Learn from the worldly wise and make sure that you read these tips before you become a DJ.
Sometimes on your pursuit to become a DJ there are various tips that people will tell you, some are really easy like "Watch over your laptop at a gig"....well, yeah...sure. However there are other tips that you will only find out when you are actually at a venue or while you are working your way up the ladder to become a DJ.
Now I don't like surprises, especially ones that could have been avoided. So here are 5 tips that most people will never tell you...because they want you to fail. Too many DJs is too much competition for them.
1. There will be a time when you are playing a 2-3 hour set that you may want to go to the bathroom. We may laugh, but what do you tell the crowd? "Sorry, off for a quick sprinkle, chat amongst yourselves for a bit"? No...but you need to be prepared. There are 2 ways to deal with this problem. 1. Find somebody who you trust preferably another DJ or a good friend that can mix, put on a long track, put the next track on at the ready, and you run. If you are not back in time, at least they can run and mix the second track. 2 Make up set CDs of two or three tracks to give you time. The only problem with that is you can not judge the crowd mood once the CD is playing and you are not there, which is not a good thing for a DJ.
2. If you don't show up you had better have a flippin' good reason- anything less than your arms and legs have been surgically removed will not cut it. The promoter will get it in the neck and so will you. If you get a bad reputation then that is worse than anything...as you won't get any gigs in that town. If you have to cancel with plenty of time in advance then it had better be the last option that you have exhausted as that then makes you ungrateful and unreliable. If you have signed a contract then you could be in to giving the promoter payment for a no show.
3. What you do before and after a gig can affect your performance. There are some DJs that revel in getting wasted (legal or illegally) before and after a set. Before a set will mean that your performance suffers, the crowd will hear crap mixing/ tracks and then the promoter will get it and so will you. When you are DJing it is a business at the end of the day and your business will hopefully bring you in some money. So if you blow it by being drunk then you have blown your income. Also, you don't have to wait at the very end of the whole event to leave or go to all the parties. Have a chat with the promoter, make yourself known and approachable and then go.
4. Get yourself legal. Do you think Tiesto or any of the other pro DJs are doing this on the side- cash in hand? No, they are all business people. So when you go around promoting yourself and having flyers everywhere, someone will know and that usually is the Government Revenue people. Now we all hate paying taxes etc, but if you don't they will just give you a bigger bill calculated on possible earnings received. There is a flip side to giving money away. Your taxes could be reduced if you put your gas milage, your car, transport fees, DJ equipment, even records (they are a business expense) against your earnings. You can even employ family members and that can give you tax advantages as well. Ultimately get yourself legal, register a business name, then chat to an accountant. There is plenty of software out there to help you will taxes and it is all fairly straighforward.
You may see DJs doing it without a business, but that is ok, what you must think of is this: Are they going to pay your tax bill if it comes through? At least you will be clean and that is all that matters.
5. Because there are so many people you want to become a DJ it seems to be a cut throat industry. I wouldn't worry about them though, worry about yourself and carve a section out for yourself. Be different and be unusual, just be different and better than the others- that is the easiest way to get ahead.
However, with so many DJs, there comes the con artists. People will be quite willing for you to give them money for nothing in return. At the start you might find that you don't get paid...I wouldn't pay for the privilege of giging in a small place- promoters can be like that. But also remember that promoters are working with you. They get more business if you are good- so you need to be working together.
You may find that contracts are nothing in small clubs and that it is an agreement. However ask about one and read it carefully. When you are playing in bigger places then you need a contract- just so that everyone knows where they stand. Also find out about playing times, how long a set will be, at what time you are going on, what music do they play...
However, if you start to play to packed places and seriously rock the place, then you are entitled to a cut. Agree a fee in advance and then get paid- in cash- on the night (a booking agent will take care of this for you, but they take their own cut). And find out when the promoter leaves as you don't want him to leave while you are playing.
If you want to become a DJ then the best place to start is with a Pro. International DJ Danny Rampling has created an ebook with everything you need to know about how to become a DJ. Check that out first here: Become a DJ like the Pros