Every new DJ wants to take the step from the bedroom or house party into the nightclub scene, and every market has that "one" nightclub that's perfect for it, so how do you get your shot at becoming a resident DJ?
Everyone started from somewhere; whether it was in the bedroom DJing for yourself, playing your friends birthday or house parties, or as an opener at a local event you got lucky enough to land a gig. Most promoters may ask you to bring 100 people to the event just to get an opening slot, but most people don't have 100 friends waiting around to go out on any given night. So how do you move up in the world as a DJ? Most producers just starting out are looking to gain experience DJing before their music catches traction. Landing a gig at your local spot can happen if you make the right moves.
Pick the nightclub, event or night that you want to DJ at and become familiar with it. This means you really need to know the specific night in and out. What is the vibe musically, what does the crowd respond to and who runs it? For this part you really are going just as a fan, to enjoy the night and get to know the promoters. When you're in this phase you are still PAYING for a ticket if it is a paid night, you pay for drinks and you genuinely go enjoy yourself.
Find out who the promoters are and make an effort to get acquainted. This part is crucial, you have to become a presence in a real way. Promoters can smell bullshit and if you're just trying to get something out of them, they will probably be very standoffish and you won't get anywhere. You have to truly be personable, hang out with them more each time the event is happening. Then, and only then, can you bring up that you are trying to be a DJ too and would love to spin at this event, but it's crucial that they trust you as a friend before you bring this stuff up.
Be able and ready to present an up-to-date mix that shows off your mixing skills specifically catered to the vibe of that specific night. Obviously, if you are trying to get a gig as a hip hop DJ and send the promoters a mix of you DJing house music, they probably won't even respond to you. Cater to their audience, you've been to the night enough times to know what goes well, but also throw in your own unique spin and add songs that they don't know, but you know will fit the vibe.
Once you've plugged yourself into the scene and have sent out your mix, they are going to book you as an opener to see how you do. At this point you really need to be ready, this is your shot! Know how to DJ on CDJs and a mixer, and if you don't already we posted an article about how you can easily learn here. Practice your set beforehand, but be prepared to be versatile. Opening sets are open format, well, most clubs are honestly open format. You need to be reading the crowd and keeping them moving. Your job as an opener is harder than a headliner, you need to get people on the dance floor when there's no one else dancing, and keep them there so more people join in. Song choice is key here, but you've already done your research. So it's all up to you, time to crush it and show them what you can do.
Now that you've put in the leg-work, you made the connections and played a great first opening set, it's time to start playing there regularly. At first they will probably book you as an opener for the first few weeks or months, but that's only the beginning. Over time you will gain their trust more and more and soon they will be booking you for later time slots, until you are either the direct support of headliners or you yourself are the featured artist that night. It takes some time to get there, but it is definitely worth it if you want to become a resident DJ at your local nightclub. So go off, brush up on those social skills, and practice on your DJing. You will be up on that stage sooner than you think.