There are two mains ways to go about getting gigs during festival season.
1. Pay your way out, work for free at the festival and get that crappy time slot you’ve always dreamed of…
2. Prepare your press-packs, up your social media game and show promoters why you’re the kind of artist they’d want to book.
I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that there is some sort of big secret to getting a DJ gig, But getting the right DJ gig, with a quality time slot and pay is something that takes true finesse and practice. No, you don’t have to sell your soul but you will need an open mind, to work hard, be consistent, have a positive attitude and know what you’re worth.
Set yourself apart
If you’re still struggling to define your brand, it may be time to go back to the drawing board. Take a look at yourself, your brand and what you want it to SAY about you and the experience you bring.
Give your brand a face lift
No I’m not talking plastic surgery. I’m talking websites, social media pages and even a new photo shoot. Artists that are consistent in the work they put into their brand tend to be the ones consider for the job. If you haven’t made a mix in 6 plus months, get on that!
Know your self-worth
Most artists will tell you about how they are “doing it for the music” and that they don’t really care if they get paid. For someone looking to con you, you’re an easy target. For a professional they are hearing, “I don’t value what I do.”
Create a fan base with their crowd
When an artist has fans in other cities, you bet they are chatting you up to local promoters and festival goers. Fans that are engaging and interested in what you are doing are the best types of fans. So take the time to get to know people, find out what they enjoy and bring some new music to their ears so they too can share with the masses.
Your press-pack is your dj resume. It will include your links, bio, press-release, press-photos, logos and music. There are a few ways you can go about presenting a press-kit which I elaborated on in this article.
Reach out to online magazines and blogs
This is where it gets tricky. You want online magazines that are legit but you also need to have an edge they are willing to feature or interview. Maybe you are a dj and producer with some new great tracks. Maybe you’ve landed some dj gigs in the surrounding areas and want to get the word out with an interview. This is where your press-kit and people skills will come into play.
Landing the gig – Choosing your approach
Some festivals have a specific routine they require in order for someone to be considering for bookings. It may be stated on their website or posted on a Facebook page. This is one approach you can use. However please CAREFULLY READ and note any stipulations. Often these are unpaid time slots with the promise of a couple free tickets and if you’re lucky your gas may be paid for. If you are okay with this, by all means you should do it. However if you’re looking to get those really great time slots this is where your negotiating skills will come in handy. Set some simple requirements to ensure your needs are met. (Read more here on how to not get screwed.) And if EVER you choose to do a gig for free in thoughts that it is “great exposure” actually network while you are there. Hand out business cards, talk to people, give out promotional cds and stickers.
Your challenge if you choose to accept it is to take things one step further. There are a lot of different ways people get into contact with festival organizers but you want to make sure that you are authentic, not spammy. Do your research, converse with these people, show your support. Don’t wait until festival season to share your work or strike up a conversation. And don’t always make it about music. Landing an awesome quality gig is far better than playing 16 crappy ones. Like the fantastic music you play, choose quality gigs over quantity of gigs.
Landing quality gigs is no small task but I know that YOU are dedicated, ready for the challenge and going to do what it takes. The reason you will get the gigs you deserve is because YOU are putting in the work and you’re doing it the right way. Or at least the way that gains you the recognition you deserve. Good luck my DJ friends!
Were these tips helpful? Do you have a success story? What are your tips and tricks for landing great DJ gigs? (Tell us in the comments.)
Electronic Music Festivals in Canada
Elysium (Ness Creak, SK)
Astral Harvest (Driftpile, AB)
Dimensional Rift ( St. Laurent, MB)
Awakening (Chetwynd, BC)
Motion Notion (Golden, BC)
Future Forrest (Keswick, NB)
Connect (Besant Campground, SK)
Basscoast (Merrit, BC)
Shambhala (Salmo River Ranch, BC)
Wanderlust Tremblant (ON)
Phantasm Festival (Young, SK)