How To Get A DJ Residency At A Nightclub
Every beginner DJ dreams of finding the perfect nightclub to perform frequently. Today we will show you how to become a resident DJ at a nightclub and launch your DJ career.
It is not easy to get DJ bookings if you are new to the scene. Getting from a bedroom DJ into a nightclub residency can be very hard and tricky. It surely won’t happen fast, and even if you have some experience DJing at house parties or local events, a Club residency is a whole new thing.
In every corner of the world, every city, every town, and every music genre, there is a nightclub that’s perfect for you. If it’s a new opening then you should move fast and make contact. If this club is already established, then become a regular customer, make connections, and then introduce yourself as a potential resident DJ.
What is a DJ residency?
Most of you probably already know what a DJ residency is. In case you are not familiar, it means when a DJ performs somewhere regularly. Different venues have different interests on Resident DJs. Some clubs only have a ‘resident’ DJ once per month, while others offer a regular spot once a week.
Why become a resident DJ?
A club residency has much more to offer than just the obvious regular income. For sure, a paycheck every month or week could help you buy new DJ equipment and upgrade your DJ setup. However, you will see an improvement in your DJ skills, that you won’t have the ability to achieve in any other DJ event.
A bar or club residency will allow you to practice regularly in front of a common audience. These places are keen to attract the same clubbers, so you will be able to build a relationship with the crowd and learn how they react to different music styles and at different times of the night.
All the above will help to remove the pressure from your performance. You will have the freedom to play and experiment with all your new tracks and mixing skills.
Very rare you will find any famous DJ out there who doesn’t have some kind of residency in clubs, bars, or DJ venues. At some point, the promoters or club owners will come to you with their offer to become resident DJs. Until then, there are a few things to learn, improve, plan, and master.
How to become a Resident DJ at a Nightclub
- Build your reputation and establish a strong identity.
- Do your research – Find clubs looking for DJs
- Get a DJ gig.
- Be consistent, reliable, and deliver the best you can.
1. Build your reputation and establish a strong identity
If you are a beginner or bedroom DJ with zero to little experience, it’s hard to accomplish an agreement for a residency in a club. If, however, you believe that you have the confidence, talent, and abilities to command a residency, then you should trust yourself and go for it. But first, you’ll need to master your mixing and DJing skills.
When you have reached your desired level of skills, then start to build your reputation and establish a strong identity as a DJ.
A quick checklist for your digital presence:
- Artist pages on all major social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, etc.
- Active accounts at all major music platforms such as MixCloud, SoundCloud, etc., with your latest sets.
- A website
- A well-written biography
- Professionally designed logo
- Photoshoots – videos
- All the above on your CV and Press-Kit
- Promote yourself
These are the basics “must-have” before you try to enter the nightlife club industry as a professional DJ. Check out how to become a DJ for more detailed information.
There are a few more things that can help you build your reputation. DJ and music producers tend to have a bigger audience and more chances for a club residency. Radio show, where you can also promote the events, can also play a role in a booking.
You can consider adding a unique element to your set. Many DJs have had great success incorporating live music, vocals, or self-made track edits into their sets. Take a look at the most popular DJ setup and improvise with additional tools.
2. Do your research – Find clubs that are looking for DJs
Not a single Disc Jockey became famous from the comfort of their bedroom. You will have to stand up, go out, and get to know your local scene inside out.
Pick the club or event that you want to DJ at and become familiar with it. Make the first contact with the DJs or bar staff, letting them know how great work they are doing. Then approach the manager, promoter, or owner of the club, and introduce yourself first as a person and later on as an artist or a DJ. You have to become friends first, and then bring up what you are doing.
Sure you can always share an email to potential club owners and letting them know you are available. But is 100% better to get to know them in person and get an immediate response about their events and projects. Club owners and promoters rarely have time to listen to promos and check CVs. So, you will have to try more direct ways to get their attention and get a shot at playing your first show.
If club promoters and DJ agencies are not in your budget or level, meet DJs in your area and build a connection with them. Music producers, singers, and every artist with some experience may help you make your first booking.
Making connections are essential to become a resident DJ or even landing your first gig. But the key to a successful residency is, being able to keep it and build up from it. Do not stay stagnant as soon as you get bookings as a DJ
3. Get your first DJ gig
As soon as you have accomplished the above two steps, you are ready to make the final move to book a DJ gig or club residency. Keep in mind that there will be competitors in your area, so you will have to move at the right time and to the right place.
In every corner of the world, there are plenty of DJs looking for a gig, and most of them mix and play music very similar to yours. I bet your technical skills are at the same level, and if not, the crowd or club owners may not be able to identify. So, you will have to provide more than one reason for them to hire you instead of any other. You have to be unique.
It’s a great idea to find some creative ways to get your local club owner to give you a shot DJing at their venue. Here are some ways you can offer your help:
- Meet and promote other DJs
- Promote the party or event they are hosting.
- Offer your marketing skills and knowledge.
- Give ideas and share your opinion. Example: “You need a more powerful PA system, check the best powered speakers for DJs.“
- Get a friend who is already performing to recommend you as the opening act.
- Get a Warm-up DJ set
Many resident DJs start their careers by warming up the dance floor for the big names. You will have to start from somewhere, and this is the perfect spot for you. Some consider this a heavy defeat, but trust me, it is really important and can be the launch of your career. Many famous DJs including the legend John Digweed have mentioned that you will find a good DJ from his/her warm-up set. A full club in its prime-time, with clubbers already having a few drinks, it’s a much easier target to entertain. But for the guests who just arrived, you will have to perform a perfect set to keep them in and start dancing.
If you still cannot catch a break offer a free DJ gig to let people know what you are doing. World-class DJs make good money but most have probably started with a free gig. Or many
4. Be consistent, reliable, and deliver the best you can
So, after all that trouble, time, and money you spent, you have finally managed to book your first DJ gig. Now it’s time to improve. We will say once again, that you will have to keep working and delivering the best you can. So how to make a club owner not be able to afford to lose you.
Here are a few tips to make you an essential part to get more gigs as a DJ:
- Give the best you can to fill the dancefloor and make the crowd enjoy every second of your performance!
- There will be other DJs who will want what you have. Don’t let the competition take your residency, but also don’t close doors.
- Don’t go overboard and ask for free drinks for your friends! You need to look professional at all times.
- We are all humans, and it can happen to get cold or sick before any event. No matter how hard it is, suck it up and go anyway! If you cannot handle it at all, then find somebody to replace you.
When you will acquire a club residency and manage to keep it, then you have made a huge step to becoming a professional DJ. So keep your head down, and your target is there to reach.
For more information check out Mixmag’s suggestions for do’s and don’ts of DJ residencies.
I believe you understood that doing the job of a resident DJ is a lot like doing any other job. It requires skills, connections, preparation, patience, and hard work. No one will come and offer you a residency at a nightclub; you have to earn it.
You can join a DJ agency or find a good DJ manager, but these four simple steps will get you a DJ gig or residency in a nightclub. If you are at the bottom, you will start from there. Do not try to jump from beginner DJ to straight asking for a club residency.
When you finally manage to book your first residency, remember to always wear earplugs designed for DJs and musicians. Common exposure to loud environments can cause hearing problems, so be prepared.
Many times we go through lists and staff to do or don’t. And sometimes we forget the very basics. The most important part when you become a resident DJ at a nightclub is to have fun and enjoy every part of it. This is probably the biggest secret to become successful in everything you will do. If ever comes a day when you feel unsatisfied or incomplete with what you do or what you have achieved, change it, or make a bigger step.
If you have already managed a club residency, take a look at some tips to make your first festival gig a success.
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