How Do DJs Get Their First DJ Gig: A Guide For New DJs

How Do DJs Get Their First DJ Gig: A Guide For New DJs

If you're wondering how DJs get their first DJ gig, this blog is for you. In this article we list the ways that new DJs will get their first DJ gigs and opportunities to perform in the DJ industry. We provide DJ gigs for thousands of DJs and even run our own DJ agency so we're happy to share our tips and tricks on how to find your first DJ gig.

There are many things a new DJ should consider when finding, booking and then performing their first DJ gigs. We're going to help you with every step. Make sure your bookmark this page and launch your DJ career the right way with some real life DJ gigs!

As always in our blogs, we like to summarise the blog and also provide a more detailed section helping you find the answers you want in the fastest way possible. Here are the top ten ways DJs get their first DJ gigs...

  1. DJ Schools
  2. Open Deck Nights
  3. DJ Competitions
  4. Music Conferences & Trade Shows
  5. DJ Societies & Groups
  6. Contacting Promoters
  7. DJ Agency
  8. Running Your Own Event
  9. Advertising
  10. Viral Fame & Celebrity Status

And now for the detail! If you want to find your first DJ gig make sure you read on to discover the best ways to launch your DJ career.

1. DJ Schools

By far the best way to launch your DJ career is to learn how to DJ professionally and also benefit from DJ gigs organised by your local DJ school. The leading DJ academies such as London Sound Academy organise DJ gigs for all of their DJ course graduates. London Sound Academy is the leading DJ school in Europe and famous for helping to launch to careers of of many of the biggest DJs.

LSA works with Ministry of Sound (arguably the most famous club brand in the world), underground House & Techno haven Egg, Elrow, XOYO and Amnesia in Ibiza! DJ students studying at LSA can DJ at a range of incredible venues in London and Ibiza.

In addition to the incredible opportunity to DJ at famous clubs with huge headliners, there are also other benefits. DJs will be on the official artwork and promotional materials, sharing their brand and DJ name with the world. These flyers are also proof of your DJ gig and status as a professional DJ. In many cases, having this first foot-in-the-door will inevitably create even more DJ opportunities and a snowball effect when it comes to getting more DJ gigs.

Do your research and see if you can find a local DJ academy like DJ Gym or LSA that offer their DJ students real life DJ gigs on graduation.

LSA Graduate DJing at Amnesia in Ibiza

2. Open Deck Nights

Many venues around the world run open deck nights. An open deck night is when new DJs can apply to DJ and practice their performance skills in front of a live audience. These gigs are often voluntary but offer an invaluable way to gain DJ experience, get DJ gigs and experience the thrill of a live DJ gig.

We recommend first attending the event to scope our what DJ equipment they have and what music work best. Once you know the venue you can plan your first DJ set and book a slot. This will ensure you deliver an optimal performance.

Click here for a list of open deck DJ events

Open Deck nights offer a brilliant way for new DJs to get their first DJ gig and reach new audiences. You may even consider a tour of all your countries open deck nights to get the best possible exposure and DJ experience.

Open Deck Event in the UK

3. DJ Competitions

DJ competitions are one of the best ways new DJs can practice their mixing and recording skills, content creation skills, promotional skills and of course DJing. Winning a DJ competition often means you get chance to DJ at a bar, club or music festival and in some cases can lead to entire tours. New DJs should enter as many DJ competition's as they can and try and score their first DJ gig. Even if you don't win the practice is great.

Click here to find out how to find and enter DJ competitions

The biggest DJ competition's include elrow's Up & Coming Talent Contest and the world famous DMC championships. We are partnered with elrow and offer our DJ course graduates the opportunity to become a global finalist.

LSA are official partners with elrow

4. Music Conferences & Trade Shows

Music conferences offer DJs a chance to network and meet with promoters who book DJs. You might find your first ever DJ gig by networking at such an event or even by applying to play at the conference itself. Many music conferences like ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event) and BMC (Brighton Music Conference) offer international-level networking, seminars, workshops and chances to DJ.

In addition to music conferences, there are audio visual trade shows that are mainly focused around tech products used in the DJ industry. BPM is a good example. Companies like Pioneer DJ will have their own stalls showcasing their latest products and most trade shows will also offer new DJs a stage via an open deck or application process.

Find your local electronic music conferences and trade shows, contact them and ask if there is a stage for new DJs to showcase their talent.

Brighton Music Festival is a must!

5. DJ Societies & Groups

There are many DJ enthusiasts around the world who have formed groups, forums and societies. These clubs offer regular Meet Up events and a chance to network with other DJs and DJ. You might get your first DJ gig from a DJ society like this. In some cases, universities or colleges will have a DJ club or society that you can join so ask your student rep if there is a community for DJs at your campus.

If you're not studying, you can still find social groups and meet ups of DJs in your area using Meet Up.

Other useful forums include DiscordReddit and Facebook Groups. See what DJ clubs and groups you can find in your local area and trawl them for DJ gigs and opportunities to get your first DJ gig.

6. Contacting Promoters

One of the best ways to get your first DJ gig is actually ask a promoter directly! A promoter is someone who organises music events at bars, clubs and festivals. They are people who book DJs to play. It might seem silly to point out but directly contacting promoters is the main way that DJs will begin to establish themselves in a scene and get their first ever DJ gig.

Firstly, be prepared for rejection, it's totally normal to be rejected 99% of the time. You need to play the numbers game and persevere. Start by making a list of all your local bars, clubs, retail spaces that have DJs, restaurants that have DJs and even music festivals. Find all the places where a DJ might be booked to play. Make a spreadsheet and write down the contact details.

Once you have the contact details call them up or email them and ask to be put in touch with the person who is responsible for booking the DJs. Once you get through to the right person you can ask if there is a chance you can play. Often the best way to get your first DJ gig is to volunteer to play the opening set for free. This can help you get a foot in the door.

Be prepared to give them a mixtape of your DJ skills or a video link and make sure you know what style of music they want.

The best advice is try and meet them in person. it's far easier to pitch to play in person rather than by cold calling or emailing. You'll have a much higher success rate if your ask a promoter to play in person. Go and support their event and show your enthusiasm.

7. DJ Agency

Joining a DJ agency might be the best solution to find and manage DJ gigs. DJ agencies like Epic will provide DJ gigs for DJs looking to play commercial gigs at weddings, parties, bars, clubs, restaurants and more. This type of DJ agency normally specialises in open-format DJs who can rock a dance floor and play any style of music requested by the client. Make sure your practice your open-format skills and create a mixtape before applying to join a DJ agency.

Click here to find out how to DJ open-format style

To be honest, it would be highly unlikely that a DJ agency would help you find your first ever DJ gig. The only exception here is if you contact a DJ agency and ask to assist a DJ on their roster. Often wedding and event DJs who have sound systems will need help moving their speakers and lights. You can get some valuable experience and a foot in the door by volunteering to help.

Click here to find out if you should join a DJ agency

Other DJ agencies will specialise in booking headline acts. If you're. anew DJ these agencies won't be interested in hearing from you. You'll need to work on building your brand and fan base before they will even consider talking to you. Often the best way to become a headline DJ is to learn how to produce and start releasing great music. If you music gets popular enough the agencies will call you, not the other way around!

Click here to find out how to become a headline DJ

Epic DJ Agency

8. Running Your Own Event

Not getting any leads, unable to find your first DJ gig or get booked? In this case it's often worth considering running your own event. This is often the best way to establish yourself as a DJ, get your first DJ gigs and starting building a DJ career.

Running your own event is also the best way to get out there and DJ and secure your first DJ gig. Start small and don't spend a fortune running your event. Many of the biggest club promoters and music festivals started as micro events.

Find a spare room in a venue or a small bar or club and start your own event. Invite your friends to help you promote the event and increase your reach. Perhaps there is a niche you can fill in your local market. In some cases a successful event will further your DJ career and provide a second income.

Click here to learn how to become a promoter and DJ at your own events

9. Advertising

Many DJs will pay to advertise their availability or service in their local area. This is especially the case for new DJs looking to find work as wedding DJs or party DJs. If you want to play these kinds of DJ gigs and you're looking for a way to get your first booking we suggest starting a website and then paying for advertising.

Advertising can be risky, you should learn how to effectively use Meta adverts on Facebook and Instagram. These are the best ways to reach a local audience.

10. Viral Fame & Celebrity Status

The best way to get DJ gigs is to let them come to you. This is only going to happen if you gain some form of celebrity or viral attention. There are many ways a DJ can do this, from starting a popular YouTube channel, to promotional gimmicks, TikTok, reality TV shows and PR stunts.

Another way that DJs can become viral and gain fame and notoriety is to release successful music. Once a DJ learns how to produce and starts to release their own music they are in the upper tier of DJs. DJs who are producers will get the best and biggest gigs. If you want to make money as a touring DJ it's essential you learn how to produce your own music and start releasing as soon as you can.

Click here to learn how to produce

Things To Consider Before You Hit The Decks

Make sure that you're ready to perform professionally before you book your first DJ gig. First impressions count and there is nothing worse than screwing up in front of a live audience. There are many things that can go wrong at a DJ gig and you need to be prepared for all eventualities. It's essential you get proper DJ training at an esteemed DJ school like LSA or DJ Gym and then put those skills into practice. We also highly recommend reading these two blogs on the main things that could possibly go wrong at your first DJ gig and how to avoid them.

Click here to learn how to switch between DJs flawlessly
Click here to learn how to avoid the most common DJ mistakes

Check out LSA and DJ Gym if you want to learn how to DJ and get real life DJ gigs at famous venues. Who knows, your first ever DJ gig might even be at the famous Ministry of Sound!



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