want to be known for? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. Mike Gerth says:

    Completely agree here. Doing the same kind of gig over and over gets stale. As a "do everything" mobile guy, I really stay interested because of the variety. And I DEFINITELY get more referrals that way because I reach a wider audience with all the different gigs I do.

  2. I missed it (dammit), but I was going to ask a really important question: "How do you get more outreach to get more people to show up to your events?"

  3. No Qualms says:

    I couldn't imagine just doing one type of gig over again.
    I'm a resident club DJ, I also do groovy background bar gigs, corporate functions & birthdays, plus I'm the host of the Deep Soul Radio Show on Bondi Radio (Check out out! 😉)
    Each type of gig makes you a better DJ in it's own way and the variety stops it going stale.

  4. Groover The Barbarian says:

    I definitely agree, cos when I used to DJ at a student union I got to loads of different thing including warm ups for some top acts, and sometimes you get thrown a googly on a sticky wicket and you really do get to find out if you are a reliable DJ or not.

    I can remember one night I turned up for a staff party and was playing chemical brothers n stuff and was asked why I was playing it. Turns out it was a 60,70,80s night. Still aced it. The now millennium series was a godsend, as were things like Blues Bros soundtrack and various Greatest Hits albums.

  5. Couldn't agree more. I'd like to add one more reason. 6. Longevity. You will have more fun and you'll never get bored playing.

    After more than 30 years I can see the changes that's happened over time. My first wake up call came in 1993 when I was fortunate to have a residency in a club in Corfu, Greece. As the only Swede among a hole bunch of talented British DJ's, I learned a lot that summer. Most of all, so much new music and how people responded to it. I realized how little I actually knew... Like when one of my DJ friends, Scotty, during power outs, played his Harmonica and in seconds had the hole bar singing classic British sin-a-longs :) .

    Now, a normal week is like, Wednesday: Party floor for university students, Friday: Soul/Funk/Disco originals, Saturday: Club, House, RnB, or, for that matter, a Corporate or Private event. That keeps it fun and interesting and no chans for me to think I can get away being lazy. Still love this ''job''.

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