How Can A DJ Control His Gigs?

Finding creating ways to flex your DJ muscles!


One of the biggest complaints experienced DJs have is the lack of control they feel they have over certain gigs. We’ve all been there before, venue owners or event planners think they can simply hand a DJ a playlist and pay you to act as a human jukebox. When this happens it can be incredibly frustrating, but it is also part of being a service provider: some people have very specific ideas about what kind of service they want.

So many DJs wonder how can a DJ control his or her gigs. The truth is that you really can’t, unless you’re allowed to. You only have as much control over each individual gig as the person hiring you allows. BUT…there are things you can do to make every gig your own.

Set Limits

Drawing a line in the sand is both an easy to way for a DJ to control his gigs but it is also a risky endeavor. You can simply let those who want to hire you for a gig know that you’ll play the genres they specify, but song choices are up to the DJ.

You should know that you run the risk of losing out on a lot of paid and high profile gigs, but you’ll never have to worry about not having control over your work.

Be A Gig Hunter

If you want to know how a DJ controls his gigs, the answer is simple: gig hunt! That’s right, get out there and pound the pavement, surf the net and think outside the box in order to find gigs that speak to you. The level of control you want over each gig will determine where you’ll have the best success hunting for gigs.

If you’re looking for a gig where you can just let loose and play whatever you want without discretion, keep dreaming. That is every DJs dream gig and let me tell you, it rarely happens. The fact of the matter is that as a DJ you are a tool; a tool to help the venue owner sell drinks, get door fees paid and provide an all ‘round party atmosphere. It is your job as the DJ to make that happen and if it’s techno night or rap night or 80’s pop night…you need to be prepared to play it.

There are plenty of places you can get gigs outside of clubs, but you should know that these other venues are likely to exercise even greater DJ control. Museums, art galleries, election rallies, business conferences, balls & galas; these are all places you can get paid work as a DJ. But these are also places where certain music is expected rather than experimental music that speaks to you.


Have An Eclectic Library

One piece of advice I those who need more control as a DJ over their gigs is to get a better music library. This probably seems like a flippant answer but it’s true. If you have a wide selection of music in a variety of different genres then you at least get to control what you play each night. If your 80’s punk options are limited then yes, you will have absolutely no control over what you play.

The only way to get around this is to make having a large library of different music a top priority.

What Do You Expect

You should also ask yourself if your expectations are realistic. Of course as DJs we are all about the music and we want to introduce new and compelling music to everyone wherever we go and we never ever want to be restricted in our music. But is it realistic to expect that some poor bride is going to want non-stop EDM or house music for her 4 hour reception? Probably not.

This is a lesson some DJs have to learn the hard way, but it is one we all must learn eventually. There are many ways in which a DJ can absolutely control his or her gigs. It’s called creativity! If you’re limited by genre or only clean versions of tracks, find a way to make it work in your favor. This is what it means to be a DJ; finding creative tricks to pull of what the customer asks without losing yourself as an artist.

Make no mistake, you are hired to perform a service and if you want repeat gigs and good references you will do the job you were hired to do. Find a way to give the customer what they want and give the crowd a good time and you’ll go far as a DJ.

As you go forward it will be up to you to find ways to maintain control as a DJ while also keeping the customers and partygoers happy. It takes practice and trial & error, but it can be done. When you’re not sure, consult other DJs who have worked with a particular customer or venue and find out how much you can get away with and when to toe the line.

Can a DJ control his gigs? You bet he can…if he’s smart!

I hope I helped you find the right amount of DJ control. 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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