Industry Tips & Advice: How to Become a DJ at a Club – Important First Lessons by John Newcomb

DJing is a difficult industry to break into. You may know all the technical aspects of DJing and may even be able to teach others how to become a DJ, but success may still elude you because of the tough competition.

The first thing you need to know is that unless you are phenomenally talented, it will take a long time to get a well paying gig at a good club. You will initially have to begin by freelancing. Freelance DJs are at the very bottom of the DJ industry and do face certain scorn from professionals. The irony is that even the professionals started out as freelancers.

Freelance DJs can usually be found playing at weddings, birthday parties, and small, local events such as school dances. I know this sounds like DJ hell, but this is a very important stage for a DJ – it teaches you how to play music for a very diverse crowd. More importantly, small gigs like these help you pick up the nuances of DJing – charisma, gauging the mood of the crowd, etc. while still getting some all important practice.

These gigs are also good for networking. As any professional DJ will tell you, DJing is a lot about knowing the right people. Try to get to know people whereever you are playing, even if its a wedding. Who knows you may just catch the eye of the right person and land yourself a good gig at a club.

The night club scene is, of course, where all the action is. Before you graduate to this level, you would have hopefully played in smaller gigs several times and have a firm grip on the technical as well as non-technical aspects of DJing. Night club gigs are often make-or-break opportunities (unless you happen to know the owner of the club, of course), and all your experience will come handy at moments like these.

The most important thing for a good DJ is to have a style that is unique to him. This can only be created through extensive practice. At the night club level, having your own unique sound will help set you apart from the others and hopefully open up doors for even more lucrative gigs.

Moral of the story: as a DJ, you should never shirk from any sort of gig, no matter how small it may be. The best DJs started out playing at weddings and school dances. These are valuable practice grounds and you should take up these opportunities whenever you get them.


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