If you really HAVE to play for free to get gigs

I wrote an article in the Global DJ Network FB group I thought might be of interest to some of you here. Since I can’t seem to link to it, here’s the copy and paste.

If you HAVE to play for free to get gigs …

Lot’s of questions on the old forum and here are about how to get gigs. This is very important if you are just starting out. If you have been doing this for a while, it can still pay to do something to tap into new markets. If, like me, you have been slacking in “sales” for a while and your referrals have started to drop off, you might just be ready for a business boost.

What to do?

Clearly if you are interested in club DJ-ing, the answer has been given plenty of times, network, network and network. The how may vary, but the core of that message stands as it has since forever.

Being a mobile DJ brings it own challenges. For weddings I’ve found that apart from going to bridal shows and such, getting (well) known by local/regional/nationwide wedding planners can help a lot and also knowing the better venues and their planners should be high on your priority list.

Doing corporate gigs is about networking too, but you can do some direct marketing in this area. Easier to collect addresses for targeted companies. Aim at management secretaries and employee committees, the ones usually charged with making it happen. Be sure to offer something comprehnesive, not just say “hey, I can make your party happen”, but be concrete in your added value.

So, when do you ever play for free to get gigs?

The short answer is preferrably never. Playing for free in bars and such in the hope of scoring future paid gigs is proven to be a horrible idea (although your mileage may vary in some cases). Exceptions are doing charities (if your agenda includes doing it for exposure too, make sure you get to use all your marketing resources, your banner at events, your logo on their sponsor site, perhaps even a shout-out when they thank people contributing. Get a little “interview” in their newsletter, etx.)

The long anwer is, do it ONLY where you hold the reigns. Hosting your own parties is obviously one way to go, but has a big drawback, you will be getting mostly people you already know.

Let me share what I am doing in January to get some extra business coming my way. I have offered a regional golf-/country club to host a new years party for their members. They get to offer their members a nice party and improve club cohesion, sell some extra drinks and promote their own venue for member party use and I get to show of my skills to a group of NEW prospective clients who fit my profile well. My age group, well-off and usually ready for a party. And often highly placed corporate types! And members of business clubs like Rotary, Lions and such, who also have parties!

I get to decide what the night looks like, how I set up, what lights I bring in to make it a nice show, bring all my marketing power to bear and promote the heck out of myself. I will bring an extra DJ with me, so I have time to work the room occassionally, shaking hands and handing out business cards.

While it’s playing for free, it’s a lot cheaper and easier than getting to these people individually. Plus a picture (or party in this case) says more than a thousand words.

So, if you really must play for free to get gigs, find a venue where the clients you are aiming at come together, make it attractive to take your free offer (I went as far as bringing a full on quote so the venue knows what I usually charge), be very upfront about your commercial motives and execute a perfect party.

Will keep you posted on how this one goes!

As usual, believe in yourself and just keep on spinnin’