Booking A Gig – 6 Tricks That Just Might Work

Are you using everything in your arsenal when booking DJ gigs?


Flosstradamus @ The Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, Ca 04.24.2013.

If there is one thing all DJs know about booking a gig, it’s that it ain’t easy. Venue owners, promoters and club managers can be a finicky sort and most of the time their decisions have nothing to do with the caliber of the DJ. I’ve been passed over for DJ gigs because the owner’s wife’s cousin has recently decided to become a DJ or because some up and comer offered to do my gig for free. It sucks, but it is part of being a DJ.

So what can you do to reduce the number of times you don’t get a gig? Trust me when I tell you it has little to do with your DJ equipment, your musical style as a DJ or even your look. Of course those things can help but I’ve never heard anyone say to me “sorry dude, I only book DJs who use Pioneer.” It has never happened and I doubt it ever will.

So I’m going to let you know about a few tricks that I have tried or other DJs have tried and somehow…they actually worked!

DJ As A Duo

As much as we DJs tend to hate gimmicks or anything we deem inauthentic, sometimes it is a necessary evil. Do you think some of your favorite DJs dreamed of spending all day doing a photo shoot for headphones? Probably not, but it is part of what boosts their professional profiles which in turn helps when booking a gig.

One of the things everyone loves is a deal…and a gimmick, so why not combine them to help you book a gig? Think Daft Punk, Deadmau5 and Flosstradamus and you’ll see what I’m getting at. These DJ duos capture the attention and imagination of promoters and venue owners who see dollar signs at the idea of two DJs in the booth.

You don’t have to only be a duo, but doing so can increase your profile and help you when it comes to book a gig or ten.

BYOE (bring your own equipment)

One of the things I encourage new DJs to do, it is to hit up establishments that don’t usually rely on DJs for music entertainment. Small bars that could benefit from live performances are a great place to start. Why? One of the best tricks when booking a gig at these off the beaten path is to highlight the fact that you have your own DJ gear.

I don’t just mean laptops, controllers and a USB full of music. I mean (if it’s true) tout the fact that you have speakers, lights and everything this bar will need to be transformed into a nightclub. It is one of the times that your ill-advised purchase of those lights and speakers will work in your favor!

Guarantee Numbers

Another trick that can help book more DJ gigs is guaranteeing a certain number of people will show up. It can backfire tremendously so I don’t recommend you guarantee this if you’re not sure you can follow through with it. But if you know that despite your lack of DJ gigs, you can still pack a house go ahead and toss that crumb out there and watch their eyes light up with glee as you get booked.

This is a trick that can only work for DJs who put a ton of effort into promotions and marketing. You have to have a large following of people eager to hear you mix—more than your family and closest friends—who will show up where you are.

booking a gig warm up DJ

Offer A Percentage

Are you hovering somewhere between being a new DJ and a true professional DJ with regular bookings? You have more than a few gigs under your belt and even some music and merchandise you can sell, but not enough regular gigs so what should you do?

I know a few DJs who have had trouble booking a gig until they offered a small percentage of merchandise sales to the venue owner or promoter. Yeah sure, it is kind of skeevy but hey; it is sometimes how the game is played. It can be a small percentage, ten percent or less, but who doesn’t like money for nothing?

Throw In A Warm Up DJ

Sometimes you can simply sweeten the pot by offering up a warm up DJ to get the night started to help you book a gig. If you know a new DJ who wants to get a foot in the door and wouldn’t mind a low paying gig opening for you, offer their services as part of your own.

There is some genius in this because it offers live music earlier in the night, which will draw in more people than normal. It will also turn the establishment into the kind of place that has two different DJs performing in one night.

Two-Nighter

Negotiate a price that will give you enough to make it a profitable DJ gig for you, but low enough that it seems like a great deal for two nights. Like I said, no one can pass up a good deal, so anything that seems like they are saving money is likely to pique their interest.

Just make sure that you’re not reducing your rate too much or making promises you can’t deliver or your plans for booking a gig will backfire.

I hope I helped you with booking a gig as a DJ. Email in the box below to get access to Free video DJ lessons that will answer all of your questions on how to become a disk jockey!

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