• Seville Lilly

    i like most of this advice but the New Releases sections of Beatport are a vast wasteland of “those generic-sounding tracks you quickly flip through while surfing Beatport” as described elsewhere in the article. better to dip into the dozens of DJ charts posted at Beatport every day, personally and lovingly curated (for the most part) by DJs famous and anonymous alike. they’re my favorite way to discover new music online. you could also add every artist and/or label you take a fancy to into your My Beatport, which is a bit more discretionary than the New Releases cesspool. not to mention visiting Juno, Traxsource, Bleep and other sites carrying some great music that BP doesn’t distribute.

  • Nick

    Great discussion and comments. I play trance and progressive and have been for 10 years. Its harder when you play non-commercial music. Its not like I can start playing cheese if im in a bar and a group of chicks walk in. I don’t think theres anything wrong in enjoying your career and DJing as a hobby, right? I mean – this article is geared toward somebody wanting to make it full-time. Id say in this day and age, u need to be musically trained, or releasing music from your late teens like Arty or Mat Zo did.

    The thing I find – you cant expect to come home after a 9 hour day and what? Start producing quality music?!?! Lets not forget – probably 50% (or more) of DJs use Ghost Writers / Sound engineers – that do it for a living. Theres a strong chance that the track you just heard was written by somebody else.

  • Grant Bass

    I have been working to fix all 10 of these ‘errors”

    It’s working.

  • DJ BONZ

    Best advice I have read or receive from anyone so far.

  • STOGS

    Everyone check out my sound cloud! http://www.soundcloud.com/djstogs Let me know what you think!

  • Spook

    “Hendrix obviously made a name for himself by being one of the first to
    push the newly invented electric guitar to the max with his rapid-fire
    licks and groundbreaking use of distortion and overdrive.”

    Hate to nit-pick, but electric guitars were nothing new by the time Hendrix picked one up. Companies like Gibson, National Steel and Rickenbacker were mass producing guitars in the 1930s. Distortion/overdrive was used earlier, but starts showing up as a preference in blues and rock by the1950s. Also, he made a name for himself as a hired-gun guitarist working for the likes of Little Richard, likely how he hit his 10,000 hours. Hendrix was awesome and indeed, was an innovator, but he most definitely took-off from the shoulders of giants.

  • Jeff Krigstein

    Thanks for the fantastic article!

    Looks like its bedroom djing for me. I see no point in leaving a full time job to struggle in a saturated market where skill and enthusiasm count for naught.

    My full-time career is in 3D animation and I only decided this this year that DJing is something ive put off learning for too long (noob!) but I’m having so much fun with it I can only imagine how soul-sucking & unfulfilling it is when your musical career inevitably becomes all about everything BUT the music… the number of people you can pull in to some club that you’ve begged for a chance to play a half hour set at (for free) matters more than the countless hours you spent developing your [track/mash up/megamix]. It’s like judging a painter by how many people they can pull into the gallery rather than the quality of the art on the canvas.

    This article makes it sound like the music you play is the only part that no one gives two shits about, and that is a very bitter pill to swallow, no matter how true it is.

    If it’s so very unlikely to have both, I’d always rather enjoy it then get paid for it.

    Who knows, maybe I can make it creating visuals for DJs instead.

    Best of luck to all the DJs out there who instead thought “challenge accepted!”.

  • Suleman

    Amazing article and some very useful tips. As an up coming dj in south africa I can definitely see this helping me and my group.

  • Parantix

    Disssaright

  • http://people.ign.com/johnbuckleyliverpool http;//www.DJjohnbuckley.com

    Leave a message…

    Fachkraft • 3 months ago

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    Flag as inappropriate

    For me (i live in Switzerland) it was not too hard getting some bookings. You have to be a freak and love the music 100%!!!!! I always dreamt of making my own music and nowdays im addicted its like a drug. I cant stop and Im never satisfied with the quality of my tracks. If you’re no technical and musical freak, forget it!! I started one year ago, nowdays im getting well payed and I choose the events where I want to play. Im resident in two clubs and i had absolutely no connection to owners and promoters of them.

    My tipps they 100% work

    1. Produce music or make your sets extremely rare, special
    2. Go to partys alone, no drugs no alcohol, you have to learn from other masterclass producers and dj’s (you’ll need some professional ear-protection, its your most important gear!!!!!!!)
    3. Connect with a local label, and its all done!

    AND AGAIN GET SOME PROFESSIONAL EAR PROTECTION
    I payed 300 Swiss francs for mine, before I bought these, I was thinking to stop playing at clubs. You have to know that is fucking loud, I love loud music but trust me, if you play a 7h afterhour set at 105 db you ears will sing!

  • Ephortless

    very very very well written and put together much props on dropping this article as it took me back to the beginnings of this blog super dope never stop!!!!!!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/djizzyrock Izzy Rock

    awesome read!

  • Guy

    I haven’t read all the comments… but something that I haven’t seen much mentioned is stage presence. Most of the compliments I get about my sets are not actually related to the music, but rather to how I connected with the crowd or how much fun I seemed to be having up there on the stage. When I work up a sweat and really jam to my own music, I get people coming up to me saying “Awesome set, who are you!?!?”. My advice to people starting out is to enjoy yourself up there! Whether you’re playing to 5000 people or just 5, own it and love it!! Blast it and give it everything you have… If you just stand still and look at your decks with your headphones on the whole time, you’re not going to get much response from the crowd, no matter how good your tunes and mixing. Everyone is looking at you so give them something to look at!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/DJLoudSoundSystem Matt Fagan

    Gear is not “irrelevant.” Ableton allows for almost infinite possibilities of creative things you can teach yourself how to do with MIDI controllers. An irrelevant piece of equipment is something that just lights up and looks cool; MIDI controllers can be creatively-mapped to create customized instruments and workstations for live performing. May your reason to purchase a MIDI controller be that it is a technology taught in production classes at colleges and that MIDI mapping allows to create your own original style of DJing that can not be replicated with CDs or vinyl. It is not an irrelevant skill to be able to add Ginormous Hall Reverb to any track at any point throughout your set, or to be able to create your own drum kits or operate say, the filter cutoff for your synthesizer software. In fact it seems more relavant than ever to be able to create music on the fly or bring in customized effects amidst mixing other artists’ work. MIDI controllers may also be used to operate lighting and visuals, and can be used to toggle between vocal effects on your microphone. MIDI controllers can be programmed to produce the most epic buildups that you can automate in Ableton. Good article, however please do not underestimate the capabilities/future of MIDI controllers, as creativity is what artists and DJs use to distinguish themselves from “the rest.”

  • Shino Urena

    Thank you for Sharing….. Great stuff!

  • Frankie Claessens

    I started playing 1999 here in Belgium, mainly techno. Till 2007 it was pretty good, I got a lot of gigs, threw parties of my own and played at some major techno festivals and events. But the last few years it has gotten to the point that I don’t play out anymore. There are a couple of reasons for that. The main reason is that techno isn’t the same anymore, back then there was a hip and cool techno party of festival about every week, usually even more. It was a lot easier back then, the music was hot and people loved it. I just made some demo mixes and sent those out, 9 times out of ten I got a positive reacton to it and got bookings because of that. These days, techno has died a little, I don’t see any major releases that surprise me anymore, you can als pretty much count big parties and festivals that are left on one hand and sending out demo mixes is not as interesting anymore. Where a good DJ’s demo mix immediately got noticed in the good old days, a good demo mix these days is usually lost between the many ableton mixes out there.

    These phenomena caused a shift in my musical spectrum ofcourse, I don’t really play techno anymore, alhtough I still love it. It’s more electro-minded music these days, not as hard and fast, a bit more melodic. But with that shift came a major blow to my DJ-persona and I haven’t gotten to the same level. Another big reason is that I don’t care as much anymore, I just spin records for fun, at home, no pressure, etc. I can experiment with whatever I want. I’ve also gotten a little bit older, so I’m not expecting a big breakthrough anymore ;)

    The last reason: You have to produce music yourself. That’s the biggest reason why a lot of people aren’t getting bookings, nobody cares for a simple DJ anymore, they only see you as an overrated jukebox. If you produce music, they see you as an artist, that has more value to them in the end. The rare cases of DJ/producers who can do both things equally good, those are the ones that earn the big bucks and get the best bookings. They have built their selves up from the ground as an artist through their releases and they can showcase their skills and tracks during their sets, it’s the perfect combination for people that organize hip parties.

    So yeah, tip number seven is the most important one. If you produce your own music, there’s a big chance that you’ll get big bookings, if that music is of a good level ofcourse :)

  • Anonymous promotor

    My tip of the century: Go underground. Start with playing at private after parties. Earn respect from the front runners of the party scene. Never ask more than once to play at somebody’s party. And, most importantly, hang around with the people you like, in a genuine matter.
    Cheers

  • http://www.facebook.com/JOHNROISELOVERPOOL John Buckley Lovierpool

    http://spencerthayer.tumblr.com

    “We should stop going around babbling about how we’re the greatest democracy on earth, when we’re not even a democracy. We are a sort of militarised republic. The founding fathers hated two things, one was monarchy and the other was democracy, they gave us a constitution that saw to it we will have neither. I don’t know how

  • fucked_off

    I love how music production is regarded as simply a stepping stone to the fame of DJing… Like its something really easy and thoughtless… It’s quite insulting to EDM as a whole if you think it’s something you simply pick up along the way while posing behind plastic knobs and sliders and hitting the sync button… seriously this makes me want to sell my decks…

  • J-Fearless

    I have a good tip that has worked for me for the past 10 years. Go work a night or two a week at venues you would like to get booked at (I bartend myself). Then you will already have established a relationship with some of the people doing the booking. I currently hold down a residency at the same place I bartend twice a week – and this has been the same for my last four bar jobs too. It’s great because on the strength of these gigs I also get offered other gigs elesewhere (and weddings etc. not so fun – but they pay well for sure). It’s a bonus that you will easier be able to gauge the tastes of the crowd as you’ve already spent time working there. Just my two cents – hope it helps.

  • Boom
  • http://www.facebook.com/guynamederic Eric Day

    I would say #7 is crucial to get anything beyond a local lounge type thing. All top “DJ’s” are ultimately highly skilled producers who have an outlet to showcase their music live, and get paid to do so. Just look a the DJ Mag list… Not to many DMC champs in the top 10, whole lotta producers.

    Regular DJ vs. DJ/Producer is like being an awesome Led Zeppelin cover band, versus actually being Led Zeppelin. Guess who gets the better gigs?

  • Cameronkbrown

    great article, probably the best informative piece to date. very honest and realistic

  • http://twitter.com/RobertWulfman Robert Wulfman

    I’m going to set this article as my homepage

  • http://twitter.com/halfaturk Ilayda

    I feel like a treasure hunter when I scour the internet for those hidden gems. I will say the words “available on vinyl only” KILL ME, but that just means I’m onto something.

  • DC77

    Great article! Being a producer is the key to the dj booth. Plus you need luck. If I produced Levels would I be playing at EDC and Ultra? Probably not! It would of been up on my soundcloud, but would hardly been noticed. I read an article about Avicii and he mentioned his tracks got noticed on a blog from a manager within the dance music industry. Now that’s lucky!

  • Maxy

    Act like you belong. Inner self confidence is the key to success. If you are worried that you wont get a gig you probably wont get it. If being famous is your motivation then I think your on the wrong page. It’s a one in a million chance for any DJ to make the big time. Be humble and do it for the experience and buzz and look at it as a challenge to focus on doing your best, other people will decide if your amazing or not. Remember that being a DJ is fun so don’t stress too much about it. Be relaxed and friendly when approaching promoters or venue managers and don’t ask them a lot of questions. With so many genres of music and venues specializing in different styles of music no one DJ fits all venues. Study the venue and the crowd that goes there and plan what music will work best, if you have the right music and you “fit” the venue you should feel confident. Smile while you DJ, people like happy relaxed DJ’s. Get paid for what you do, please don’t do free gigs, it only devalues your status and makes you appear like a try hard, the guy picking up glasses gets paid, so should you. The bottom line is that if you honestly believe that you can do a good job of DJing at a certain venue, with a particular type of crowd then approach the promoter during the daytime (not at the venue drunk and talking shit) and ask for a tryout.

  • Flipster

    I’m pushing for a career right now but I’m not doing any promotion stuff.

    If you want to be an artist you need to be a MUSICIAN. That’s what people forget! That’s why beatport is flooded with crap, that’s why DJs can’t get their crowd moving. NOT EVERYONE CAN BE A MUCISIAN!!!! You really need to have the inside drive to best other people’s music, to go further, to be creative. However, in DJ world copying eachother is common practice! Nicky Romero explains how he made “Toulouse” and BAM everyone is using the modern talking sample in EVERYTHING. You call yourself an artist when you do that??

    You should ONLY enter this business if you can add something. Take a step backwards, look at what you have done until know, if nothing really stands out it is not your thing and it’s best to quit.

    I’m sorry but thats the harsh reality. As for me: if I don’t have significant succes with producing in 1,5 year I quit. Promotion like organising parties and stuff like that: that’s the way for a hobby DJ but not for an ARTIST.

    I hate this industry, I’m only doing it because I believe my music can make a change. If it doesnt, no reason to stay.

    • RA

      This is True!

  • http://twitter.com/djromanj djromanj

    I really needed this post right now. Thanks Dj Tech Tools for the tips. I need to go out there and grind NON-STOP.

  • DJ Hike

    Big props to DJ Tech Tools for this article. I also wanted to give a big thank you to Chris aka DJ Possess for the real deal reply without any of the sugar coating or bs.

    What can I add to this? Let me just start by saying I’m no A list DJ. I’m not Armin or Guetta or any big high level resident DJ at some superclub. But, I had my few fair shares of club gigs and I am one of the hardest working DJs I personally know. True many DJs know about all the ups and down but I am sure some people will read this and will be crazy enough to take each word for word. The truth of matter is you’d be STUPID if you quit you full time job and put all your eggs in one basket. I mean if you are going to do this you might as well max out all your credit cards, take out all the money you have, take out all the loans you can get, and then go to a casino and bet on red or black on a roulette table. Your odds of winning at that scary 50/50 is 100% higher then you ever becoming the next Tiesto, Armin, or whomever you wish to become. If you have been DJing for 5+ years or more you already know this but for the new guy who just went and spent that $5 grand on the new CDJ2000 or that amazing keyboard that’s going got break him into the EDM scene please do yourself a favor and save your receipt. The reality is there are countless DJs out there who are waiting in line to make it and there are the same amount if not more amazingly talented producers who are just waiting for someone to listen to their top notch production.

    I’m not here to break anyone’s dream or be the guy that says you can’t do it. Yes it can be done but there is no blueprint for it and there is no does and don’t . Prove it? Take my DJ career for example. 15 years in the business and have pretty much tried everything. I have had gigs, I have went to gigs, I have made friends with promoters, I have Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Twitter, Facebook or whatever social media you can find out there with thousands of followers. I even have my own DJ group with over 160+ DJs whom with all I have tried throwing my own parties with. I wont even mention the fact that I buy 100-200 tracks a month and wake up every Saturday at 7 am to promote for my internet radio shows because then you will think I’m crazy. Oh ya I am also married and have a full time 8-5 job too on top of all that.

    It’s just some things worked for me and some didn’t. But, it doesn’t mean what worked for me will work for you or the next DJ. There are no does and don’t and sorry to say majority of this game of getting booked is just being in the right place a the right time and knowing people. You can bust your ass day and night do everything this article says but at the end of the night when you go to bed just know some Joe Shmo out there who started DJing just few months ago is playing at a big club near you as you are getting ready to go to bed dreaming about DJing. Does that mean he worked harder them me or you? Does it mean he put in the time that we didn’t ? Hell no it doesn’t. But, he probably made 1 more contact that you and I didn’t and he just sorry to say got lucky.

    As much as I don’t want to go back to this broken record of DJing is not what it’s use to be I have to mention it. Back in the vinyl days DJs were few and in between why? A) Because not everyone could mix on vinyl and B)Because spending thousands on equipment not to mention $12-20 on a single record was just way to expensive for many to make this a hobby or career. DJs had a reputation back in the day because it was actually a skill and a talent. We didn’t have sync buttons, bpm counters, or laptops. It was all ear and technique. DJing now is like riding a bike. Everyone pretty much has one or had one and it’s to easy to do. Sure you can still weed out the good from the bad but the rate is so high it makes it pretty darn impossible to get any recognition in this game.

    I’m also sorry to be the only one to post that most DJs are not nice guys. Yes, there are nice ones that are humble and friendly. But, for every humble DJ you find me I will find 10 that will do anything they can to outdo you and sneak past you. This is the reality! It’s a war zone out there. All this crap DJ in a box equipment being sold in stores, all this be a successful DJ over night magazines, and it only takes a laptop to be a DJ pretty much ruined the scene and the art of DJing.

    The only formula that I have for anyone what wants to be a DJ is just keep trying ! That’s it. There are no steps and there are no blueprints. Just keep trying and practicing and making contacts. Most importantly please for the love of God be ORIGINAL ! Everyone wants to play Elctro because it’s hot and everyone wants to play that Armin tune because it was the tune of the week. But, again do you know how many of you are really out there? You are in a fish bowl with billion other fish and there are a lot of sharks in the tank just waiting to see you fall so they can eat you alive.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Smith/593103714 Richard Smith

      You buy 100-200 tracks a month?! How can u possibly get to know them well enough to dj well with them?

      • Jay Dizzle

        You dont. Well I don’t. I use hot cues to mark intros, drops, outros etc.

        Impossible to know them all. My library consists of 41000 songs at the mo. With out metadata & cuepoints marking I would be screwed :)

  • Echo Safari

    I used to play weeklies and bigger club events in SF during the late nineties/early 00′s and my gigs got further between and weren’t the same crowds as tastes have shifted. After taking time off to re-evaluate, have a son, and switch from vinyl to digital, I’m finding it impossible to play out. I actually missed it so much i put all my gear in a shopping cart and wheeled it with 2 JBL 15′s to a local park that had a power outlet and just set up and played for whoever was hanging out. It was better than nothing and who knows what could happen if I made it a regular thing? Cops walked by and didn’t say a word! So give it a try if you have friends that can help and when you get a gig remember to try and hook someone else up too. Giving a friend a gig can feel better than getting one yourself.

  • DJ Motiv

    If you’re going to introduce yourself to other DJs make sure you stick to what you know, admit what you don’t know and just be honest. Every playing DJ knows what it’s like having someone come up and say “I’m a DJ myself”. And I don’t mind letting someone else watch me play to get a few tips etc or even offer me some. But just weeks ago I had someone come up to me and introduce himself as a DJ, point to my Tech 1200 and say “you got 800s”. Seriously? Just be honest with yourself, most DJs I know are genuinely nice, humble guys who have a love of music and turntablism. No need to fake anything. We all started somewhere and we all know what its like being new.

  • DJ Possess

    I’ve read this article twice now and I gotta take issue with a few points and some of the comments posted. Starting with one of the very last comments that sums up my own experience:

    “So what happens when I’ve done every single one of these things and still not getting gigs? Am I just waiting for something to happen?”

    Very good question and a valid point. The tone of this article appears to place a lot of blame for failure at the feet of DJ’s who are really trying to make things work. And yet somehow we’re still at fault for not doing A. enough or B. it right. I wish I could say I have the ultimate answers but I can’t. What I can offer is my own experience in what I’ve done thus far.

    1. You haven’t defined yourself as a DJ:

    Yes I have. My last name is Johnson and there is no way I’m going out in the world as DJ Johnson. My lovely gf came up with my DJ name and I think it’s great. I have a couple of Egyptian tattoos so I thought it fitting to create an Egyptian theme around the name with the Eye of Horus and worked on my website design, business cards and logo around that. I am heavily into Salsa music and have hundreds of salsa friends however I deliberately decided not to pursue the Latin scene in Chicago because I already knew all the Latin DJ’s, there’s too many already, the club and dance studio scene is small and mostly not very profitable. Generally speaking there’s one good place to salsa dance 7 nights a week. I was a salsa promoter for 5 years and although it was fun I rarely made money. I decided to go w/ House/Deep House/Top 40/Hip-Hop music. I quickly got 96 Likes on my DJ fan page but all of these people are salsa friends so in a sense they don’t count. I recently purchased targeted ads on Facebook and with a budget of $1 per day I have seen my fans increase to 158 people knowing that these most recent fans are genuinely interested in what I do without knowing me personally. The proof will come on Nov 17th and Nov 24th when I have my next gigs.

    2. It’s a little misleading to say that “Practice makes perfect” followed by “It’s not what you know but who you know.” I’m in a record pool and download 300-500 songs or more each week and I have a meticulous method for screening songs and bringing them into Traktor. I love 90s Hip Hop and I can tolerate Usher, B.O.B. and some Maroon 5. But honestly who can say they know every single song in their library inside/out unless they don’t add new songs. You have tools to DJ music, so there is no fault in using technology to help keep tracks organized. I use BeaTunes to ‘help’ create playlists but it’s still up to me to decide what songs to play. I’m approaching 2 years as a DJ and only now do I feel comfortable incorporating samples into a mix after getting good at blending. So, yes I practice, I record mixes and I post them online.

    4. You’re afraid of the word “No”.

    No, I’m not. But I don’t focus solely on contacting promoters. In fact, I worked with one promoter who hired me for 3 gigs but paid me for 2. This particular company got an account with a club, booked DJ’s but did no publicity for it at all. Once I found out the relationship ended, I called and got myself booked there and fully promote myself; color printed posters, flyers, online. I’m good with Photoshop so I design my own flyers or use templates online. Print a few at Kinko’s on 11×17 paper. A commercial printer will do ‘shared’ flyers so my design is on one side and their info is on the other. I got 1000 for $30. I make Facebook events for every gig but I do not “Invite” people because A. the method to do this on FB sucks and B. people are already getting too many solicitations. I repost the event in my own timeline. When new fan Likes my page I send a personal message thanking them with a link to the event. But this isn’t about any of that, it’s about “No.” It takes a lot of effort to continually go to clubs, bars, restaurants, hookah lounges, etc. looking to play out. Assume every place you want to play already has someone. Start small, very small. Work for a percentage of the bar, but never work for free. I have a laser printed CD of mixes with my business card and an 8×11 color printed bio sheet and that’s what I take to bars. After awhile of hearing the same thing “Do you have a following?” I decided to pursue the gigs a little less and work on getting my name out there. (See Facebook ads). I check Craigslist Gigs section every day; however a word of caution. 98% of the time you will not get a response from someone who’s posted an ad on CL. Don’t ask me why. Don’t ignore this outlet but also keep your expectations low, in the basement, under a rock, behind the lawn mower. Really.

    5. You’re not seeking feedback from strangers.

    The short answer to this is, I don’t care. To clarify, I have songs on SoundCloud, MixCloud, YouTube, Vimeo and FB. I use this as a resume and a resource for people to hear my mixes. But if you don’t live in Chicago and can’t come to see me play, I really don’t care. I’m not being a dick. 100 comments from people outside my area are not going to translate to a gig at Metro or Excalibur. Secondly, my belief is that these sites are kinda inbred territory. I have more mutual friends on Spotify than SoundCloud. People I ‘friend’ on SoundCloud are other DJ’s, not hot girls looking to dance and get tanked at my next show.

    6. You’re trying to get followers instead of fans.

    To me, this makes about as much sense as the eternal Mac vs. PC argument. I’ve already discussed my paid ads on Facebook but I will mention that because Zuckerberg is evil, the run of the mill, everyday posts are not being seen because of the algorithm that’s keeps people from seeing your posts unless they subscribe. You have to find ways to work around this, be seen yet not be annoying. When I DJ, I take pics at my gigs then post them on my DJ Fan page making sure to tag people. This simple technique brings tons of people to my page and always results in a few more “Likes”. As I said before, everyone that I already know (of my 500+ real FB friends) are aware that I’m a DJ. It’s no news to them. To reach beyond those people online I have found the paid ads to be effective – and believe me I doubted it from the start. I never ever click on a side bar ad in FB, nor do the ads show up on mobile devices. But I can’t argue with results of a modest 158 real people. When I get 39,000 (as you pictured)….yeah whatever dude. I’ll be happy to get 20-30 people at my next gig.

    7. You aren’t producing music.

    People need to stop throwing that word around like a Wal-Mart greeter handing out shopping carts. Where do I begin? First off, I’m a musician and played in bands for 20 years before turning to DJing. I know how to write songs, music and lyrics. I own Ableton, Reason, Traktor and since buying a used Mac that came with software I even have Logic and ProTools. Can I go home this weekend and write a song? Yes. Can I get it on the radio in heavy rotation, get a lawyer, an agent, a contract, a celebrity gig, an after party, and the cover of DJ Mag Top 100? WTF do you think? Look at it like this:

    You suck as a DJ because:

    You don’t produce. You play digital. You still use vinyl. You have a PC. You have a Mac. You live at home. You’re in a record pool. You’re not in a record pool. You don’t have any friends. You’re friends suck. You use Mixed In Key.

    And then what happens? You’re Bruno Mars working at home for years on the craft of producing. You get a lucky break and suddenly you’re songs are all over the radio and everyone wants you to write for them. And then, every DJ with an attitude will despise every note you write and post blog comments about how much you suck. Listen, you can’t just tell someone they aren’t successful because they don’t produce. Stop it. Because sure as anything you will hate the next Timbaland just as much as you hate the current one.

    You want to help people. Find a legitimate, successful DJ/Producer (with a Capital P) and ask them to tell us all:
    “This is how you do it.”

    Chris
    DJ Possess of Chicago
    http://www.djpossess.com

  • Cosmic Sea

    Excellent article and very important to veterans as well as DJs just starting out.

  • zach

    I love these articles,So inspiring for a beginner dj and really puts things in perspective,thanks DJTT!

  • girlblue

    Given the choice to hire the cocky, boastful dj who everyone knows OR the humble, unknown who’s music speaks for itself……..hands down, the latter. Be personable & positive, support your scene, don’t talk shit & never be too cool to show your appreciation for opportunities & other dj’s. Be on time & leave your ego at the door. Love what you do & the rest will follow…….

  • http://twitter.com/iumiDJ iUMi dj

    great article.. gotta share this, thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Foster/1410024062 Brian Foster

    …because I won’t play damn dubstep is one big reason around here. I was always known as a producer more than anything in the area where I live. I put our mostly mellow drum and bass. I got some decent charting on college radio, but never tried to push for any fame out of this.

    When I was only a producer, I was disrespected because I wasn’t a DJ. I was disrespected because I wasn’t making hard drum and bass.

    When I started DJ’ing, people didn’t want to hear what I wanted to play (deep house) They only wanted to hear drum and bass.

    When I started DJ’ing electro house, people didn’t like it around here yet.

    So sometimes, you just can’t win. I find the best thing to do is to try to make a name outside of your home city. A lot of times there is too much local resistance from closemindedness, jealousy, rudeness, or just too little pie to go around.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=43200665 Speezy Speez

      it’s pretty arrogant to blame the fact that people don’t like what you spin on close-mindedness and jealousy.

      if you want to play deep house that’s awesome, but if there isn’t an audience for it where you’re playing because they want to hear dubstep and you play deep-house then you just straight up should not be in that booth.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Foster/1410024062 Brian Foster

        I am saying nobody wants to hear anything except the flavor of the month. They act like nothing else is good. That IS being close minded instead of having an eclectic appreciation for all musics.

  • pepehouse

    This article is great because it’s based on experience and reality and not in false expectations as the average dj article that talks a lot about “being a true dj and very professional” but don’t says that you’ll have to lick lots of asses to play and then you’ll be playing top 40 or precisely the kind of “electronic music” you hate most, “take it or leave it” I like things being clear, good job Nick.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.v.jones Ian V Jones

    Great article!

  • derek

    Getting gigs shouldn’t be your goal. Love the music you play and love playing it! And some day people will notice you :)

    • tr4gik

      i think you need a little bit of both, what good is it to love music, and love playing it if you can’t share it with others (and i mean performing for others). I think getting out there to get some gigs is work that needs to be done too, both will increase your chances.

      • derek

        Nowadays most dj’s, at least where i live, people start asking for gigs without even having the least of experience. Compare it to someone who plays an instrument. You need a couple of years of practice before you can preform.
        I really don’t see why people should rush to getting gigs. Or maybe it’s just me.

        All i can say is that focusing on music and not on getting gigs, got me gigs eventually. Gigs i value more because of i got asked for them, and not because I had to ask for them. Got me a residency and my own monthly night at the club i love most in my hometown, Was asked to be part of a great organisation who sell out there partys within minutes and got a gig at ADE this year. I have never asked for a single gig in my life.

  • sammsousa

    good good stuff!!!!

  • DJ Ange

    Absolutely fantastic read and pretty much sums up what I tell people whenever I’m asked how to ‘make it’ as a DJ. I get lots of frustrated emails from people asking how I made it …

    I don’t actually agree with the term ‘enthusiast DJ’ as I disagree with defining success in EDM by the ability to earn the equivalent of full time money from it. I have that 9-5 job that got mentioned above …

    Without that safety net I would be crapping my pants right about now. The over-saturation of every second person calling themselves a DJ has definitely made things a lot harder to crack the scene. Like mentioned above, about 5% of the worldwide scene will crack the market as a full time DJ/Producer. Those odds are far too low to not have a backup plan …. and this is coming from someone who took 5yrs out from full time work having saved a massive amount of money to do just as what was mentioned …

    The ride definitely was worth it I’ll give you that as it led to me holding multiple residencies in Ibiza and the UK and in my home town of Sydney, Australia, traveled the world following music and DJing, producing and also ran my own events.

    Having done all this, I am back home in Sydney and LOVING it. Having been back in full time work for more than 2 years, this year I was voted into Australia’s Top 50 DJs at #41, I am producing signing to major labels, I am DJing alongside the biggest DJs on the planet such as Paul Oakenfold, Marcel Woods, Aly & Fila, John O’Callaghan, Gareth Emery (just to name a few – and if you haven’t yet figured it out I’m a Trance/Progressive DJ) and at major festivals in Australia such as Future Music Festival.

    Even to this day, I STILL go to every Trance/Progressive event I can make it to, I support the promoters, I spend time (where possible) with the promoters, I get on social media and help support the events, even the ones I’m not booked for. I make sure I’m seen at events and talk to everyone … not just the promoters …. talk to the clubbers … because at the end of the day they are the music lovers, they are the ones who are shuffling on the dancefloor. A promoter is one thing but what comes first the chicken or the egg? Without promoters we have no events but without the music fans there would be no demand for the events.

    BUT I really do have to say that money gives you choices, without it, you can’t get further so I hold firm to go against what was mentioned above on giving advice to give up the day job and attempt to go at it full time. The majority of the guys that have ‘made it’ actually took more than a decade to do so, including the ones that many people think were overnight successes ….. AND ….. many of the big names have got degrees and alternate careers behind them (e.g. Armin van Buuren (WORLD’S #1 DJ) has a degree in Law, so does Judge Jules) as a backstop so I definitely say make sure you have a plan B because telling people to give it a crack and you’ll be called crazy but do it and see where you can go ….. can bite you in the arse majorly.

    I have a side career in Learning and Development and when i’m in my 50′s and beyond I will be grateful that I can still earn a solid living as I don’t expect to ever earn an ongoing full time equivalent salary from the EDM scene. Those people I know in the scene that got into everything from when they were still in high school with absolutely no education behind them beyond secondary school and while now are well known DJs but are fast becoming ‘has beens’ will definitely struggle later in life. Sure you can say you only live once and you are only young once … but don’t forget about what life will be like when the parties are over …..

    I LOVE what I do and absolutely wished for more gigs, it is like a drug, there is nothing like playing to a massive room full of people and being the reason why every single person in that room is having the time of their lives but even with that 9-5 job I am actually doing better now and have a better standing in the scene than I did when I took the time out from full time work. I turned down 2 UK residencies and multiple Ibiza residencies to come back to my hometown of Sydney, Australia to focus on local life (it doesn’t hurt that I live in the most amazing city in the world … yes I’m bias but wouldn’t you be if you lived here :P), get stuck into producing and have found my niche in the social media world with my ‘Trance & Progressive’ brand (which began as a humble fan page on facebook back in 2009 and is now the single largest community on FB for this sound nearing 300k fans NOT followers – of which I live, eat, breathe building the community) …. now I try to give to my local scene as much as possible. Nothing really beats seeing your mates lose it in a crowd of 3000+ people … you know, the friends who knew you before you became a well known DJ … they’ve seen your struggles, seen your passion, seen your highs and lows … they get it! Get it right in your local scene first before you try to join Pinky & the Brain to take over the world.

    DJ ANGE xx

    http://www.facebook.com/DJ.Ange.Australia

  • eddie

    Amazing post, thanks!

  • Haha Jones

    I really don’t want to be “that guy”, I hate spammers, they ARE like those viagra damn popups, always posting comments on your sets without even clicking the play button. But pleaaaaaase, is there a total stranger willing to give me some feedback? I promise I’ll return the favor and not be biased,
    http://soundcloud.com/hahajones

  • Sébastien Belle

    (Same problem than photography, finally. :)

    Than you for this Bill. The most USEFULL With your Mapping AND S4 5 crucial setting in TP2. :)

    i am a dJ (weel, since now, because of shy, i say amateur but it change) , and ice hockey player in the same time. iIt’s crazy to read that. thank you for the Comparing. Because of my sport : unknown in Paris the city i Left, more or less in Berlin the city i Left, the city who i leave, Known as god in Montréal, the city where i Go in one month.

    I am am at the middle Way to finish my digital organisation (What a FUCKING JOB to organise 20 years of Digital selection day by day) , i spend more much time in itunes to find my way to create something unique for a set with all i love.

    And i have my first paid gig next week. After few gig here in berlin and Paris.

    Dj in my head since i love techno, dj for real since… the same time? The différence is know i have a controler. i don’t where i am going. But i follow your advice DJ TECHTOOLS, since i have discover your Website. Since i use a VCI, saled for a S4. i am 38 years old, and i am rookie on the paper. But also a ice hockey player since i am 6.

    I have a lot to give. ANd no revenge to take. 38 years of music earing and selection. And i don’t care. My rule is passion. i am now behind the Desk, i a play for the guy i Was I every dam Club.

    And you gave the force to believe that it gonna happens. My first paid gig the 23 of november. i am freaking out. I am fucking affadi. But why the people who like what i am doing now, even they are 10 on the dance floor, will not like that if they are 100? 600? You’re dam right. Thanks a lot. Life is short, and Music is BELLE. :)

    So can i promote myself here? Why not after all. I don’t want follower. i want listener, if they want of me of course. The right man on the right place. A credo.

    Again. Thank you. To all of you. i thought a moment to send This mail, to Y DD TECH TOOLS. But now you gave me the occasion to do that.

    https://www.facebook.com/sebastienbelle.dj
    http://soundcloud.com/sebastienbelle
    http://www.mixcloud.com/sebastienbelle

  • Aleksandar

    This is one of the best “how to get out of the bedroom” text i read so far. I found myself in 90% of the text, a lot of things i have been considering from here and now this confirm them. Also and most important i learned something from this article. 5 star rating from me!

  • DjSheikh

    i’ve tried posting my mixes on the ‘mixes and production’ section of the forum alot of times but i never get any feedback from anyone :/

  • Nick

    Hey guys- original poster here. Massive shout-out to Dan from DJTT for getting in touch with me within hours of posting this over on my blog last week.

    I’d have to say for the most part, #7 is becoming so crucial that it really should be #1. If you’re not producing, then you have to throw events to get on the bill. This isn’t anything new; when I first moved to Boston 8 years ago it was also like that, as it was in Upstate NY where I used to live before that. But it ISN’T impossible. I know a small handful of DJ’s who don’t produce or throw parties, but are RELENTLESS in their promotion and generally are very outgoing personality-wise. It took them many years to get those local bookings, but they were persistent.

    I’ve watched in my local scene as Soul Clap, Terravita, Wheez-IE, Kastle, Steve Porter, Udachi, Kon, John Barera, and Ewun/Kill the Noise went from “local” acts to A-listers. Every single one of them pretty much ate, sleept, and breathed this stuff. None of them ever worked day jobs, they just did what they had to do to make things happen for them. All these guys scraped by and lived on next to nothing and persevered for years.

    Also, one thing I didn’t mention: this post is mainly for people who play underground dance music. For top 40 DJ’s, wedding DJ’s, or people who run production companies, it’s more straight up marketing and knowing the gear that results in success.

    Thanks again guys for reading this…I know it’s a long one :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/mrfantomhawk Mike Linder

    Showing up and making your face recognizable is key. Ive sat outside countless managers doors, and hung out at events making myself known to the promoter and other dj’s, handing out demos geared specifically to their night. Sometimes it takes a while, but persistence is key. Dont pester them every time, but show up, shake their hand, and let them see you spending money at the bar. If you bring friends introduce them, let them know you bring new faces to their event.

    Does this sound like hard work? then its not meant for you.

  • http://www.djnightlife.com DJ NightLife

    Rock & roll chooses you, you don’t choose rock & roll.

  • p.p

    you don’t get a booking, cause nobody knows you and you know nobody! easy as that! lol

  • http://twitter.com/enorjy Berry Good

    This artice will hold true until djs start to being known for their djing and not heir produtcion. I have no doubt someone will break the norm soon

  • moe

    becoming a full time dj is hard and dangerous.

    lets say you jumped right into it and are good enough to earn money and make a decent living but you dont become a “famous superstar” after 10 – 15 years of ups and downs in this job you realize that its not gonna happen you wont be the new david guetta. you will be around 30-40 and no normal boss will employ you because you dont have experience in any other job.

    so what you are doin? become a promoter? ok but for a lot of people who tried its the best way to get ruined financially…

    doin a day job? well belive me if you dj´d 10-20 years you would go rather to hell than get up 6 am and working in a factory or any other job where you you get paid half of what you made as a dj for double time effort…and thats what you get if you went to become a full time dj and not became famous..

    sounds hard but i am that guy. someone could say you should have prepared yourself better for the life after deejaying but belive me the years fly away doin something you love with all the fun,money,alcohol and girls involved to it.

    18 forever! brian adams sung in one of his hits and thats pretty much what youre life looks like if you are a full time dj without become david guetta or ean golden….

    i would never recommend being a full time dj with all the experience i have now. its the same as if you say you want to become a pro sportsmann or something. it happens to some- but most likely not to you…

    sounds bitter but i am not i still make a living from being a dj and i still have fun but i know it wont last forever.

    • DJ Gerard

      You are not unique Moe. That’s my story and still doing it. IDK when it will end either but keep doing what’s in front of you man.

  • Anonymous

    In the great words of Sean Connery “losers always whine about doing their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen” haha this is such a great article

  • Craig

    Produce music and use that music as your business card. Living in LA where the Dj market is flooded and not just by bedroom Dj’s but by big names you have to have a product / brand that you can give a club.

    Yes you need to have the skills when the time comes for you to play but you should be playing your own material.

  • DJ SB

    Very well written. Nice article.

  • Fachkraft

    For me (i live in Switzerland) it was not too hard getting some bookings. You have to be a freak and love the music 100%!!!!! I always dreamt of making my own music and nowdays im addicted its like a drug. I cant stop and Im never satisfied with the quality of my tracks. If you’re no technical and musical freak, forget it!! I started one year ago, nowdays im getting well payed and I choose the events where I want to play. Im resident in two clubs and i had absolutely no connection to owners and promoters of them.

    My tipps they 100% work

    1. Produce music or make your sets extremely rare, special
    2. Go to partys alone, no drugs no alcohol, you have to learn from other masterclass producers and dj’s (you’ll need some professional ear-protection, its your most important gear!!!!!!!)
    3. Connect with a local label, and its all done!

    AND AGAIN GET SOME PROFESSIONAL EAR PROTECTION
    I payed 300 Swiss francs for mine, before I bought these, I was thinking to stop playing at clubs. You have to know that is fucking loud, I love loud music but trust me, if you play a 7h afterhour set at 105 db you ears will sing!
    Sorry for bad English, hope it helps anyway :-)

    • http://twitter.com/natchporres Natch

      hey, living in Switzerland too, where are you resident? Ciao

      • Fachkraft

        Hey, Raumstation Club St.Gallen and Asisozial Reaktor Club Winterthur, the Label is called Stahlplatten :-)

      • http://www.facebook.com/djgstefan Stefan Lindblom

        Me to. So where do you live. Im working in Geneva and Verbier.

    • DJ Shiva

      Thanks for reminding people about ear protection. If you wanna party or DJ longterm, you have to protect the one thing that you need in both endeavors: your ears.

      Those custom molded earplugs with filters are not only worth every penny, but you can wear them while you DJ, which is awesome when you have loud monitors blaring right into your ears. :)

  • http://spencerthayer.tumblr.com Spencer “Thunderball” Thayer

    Socializing with DJs is the key like this article says. It isnt what you know its who you know. Some scenes have the worst DJs yet they get the gigs because everyone likes them.

  • calkutta

    also,craigs list is always looking for ‘wedding gigs’,which actually pay and have mad experience to give.15 years ago to now is like horse and buggy to cars and space-shuttles.its way harder to stand out when there are so more many Dj’s than ever…but.
    bottom line,stand out,be different,do what nobody can do,ask yourself ‘do i wanna make a living being a Dj?’ or ‘do i wanna make a living be a Dj that plays only what he wants’,cuz one you gotta earn.the way most Dj’s play compared to how Ean or Z-Trip play is way way different.you come to see them,like people come see a magician,not knowing what they are gonna do,but whatever it is,you cant wait.Regular Dj status you play to the crowd,like a wedding,until time and experience have taught you how to slide in ‘your stylee stuff’ in between.but above all,if you are serious,never ever ever ever ever ever give up.now go become a Dj.
    j-

  • KIO

    When I got hooked on EDM in the early ’90′s a DJ was just that: A guy with a collection of disks, jockeying other people’s original productions that the crowd wanted to hear. By the turn of the century the focus of EDM parties had shifted from the crowd dancing to the tunes they liked to the crowd wanting to see the producer of the original productions either “perform” his/her OP’s or mix his/her OP’s with other tunes that the crows liked.

    Nowadays the only place where you can still find nameless DJ’s playing tunes is in your local venue, but for over a decade I haven’t seen a DJ on large events unless he/she is a producer. So IMO you can do whatever this article says, but unless you’re not cranking out killer original productions, you’re never going to be a DJ that anyone has heard off.

    • Michael Nelson

      this is true i started off as wanting to make edm music part time and djing full time i moved to vegas and notice real quickly that if your not a bg named act like dirty south avicci and such you wont be booked . and now a days local djs in las vegas go by the trade rule . i give you a guest spot dj gig here you do one for me and no one gets paid i did that twice and that places i djed at where packed so i bring him along . he brings me to his not more then 300 people where at his event and i wasnt paid . so i started to do production full time . see with producing if you get enough beatport tracks promoters willl notice . now a days promoters boook djs off of facebook soundcloud followers and twotter followers .
      which is sad becuase now its to a point where your forced to go into production in order to get booked as a dj

    • djzok.net

      thats soo true or there is other way in built knee pads ,,, becamo a dealer which i dont do any off it they can suck my 4 pipes

  • LewisLace

    So what happens when I’ve done every single one of these things and still not getting gigs? Am I just waiting for something to happen?

    • calkutta

      you could get some friends and promoters of skate-shops and other cool stores and make your OWN EVENT.then book local Dj’s and yourself and maybe even a guest from faraway and kick start the whole scene in your area.
      hope this helps….regardless man,anything worth ANYTHING takes time to master.
      Bruce Lee said that,and he was dope too.
      hang in there,if you build it,they will come….jus bomb the hell outta the event with fliers and stickers and web presence…dec 2012 is coming up,i know mad kats making events for that.

    • p.p

      go outside

  • Jonnyscratch

    it might be time to start saving and then giving up my job!

  • Adam Supey

    Amazing read !!

  • Kunal

    Love these articles from DJTT :). This is what drove me to come and check the blog out daily, then ofcourse the people on the forums and what not made me stay!