It seems like there’s a playlist for everything out there these days, from the best murder ballads to the best songs for 90’s bachelor pads. Thanks to streaming music services like Spotify and Songza, today’s music listeners are well-versed in the art of playlist browsing and playlist making. Pitchfork has even called playlists the “future of music.” So where does this proliferation of playlists leave DJs? Now that anyone can instantly find a playlist for any type of event, many DJs are left wondering how to get DJ gigs in this already competitive space. If you’re a good DJ, however, there should be no question that you’ll do a better job than a playlist. Here are 3 ways to set yourself apart as a DJ and prove to clients and venues that you’re worth hiring.

You’re a Human Being

The most important (and arguably most obvious) difference between you and a playlist is that you’re a human being, and as such, are capable of understanding human emotions and interacting with other human beings. A playlist doesn’t know how to read the energy in a room. A playlist can’t sort through song requests and separate the good requests from the bad. A playlist can’t get a crowd pumped up by choosing just the right song for just the right moment. These are all things that only you as a real life human DJ can do. Plus, there’s just something about seeing a real human behind a turntable that makes people want to dance more than seeing an iPhone hooked up to a sound system.

You’re Reliable

Many wedding and event planners looking to save money will recommend that their clients simply load up a playlist and pick a responsible friend or relative to oversee the sound system for the night. This sounds easy at first, but the problem with this approach is that something almost always goes wrong. The wifi cuts out, one of the speakers stops working, the iPhone gets knocked off the table and disconnected, or some other random problem occurs. As a DJ, your job is to be reliable. If there’s a problem with the sound system, you know how to fix it, and you have plenty of backup gear in case something breaks. That’s why it’s important to understand the basics of how DJ gear works before you even think about how to get DJ gigs.

You’re an Artist

A good DJ is more than someone who picks songs and plays them in front of an audience. A good DJ understands the art of how those songs work together and flow into each other. So in addition to playing the right songs at the right time, you can showcase your artistry by executing a killer transition, pulling off a live remix, throwing in some scratching tricks, adding effects to build a track, or playing your own mashup. When’s the last time you saw a playlist do any of those things?

If you want to know how to get DJ gigs in the age of playlisting and iPhone DJs, you need to understand the value of what you bring to a situation. As a reliable, artistic, human DJ who understands human emotions and knows how to read a room, you can create about a thousand times more value for an audience than a playlist can. All you need to do is keep building your skills so you can continue to offer value to anyone who hires you.

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