How To Up Your DJ Game When Gigs Are Scarce

Are you doing all you can to get DJ gigs?


It’s the economy, stupid. When you work in a profession that is deemed ‘non-essential’ your abundance or lack of work comes down to the economy. When the economy is booming DJs will have more gigs than they can handle and when times are skinny, well DJs are some of the first on the chopping block. Whether it is a nationwide thing or simply one of your regular gigs is having money troubles, you need to find a way to make yourself “economy-proof” during those lean times.

Right now you mix tracks and have been focusing on your online presence, right? Well you’ll need to up your game if you want to keep DJing as your primary job. So let’s talk a bit about what you can do to stay relevant and booked no matter how tough times get.

Don’t Reduce Your Pay

One of the most important things to remember when times are lean is that reducing your pay only makes them leaner for you. What’s the point of getting gigs if they aren’t covering your costs, never mind netting a profit? I know, I know you just want to be a DJ. I get it, really I do. BUT, learning how to DJ is about more than the music. It is a business and good business is about making money.

You got into this so you could do what you love and get paid to do it. So? Get paid. Don’t reduce your gig rate simply to get gigs. In the long run your work will suffer for it.

Go Promo Crazy

All DJs who can sustain a bad economy do so because they kick ass at promotions. This is where you can really stand out from the other DJs vying for the same spots you are. Hop online and hit up your mailing list, work hard to always be growing that mailing list, talk to local newspapers and radio DJs. Go old school and start peppering neighborhoods and windshields with flyers.

If you can prove your value—by getting huge crowds to show up—then you have pretty much paid for yourself. No matter the economy, if you can pack a club, then you are worth your gig rate.


Venture Outside The City

Contrary to popular belief there are clubs outside of the city. I know you think these suburban clubs simply rely on jukeboxes or the bartender’s iPod, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Suburbs, for the most part, are much smaller than cities so they have a huge potential for customers and likely a lot less competition.

So when you’re striking out with the city clubs, venture outside the city and talk to club owners in the outskirts of the city or all the way out in the ‘burbs. First of all you’ll never know if you don’t try, and if it works you’ve found another way to survive when the pickins’ are slim.

Plus that’s just a few hundred more people you can add to your mailing list and who just might show up for a city gig on a Friday night.

Swag & Merch

You’ve been at clubs before where DJs are selling everything from CDs (yes those are still a thing), t-shirts, bumper stickers, beer cozies, key chains and branded glow sticks. Some stuff they give away to the first 50 in the door and others they sell to interested customers. Either way this is another great way to keep yourself relevant when times are tough.


Well, you make a deal with the manager of course. They let you sell your DJ wares inside their club and you offer them a cut of the profits, 30% or whatever you think is fair. You’ll have to negotiate here but remember YOU get the biggest slice of the pie, so work out the math to figure out what you can afford to give to management before you even approach them with the deal.

Move The Product(s)

If you can encourage clubbers to buy more booze or mozzarella sticks or whatever is on offer at the venue, you can bet that you’re someone the manager will want to book time and again. Your ability to move products, which puts money in the pocket of the owner, then you have made yourself indispensible to the owner, manager or promoter who booked you.

You don’t want to act like a salesman about it, but talk to the bartender or waitress beforehand and see what’s on special and find a way to talk about it throughout the night. Have one at your side and talk it up or encourage the guys to buy the girls some fruity special. You might not like it, but part of being a DJ is selling a good time. Drinks mean a good time for the clubbers, which means a good time for the club raking in the money and an even better time for the DJ helping rake in all that dough.

Take Your Time

It is important to remember that even if you do all of these things and you do them well, it will still take time to get where you want your career to be. As a DJ you won’t really have a safety net unless you create one for yourself. But you know, there is also no limit to how far your career can take you.

So be patient, work hard and always be hustlin’.

I hope I helped you up your DJ game so you’re always inside the DJ booth. 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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