wikiHow to Grow Your DJ Business

Four Parts:Networking Online and OffLearning the BusinessGrowing as an Independent DJContinuing to Hone Your Skills

Being a DJ is very fun, but it’s not always easy to break out from doing free gigs to landing paid work. If you want to get more gigs, then you must know certain marketing techniques. It also helps to offer different services than other disc jockeys as you get started.

Part 1
Networking Online and Off

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    Network with new people. Extend beyond your usual group, and join online and offline meetups, through such avenues as These meetups, which cover a variety of interests, take place in most major metropolitan areas and are a good source of networking. Find meetups that appeal to you and your DJ business.
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    Look for people who have similar interests or complementary businesses. Focus on specific niches for networking. The way you network might dictate the type of gigs you find and vice versa. Finding a niche isn’t limiting. It can actually expand your bookings and might even provide you with a specific selling proposition.
    • For example, look for meetups attended by venue owners and managers, including club and bar managers, and small business owners.
    • Club and bar DJ gigs are a good way to gain experience. If you want to DJ in clubs, network with club promoters, bar owners, bartenders, and servers.
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    Join local business clubs. Don’t forget that your DJing is a business. An entrepreneurs meetup, small business club, or a chamber of commerce could be a great source of potential clients and referrals.[1]
    • For wedding gigs, try to network with bridal shops, videographers, florists, and caterers. Think of any type of vendor that someone planning a wedding would use, and tap into those networks.[2]
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    Find other DJs. Fellow DJs can be a good source of leads, referrals, or musical ideas. Experienced DJs might have good advice for you or maybe even referrals to events they’re too busy to DJ themselves.
    • Since some nights and holidays are popular for DJs, a booked DJ might be able to refer you to an event they can’t work.
    • You may very well encounter naysayers and discouraging DJs, particularly online, and it’s best to ignore them. Other DJs, however, can provide helpful tips on business development, networking, and musical improvement. Follow their examples.
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    Carry music samples and business cards. When attending networking events (and whenever else, if possible), remember to bring business cards and sample recordings of your own work. Networking events might include music-oriented meetups, groups, and trade shows like SXSW or NAMM shows, or large concerts/festivals featuring live DJ performers. If you’re going to a big event, remember to bring a bag to collect other people’s materials as well.[3]
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    Network online in specialty areas. You can network online to find certain types of gigs. For example, if you’re looking for wedding gigs, you could be active on a variety of blogs, such as The Knot, Wedding Bee, or Style Me Pretty.[4]
    • Contribute to message boards. Be yourself and be genuine but not controversial when contributing to message boards. Also, be sure not to over-contribute or spam people with unsolicited mixes and content. That’s a sure way to get ignored.

Part 2
Learning the Business

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    Work with a professional company before you go out and run real events. This could be an established DJ that needs a helping hand. You might also be the crew or roadie for a band. This experience will help you learn skills you might not have even thought about. Also, you’ll feel more comfortable doing your own first gig after you’ve had experience working with others on their shows.
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    Plan how you want to use your microphone. Most events require both a DJ and, more importantly, a microphone controller. Make sure you can do both or have someone that can! Eventually, you’ll want to learn to control a microphone on your own, but when starting out, you can bring an assistant that can help with such tasks as microphone duty.
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    Determine whether or not you want to be a musician DJ. Some, if not most, DJs spin popular music written and performed by other people. Other DJs perform their own—primarily electronic—music, such as house or EDM.
    • Some DJs spin popular favorites and others’ music. These are probably the DJs you hear most often. They play pop music, such as top 40 hits, classic oldies, requests, and easily danceable songs. The music should be geared toward crowds’ eclectic tastes so that there will be something for everybody. These DJs play at dances, weddings, other private events, and some public venues like bars and small clubs. Since these DJs play a lot of special events, they also tend to use the mic a lot for announcements and other MC duties.
    • Other DJs are musicians who create new music themselves. They might sample or excerpt other musicians’ tracks, but they make them into remixes or mashups. They also add their own beats, accompaniments, riffs, and even melodies. These DJs might play larger venues or events where music is more of a focus. They probably wouldn’t play a retirement party, for example, where the retirement is the focus—not the music—and the guests have varied musical tastes. There, you’d stick to pop standards.
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    Find regular in-house or volunteer gigs. If you can secure regular gigs at a local nightclub, college bar, or country club, you can gain valuable work experience, meet new people, and start to find work for independent gigs.
    • Becoming the in-house DJ tends to be difficult, particularly without close connections to a venue owner or manager, but you can try to set up at least some regular weekly or monthly shows.
    • Some of these early gigs could be low-budget or volunteer work. Maybe a local high school would appreciate you DJing a dance for free, for example.
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    Profile potential customers effectively. You’ll attract more customers if you’re attentive to their specific needs. No two customers are alike. So, be sure to ask about their musical preferences, their guests, and any musical don’ts. This way, you can develop a specific and individualized package for each client.[5]
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    Understand how weddings are different. Weddings are great sources of revenue for DJs and offer excellent mic and playlist experience. However, it’s important to understand how they differ from other gigs.
    • Weddings are more expensive because they require more pre-planning and the development of an experience. Work weddings with an experienced DJ before taking your own on and possibly ruining a special day.
    • Sit down for at least one hour with your clients before agreeing to do a wedding. Provide a questionnaire to make sure key points are communicated and that all necessary parties will be happy.
    • There will be special instructions. Expect a lot of particular instructions from the bride and groom. You’ll also want to write down very carefully names, pronunciations, and any other specific details that you’ll need to mention over the microphone.

Part 3
Growing as an Independent DJ

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    Offer to DJ events at a discounted price. Search around online for pricing info, and ask experienced DJs if they wouldn’t mind telling you what they charge. Then, offer to DJ at a fraction of that price, such as 50%, for your early engagements.
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    Don't pursue a once-in-a-lifetime event when you are under-qualified. It might be tempting to go after a whale of a gig early on, but avoid that temptation. Just remember that big gigs will be out there when you’re ready too. You don’t want to get discouraged, harm your own burgeoning reputation, or burn any bridges by biting off more than you can chew.
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    Expand your business into new territories. If you are doing only parties, for example, then also offer to do weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, retirements, birthdays, anniversaries, school dances, and other functions.
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    Design a unique selling proposition that makes you different from other disc jockeys. You could do this through specializing in a certain type of music, specializing in certain events, or adding a karaoke machine. A lot of customers also ask for video at events, which could include slideshows or graphics that complement your music.[6]
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    Advertise your business. This can increase your customer base and open up new avenues for work. Think of advertising online, for example, in trade outlets for the types of events you want to host. These might include bridal outlets or event production media.
    • Send out your own e-newsletter and email blasts.[7] Also, try to have a presence in newsletters and email blasts of venues where you’d like to DJ.
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    Make a cool website. Talk about your experience and the types of gigs you do. Also, be sure to say that you’re flexible and can accommodate the host’s musical preferences. Include clear contact information, and offer free estimates over the phone—not online.
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    Contribute content to other sites. See if you can get a guest post or column on blogs and other media. You could seek out DJ publications, but also look at niche or trade outlets for the types of events and activities you want to DJ.

Part 4
Continuing to Hone Your Skills

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    Continue creating fresh music. This way, when you do get a job, people will be impressed and give you good referrals to other potential customers. Continue creating new playlists and remixing music for your sets.[8]
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    Record all your mixes. Yes, all of them. Or, at least record something from every time you practice. This means that when you practice, try to record sets, riffs, mixes, beats, or experiments.
    • Even if you don’t like these recordings, they might form the basis for something else later or inspire you to try something new.
    • But sometimes you will like your recordings! Now you have something to show potential clients, venues, and the public, including your fans. Plus, you can have tracks available to play when you’re not around.[9]
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    Share your recordings. In addition to sharing your mixes via social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), there are many places where you can share your recordings online for free.[10] Try SoundCloud, Mixcould, Mixcrate,, or[11] Sharing your mixes publicly gives you feedback, helps you network, and starts to build your fan base.
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    Listen carefully to talented DJs. Whether live or online, try to listen to DJs who are above your skill level and whose music you like. Listen to their music, but also observe how they work. Look at musical selection, the length of their mixes, volume, and how they react to their crowds. Also observe whether they move quickly, bouncing between different controls, or whether they focus intently on a single monitor or two.[12]
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    Study music and new instruments. This is especially helpful if you don’t have much formal musical training. An understanding of rhythm and beats can help with beat matching, phrase matching, and syncing. Familiarization with other instruments and unusual instruments can also breathe fresh life and creativity into your sets.
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    Collect more music. Collecting and organizing your music is also an ongoing process. You want to keep up with the latest popular dance tracks and songs. Follow top 40 lists, and keep track of common requests for music that you don’t have at your own gigs. Look up lists that DJs publish of common party tracks.
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    Continue networking and collaborating. Yes, honing your skills involves improving your networking skills as well. For better or worse, networking never really ends. Keep business cards handy at all times, and try to attend networking events regularly. This might seem like a chore, but think of it as an exciting way to meet new people, and get out and socialize.

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Categories: Disc Jockeys | Buying & Forming a Business