The following guest post comes from Jack Wins. He served his DJ apprenticeship at some of London’s key venues, leading him to become a resident at the bigger clubs and building a huge following along the way.
Let me first say that there is no quick and easy way to become a resident at a club night. Also there is no set way to do it. Below are just 5 tips based on my own experience – tips I hope will help you become a resident at the club or venue of your choice.
1. Do your research
First things first: If you want to become a resident at your favorite nightclub you need to make sure that you’ve done your research, meaning that you have a clear understanding what the night is about:
· What is the music policy? What do the current residents play? What kind of guest DJs do they book?
· What kind of crowd does the night attract?
· What image does the nightclub try to portray?
With this information you should have a great understanding of the night and what you feel you can add to it. When you create a mix for the promoter in question, make sure that it musically reflects what the night is about. Don’t target nights/promoters that don’t suit the music you play as you’ll be wasting your and their time!
2. Become a regular at the night and get to know the promoter/club owner
Part of Step 1 is regularly attending the night – make sure you’re seen there and get to know other regulars and people involved in the night. Perhaps introduce yourself to the current resident DJs or other people involved – don’t be forceful as that is a real turn off, but just get to know people. This way you’ll get to know the promoter/booker as well.
3. Get involved with the night
See if there is a way to get involved with the night by helping with PR work, selling tickets, street team, etc – anything to get your foot in door. If you are really eager to get involved and work hard, this will show and people will start to take notice – especially the main promoter/club owner!
I remember I used to write club reviews for my University’s student page and approached a local promoter asking if I could come down to his night to review it. On the night I got to speak to the promoter and told him what I did at my University. He asked if I was willing to help promoting his night to fellow students. I agreed to do this for free for about a year and in the process got to know the promoter quite well and we started talking music and I told him I DJ’d too….
4. Seize the opportunity
Once you get to know the promoter/resident DJ well, inform them that you DJ as well and ask if they wouldn’t mind listening to your mix to give some feedback (See our article on How to Get Feedback on a Track/Mix). This is a very non-aggressive way of getting them to check out your mix without making them feel like you want something from them!
If they like what they hear, perhaps ask if there are any opportunities/opening slots for you to show off what you can do? Any opportunity is an opportunity – even if it’s in the backroom playing to nobody or the first 30 minutes when the club opens! Take whatever you can!
Most importantly, make sure you play music that fits that moment in time and the overall music policy – don’t try to be selfish and bang it out with hits! One of the main qualities of a resident DJ is be selfless – you play a role within the club night: whether it’s warming-up the crowd whilst they wait for the main act or cool the crowd down at 7am in the morning before they go home.
Always make sure you bring your headphones and USB to the night. You never know, someone might unexpectedly drop out and you can be the ‘hero’ and save the night! When I was helping the local promoter with promoting his night among fellow students, he once called me up and said: “Jack, one of my regular guys is ill and can’t play tonight – are you free to do the warm up in the back room from 10-11pm?” Well, you can imagine what I said!
Over time, I got several opportunities to play for him and prove myself and eventually got to do some guest slots in the main room as well, which after a while naturally turned into a residency.
Overall I think timing is key here when seizing the opportunity – play it smart!
5. Deliver: Be consistent, selfless and flexible
Once you get the opportunity to be a resident at a club/club night, you’re part of a team and you represent the night musically and as a face/name, as you become one of the faces that the punters see regularly.
This means that you need to leave your ego at home: as you play a role within the night, you need to be helpful and respectful to other people involved with the night and do your job well! For example, be friendly to the door staff, get to know the technical staff well (and other resident DJs) and help out where possible, be polite and accommodating to guest DJs/acts etc.
Make sure that you’re always prepared musically and are consistent in your performances. You’re in it for the long-term, so you got to make sure everyone’s happy with you: the promoter, the crowd, the main act, etc., etc.
Be respectful to guest DJs/acts – treat them like if they’re a guest in your house, make sure they enjoy themselves and that you set them up adequately so that they can do their job as well as possible.
Being a resident is actually quite a selfless job: I remember I had to warm up for a major DJ, so I made sure I did my research, I made sure I checked out some of his recent sets so I knew roughly what he would be playing. I made sure that I didn’t play any of these tracks or any hits, instead I played music that was a bit softer that got the crowd warmed up, but without them going crazy – even though I knew it would be easy to play the big tracks and give the crowd what they wanted.
When the DJ arrived, I welcomed him, explained the set up and asked him if the music I was playing was ok and when he would like to go on. By the time he went on and dropped his first track – the crowd went wild and was ready to go!
6. Be flexible: You never know what might happen on the night; so make sure you’re always ready to step in, if you need to.
Once, I was booked to do my set early on, but stayed around to see some of the other DJs play. Suddenly I had the promoter come up to me in a bit of a panic saying that one of the main acts was running 30 mins late and the DJ before him (a famous DJ) refused to carry on playing and asked if I could quickly jump on to fill the gap! Within 2 minutes of being approached, I was suddenly standing in front of 2000 people at peak time and had to keep the crowd going until the main act arrived. I was obviously over the moon to get this opportunity and the promoter was super happy that I “saved” his night: everyone was a winner!
Since becoming a resident is a delicate process over time, I hope my story helps you a bit.
For more tips and information on being a resident DJ check out our “Art of the Resident” series where we interview established resident DJs from around the world about their residency and more.
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