When you first become a DJ, you are likely thrilled and overwhelmed just to have a few local gigs. But as the skill is perfected and local popularity rises, you might yearn for something more. International DJing offers a broader audience and more experience, but knowing how to land an international DJ gig is critical.
There are a few different ways to become an international DJ. This article will give some excellent advice and guidance for landing an international DJ gig.
Create Original Music
The best way to get booked for an international DJ gig is to start creating original music. After all, plenty of people can learn how to mix other peoples’ tunes. To make the music stand out from the crowd and add value, you should make and produce original music.
It’s hard to get an international DJ gig without original tunes. Even if you haven’t thought about creating music before, doing just that may be the ticket to international DJ stardom.
But why is making original music so important? Creating and branding a unique sound gives a DJ the chance to gain global attention. Original music can be distributed around the world, which helps to increase the digital footprint. People from around the world will be able to recognize the DJ by their music and brand. (Source: Konnekt)
Tips for Creating Original Music
The thought of producing original music may seem daunting, but it’s not impossible. With passion, patience, and dedication, putting together original tracks that can lead to landing a dream gig abroad is entirely possible.
Here are a few tips to help create original music:
- Consider learning music theory. When you hear the term “music theory,” you probably think of a college-level class that will take a full year to complete. While some people may learn music theory this way, it’s not necessary. If you are dedicated, you can learn music theory by doing research and taking online courses in much less time. No matter how you attain it, knowledge of music theory is important for musical creation and success.
- Learn from your favorite tracks. Listen to your favorite music, making sure to analyze and pay attention to all the different aspects of the tracks. Try to understand how the artist is putting the music together.
- Try recreating favorite tunes. Recreating favorite tracks is an excellent way to start mixing. While you cannot publish these recreations as your own, it will give you experience mixing so that you can move on to creating original music.
- Stick to a preferred genre. Find a genre and stick with it. Don’t try to work with genres you are unfamiliar with or do not enjoy. This is a quick way to fail.
- Pay attention to the flow. All the best DJ tracks pull the audience in. They engage the audience. Sometimes, they can even tell a story. It all comes down to the flow of the track. When creating original music, make it intentionally. Pay attention to the flow for the best results.
- Don’t rush it. Quality music takes time. If the process is rushed, it will show in the final product. Take the time to do the work. Understand music theory, composition, and flow. Only with these skills will you be able to create unique, compelling mixes.
- Don’t be afraid to mix a live track. Mixing live is a great way to show what you can do during a gig. It’s a fantastic way to showcase your natural talent. These tracks can be used to encourage promoters and club managers to hire you for their venue, too.
- Pay attention to track selection and order. The music you produce should have personality. Pay attention to how the tracks come together and the story that is being told behind the sounds. Just as you create your tracks with intention, you should put your playlists together with intention.
- Add surprises in the mix. Your mix shouldn’t be like everyone else’s, and it should not be predictable. To make a standout mixtape, add some surprises into the mix. Go old school, toss in a random beat, or change tempo. Just make sure it works.
- Don’t forget about the distribution. Creating original music means nothing if it never reaches an audience. The artwork and name of the mix are critical. This is what will grab attention and promote distribution. The mix should be promoted on all platforms with exciting energy that makes people want to hear it. (Source: DJing Guide and DjTechTools)
Send Mixes to Promoters and Venues in the City of Choice
When trying to land an international gig, it’s best to send mixtapes directly to the promoters and venues in the cities and countries of your choice.
Here are a few great tips for sending your mixes internationally:
- Don’t share the mix with just anyone or any venue. Do ample research before sending out your original samples. Every venue and club will want different types of music. Make sure the mix being sent is in line with that music style for a better chance at landing a gig at the venue. Further, make sure you are sending your mix to a legitimate venue, club, or person.
- Send your mix using professional software. It is becoming increasingly popular to promote DJ mixes and tracks using software rather than CD mixtapes. Websites like Mixcloud, Playlist, and Opentape are excellent mixing software options. (Source: Wired)
Network with Other DJs, Promoters, and Club Managers
The best way to get international gigs is to network. And networking doesn’t always have to mean professional promoters or venues, either. Sometimes it can be something as simple as asking a friend about DJing opportunities, especially if they are a DJ, too. They may know someone internationally that can help set up a gig.
It doesn’t matter how you network, but you should always be networking—networking while DJing is an easy way to meet new people who might have connections in higher places. But networking shouldn’t solely take place while you are DJing. Even when you are a guest, you can network with everyone in the venue.
Always focus on being respectful and personable. Nobody will ever want to put in a good word for a DJ that lacks respect, etiquette, and common decency. Make a good name for yourself. Behaviour is everything. Being known for being a great person to work with will help you to succeed in the industry. (Source: the dj disclosure)
Consider an Agent to Help Land International Gigs
If a comedian, actress, or songwriter can hire an agent, then why can’t a DJ? While not all DJs go this route, it can be a fast and easy way to get booked for international DJ gigs because you can spend more time creating music while your agent seeks out the gigs.
Some tips for finding an agent are:
- Find international agencies that book international gigs. Some top picks include Deejay Booking, MN2S, and SameAgent.
- Most agency websites have online applications. This makes the application process quick and painless.
- When applying for an agent, it’s important to have a website, SoundCloud or MixCloud, and social media accounts. These platforms will be the first impression that most people get of you. They will also showcase your abilities. Make sure your best content is found on all platforms, especially SoundCloud or Mixcloud, where your songs and mixes can be heard.
- Don’t lie on the application. Agencies have seen it all. Lies will not sway them, and lying is a quick way to get rejected. This will also give you a bad reputation within the industry, and other agencies likely will not want to work with you.
- Pay attention to the type of agency you are applying to. Some are better designed for newbies, while others want clear professionals.
- Make sure to apply for agencies with similar DJ styles and sounds. Some agencies only book weddings, while others book night club gigs.
- Watch out for scams. There are a lot of scam artists on the internet, especially when it comes to entertainment agents. Be wary when applying. Ample research is key. Never give out personal information or money when applying. (Source: IconCollective)
Travel Abroad (and Network While You’re At It)
Hard work and dedication can go a long way. If you want to be known internationally, then you should start by branching out. Consider traveling abroad to nearby countries and networking. Once you gain a following, you can branch out further toward your goal destination.
Here are a few suggestions for networking while travelling abroad:
Add International DJ Experience to Social Media Profiles
DJing for free might seem like a bad idea since you aren’t making any money. But DJing for free can open up a lot of opportunities. The bar or venue you mix in for free can now become the highlight of your social media accounts.
Share pictures of you DJing at popular hot spots abroad. This will help you obtain a broader audience. It also shows that you have been successful in other countries, which encourages promoters and club managers to hire you.
Try to Draw in a Large Crowd
If you are turning out tunes in a bar or similar venue, you might get lucky and draw in a huge crowd. Within this crowd could be promoters or club managers that are impressed with your work, which can bring more attention to your DJ skills and even result in other bookings for you.
Always Be Prepared
When travelling, it is important to be prepared with your DJ equipment on-hand. Bring along your music with multiple back-ups including, usb sticks, or a small hard drive with music (or even better, original music that you have produced to show off). Don’t forget to bring a decent set of headphones, either. You never know when the opportunity to do a show will arise.
Be Ready to Chat with Owners and Managers
Don’t forget to brush up on your conversational skills. Even when you meet club owners and venue managers, it’s probably going to take a bit of persuasion to end up at their DJ booth. Also, be ready to chat with the locals. Networking is always key. Bring a mixtape and share it around the cities you travel in to gain a following.
Get a Following
Another great way to book an international gig is to have a huge fan base. And the best way to get more fans is to increase your social media following. This is essential because promoters want to know that you are going to bring in a big crowd at your show.
Promoters and club managers will pay attention to how many followers you have on social media platforms.
Some of the top social networking profiles every DJ should have include:
- A personal website
- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat
A Personal Website
Having a personal DJ website shows professionalism. On your website, you can place all of your content, including mixes, podcasts, upcoming events, and access to other social media profiles. Eventually, you can sell merchandise through your website if you’d like, such as clothing, music, record vinyls, posters etc.
Be sure to purchase a domain that reflects your DJ name or persona. Your website should directly refer to your DJing business in both name and content.
You can share your music and mixes on Mixcloud and Soundcloud. It’s important to have this type of social media platform because agents, club managers, and promoters can use it to see if they like your sound and want to book you. Listeners can also find your mixes and listen to them.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
These are some of the most common social media platforms that every DJ should have. These social platforms not only allow you to share your mixes and upcoming events, but they also give you a way to share your life, personality, and experiences with your fans. Being able to share part of who you are can help secure a loyal following.
LinkedIn might seem like it’s only for professional businessmen and women, but that isn’t true. LinkedIn is useful for any working professional, including DJs. Here, you can share your work and network with other professionals in the industry. You may even be able to score a gig on this social media platform because both individuals and businesses can make profiles.
As a music professional, you should have a YouTube account. It is an excellent way to show off your musical talents and abilities, especially live. You can record yourself during your gigs and upload them, showing your skills and the crowds you can bring in, and seeing the excited and engaged crowd will show promoters that you can work a room. (Source: Serato, WebFX)
Social Media Tips for DJs
Are you not sure how to promote yourself on social media effectively? There are tons of ways to increase your social media following.
Here are some excellent tips for increasing your social media following:
- Have enough content. Nobody wants to visit an empty social media account. As soon as you create your account, start uploading posts – and lots of them. Once you start gaining a following, post regularly, so your account remains active and intriguing to current and prospective followers.
- Upload quality, not quantity. Uploading quality photos and videos will give followers a better impression than uploading tons of subpar posts. You may even want to hire a professional photographer to take pictures, especially while DJing.
- Add logos to your pictures. Putting personal logos on every shot will help people to remember your name.
- Use Instagram stories. A DJ can upload some great stuff using Instagram stories. As a bonus, it makes the account look much more lively and intriguing. People can share these stories, too, potentially bringing you more followers.
- Be active and network. Add local DJs, promoters, and venues to your social media accounts, and engage with them.
- Engage your followers. Engage your followers by adding interesting captions to your posts. Another great option is to ask questions or create polls that your followers can interact with.
- Add ‘behind the scenes’ content. Followers love to feel like they are ‘in the know,’ and you can do this by adding some thrilling behind the scenes content.
- Do some shoutouts! A shoutout is when someone posts about someone else that they admire or want to promote. When you do a shoutout for someone else, they are likely to return the favor. This gets you seen by more people, which can lead to more followers.
- Don’t forget hashtags. Hashtags let people search for specific content. Do hashtag research to find the most effective ones for your posts, and use them! These handy search tools can bring you followers that you wouldn’t have reached otherwise.
- Don’t buy in to ‘follow for follow.’ Focus on building your social media organically. ‘Follow for follow’ is a shady way to get followers, and often, these followers do not engage with your content, making the entire ‘follow for follow’ scheme useless. Further, don’t buy followers as this will make your account appear fake and irrelevant. (Source: DJTimes and School Electronicmusic)
Getting an international DJ gig is not as difficult as it may sound. The best way to get a gig abroad is to have original tracks and fans in your country of choice. This isn’t done overnight, but mastering the creation of original content and building a social media following can do the trick. Always network, send out content, or even DJ for free a few times for a better chance at success.
How do I book more DJ gigs?
Networking with industry people within your target audience, creating content to help show you’re a great DJ and have a social media following to help get people to attend the gigs that you’re playing. Directly speaking with bar and club promoters can really help get new gigs.