Montreal is a city with a lot of djs. While everyone wants to be a dj, there just aren't enough party to have all of them play. On top of that, the style of music a dj plays will have a huge impact on the gig he or she gets. This one is for you, the new djs who want to make it big on the rave scene.
Lately, I got a lot of emails/private messages/comments on my profile from djs who want to get booked. I am flattered by the attention. Of course, I won't be able to book them all. To be honest, most of them probably won't be playing at any of my parties any day soon. It's not that they suck, but I can't give everyone a gig. I have different reasons why I'll book a dj or not, same goes for every promoter out there. If you are one of those djs and you're reading this, don't despair. I NEVER say out loud who I'd book and who I'd never book. It gives me the freedom to change my mind. Now, I'm gonna start with what makes me book a dj. I can't speak for every promoter out there, but this is what I like personnally.
First, there's basic dj skills. We can split that between technique and track selection. The point of it all is that people dance. You can be the most technical dj in the world, but if people can't dance to your music, you're not getting my vote. On the other hand, if you're just playing one track after the other with zero technique, you're just being boring, and I'll probably choose a better dj over you. Track selection, now, is probably the most important thing. Don't play the same thing over and over again. On the other hand, having your own sound that people recognize can be pretty good. I personnally like djs who innovate. Knowing what kind of sound a promoter likes can help you promote yourself.
Second thing is popularity. Let's face it, promoters want to sell tickets. If you're popular, then people will be willing to pay to hear you, and you might get more gigs. Not everyone is good with people, and not everyone has charisma. This is the sad reality of the scene. Charisma is an important part of djing. If you don't have it, you're missing one of the skills. Whatever people say, it's more fun when the dj is smilling at the crowd and talks to ravers before and after his or her set. In some cases a dj with no skills other than charisma will make it big. As a promoter, I personnally value Charisma a lot.
Overall, If you want me to book you, you have to either impress me with your skills or bring a fuckload of ravers to my party. Of course, if you can do both, you get even more chances of playing.
Finally, let's talk about attitude. This is where the "cool" comes in. First, don't be pretentious, ever. Djs who start acting like they're better than everyone cause they play records are just annoying. We don't care if you think you're better than other djs, or if you're too cool to dance. I'm personnally more inclined to book a dj who still believes in the scene. Just cause someone is spinning doesn't mean this person can't contribute. By now, you probably have all realized that I believe in old school rave values. I believe every one should contribute to the party in a small way. New djs included.
Attitude is also important when looking for gigs. This is very personnal, but I absolutely hate it when a djs asks "you want to book me?" On the other hand, if you send me a demo at firstname.lastname@example.org
and ask me what I think I'll probably be more inclined to listen to it. The difference is that instead of asking directly for a gig, you're giving a mix you did as a gift, and just reminding the promoter that you exist, without asking anything.
Now, there's asking to be paid. First off, you're absolutely within your right to ask to be paid. It's ok to play for free as a favor, but you still invested money in your records and equipment. However, think about the size of the party you'll be playing at. It's unrealistic to ask for 100$ if you're playing at a small 100 people party. You should also think about how much you're worth. I personnally like paying djs in function of how many ravers they'll get me. Bigger, more popular names, should get paid more than new djs. It's all a question of experience and quality of the service. These are basic laws of capitalism.
For now, I suggest you think about all of this when looking for gigs. While this was intended for new djs, experienced djs can learn someting from it as well. I really hope that reading this was useful to all you djs out there.