As we saw last week, being socially active in your local scene can help you grow as a DJ, but if regularly hanging out in clubs and bars isn’t to your liking, then you might want to think about joining up with an entertainment company, group, or even promotion crew. It can give you a great starting off point no matter which bucket of DJing you’ve decided to focus your efforts on.
So you see an ad in the paper or online. Some company wants DJs, and they say they will supply you with music, equipment, and even customers. Sounds too good to be true? Looking deeper you find this company is legitimate, but the pay you get for DJing their events isn’t perhaps as much as you would if you went on your own.
Should you look into this? Well, you might if you have no clients or gig possibilities. These guys need your skills and in return they will give you bookings. They pay you a certain amount because it is their investment of gear and music, and not yours. If you’re starting out and want to grow in the bar or mobile scene, this might be a good idea for you.
Before landing my current position in an ad agency, I worked as webmaster for a local entertainment company. The company owned a few restaurants, a large nightclub, and several bars. They employed a regular staff of DJs which they rotated throughout most of the venues. Now while I didn’t work as a DJ for this company, I did observe how much working in this company benefited those DJs.
Granted they didn’t make as much money as some might have done on their own, but it was steady work with less investment. They didn’t have to buy new music because the company supplied it.
They didn’t need to get gear for these gigs because it was there at the venue at their disposal, even when a customer booked a private party in the venue. They could even take nights off and do mobile gigs with their own gear if need be. Some of them worked for the company for several years and it grew into having their own mobile DJ businesses.
First steps can lead to bigger things
Especially if you’re focusing on the mobile or bar DJ buckets, companies like this are a great starting point. Think about it: you could be working the sports bar one night for a regular hourly wage, and possibly thinking the money isn’t good enough. Then a girl comes up and asks you if you DJ weddings, and takes your business card. Your boss is happy to give you that night off so you can play it. Understand the benefit?
Remember when I spoke of the clique of DJs who worked in a record store in Play the Popularity Game? The record store was their foot in the door. Not just for new music, but also for gigs. The way that hypothetical girl shopped for a wedding DJ at your bar, clubs and promoters would shop for DJs at these local record shops.
Just as I stated that being a hermit won’t help you grow in your scene, sometimes it doesn’t mean going out for drinks. It could mean just working the menial job in the spots that others find DJs in.
Joining a promotions crew
If you’re in the club or rave buckets, then your possibility would be to get involved with a promotion crew. I’ve been a part of several crews in the past, and most of the time I’ll see it’s one or two serious guys who want success with a pack of people “just along for the ride”.
Maybe those followers just want hookups for gigs or parties, but it’s the serious ones who show dedication that get somewhere. You might be handing out flyers or blasting social networks or working the door at the event. Suddenly the head of the crew is handing you better spots to play and even having you opening for the big name headliner he flew in. You see how this works?
In the last article I suggested that you should get out of the house and be involved in your local scene if you want to grow and get the better bookings.
This is another path to that idea that can sometimes get your foot in the door faster and more effectively. It’s one thing to be the DJ buying a round of shots and slipping a demo into a promoter’s hand, but it’s another to become an invaluable asset and ally to him and thus earn those better spots.
I’ll say from my own experiences that this has worked out much better than just handing out demos, as I’ve been part of several crews. You’ll also learn valuable promotional skills that will take you places by getting involved like this.
• D-Jam is a Chicago nightclub and rave DJ by night, and a branding expert by day. Check out his website.
Check out the other parts in this series:
- How To Succeed At DJing, Part 1: What Type Of DJ Do You Want To Be?
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 2: Play the Popularity Game
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 3: Get Involved in Your Local Scene
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 5: Make it a Full-time Effort
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 6: Accept This Is the Music Industry
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 7: Market Yourself Like a Pro
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 8: “You Only Get What You Give”
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 9: Get a Demo & Press Kit
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 10: Hit the Street
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 11: Promote Yourself Online
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 12: Build Yourself a Website
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 13: Think Beyond Gigs
Have you ever DJed for a big organisation, promotions company or rave crew? Did you get extra work because of it? If not, would you consider it? Could you live with sacrificing some control to get regular work in front of an audience? Please let us know in the comments.