The 5 Steps To DJing Success, #5: Promoting Yourself

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 6 mins
Last updated 6 April, 2021

In this special series, I’m teaching you about the five steps to total DJing success, and in this video you’ll learn about Step Five: Promoting Yourself. (We’ve already covered how I discovered the steps, and the four previous steps, Gear, Music, Techniques. and Playing Out.)

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These are steps that I discovered after 15 years working as an international DJ and club promoter, and ten years running Digital DJ Tips – steps that I also wrote about in my Amazon bestselling book on DJing, “Rock The Dancefloor!”

Now these articles will give you all you need to learn DJing the RIGHT WAY – but they do assume you’ve grabbed yourself a FREE copy of the book. I told you how to get that at the bottom of the intro article, so if you haven’t been there yet, head over there now!

Step Five: Promoting Yourself

The five steps are Gear, Music, Techniques, Playing Out and Promoting Yourself. We’ve already covered Gear and Music, and today we’re talking about promoting yourself.

So today I’m going to bust three myths about promoting yourself. Call it tough love. Call it a reality check. Just understand that my motivation is to make sure you build on the first gig or two from Step 4, Playing Out, and thus complete the five steps so you too can taste true success as a DJ.

Because make no mistake, you need all five to succeed. Four out of five is not enough. This one is not optional.

Let me teach you how to DJ: Discover my Complete DJ Course

(In the book by the way, I show you all the practicalities: how to build your DJ profile, the types of gigs to go for, how to get involved in your local scene, how to land regular slots, how to throw parties, set up a DJ business, become a DJ/producer, and other ways to get booked. So do go to the intro article to get a copy of the book for FREE.)

Today I thought it’d be fun to tackle head-on some of the big things people always say when they’re fighting the idea of actually having to promote themselves.

Myth #1: A great mixtape is all you need to get a gig.

This often goes something like this (trust me, we’ve trained thousands of students – we’ve heard ALL of these countless times).

“I’ve made a good mixtape, and I’ve given it out to everyone I can think of. But nobody’s given me a gig. This town is stitched up! I don’t know why I bother.”

OK, so as somebody who has literally booked hundreds of DJs, I am going to tell you something harsh but true:

Nobody books DJs on the back of mixtapes.

Well, that of course isn’t going to be literally true, I am sure someone did once, somewhere – but your chances of getting a gig by handing out a mixtape are pretty slim.


Because mixtapes aren’t exactly hard to make?

Because there may not even be a gig for you there at all?

Because the manager, promoter or booker doesn’t actually know you?

Answer: All of the above.

You see the VERY LAST person you want to give a mixtape to is the person you want the gig from!

You really want to know how to do it?

First, you want to make sure everyone AROUND that person has heard of you, knows your name, and has heard your mix.

Because when you finally approach the person you REALLY wanted to target, this is what will happen: After you’ve handed THEM your mix, they’ll do what busy promoters ALWAYS do, which is ask their entourage:

“Hey, I’ve been approached by this DJ, here’s their mix… anyone heard of them? Is the mix any good?” That’s if you’ve done your job right, a couple of them will say, “yeah, I’ve heard it, he or she is OK!”

Guess what? Now you’re FAR more likely to get the nod.

Be tactical. Have a plan. Don’t just hand out mixes and expect bookings to come in. If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it. You see the difference?

Myth #2: Nowadays, it’s about social media, not talent

It goes a bit like this:

“It doesn’t matter about talent any more, it’s all about social media – if you smash it on Instagram, you’ll get the booking. If you don’t, no chance!”

Well I’ve got news for you – it was always that way. No it wasn’t always Instagram, but it was ALWAYS a popularity contest.

Read this next: 8 Tips If You Feel Like Giving Up DJing

Promoters have to make money. They have to fill clubs. They have hire fees, and security bills, and marketing costs, and very often their own cocaine habits to prop up.

Why the hell do you think they’d book YOU unless you’ve shown them in every way possible you’re not a complete no hoper, a “billy no mates”?

I used to book DJs based on how hard they worked to build their own followings. That told me that they had something special, they were hungry for success, and they didn’t NEED me.

Needy DJs aren’t attractive to promoters – the air you want to give off is one of, “I’d love to work with you, but this is going to happen for me anyway, with or without you!”

That’s what gets promoters hungry. That’s what’ll make them notice you. Damned right you need a social media tactic!

Myth #3: Older DJs can’t break into the scene

This one goes like this:

“I’m a bit older now. I don’t know anyone any more in my town. My friends don’t go out any more. I don’t know where to start.”

Oh puh-LEASE! This is what is universally labelled as: An excuse.

Here are some more excuses:

  • I live in the middle of nowhere, there are no opportunities
  • I live in a big city, there is too much competition
  • There’s nobody interested in my type of music in this town, the promoters only book their friends
  • I don’t know how to approach people
  • I’ve emailed hundreds of promoters and nobody replies
  • I got a gig once, but the promoter won’t give me another one now

I could go on, but the point is: there is a solution to every one of the above excuses.

  • Your friends don’t go out any more? Go out alone and make new ones!
  • You live in the middle of nowhere, there are no opportunities? Then start your own small club night (this is one of the best ways to get gigs, by the way – BOOK YOURSELF.)
  • You live in a big city, there is too much competition? Great – that means SHEDLOADS of opportunities too! (That person making the excuse about living in the middle of nowhere would KILL to be in your shoes!)
  • There’s nobody interested in you type of music in your city? Then change your music, or find somewhere where people ARE interested in what you do.
  • The promoters only book their friends? Then make friends with the bloody promoters!
  • You don’t know how to approach people? Come on buttercup, nobody likes cold calling, rejection, dead ends – but you’re gonna have to get over yourself and do it anyway.
  • You’ve emailed hundreds of promoters and nobody’s replied? I don’t blame them! Get off your lazy bum and GET OUT THERE and MEET these people. People only book people they KNOW and LIKE.
  • You got a gig once, but the promoter won’t give you another one? Welcome to the real world! They’ve probably gone bankrupt, got divorced, fallen out with the venue, got caught with a carful of that cocaine we were talking about – find a more reliable promoter to work with!

Why the five steps are your secret weapon

One thing that you do have on your side, though, is the five steps.

As I’ve discovered, the FIVE STEPS are one of the BIG reasons why some DJs make it and some don’t.

Learn the five steps with me: Discover the Complete DJ Course

Because if you’ve worked hard on being a true pro when it comes to understanding the gear, if you know how to get the best music, if you’ve practised all the right techniques, and you’re a great performer – the other four steps – then this promoting yourself step is going to be a whole lot easier.

So yeah, the purpose of this final article is indeed to work you up a bit if you feel you’re not getting enough gigs. I’d hate for you to do all the work in all the other areas, then for lack of something silly or fixable, falter at getting regular gigs.

What to do now…

As I say, the book goes into the details of much of this, so do take some time when you can to grab the copy I gave you and not only read it, but do the work in the Promoting Yourself section.

So we’re at the end! Thanks for reading, and if this has given you the kick up the arse you needed, again I’d love you to share this article series – it does mean the world to the team and me.

Check out the other parts in this series:

For the last time, then, I’d love for you to share your thoughts on this lesson and on promoting yourself in general, in the comments below.

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