Over To You: Getting The Best Deal When Hiring A Venue?

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 3 mins
Last updated 30 August, 2017


What’s the best way of getting a good deal when hiring a club as a DJ/promoter, our reader today would like to know…

Digital DJ Tips reader Arron writes: “Hi! I am in desperate need for some advice. I recently have begun to DJ at my local club in my town. However, things are not going very well there. They are extremely unreliable and unorganised. I would love to get playing in my nearest city, which is in Aberdeen, UK.

“I have had lots of experience at only 19 years old playing different venues in Scotland, but always must pay a huge fee for the venue. I would like to contact venues in Aberdeen and try to book a night during the week, as I know that weekends are hard to get. My question is, what sort of thing could I offer the venue in order bring the venue cost to zero?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

I take it from what you’re saying that you are hiring venues in order to DJ and therefore promoting the venue/event yourself. This is an absolutely awesome way of getting a break and experience as a DJ, and is something that I know many people (including myself) have had great success with.

However you’re right to notice that if you do it wrong, it can be a cash sink! So you need to wise up and find a way that you both win in order to carry on down this path.

The classic way of promoting is that the venue keeps the bar taking, and you take any door takings yourself. Using the money you make on the door at the venue, you pay for any promotion, marketing and guest DJs who you want to DJ alongside, and if there is anything left over (unlikely at first, but you’ve got a keep trying!), you get to keep it. Hopefully you don’t lose much money, and maybe you even make a little bit as you carry on.

As you’re now looking to DJ in a city where nobody knows you, you’re going to find this an uphill struggle. However, you have got a history promoting events in your town, and that is something you should use in your favour.

I would say there are two ways that you can make things easier for yourself here. Firstly, convince a venue that because you have a track record, you are a better bet than someone else who walks in and doesn’t have that kind of track record. This gives you a little bit of leverage, even though you are still very young.

But secondly, you need to genuinely make sure enough people come to that venue paying something on the door that you make some money yourself, and of course which also ensures that the venue makes some money on the bar. Here’s where we get deeply into the theories of promoting. You need to regularly be doing stuff nobody else is doing in your city (at least on that particular night your you’re promoting your event), to give people a reason to come. I know you say weekends will be hard to come by, but do try really hard – they’re so much easier to promote.

Get a website, build and use an email list, use social media, Facebook events and any other promotional tools you can think of to try get enough people through the door. And also, use really, really small venues. It’s much better having 20 people in a venue that holds 50 than 50 in a venue that holds 500, and whatever you got in your head about how many people you think will come to any given event, I promise you, at least on some nights, it’s going to be about half or third of that or even worse, so it really is best to start small and build slowly. One thing new promoters don’t have for a while is consistency in results.

Of course, I’m only one person and there are a lot of people who will be promoting events and whose own stories will help you, so I’d like to throw this one open to our audience.

So, over to you: Have you promoted nights in your town or city in order to be the resident DJ? What kind of deals have you struck with venue owners and managers? Please share your stories and ideas below.

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