Getting your first club gig
It seems like a big step for a lot of people to get your first club gig. I want to break down some of the steps you should take and how to go about doing them. You may approach this in a different order or have different results at each of these tips, but this is a general idea of some of the things you should try when going for a first club gig.
Know your venue
Go to your venue nights before. If you are trying to get a crack at a specific night say a clubs weekly Friday night go to that. If you are trying to just get a shot at the club itself go to a couple of their nights and get a feel for them.
Iíve said to do this in other articles but here do it differently, you want to absolutely get a feel for the music being played. You also want to schmooze. Meet the bartenders, get their names maybe meet the promoter and just introduce yourself. Donít try and pitch a promoter on some random introduction, they are busy running their night and donít have anything to offer you then. If anything you just want to introduce yourself and exit politely.
Bring friends come often and show promoters your interest in their night, same goes for just going to the club often.
Lots of people will tell you giving a mixtape to a promoter club owner is an important step, and it is so I will discuss how you should think about doing it. The mindset I recommend is be fresh, donít reinvent the wheel.
Residents get stale or behind on trends. Always make a mixtape towards the venue or nights crowd, and maybe add in some more current or new sounds, but donít do something totally left field. If you give a mix CD to an open format club night that isn’t playing any trap, maybe through a couple mainstream tracks on there, donít go and just make a whole trap CD and give them that. Give them something fresh, but that still fits within their night.
In terms of the content and pacing of the tape. Come out swinging, first impressions still hold here if you start your mixtape with some 5 minute long song everyones heard you won’t impress anyone. Start the mixtape with some cool technical stuff or some really interesting music, something to wow whoevers listening. Maybe have a not too cheesy name drop at the start just to remind them who’s CD it is. In terms of pacing make sure your mixtape tells a story, and follows a clear pattern.
When I say tells a story, a way to picture this is think about the arc of music thatís played a t a club. Maybe at 12 o’clock a rowdy hip hop set it played to get the crowd started, then at 12:45 the DJ moves into more high energy 128 bpm type stuff, electro house, maybe some big room house. Then finish the night off with some progressive house Before people go home. You donít need to necessarily follow that by any means but itís just having a clear idea of what genre and energy the CD will follow helps it sound more professional.
Giving out the mixtape
Giving something in person is the best way to do it. Clubs are open in the day if you can find a day theyíre open drop in quickly see if a manager is around and if he will take your mix CD, and thats when you want to pitch him. Again do it politely and non intrusively, and donít take up too much of their time, come up with some idea of what you would like to say before hand. Let them know you will bring some people out is always an important starting point. Also it doesnít hurt to dress half decent. You might not be going in for a job interview but looking some what professional may be what you need to set you apart from all the other DJs wanting the job.
If you are trying to get the attention of a promoter the only time you might catch them is at the club, drop by often chat quickly with them and only once you get to know them a bit tell them you are a DJ, see if they want to take a copy of your CD, donít force it on them.
Once you have the gig
Show up early, know your room and play it properly. Most importantly bring your friends, this is again a first impression and the more bodies in there the better a crowd you will have and the happier the promoter/ club owner will be for bringing in some more bodies to the club. Know your set time and play it properly, if you want a call back donít blow the place out on an opening set. For more information on getting ready for your first gig read here.
If you want to learn more about DJ’ing and gear we highly recommend you check out our online DJ School here at Spin Academy.