Bringing Support to DJ Gigs
Bringing Support to DJ Gigs
Many new DJs will face a dilemma. As a new DJ you won’t have built up a reputation or name that will bring people to an event you’ve been booked for but many promoters need the DJs to help bring the crowd. Headline DJs are booked to play events because they will help sell tickets, their fans will want to come and see them play.
But what if you don’t have any fans yet? How do you pack out a dancefloor and get support for your DJ gig?
All beginner DJs taking their first steps into the world of actual gigs will face this 'Chicken & Egg' dilemma. Headliners have a fan base and can bring people and sell tickets but beginner DJs haven't built a fan base yet but still need the experience and exposure to allow them to build a fan base in the first place.
To get your first DJ gigs you often need to bring people and help the promoter fill the venue. It’s a tough hurdle to cross because promoters or venues might give you an opportunity to play but expect you to bring people to the gig. After-all, no one wants to play to an empty dancefloor so learning how to encourage support at your gigs is an essential skill for new DJs. Promoters will book DJs who help bring people to the party one way or the other.
Isn't it the promoters job to fill the event?
Yes and no. A promoters normally hires a venue and then sell tickets to cover the costs of the venue hire, DJs and other things. However, running events and selling out events is very difficult especially in the current economic climate. Promoters more often than not lose money. As such, they need as much help as possible to make the event a success which in turn benefits everyone involved including bar staff, security, DJs, designers and even the coat check staff!
There is a lot of responsibility on the promoters shoulders and so they really do deserve respect and help.
Help normally comes in the form of a headline act, a big name that will attract a crowd and sell tickets. The problem is these names are sometimes so expensive it doesn't make business sense to book them. A promoter will often have to compromise and get a name which brings a few people down but often won't fill the venue all on their own. That's where additional promotion comes in. The promoter will advertise the night using their network but it's far easier to advertise the night if you have a larger audience. This is often why multiple DJs are booked for events, the more DJs the bigger the reach.
DJs are all expected to promote the night alongside the headliner and the promoter and bring people to the party.
What if you can't bring people?
If you're unable to bring people to the party then it's harder to get booked or you might be allocated a less favourable set time.
If you're booked at the end of the night realise that if the club is empty the venue will often close the room or entire club early to save on costs. On less busy nights in multi-room venues they will often prefer to close smaller rooms earlier and move what crowd there is into the main rooms, thus making it look and feel busier. This is often out of the promoter or bookers hands and is a reality that all DJs will face.
Know that is normal, and be prepared for this to happen to you.
Moaning about this will only show the promoter that you don't really know how running and managing events works and will sour your reputation with the them. It's best not to bite the hand that feeds!
If your room or club closes early and you don't play deal with it in a professional manner and use it to your advantage. How about instead of throwing your toys out of the pram, making a fuss and destroying your relationship with the club or booker you instead use it as leverage to get a better gig down the line. It's far more intelligent to do so! For example, if your room closed early and you didn't get to play why don't you just ask the promoter that to make up for it next time you play it's at peak time? In most cases the promoter will give you that and you'll actually be winning overall!
This will show that you are courteous, professional and mean business!
What if the promoter knows you can't bring people and won't book you because of it?
If the promoter knows that you are unable to bring people to the event and won't book you because of it try and think outside of the box. Is there any other way that you can help? Being a promoter is a stressful job and often requires lots of skills. Promoters will need photographers, sound engineers, graphic designers, videographers, prop designers, admin assistants, help with PR, help with accounting etc. Can you help them in another way in return for a gig?
What if you can offer help in some other way that would help them in return for a gig?
When you’re a new DJ you have to do the jobs of many people. DJ, promoter, graphic designer, manager, agent, PR, you name it - you have to be it all! Of course, when you become a big headline act you can delegate these tasks to professionals who take a cut or charge a fee but new DJs simply don’t have that kind of budget or the name to attract those people. If you're new to the game you need to recognise this and find solutions to your problems. Nothing good came of an easy route, make sure you dedicate the time and effort to learn these new skills because many new DJs won't and will fail because of it.
Tips on bringing people to your gig
Let’s assume you already know how to DJ so we can focus on the ‘promoter’ part of the conundrum where you need to bring people to events you've been booked for.
Without having popular music released under your name and without having an established name that would attract ticket buyers you’ll need to find other ways to help fill the dancefloor. Here are some ideas that will help you bring people to your gigs.
If you've not yet learnt how to DJ or you are a DJ who would like the opportunity to DJ click here to learn about our courses and DJ gigs.
1. Bring your friends.
It seems obvious but it can be harder than you think. In most cases when you’re a new DJ your friends might support your first couple of gigs but they will quickly tire of supporting you. After all, would you go and support your friends in their place of work? I thought not! So how do you keep their interest?
If your friends support is waning after a few gigs there are some things you an do to pique their interest. Generally, friends will come and support when it benefits them in some way. It sounds cynical but appealing to peoples charity will only get you a limited amount of support for a short time frame. It’s better to attract friends using methods that appeal to their own self interest. The best of which is FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out.
No one wants to miss out on a good party. What can you do to make your gig more of an event? Some good ideas is to organise pre-drinks, pre-dinner or perhaps event a trip to the cinema before your gig. This will make your gig more of a social event and make it less about your gig and more about your group of friends. This method is a brilliant strategy to help you bring more people to the party.
Another similar way of doing this is to tie your gig to another event, perhaps a friends birthday or any other celebration. Having DJ gigs on special dates can also help you bring a crowd, for example Halloween. If your gig is interesting for another aspect this will also help, for example a boat party gig or perhaps you’re playing at an amazing roof top bar.
We don’t all have big friend networks, especially as we get older, so how do you overcome this if your friends circle is small and far between? The obvious solution is to get more friends and no one can deny that having more friends and being more social is good for you. Many studies link being social to a long life.
If you want to build a new friend circle then why not start with a common interest, DJing for example or nightclubbing. Meetup is a website where you can create social events and invite people similar interests to meet up and socialise. It’s especially useful if you’re new to a city and want to make friends.
On Meetup and on other social networks like Facebook you can start a group and post events. Groups are a great way to have likeminded people in one group. I highly recommend that you start a small group and keep them busy with social events like the ones mentioned above.
2. Support other artists
You scratch my back, I scratch yours! This old saying is as true as it’s ever been. If you want to get support one of the best ways is to show support. Turn up to your DJ friends gigs and you can expect they will do the same for you. While you’re at the gig you should socialise and make connections with other supporters or people in the industry. Make sure you swap contact info like your Instagram. Why not invite them to your group and to your social events?
3. Build a mailing list, text list or simply keep in touch.
Once you’ve made connections and friends you have to nurture them. Reach out to friends you’ve not spoken to in a while, arrange a coffee, drop them a message, start a group chat. Be the person in your friends network who initiates contact rather than the one who sits on the fence. Your friends will thank you for it hopefully your stronger connections will lead to more support for your special gigs.
Perhaps you’ve made some contacts that are more of an acquaintance but not a strong friendship, you can still stay in touch. Create a text-out or mail-out to keep your new fans engaged and informed. Remember you can appeal to their sense of FOMO.
4. Go the extra mile
There are lots of events happening every night to attract your friends sense of FOMO. How can you make your evening stand out from the rest? Certainly employ the strategies as mentioned above, but you might be able to lift the experience to a new level. If you’ve booked for an event why not ask the promoter or venue to reserve a table for you? Having a table ensures a level of comfort that will help bring people to your gig, especially older people who might not want to be barged around a heaving dancefloor all night. Maybe you can get VIP or queue-jump entrance? Making your guests feel special will go a long way to encouraging them off the couch.
5. Drinks on me!
Are all of these options failing you? Let’s face it sometimes people don’t want to come out because they are broke. One of the best ways to navigate this is pre-drinks or a house party where you can get tipsy on the cheap before going to a club, another is just drinks on me!