Getting more DJ gigs can be frustrating, especially for new DJs who lack the industry contacts and experience expected from prestigious venues.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to overcome these challenges and attract promoters while building a following of loyal fans.
Read on to discover everything you need to know to book more gigs, from establishing an online presence to building a reputation with free gigs.
How To Get DJ Gigs (10 Steps To Book More Gigs)
This comprehensive guide breaks down the essential steps you need to follow to get started, helping you get DJ gigs and develop a thriving career as a DJ.
We’ve also included actionable steps you can take, along with the resources you’ll need to build your online presence.
Here’s our detailed guide to help you get DJ gigs in 2023:
Step 1: Create A Strong Brand
Whether you’re playing hip-hop or techno, a strong DJ brand is essential to address if you want to get DJ gigs regularly.
Understanding how to build a DJ brand requires careful consideration of various elements to ensure the branding is as effective as possible.
Your logo and other branding elements should match the tone and genre of your DJing style, enhancing the vibe and atmosphere you hope to achieve when you gig.
When designing your logo, consider how it will look across various platforms, such as a TikTok and Facebook icon or on a business card, avoiding anything too complicated.
If you don’t have the skills to create your own logo and other branding elements, consider hiring a freelance designer from Fivver or Upwork who can do this for you.
If your brand doesn’t look professional, it may prevent you from securing a gig, so make sure you take the time to create one that truly captures your unique style.
Step 2: Build Your Online Presence
Once you’ve created a solid brand, it’s time to build an online presence to promote your services to potential fans and venue owners.
This means setting up your social media pages, which you can use to promote events, and your website, where you can add a press kit and other information to help get more DJ gigs.
Your website should also feature links to any DJ mixes you’ve hosted on pages such as SoundCloud and the option for fans to sign up to a mailing list.
You should aim to build up a comprehensive archive of mixes on SoundCloud, uploading mixes you’ve created at home and any live sets you’ve recorded from live streams.
Consider checking out the best DJ websites for inspiration and seeing what features and information professionals use on their own sites.
First impressions count, so your online presence should pack a real punch if you are to stand out over your competition and pick up more bookings.
Step 3: Network With Local DJs & Promoters
Success in any creative endeavor often comes down to the adage, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” and this applies to DJing as much as anywhere else.
Building a network of local artists and event organizers is a surefire way to increase your chances of getting the kind of gigs you’re looking for, whether you’re playing locally or in other countries.
DJs you already know can be additional resources for learning; for example, if you don’t know how to live stream your DJ sets, they can help you get the necessary equipment and software.
If you don’t know any DJs, you can track them down on social media, engage with their content, and reach out to establish a relationship.
Fostering relationships with event organizers can bring additional support and bookings to further your success as a DJ, so encourage them to listen to your mixes.
If they like what they hear, it could pave the way for a better time slot in their club and give you a chance to play the music that showcases your talent.
Step 4: Host Gigs For Free
Many DJs make the mistake of assuming they can jump straight into paid gigs in clubs, but even if you’re a great DJ, you’ll still need to put the work in to get your name out to the public.
Gigging for free is an effective way to put yourself out there at the local level, establish a reputation, and build a loyal base of fans.
DJs new to the game are an unknown quantity for promoters, who are more likely to give you a shot if they have no financial risks to consider.
While you don’t want to undersell yourself, offering your services for free over the short term to prove your worth can be an excellent strategy to break the ice and lead to potentially paid gigs.
If you’re struggling to find a small venue that will allow you to gig for free, you can begin by playing at a local house party and gain experience working a crowd.
Step 5: Register With DJ Agencies & Directories
There is a wide range of agencies and music directories available for DJs to reach out to, from small local agencies to large companies that deal with international artists.
Getting serious representation through an agency will grant immediate access to a long list of potential venues and could fast-track you to your club of choice.
A great agent can make or break a DJ career, and if you want to get taken on by one of the best, you’ll need to produce and release your own records to stand out (more on this later).
In order to attract an agent, make sure you understand their primary audience and style so that your vision is compatible with their services.
Spend time researching all the relevant agencies and entertainment directories before you take the plunge and fire out your press kit and other details of your current clients and residencies.
Beware of agents requiring any form of payment or subscription fee to be included as one of their clients, as many online fraudulent agencies take advantage of aspiring DJs.
Step 6: Embrace Social Media
Your social media pages are the first port of call your fan base will likely come to for news about your upcoming events and any new mixes you’ve uploaded online.
To maximize engagement, you need to update these pages regularly, reply to comments and interact with your followers to keep conversations flowing.
Once you’ve set up a TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter page, invite your friends to follow the page first and build up a network of followers likely to interact with your posts.
This will ensure your upcoming DJ gigs will get some organic reach immediately, reducing the need for advertising spending as you develop a large following.
You can also use your social media pages to share tips and tricks to improve your DJ skills with fans who enjoy DJing, strengthening your online network.
Step 7: Collaborate With Other DJs & Artists
If you have friends who are into DJing or have related talents such as graphic design and shooting videos, collaborating with them to reach a broader audience is a must.
Working with more experienced performers is also a great way to practice the DJ techniques you need to master with someone who can help you overcome challenges.
Collaborating with other DJs is a great way to organize your own events while playing with other artists who may have contact with club owners and event organizers.
Forming a DJ duo or collective sound system allows members to pool their resources and get more DJ gigs while still promoting their own brand to the audience.
Perhaps most importantly of all, collaborations significantly increase the potential for getting plenty of people through the door at your nights by bringing together extended networks of friends.
Step 8: Consider Mobile DJ Work
While most DJs aspire to headline at the best nightclubs in the world, getting to this level takes time and patience and isn’t going to happen overnight.
Mobile DJ gigs, for instance, at parties, weddings, and corporate events, allow DJs to earn money from their craft and enhance their reputation.
There is also a growing trend of up-and-coming DJs playing in gyms and restaurants, so check out local businesses in your city to see if any are looking for a DJ to perform.
Doing a paid gig as a mobile DJ is also a great way to ensure you’ve mastered the core techniques before hitting the larger prime time slots in bigger venues.
Playing mobile DJ gigs is also a great way to gain experience in new genres, learn how to mix music that you otherwise might avoid playing, and become more proficient in the process.
Step 9: Produce Your Own Music
If you have the time and the inclination, producing your own music is a great idea to really put a stamp on your brand and take you out of your comfort zone.
Playing your own music at your gigs will help you to stand out from the crowd, and if you can collaborate with live musicians, your DJ gigs will go to the next level.
Building your own loops is an effective way to ease yourself into full-on production, and you can use these and acapellas to mix into other tracks to create mashups unique to your style.
After you’ve compiled a selection of tracks you’re happy with, send these off to relevant record labels and see if you can pick up a distributor.
If you have friends who also produce their own music, see if you can collaborate with them or offer to make remixes of their tracks to hone your skills further.
DJs who can gain traction with their music in the industry will considerably increase the number of paid gigs they receive offers for.
Step 10: Use Your Gigs To Book Future Events
One of the most important – yet often overlooked – ways to promote your DJ business is to do so while you’re already at a venue.
While a good DJ will promote their next event online, a more experienced DJ knows how to use their events to line up additional DJ gigs on the night.
There are several ways you can make the most of gigs to book future events, beginning with handing out your business card to promoters and other influencers who are in attendance.
You can also hand out flyers for upcoming events to let people know where you’ll be playing music in the future.
Including your logo, website, and social media pages on a personalized banner that you can hang in front of the DJ booth is another way to keep your brand front and center.
While the venue owner might not appreciate it if you promote events for rival venues on the night, you can still use word of mouth to build awareness of upcoming events in other clubs.
Ultimately, a gig is where you can demonstrate your skills to full effect, paving the way for your own night at the venue, such as a permanent residency.
So there you have it, our complete guide to creating an online presence, working with local talent and promoters, and lining up future DJ gigs.
Building a client list and establishing a fan base isn’t easy, but following these steps and developing a consistent action plan will set you on the path to success.
Combined with confidence, perseverance, and hard work, these steps will ensure you get noticed by all the right people and lead to bookings at your club of choice.
Download all the music you’ll need to play professional DJ gigs with ZIPDJ’s DJ pool music library.