DJing from a hobby into a job
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  1. #1
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    Default DJing from a hobby into a job

    Hey DJ Tech Tools,

    It seems like I always come here whenever I need help, and you guys never disappoint. My question today is, when, if so, did you turn DJing from a hobby, into a job?

    I've been DJing for about 2 years with a 6 month break in between, and I've had a reasonable amount of success on soundcloud (link in my sig), which is kind of surprising considering I posted my link in maybe a total of 2-3 forums only for advertising, including this one. Really though, all I've done is only bedroom DJing. No gigs, no live shows, nothing. Currently I'm looking for a part time job, and instead of going to work in retail or something boring like that (I'm a student)...why not take my DJing to the next level? Perhaps gigs? Radio? Being a DJ at a mall? Tell me about your experiences I'm very curious, as it will probably give me some insight as to what i should do.

    Also, I haven't really been paying too much attention to this, but are clubs still operating on pretty well a "cdj only basis"? Last time I checked about a year ago, hardly any accepted midi, unless you have a name like Ean Golden. Worth it to pick up a pair of used CDJ 400s or something to practice on? I've been using traktor for so long I don't even bother with the old fashion beatmatching anymore, sync + beatgrids all the way. Saves me so much time while mixing. Though that might be an issue if CDJ is still the popular/necessary option...


    Edit: Also, what's it like working as a DJ? Is it worth the effort? Is it too time-consuming? I am a student...though I do have enough time for a part time job. Inputs please!

    Discuss!

  2. #2
    Tech Mentor RobotNinja's Avatar
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    Depends on the venue man. Always scope out the DJ booth, some are uber cramped and there simply isn't any room to place a controller from home. But CDJ's are pretty easy to use.

    My advise is if you absolutly have to use CDJ's at a venue, then just practice at home on your S4/S2/Whatever and DON'T USE SYNC. It's that simple, you'll get the hang of beatmatching pretty quick especially if you've used Turntables before, it's like riding a bycycle, you never forget.

    I actually like to manually beatmatch my tracks from time to time just to make sure that "I still got it" if you know what I mean. Granted I'm not as fast as I used to be, I can still beatmatch with ease.
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  3. #3
    Tech Wizard
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    I used to work as a promoter for nights around my city and when i was just starting out working for someone, i decided i really wanted to give DJing a bash. I practised with CD's then got Virtual Vinyl (vdj) for the laptop and dove in the deep end. The promoter gave me gigs in the back room of the club for rnb hiphop etc and I basically just learnt as i played. I found i got better very quickly as I really couldnt let there be any room for error.

    From there on i progressed to the main room and within 2 years from when i first picked up my first gig i've played capacity crowds to over 1200 people around scotland and supported both pete tong and kissy sell out.

    My advice would be to just jump in the deep end and take whatever gigs you can get in the nightclub/bar scene. As long as you think you can play the music policy, then go for it. Speak to everyone involved that you can, like promoters, bar managers, other DJs, and make sure you become friends with these people. Let them know you're looking for gigs and you're greatful for any opportunities that may arise, and for them to keep you in mind if they ever need someone for cover or a new slot etc. Also try speaking to some of the DJ's and once you get to know them, ask them if they would let you warm up the first hour of their sets just so you can get a feel of playing in the club environment etc. This will help.

    Sorry for the ranting post, but im sure everyone's paths to turning this into a proper job are different, it's just about getting to know people and getting involved in the industry, any way you can.

    I haven't mentioned pay as i'm sure its very different in different parts of the world.
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  4. #4
    Tech Mentor Frank112916's Avatar
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    Default DJing from a hobby into a job

    My advice is essentially the same as above. Just I for it and look for opportunities wherever you can find them.

    Here is how I trAnsferred from a bedroom Dj to a gigging Dj

    Feb 2011 - purchase my s4 with money I made over my internship.

    June 2011 - meet a new promoter randomly who went to my college in an online paintball forum in the music subforum, haha. Invited him out to watch me spin at a friends 21st. He liked it an asked me to play an event. It was a monthly 18+ event.

    Interim - purchase turntables and my dn x-1600 as well as traktor scratch. Sold my s4.

    October 20th 2011 - played my first event. It went pretty well. Opened up strong. Still room to improve.

    November 2011 - play my second gig for the same event.

    December 2011 - got recommended to do a bar night by aforementioned promoter. Start doing weekly event Thursday's.

    Today - the bar events did not go well at all. The promotion team that was contracted was horrible. So above promoter cancels the contract with the bar. My friend and I have decided to take over the nights and run them. We now have 15-20 brand new promoters on board, a fundraiser lined up on the 23rd, and are looking to put 3-500 people in the bar every Thursday.

    So after one year of djing - I have my own night at a bar in Boston. You can't win if you're not in the game. Just remember that. And trust me, the money isn't in djing, it's in promoting and event planning.

  5. #5

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    ride that sync button , but you need to have beatmatching ingrained into your soul first or youre looking for trouble, imo.
    Traktor/Ableton /Komplete /MBP OSX el capitan

    http://www.soundcloud.com/deejaesnafu

  6. #6
    Tech Wizard
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank112916 View Post
    My advice is essentially the same as above. Just I for it and look for opportunities wherever you can find them.

    Here is how I trAnsferred from a bedroom Dj to a gigging Dj

    Feb 2011 - purchase my s4 with money I made over my internship.

    June 2011 - meet a new promoter randomly who went to my college in an online paintball forum in the music subforum, haha. Invited him out to watch me spin at a friends 21st. He liked it an asked me to play an event. It was a monthly 18+ event.

    Interim - purchase turntables and my dn x-1600 as well as traktor scratch. Sold my s4.

    October 20th 2011 - played my first event. It went pretty well. Opened up strong. Still room to improve.

    November 2011 - play my second gig for the same event.

    December 2011 - got recommended to do a bar night by aforementioned promoter. Start doing weekly event Thursday's.

    Today - the bar events did not go well at all. The promotion team that was contracted was horrible. So above promoter cancels the contract with the bar. My friend and I have decided to take over the nights and run them. We now have 15-20 brand new promoters on board, a fundraiser lined up on the 23rd, and are looking to put 3-500 people in the bar every Thursday.

    So after one year of djing - I have my own night at a bar in Boston. You can't win if you're not in the game. Just remember that. And trust me, the money isn't in djing, it's in promoting and event planning.
    That's awesome, and somewhat similar to my timeline. If you're still a student, DO NOT TAKE IT FOR GRANTED. School is the best networking source in the game, and I wish I did it more when I was in school. Make sure everyone knows your a DJ. Play low-pressure parties to feel it out, and if you're comfortable, get business cards made, set-up your website and start hitting up some bars and clubs. Get a bunch of the friends that you networked with to come out and spend money, and before you know it the owners will be pumped to have you back!

  7. #7
    Tech Mentor DJ ATX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rt24 View Post
    Hey DJ Tech Tools,

    It seems like I always come here whenever I need help, and you guys never disappoint. My question today is, when, if so, did you turn DJing from a hobby, into a job?

    I've been DJing for about 2 years with a 6 month break in between, and I've had a reasonable amount of success on soundcloud (link in my sig), which is kind of surprising considering I posted my link in maybe a total of 2-3 forums only for advertising, including this one. Really though, all I've done is only bedroom DJing. No gigs, no live shows, nothing. Currently I'm looking for a part time job, and instead of going to work in retail or something boring like that (I'm a student)...why not take my DJing to the next level? Perhaps gigs? Radio? Being a DJ at a mall? Tell me about your experiences I'm very curious, as it will probably give me some insight as to what i should do.

    Also, I haven't really been paying too much attention to this, but are clubs still operating on pretty well a "cdj only basis"? Last time I checked about a year ago, hardly any accepted midi, unless you have a name like Ean Golden. Worth it to pick up a pair of used CDJ 400s or something to practice on? I've been using traktor for so long I don't even bother with the old fashion beatmatching anymore, sync + beatgrids all the way. Saves me so much time while mixing. Though that might be an issue if CDJ is still the popular/necessary option...


    Edit: Also, what's it like working as a DJ? Is it worth the effort? Is it too time-consuming? I am a student...though I do have enough time for a part time job. Inputs please!

    Discuss!
    If you are going to do mobile, have a good library of songs. To be successful as a mobile DJ you have to have a good selection from all genres, otherwise you limit yourself to the number of gigs you can take on.

    IF you are going to do clubs. You need to learn how to sell. Sell yourself and your skills to club owner and/or promoters. You also need to promote/sell your events since that seems to be the way the industry is heading now. DJ are the promoters nowadays to a certain extent. Sad but true.

    Do not stick to your set and be stubborn about it. Read the crowd and play accordingly. If you are not reading the crowd properly, you will have an empty dance floor and/or a line of people wanting to make request. Reading the crowd only comes with experience.

    Goes hand in hand with reading the crowd is to know your library and know it well. The more you play out, the more comfortable you will get bouncing around your entire library. Have a good depth of music so you can bounce around. Know the basics of mixing; counting bars, beatmatching, phrasing. So that you can bounce around smoothly. This is where bedroom practicing helps.

    With regards to the CDJ thing. Let me ask you this:
    You are in a packed club. Just right at peak hour. You are just using a MIDI controller and a laptop. People are ragin on the floor. Suddenly sound goes dead. Either your laptop freezes or crashes or your MIDI loses connection. Under the stress of people booing you. Sound guy running up to you and asking what happened. To the Club owner threatening not to pay you. To people starting to leave. WHAT DO YOU DO? How long will it take you to solve the problem???

    This happened to me NYE 2010. 30mins before countdown. Traktor Freezes. Now I was not using a controller, I was using my Denon DNS3700's thank goodness. You know what I did??? Switched the CDJ from MIDI mode to CD mode and popped in my back up CD. I had about 1.5min dead air time and people booing. The club owner did not even get a chance to take one step toward the DJ booth. After that party was back on.

    That is why CDJ's are the norm at clubs!!!

    Unless you are going to carry a back up controller and laptop, powered up. I would NEVER, EVER, RELY on a controller alone at a club. NEVER!! I bring controllers to clubs, but I make sure there is a CDJ there and I have back up CDs with me. I power up the CDJs and mixer even if I don't have the intention of using it.

    If you are doing 1-2hr sets, then maybe. But if you are looking at a residency where you are handling the entire night for 4-5hrs. I would not even bother with a controller.
    Last edited by DJ ATX; 02-14-2012 at 03:27 PM.
    1 Denon DNX1600, 2 Technics SL1200MKII, 1 Pioneer DDJ SX, 1 Reloop Terminal Mix2, 1 MBP running VDJ/Traktor/Serato SL/DJ
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  8. #8
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    I turned it into a job part time after Dj'ing for about a year in my bedroom. Got an S4, and about a month later, got my job..It's part time and just a 2 hour set of top 40, but it's great fun. It sure took away from the fun a bit, but nonetheless, it's amazing playing out. Possibly the best aspect is meeting new people.

    As for my gig, i work at a local ice rink and there's no equipment in the booth there, just an rca plug. I can go there happily with my S4.

    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanBlake View Post
    When I hit Sync I get a double espresso from Midi Out.

  9. #9
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    Jeez some of you got going fast. The networking aspect is something that does concern me....can't bank on my soundcloud hits for everything.

    I actually did pick up some cdj200s cheap off craiglist to practice on, 400$ can't really go wrong. I agree with one of the posts mentioned above, I see why cdjs are the standard. I guess it's good to learn both midi + cdj, though if I'd be playing out I think I wouldn't bring midi, just use their cdjs + mixer and bring my cds.

    Good stories good stories..

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