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The Do’s & Don’ts Of The Wannabe DJ

The club scene is changing. Drastically. For example, one of the more persistent matters that Australia (specifically Sydney) is currently dealing with is the rapid decline in the quality of DJ that nestles within her clubs. We’ve all heard it before, “quality over quantity”. Unfortunately though, some time in the last decade this golden rule has been flipped on its head.

Being a DJ and social butterfly myself, over the years I have developed friendships within the scene and thoroughly enjoy talking to fellow DJs in an effort to learn their stories. The question I love to ask, when I enter a club and hear a DJ musically reproducing the elegant and soothing sounds of a train wreck, is;

“How did you get to where you are now?”

My favorite response being;

“Oh, I’m just friends with the manager.”

All of a sudden it becomes clear.

So instead of ranting about it, I thought I’d pen this in an attempt to reach out to those young aspiring DJ’s, and help them get a foot in the monstrous door that is the clubbing and bar scene.

Buy a Cheap Set of Decks, Then Touch Everything

With all the DJ tech coming out these days, it’s ridiculously easy to skip over some of the knowledge necessary to develop your skills as a well-honed DJ. Look around on Gumtree, eBay and the like, for a cheap set of DJ decks, throw some music into them and start mixing back and forth on your own.

Focus on ‘beat-matching’. This is a skill that some DJ’s that have been spinning for years are still struggling with. Don’t be one of them! Cover up the automated BPM counter on the CDJ’s and learn to match the tracks by ear. Remember, practice makes perfect.

Record Some Mixes to a CD And Take Them With You Everywhere

Think of a mix as a DJ’s business card. How is an event organiser or club owner going to know you are any good if they can’t hear it for themselves? Burn a few copies of a 30 minute mix and keep them in your car, strap them to your bike, glue them to your face, whatever. Just make sure you have them on you because you never know when opportunities will present themselves.

(P.S. Check out Audacity – it’s a free program available online that will allow you to record your mixes live.)

Network And Network – Never go Anywhere Empty Handed

Now that you have successfully closed the main stage at 53 Montgomery Road, you should be ready for the clubs.  Head into the city to your favourite spot and speak with one of the promoters, explain your interest in DJ-ing for them, using your mix as your bargaining chip.

Be confident, you may be new but at the end of the day you are there to sell yourself to them; a musical businessmen. Don’t forget networking is also important online. Create a Facebook fan page, SoundCloud account at least and use these portals to push your brand and get your name out there!

Finally, if you ever hear the response;

“Sweet I’ll get back to you!”

Take it with a grain of salt. The people that run clubbing various scenes are busy people, so NEVER stop contacting them (preferably face-to-face) until you get a definitive answer.

Support Your Club And Your Scene

There is nothing a club manager loves to see more from a DJ than loyalty and support. Once you’ve been given a set at a club, invite your friends along, get there early, have a drink with the promo team. Remember you are always working. You are more likely to be hired if you present yourself well and the management team like you as a person as well as a DJ. You can support your scene by posting up monthly/weekly mixes to get your music and style of mixing out there.

So, there you have it, a simple yet effective way of going from DJ-ing to your bedroom wall to the inside of an established club. It is important to note though, that this scene and many others like it are mostly governed by politics, where it is more ‘who you know’ than ‘what you know’.

Unfortunately this is just the way things are.

To club management; I urge you to judge each and every up-an-comer that enters your club by their skill, and not the fact that they are hooking up with your bar staff or that they are your aunt’s, cousin’s, nephew’s neighbour. I can almost guarantee that hiring the latter (assuming they aren’t skilled) will cause you to lose business, and that “nobody” you just turned down, could have been the next Flume, Hermitude, Nina Las Vegas or What So Not on the DJ scene.

Andre Nader is a Sydney DJ and you can check out his very own SoundCloud of mixes right here!

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