A DJ demo CD with the right music is an essential part of your DJ promotion. Without it, you’ll be lucky to get anywhere.
Ever wonder how that average DJ got to play at peak time, in the hottest club in town? How many times do we see Mister “out of date music and average mixing” on at prime time at clubs?
Too often I hear you say.
How the hell does he get the gigs anyway you mutter to yourself. Well, apart from making friends with the right people, he makes it his priority to get his demo CD perfectly well done and with the right choice in music.
This part of DJ promotion shouldn’t be overlooked. You see, instead of whining, you actually can learn something from this dodgy guy who somehow gets peak time slots in clubs. He doesn’t just concentrate on finding tunes and learning how to mix. He puts most of his effort into getting to know the right people and slipping them his perfectly well made demo CD.
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Of course, like many DJs, this guy streams his DJ demo mixes on Soundcloud or youtube too. You should be doing this as well, but having a demo CD or several different types of mixes at hand are essential and put you in a better position than the bozos who are spamming promoters.
Why? Many people can listen to a demo CD in their car, or put it on easily at home when they have a spare minute. On the other hand, they may not get the chance to look up your mix on the Soundcloud and anyway, the sound quality will be better on your DJ demo. The promoter will be able to hear the music properly and he or she will be on their own.
Not only this but most promoters get spammed about ten times a day or more by wannabe DJs trying to promote themselves over the Internet. By having a real DJ demo you’ll stand out from them as a DJ who actually made some effort.
In any case, to land better gigs, you’ll need to meet people in person, so it’ll be your chance to hand them your gold disk. Now do you see what I mean?
The promoter doesn’t give gigs to faceless people spamming him with links to Soundcloud and saying how great they are.
Well…you will get on if you give him a polished gold promotion disk of highest quality tune selection, mixed to biblical perfection.
Now let’s see how we do it..
What do I need to display?
What a good club/bar owner, or promoter will look for will essentially be your ability to fill their venue and keep people happy, so that they come back next time.
The crowd simply have to enjoy themselves. The music is an essential part of any decent club or bar’s reputation and no owner wants to compromise that, unless they are clueless and you don’t want to work for clueless people anyway. Keep this in mind when deciding what music to include.
You’ll need to adapt your demo CD’s music to the type of venue you want to play at. However, this will come later. First of all, the best type of promo disk is one which displays your excellent choice of tune, your ability to follow tunes up with the right one, how you can build to a climax, how you mix and blend your tunes perfectly well, and how pro you are.
You wanna know how I landed my first ever paid gig?
After calling up the venue I was targeting and finding out who the events organiser was, I finally got his email after about 7 calls. People say that after asking 7 times, the person you’re asking is more likely to concede to you. Worked for me.
Of course, this was only half of the task. I’d spent all week recording my demo CD. Back then of course, there were no BPM matchers like now and little human mistakes were more liable to cost you.
So I spent ages perfecting my mix, over and over again. I got it sweet eventually and the promoter replied to me the next day after listening to the demo, offering me a Friday night spot. I was really nervous but I rocked it pretty well in the end.
So make sure you get your mix perfect too. Follow my tips below and keep an open mind depending you’re a generalist mobile DJ or an underground one.
1. The right choice of tracks
Assuming you’ve been practising being a DJ a lot, you’ll have an idea of what tracks go with what.
Program your tracks carefully and remember to start off your CD strongly to catch the attention of the listener fast.
Use some fresh new tunes that you feel have potential but are as yet played by few people. Avoid using tunes that are played by just any disc jockey and have been out for 6 months.
Be brave and drop in the odd remix of an older tune that fits, or even a classic floorfiller from a while back. This showcases your knowledge and depth of taste.
Start off with a catchy tune, then build up during the following tracks to peak about 70% through, once your listener has opened out. Then bring it down in tempo nearer to the end, with a couple of choice tracks that are less energetic but have depth of feeling, so the listener is emotionally marked by the experience.
Your mix should last at least 50 minutes long, but preferably no longer than 1 hour.
2. Mix it well
Practice mixing your CD and record yourself several times to see if you mix well. You’ll find that your mix tends to get better each time you record and listening to it will help.
You may need to rest your ears until the next day before listening. I find I cannot stand listening to my mix right afterwards, it just doesn’t sound good to me, so I wait a day.
The BPM beatmatching, EQ blending and harmonic mixing have to be spot on for your promo CD. Any mistakes and you’ll have to do it all again.
See here for some tips on how to mix better.
3. Produce it perfectly
By this I mean you’ll have to record at optimal levels, make sure that the volume levels are consistent throughout the mix, check there is no distortion and burn the CD at optimal level.
Many people record with Sony Soundforge which is perfect for almost any audio recording. Its wide range of attributes mean you can optimise what you’ve recorded very easily and apply effects where necessary during editing.
For example, you may decide your sound needs sharpening up and the volume needs increasing: all this plus more is possible using Soundforge.
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Find out all the best methods by checking out this Pro DJ Mixing course.
4. Set up your recording properly
This part is easy of course, but many people still need it explained to them. Hook up your decks to your mixer, and the main output of your mixer to both your PC and your amplifier.
Your mixer should have a main output and a recording output. You’ll need some RCA cables to hook them up to your amp and your PC. Most likely, your soundcard ‘in’.
This means you can hear your mix through the amp to mix properly and record yourself through the PC simultaneously.
5. Make a great cover for your DJ promo
The CD cover is important not only for the image of your CD but also for your image as a disc jockey. Remember, you your demo could end up in the hands of someone fairly influential.
When you compare a bare promo CD without any cover or with a stylish, classy CD in a case with your logo name on it, I don’t have to tell you which one makes the best impression. Use a CD printer to customise your CDs and send them to you. It’ll cost you a few $£€ but will be worth it.
You will need to design the cover yourself, or get a friend who is skilled in graphics to help you.