With another Burning Man wrapped up for the year, and fall weather beginning to set in, music fans and performers are starting to turn their attention away from summer parties and back towards their regular routine. With this change of season in the air, many DJs are no doubt wondering how to get DJ gigs throughout the fall and winter to keep them from being relegated to their bedroom until the next festival season rolls around. Of course summer is the best time to be a DJ, but if you’re serious about improving your skills and building a career, you’ll have to find creative ways of playing gigs throughout the year. Here are a few ideas to look into for how to get DJ gigs in the off-season.
Don’t Overlook Your Local Club Scene
Whether you live in Los Angeles, California or Eau Claire, Wisconsin, getting to know your local scene is key if you want to get regular gigs throughout the year. Many DJs wish they lived in a bigger city where they could have more access to gigs, when in fact living in a small market can often be an advantage when it comes to finding gigs. While there might be hundreds of DJs vying for a one-hour spot on a Tuesday night in L.A., you may be one of the only people in your town with the right skills to rock a feature set on a weekend at a small local club.
Make Your Own Gig at a Local Venue
Playing local gigs sounds great, but what if you live in a town that doesn’t even hold DJ nights? In that case, rather than sitting around and wishing you lived somewhere else, it’s your job to convince your local venues that they need to put on club nights to showcase local DJs. Do some research on the local venues and the sort of clientele they cater to. Maybe there’s an opportunity they’re missing out on that you could help them exploit.
Host Your Own Gig at Home
If the local venues won’t help you out, you can always take matters into your own hands and throw your own club night at your house. Not only is it easier to get people to come to a party at your own house, but playing house parties is one of the best things you can do to improve your DJ skills. If you throw successful parties on a regular basis, not only will you become a better DJ faster, you’ll also become a household name in your community. This, in turn, could give you the skills and clout you need to convince that local venue to let you put on a DJ night.
Look for Alternative Venues
If the local bar and club scene really isn’t doing it for you, you can always get creative with your venue choices. Maybe a new local clothing store is opening, and they want someone to provide music for their launch event. Maybe your local sports team needs someone to keep everyone pumped up between plays. Or maybe there’s a big arts community in your town that needs someone to entertain at arts events like gallery openings and museum parties. The key is getting to know your local scene well and identifying situations where having a DJ could be a benefit to whoever’s holding the event.
Take It to the Streets
If you’re really stuck on how to get DJ gigs, you could always take your skills to the streets and try your hand at DJ busking. All you need is a small battery powered speaker system and a few portable performance tools and you’re on your way. (Obviously you should always check your local bylaws to make sure that amplified music is permitted, and get a busking license if it’s required.) Of course, random pedestrians might not appreciate if you set up a giant DJ rig in the middle of the sidewalk and start blasting beats at full volume, but if you can keep the volume at a reasonable level and incorporate some sort of unique performance element into your set, this could actually be a great way to earn some cash and make a name for yourself as a performer.
So there you have it. Next time you feel like you don’t know how to get DJ gigs in the off-season, try out a few of these options. With any luck, playing out regularly throughout the year will help you earn enough as a DJ to help you quit your day job and start to DJ full time. Then, once you understand how to get DJ gigs when the opportunities are slim, you’ll have an even better chance next summer of scoring a slot in that festival you’ve been dying to get into.
Want more tips on how to get DJ gigs? Check out our lessons on Getting DJ Gigs and Promoting Yourself. Or take the opportunity of some down-time to improve your skills by checkout out our online DJ school.