Are you ready for a gig?

So you’ve bought your first DJ set and started practicing. Maybe did a gig or two to your friends at a small house party? And now you’re thinking about performing at bars, pubs, clubs, and festivals. Heck, maybe you’re thinking about planning your next Summer trip to Ibiza as a DJ?

If you said yes to any of these criteria then you’re in luck, because we’ve written this article for you. Continue reading ‘How To Get Your First Gig As DJ In 2020’ and get a better understanding of how things work in the modern music industry. With this know-how, you’ll be an Ibiza DJ in no time!

Before you even try

Right off the bat, PRACTICE! Practice, practice, practice. Don’t let your employer down by somehow getting a gig and not performing well, making a bad name for all the other amateur DJs. As Eminem said, “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow”. Offer a concert for your friends and family first! 

Before you can really entertain the idea of applying for gigs at venues, you need to have your portfolio online. Unless you already have solid event organizer contacts, you are going to need to persuade program managers to give you a chance to perform. Start by uploading your mixes to Soundcloud, Youtube or Mixcloud.

When you’ve done that, you are going to have to present your portfolio with intent. How are you going to do that? Well, the old school way would be to write a long e-mail about your ambitions and experience, sprinkled with links to your music. The 2020 way, however, is to create a musicians.agency profile to represent yourself with a custom URL online CV.

Venues to apply to

As you may already know, you have 3 types of venues to apply to: bars/pubs, lounges, and clubs. Then you’ve also got birthdays, weddings, festivals and other types of venue-less events, but we’re not going to cover these right now. Let’s focus on roofed venues instead, since they’re willing to hire amateur DJs the most.

Starting from the easiest to get a gig at - bars/pubs. Now you might be wondering, why is it easier to get a gig at bars/pubs than it is in lounges or clubs? Well, it all comes down to the size of the public and the prestige of the venue. Generally speaking, bars/pubs are the least prestigious ones of the list, so you’ve got a better chance of getting a performance opportunity there as an amateur DJ.

Bars/pubs can offer a wide variety of music for their clients. From retro to hardstyle, it all really depends on the venue and what time it is. Some bars literally turn into a hardcore scene at 4 a.m. Do the research of your local bars to find out what type of music they prefer. If you’ve done that, make sure you feel comfortable in that genre.

The second level is the lounges. Lounges usually want to offer a relaxed atmosphere for their customers, so the DJs are expected to play different types of house music. Think of a nice sunset view at some hookah lounge, a cool DJ with sunglasses playing deep house. People just chilling, no-one is really dancing, unless it is late and the crowd lets loose. No pressure though.

The hardest, of course, is to get a gig at a full-fledged nightclub. These venues rely solely on creating a music event where people drink and dance to the beats of the DJ. There, a DJ is the true hero of the night. Selling tickets relies on the fame of the artists performing there, so getting your name on the line requires you to have some sort of a fanbase already.

To sum up, the lifecycle of a DJ’s career usually starts with a couple of gigs at bars and pubs. Then, when some experience is accumulated, progression is made towards performing at lounges. At this time, the DJ regularly represents its music and other activities online too for its fanbase. And after that, when the DJ can bring a couple of friends with it to its performances, he or she can expect to get a club gig.

Musicians.agency has an ever-growing database of verified venues willing to give fresh DJs a chance to perform. Take a look!
 

How to initiate contact?

Since the dawn of time, the music industry has been a contact business. Especially when it comes to the underground scene and amateur artists in general. Someone knows somebody who knows that guy who can hook you up. But of course, that is not always an option, is it? What if you just don’t know the right people? 

Networking with venue managers is essential when it comes to this industry. It is as important as being technically good. Lots of not-so-good artists perform at venues just because they know the owner. Some musicians actually stop being musicians because they are not given a chance to perform and thus are denied to progress in their career.

So you’ve got a real problem. To grow, you must know, but you don’t... Now what?

You’ve got the old school hard routeway that is not very effective. A route that makes a lot of musicians actually quit music. And then you’ve got the smart way of going about things with musicians.agency. 

How is musicians.agency going to help you contact venues to get gigs? Well, we don’t just have a database of venues you can easily apply to. We take personal responsibility for having only quality venues on our site. We do regular check-ups with the program managers to make sure they are willing to hire, so you don’t have to waste time applying to places that only hire the friends of the owner.

When it comes to applying, you are presented with a dedicated form. That way you can be sure you fill out the necessary information about yourself, to maximize the possibility of getting a gig. This way you can focus on being creative while diminishing the hassle of getting gigs with musicians.agency.
 

Getting paid: amateurs vs pros 

When pitching yourself to an organizer, be real with your value. If you’re just starting out, especially if this would be your very first public gig, be willing to perform for free. First of all, this takes a lot of pressure off the organizer when he or she knows that there are no real negative financial consequences when giving you a chance. Secondly, the organizer will be more likely to hire you next time for money, if you’re actually good. So to sum up, your very first gig should be about gaining experience and respect.

After your first gig, you are still considered an amateur DJ. Amateur DJs get anywhere from 20 to 100 € per gig (Estonia). At this stage, you’re competing with other amateur DJs, some of which are willing to perform for free. Your leverage over the real green ones is that you already have stage experience, so you have the right to ask for some compensation since you’re less likely to mess up.

When you’ve performed multiple times, in bars/pubs and perhaps even lounges and clubs, you could consider yourself semi-professional. Depending on how active you are, usually, that means you’ve been gigging for at least a year. At this stage, you could start asking anything between 100 to 300 €.

After working hard for years, becoming a real professional, you might start asking for bigger paydays. This means though that you have a considerable following on social media and when a venue hires you, they can confidently market the event with your name on it. 

Surely, the level of this stage is the most diverse, since on one hand you’ve got people that have been DJing for 20 years and do 500€ gigs and on the other side of the spectrum you’ve got some youngsters making thousands of euros per gig. And then you’ve got Calvin Harris making 400k $ per gig. So yeah, in the end, it all depends on how big of a fanbase you’ve got.

To sum it all up 

Starting a DJ career is a real roller coaster. You’ve got to love what you do, like with anything in life, if you want to be successful at it. It starts with practicing at first. Then, you have to represent yourself online and the best way to do that is by joining musicians.agency. When you’ve got your profile finished and you are ready for a gig, start applying for gigs with venues.

Keep stacking them wins and enjoy the process while you’re at it. Getting your next gig is always easier than the last, so stop waiting around and get to work. Good luck!