Home Forums The DJ Booth No CDJ's and No Friends!

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    Ben Jones Like Whoa

    My name is Ben Jones. I’ve been a long time reader of DDT and bedroom dj for a while now. I’ve been making mixes for years, posting them online or playing them for friends and whatnot. I’ve done a few gigs but almost all of them were house parties (aside from the few odd gigs at a bar or haunted house, which was a strange experience).

    To make this short and sweet I’ll get straight to the point. I have decided that I would like to start playing out regularly as well as earning an income from my DJing ventures. My goal is a pretty standard one, To be able to quit my day job. Now I have other business ventures I’m involved in as well but ideally I’d like to DJ full time.

    This brings us to my 2 main issues.

    1. I have no idea, or desire to learn, how to use CDJ’s

    I hate jog wheels. Can’t stand them. I don’t like Tracktor, VDJ, and Serato. I use Ableton. I LOVE Ableton. Many would not consider me a traditional, or true DJ. That’s fine, I’m OK with that. I use an MPD32 and Ableton Live. I very much enjoy this platform. I would like to know if this might cause issues down the line getting club bookings that have CDJ’s set up already. Should I learn to use them? I’d really prefer not to even bother with them. I like my set up but if it’s going to be an issue I wouldn’t be totally opposed to learning how to do it as a backup if needed. Has anyone had any problems with situations like this?

    2. I have no friends, Like literally none, not one.

    I just recently moved to a new city. From Orlando to Chicago. It’s a great DJ city I’m told with a wonderful night life. I’d like to start going out and meeting people, building connections, networking, etc. but mostly I’d like to start playing gigs, as soon as possible. The problem is I don’t know ANYONE here. How am I supposed to score a gig when I don’t have any people to bring to the venue? I think to even get the type of gig I’d like I’d have to spend a lot of time in the venue getting to know the people already there regularly, but if they are already there and they are the only people I know I won’t really have much to offer that place as far new customers. I’m not sure how to approach this. Any idea’s or suggestions from people who have been in a similar situation?

    I know I said 2 but there’s one last issue I have.

    3. I work 3rd shift ๐Ÿ™

    I go to work 10pm to 6am. I get 2 nights off a week on tues and wed which is a big problem seeing as I wont be able to go out to the bars or clubs much. Even if I was able to get a gig, these aren’t great nights for DJing.

    But I am determined to make this work somehow. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading and happy mixing!



    You are OK. There might be some looks here and then, but most clubs accept the way you DJ today. Especially in very open environments like Chicago. Most big clubs in Chicago even encourage bringing your own gear and only have CDJs as backup.

    Get friends and search the blog on this website for promotion tips from D-Jam. He has great articles on the matter.

    That is the one thing we cannot help you with. If you are on a schedule work wise… that is your schedule.

    DJ Vintage

    And be aware … (not to sound ominous) … there are precious few DJs that actually are able to maintain themselves properly by DJ-ing. Producers a few more than DJs.

    Most DJs that do bring in an income high and STEADY enough to make it their “daytime” job, are mobile DJs. Weddings, corporate gigs, big birthday parties, etx. Here the needed skill set is such that I seriously wonder if this is for you. Ableton I think is not gonna cut it. Those audiences are not looking for awesome live remixes, mashups and what have you. Standard mainstream music, with an ear for requests and a very broad track collection are all needed ingredients. Mic usage is also pretty much a must. As is being able to help create the night (lots of time in the preparation process compared to club DJ-ing).

    Just so you know. You can make a living as a club DJ, but you’ll need dedication and to make your own luck.

    Clifford Anderson

    … and that above is comin’ from the man who lives in THE country for DJing.

    Allan Murray

    I’ve used ableton myself for speeding up tracks and attemped music production etc: while i wouldnt use it myself as a dj platform, call me old school lol but if you like the program and with the dedicted controller, you can use it for basic djing and if you’re familar with the daw, use it for mobile gigs etc:

    Ben Jones Like Whoa

    Thank you for the responses.
    To be fair, I don’t actually consider myself a “DJ” as much as a producer. I’ve been producing for going on 15 years now but really just as a hobby or mostly emotional outlet. The type of music I make is some strange blend of Hip-Hop and Electronic. Kinda like Flying Lotus or Shlomo but not really. It’s very difficult to put in a genre.
    When I do DJ sets or mixes it’s a lot of this style of music with a lot of my own stuff in there as well as some more traditional genre’s sprinkled in like Dubstep, House, Rap, Reggae, even video game music or TV show themes.

    I don’t really want to be a DJ as much as an “artist” (however clichรฉ). More specifically I’d like to release music, build a brand based around that and tour regularly. Mobile DJing is not for me. I know the money is probably much better but I would hate that job, nothing against those who do it. I respect the amount of work and skill it takes but it’s just not something I would ever enjoy.

    While I am ultimately dedicated to pursuing this career choice I have NO IDEA where to start or how to do it. It’s an odd thing. I’m not really a DJ but I am. I used to rap and have done a lot of shows as just a rapper. It was a lot simpler to get shows. People would come to see rappers and I would go up and do my set, say some words and that was understandable. Now it’s much more difficult to explain or market. I’m technically still doing the same thing but instead of rapping I’m pushing buttons on a controller. Promoters don’t know how market that. I really don’t either.

    So I decided if I just do some DJ gigs I can get a better feel for a crowd whilst behind a table and laptop and not directly engaging them. Eventually I’d like to just do shows, like “come see ME perform and some other people too” rather than “come to this event and there will be dj’s there” I’m just not sure how to present that or market it.

    Mike Ward

    I don’t know what Wednesday night is like in Chicago, but in most big cities it’s not SUCH a terrible night to DJ. Particularly if you’re doing something a bit ‘different’ which it sounds like you are.

    If I were you I’d start by scoping out some venues – small venues to start! Places where you could see your style of music working. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box a little. Then just talk to the staff there, find the manager and see if you can come down and play one night.

    In some ways not being free at the weekends is a problem, but you could also look at it as a blessing – it’s much easier to get slots in venues mid-week! You might also find it easier to create a regular night. And in a big city like Chicago, there’s ALWAYS people for who ‘the weekend’ isn’t Saturday and Sunday. People on shift work like yourself who would be psyched to find a cool night running on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
    If you can find a few people in that crowd who start coming, who bring their friends… well… soon you can have a nice little night running.

    Best of luck! And remember to have fun ๐Ÿ™‚

    Alex Moschopoulos

    Ok, let me toss in my insight…

    1. I have no idea, or desire to learn, how to use CDJโ€™s

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with not wanting to use CDJs, but I’d tell you that you should be able to use them if the need arises. I like that you’re seemingly more into life performance with Ableton, but in Chicago you’ll be limited as to what you can do. It’s tough to play an Ableton set in venues where you’ll get trixies begging you to take their requests.

    Also, are you doing more with Ableton than just playing tunes? If you’re only doing straight DJing with it, then you won’t impress many people. Make sure to craft a performance that will get you noticed. You could move into the smaller underground realm of things.

    2. I have no friends, Like literally none, not one.

    Well, you’re new in town. Chicago has a decent nightlife with plenty of small things happening you could work your way into, and of course the bigger event venues where the bigger names roll though.

    Unfortunately, you’re going to hit the issue of “How many heads can you bring out?” and thus be limited. The scene here is a bit divided. You have the big clubs with bigger names or notable promoters, then you have some small underground pockets, and then loads of trendy bars or hipster bars.

    Why don’t you check out Porn N Chicken on Mondays? Join their social media and get to know the people. Toss up your sets as you make them. You never know, they might toss you a bone. The Trap House at the Mid is another growing thing that came out of some local guys.

    Are you producing on Ableton? Remixing? Make that known and other DJs might take interest.

    3. I work 3rd shift ๐Ÿ™

    That could pose some problems…but again, see what’s happening on weeknights and work your way in.

    Good luck!

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