How should I move on from spinning records at house parties to spinning in bars and clubs?
January 28, 2004 12:01 PM   Subscribe

How should I move on from spinning records at house parties to spinning in bars and clubs? [Witness the further depth and detail of this enigma upon clicking the "comments" link.]

I'm a hip hop DJ in San Francisco, which has a ratio of DJs to non-DJs of approximately 1:1. Furthermore, San Francisco cops would really rather everyone stay at home at night, and do their best to present this opinion to club owners whenever the chance arises. So, anyway, I'm with a crew of 3, and we've been playing house parties for a while, but we're getting tired of drinks spilled on equipment, handling our own sound, and having drunk girls try to hang out behind the decks with us. (None of us are single, so this is a hassle not a benefit.) We're starting to get demos and a little web site together. Are we going to have to go through promoters (who I generally find kinda sheisty), or is there a good way to deal directly with owners? Are open decks nights a good way to start?
posted by badstone to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Go to bars and clubs that play the music that you spin and talk to the management. Give them a mixtape/cdr of a set of yours. Find weekly/monthly events at bars and clubs and talk to the organizers of those events. I'd say sure, go to open decks nights, you'll meet people there. The best way to do it though is probably to start a regular night of your own. Find a bar or club that doesn't have entertainment every night and offer to spin there on whatever night(s) are available. I've had many friends who've done this. Few got paid in anything but free drinks, but they had a blast doing it and got more gigs later down the line because of it too.
posted by soplerfo at 12:15 PM on January 28, 2004

Getting paid isn't an issue, at least not right away. We just want to have fun and get some asses shaking, and get out there so that down the road we might start getting real gigs. So, owners are receptive to getting mixtapes directly from DJs? A club owner friend of mine gave me the impression that they only talk to promoters, but he's not the average owner though.
posted by badstone at 12:25 PM on January 28, 2004

I think it really depends on the club - Certainly the larger clubs will be less interested in speaking to individuals, but bars, at least in Boston, seem to be pretty open to the independent DJ/musician.
posted by soplerfo at 12:46 PM on January 28, 2004

Depends how big a club you're aiming for. Friends of mine started off in a small place where you could talk to the manager direct and he can say yes/no. Offer to get some flyers out yourselves/make sure your friends all get out to support you and it makes you more desirable to the club.
posted by biffa at 12:50 PM on January 28, 2004

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Nicely done!
posted by Shane at 5:18 PM on January 28, 2004

(Disclaimer: I'm a promoter and DJ)

Owners don't care about your mixtapes, they hire promoters to care about them. :) It's the promoter that will book you, so it's the promoter that you need to get cozy with. Unless, of course, you want to promote your own club night.

Speaking as a promoter: Make sure your mixtape is the sickest thing you've ever heard. If it isn't, make a new one. I've got about 50 mixtapes/cds sitting on my desk that I'm never going to listen to again. If it doesn't grab my attention and kick my ass, it's a bad tape. Remember, a mixtape is a representation of you. If I get a bad mixtape from someone, I'm probably not going to rush to listen to the next one they give me.

Speaking as a DJ: Find out if there's an online community forum in your area for DJs/Promoters/etc. Getting to know the people who throw club nights or parties will get you more of a chance to get behind the decks than anything else out there. Go to events. Lots of them. Chat with people. Be friendly, be present, and support the events taking place. After you're known, then you can whip out your killer mixtape.
posted by Jairus at 5:36 PM on January 28, 2004

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