How to get DJ gigs

We asked promoters from across the globe what they're looking for when they book new DJs. Their responses offer an in-depth guide on how to land your next gig.

So, you can DJ. You know how to mix. You know your tunes. Depending on your experience, you know how to read a room. You’ve got mixes you’re proud of on Soundcloud or Mixcloud, an account on Instagram and maybe TikTok too, a short biography and some press shots. You’ve got a few bookings, some of which are in venues that aren’t quite up your street, but it’s better than nothing. Or, maybe you have no bookings but feel you are skilled enough to be playing out. 

How do you land gigs in venues that you actually want to play in and for promoters you want to work with? How can you stand out in a scene that’s already heaving with up-and-comers? How do you reach out to bookers and promoters in the first place? Do you have to produce music, in addition to DJing, to make a strong first impression? How do you get club bookings without the experience of playing in a club? Is talent equally as important as online clout? 

We asked these questions to five bookers and promoters based in London, Berlin, New York, Taipei and Dublin to find out what they’re looking for in emerging DJs. You’ll find their answers below, compiled into sections that cover the entire process. 


A little obvious, maybe, but among the people we spoke to, each stressed that mixing ability and whether a DJ sonically aligns with their club or party are the first factors they take into account before booking an emerging DJ. However, considering the different locations and booking policies of these clubs and parties, they each had their own take on how they approach booking new or lesser-known talent. 

DJ and promoter Nic Baird, who co-founded the London-based event series Transmissions with Rupes, emphasised how having your own sound is something that draws them to a DJ they haven’t worked with before. “If someone has a huge amount of range and plays lots of different types of music—which sometimes people do as emerging artists because they haven’t quite zeroed in on what their style and sound is yet—then, when you book them for a slot, and they play something completely different to the mixes we’ve been listening to, it might not work,” he said. “It might be too fast, or the person might fancy playing a bit of 140 BPM early on at night. I think if the DJ has a specific sound or style, it really helps promoters think about where the DJ could fit on lineups.” 

Before Nic and Rupes launched Transmissions in 2019, the pair promoted the long-running party series Make Me. With an extensive record collection between them, they played back-to-back during the event’s opening hours, setting the tone before electro, techno and house acts. “So we had loads of different records, but because of that, we didn’t get that many bookings ourselves because people didn’t really know what we stood for because we played so many different things.”

In Taiwan, Hsu Chieh heads up the bookings for the club FINAL in Taipei, and he prefers to bring in up-and-comers with more versatility. “We are looking for DJs that are not confined by genre,” he said. “DJs are encouraged to play freely between electronic music, hip-hop or even pop songs if they see fit. The DJ needs to be adventurous, daring, uncompromising, with a sense of humour.”


UK promoter, DJ and producer Samantha Togni seeks out “originality” in new DJs for her event series, Boudica. But they must share the same values and vision of Boudica, which is a platform for trans+, non-binary and female-identifying artists. “Boudica has a very strong identity,” she said. “It’s important that the DJs we bring in align with our platform’s overall ethos.” Like Boudica’s annual music conference and record label, the party spotlights gender minorities in dance music. Several times a year, Samantha books techno-led DJs from around the world to play in clubs across London, like FOLD, E1 and the Pickle Factory.


In Dublin, Martin Smyth is a cofounder of the event series District 8, which takes place in both intimate and large-scale venues across the city. While he is keen to book up-and-coming DJs who sonically fit the bill, he also considers how experienced the DJ is before booking them. “A lot of our support slots are for fairly big headliners,” he said. “We’d want someone who is well-equipped to do the right thing by the headline act and how we want to curate the night, and that varies. Sometimes the headliner will want a say on it, and other times you might take a chance on someone, or you feel that whoever is closing the night is more musically diverse, so that gives us a bigger range to book from.” 

What if you have no experience of playing in a club but feel you’re ready for an opening slot somewhere? We’ll cover that in the “Build Your Mix Archive” section.


Over in Berlin, many events champion emerging and local talent: Lecken, SWOON, Fandango, and QS1, among others. But one of the most widely known events that solely books emerging DJs is Tresor’s weekly party New Faces. The club invites established artists to curate the lineups, including The Brvtalist. While the DJ, promoter, writer and founder of the eponymous online magazine leans into the “uniqueness and freshness of a project,” he’s also keen on gauging the motive of an emerging DJ before booking them. “It’s important to me to consider artists who have a sincere drive to be doing this and bring a certain professionalism to not only their craft but also how they present themselves both online and in person,” he said. “There’s not one way to tell this, but over the years I think I have been able to get a good idea when considering artists [to play at New Faces].”

Ask yourself what you want out of DJing. Are you doing it to make some extra cash? Eventually earn a six-figure salary? Support your profile as a producer? Present a unique slant on an established sound? Whatever the case, you might project your motive to people without even realising it. Also bear in mind that it can take years to “make it,” so if you want to dedicate time and money to pursuing DJing as a career, it might be worth analysing your underlying motives. 


District 8’s Martin said an artist’s follower count means “absolutely nothing” to him. Instead, how an artist presents themselves online and what content they share is something he and the wider team consider. “From my perspective, I might click on a couple of clips online and go ‘that looked interesting’ or ‘that looked good’…the kind of thing that can jump out at you when you’re scrolling through Instagram on a Monday and seeing what went down at the weekend,” he said. “But [the DJ] needs to work musically first.” 

Nic also checks the online profile of an artist when he’s considering new names for Transmissions. “I think it’s nice to see people’s styles and how they present themselves,” he said. “We tend not to book people who are flashy behind the decks and ‘arms in the air’ kind of thing, and a bit “big roomy,” trying to whip the crowd up. We like people who are a bit more understated.”

“[With social media] I think you also get an idea of how serious someone is about music and DJing, or whether it’s more of a lifestyle thing,” he continued. “It also gives you a chance to look at what they are involved in in music, like their other projects, and where else they are playing. So, people’s social media profiles are important, but numbers aren’t.”

The Brvtalist said he doesn’t “put that much stock” into how many followers an emerging DJ has, but other promoters might feel differently. “I think in today’s industry you cannot ignore someone’s social media ‘numbers’ and I understand for certain events where selling tickets is one of the primary goals, why promoters do this,” he said. “However, that’s why I really enjoy curating for New Faces. The focus is supposed to be on emerging artists, and people come to Tresor to hear new DJs, so I also don’t have that pressure when booking for these nights.”

In New York, Téa Abashidze is the cofounder and co-booker of the club BASEMENT, and she doesn’t consider how many followers an artist has before booking them. “Among a sea of trendy, TikTok type of influencer DJs who have thousands of followers, it’s clear that follower count and views do not mean that they’re good at what they do,” she said. “I do check artist social media profiles to see how they present themselves, what they’re posting; you can see clearly if they take their job seriously or if this is just a side, temporary fun moment for them. Having a social media presence nowadays is essential for an artist, it’s one of the easiest ways to spread the word about yourself. What is very essential though, is to have a Soundcloud profile to upload your sets.” 

This is because not all promoters and bookers can check out a set IRL by an emerging artist, as many of them work at their own club or party during the weekend. “And that’s why, for us, it’s essential to listen to artists online,” said Téa. “Sometimes, they only upload the tracks they produce, which is not sufficient to understand what and how they actually play in their sets.”


Soundcloud and Mixcloud are where DJs showcase what they’re about. It’s also where bookers and promoters browse when they’re discovering new talent. 

“Finding and supporting emerging DJs is crucial for the scene,” said Téa. “I browse Soundcloud a lot, also check RA listings, listen to recent radio plays from local and international radio stations, and in many cases, other artists and friends send suggestions. I try to go to as many other clubs and parties as I can, but as I spend my whole weekends at BASEMENT, it’s hard for me to find time to do that very often. And that’s why the internet is very handy for me, I get to listen to most of these emerging artists online first.”

Nic loves attending other parties and festivals to see who’s playing the early slots, as these artists tend to be lesser known. But listening to radio shows allows him to discover new DJs too. “You can climb the online mix ladder in the same way as you do clubs and festivals,” he suggested. “[Mixes for] Patterns of Perception, Animalia, Crack, Resident Advisor, Boiler Room etc.—these mix series are like a stamp of approval. I follow certain mix series based on the vibe and the sound, and then I’ll discover people that way and start following that person.”


Similar to Nic, Samatha Togni enjoys going to other parties to discover new talents, however, it’s not always possible due to her own stacked DJ schedule. But she enjoys the process of researching potential artists for Boudica, so she regularly browses Soundcloud and Instagram, as well as her “favourite music magazines” every week. 

Location is also something that influences where promoters and bookers find their DJs. “It’s a rather small scene here in Taipei, especially for the music we are trying to push,” said Hsu. “If there are DJs that would fit our club’s vision, most of the time I would have heard of them already through other promoters and friends in the industry. Unless it’s someone just starting out, and might have never played out before, in this case sometimes we would eventually get to know them just through the network and the community around FINAL. I would say, in general, just go hang out and support the club you want to play at, be part of the community, and you will meet the right people at one point if you’ve got what it takes.”


This one depends on the booker or party in question. Samantha is more inclined to book DJs who are also producers. “It brings an additional layer and creativity to their story. It’s something we encourage in our residents and emerging DJs. Make sure to download your DAW (the majority of them come with a free trial!) and start experimenting with your own sound.”

Hsu felt that when a DJ makes music, it shows that the artist is dedicated to the scene and culture. But “some of the best DJs don’t produce nor throw events, they just DJ, and serious digging takes up a lot of time,” he said. “If DJing is the only thing you are interested in, just focus on that. Promoting or making music etc., are a completely different game.”

Téa noted that music production is a “major addition” to DJing. “I truly love when people dedicate their time and energy to producing,” she said. “Though I never prioritise a producer over someone who is solely a DJ. Being a good producer does not mean they can always be a good DJ and vice versa. While booking a DJ, the most important two things I’m looking for are their mixing skills and track selection.”

As well as Transmissions, Nic runs the night and label space•lab. He explained how a DJ who has a label or produces their own music can go beyond the “personal” and “story-telling” aspects of solely DJing. “I like it when DJs do parties as well because it shows that they’re still connected to the other side of it and understand the struggle of doing it, and put effort into keeping the scene going,” he said. “But whether someone produces or has a label is not a deciding factor at all.”

Joining a collective with similar music tastes to you or launching your own collective can be another way to obtain bookings. Martin regularly books collectives to host rooms in the different clubs where District 8 operates and invites them to curate festival stages too (Martin is the founder of Irish festivals Life and Boxed Off). “If you’re part of a collective and we have a show that suits your collective, that’s certainly another way to get booked,” he said. 


It might feel daunting to approach a booker or promoter on the night of the party you want to play, especially if they appear busy or stressed. But of the five people we spoke to, each said they appreciated it when DJs approached them in person. 

“It takes a lot [to go up to a promoter],” said Martin. “I used to throw mixtapes into the DJ booth, so I have no problem with people reaching out, but I think there’s an art to it. Striking the balance between staying in touch very politely and keeping themselves on your radar to being a bit OTT. But by all means, I love when people come up and chat with me.”

“But you want to be talking to the wider team,” he continued, referring to District 8’s night manager, marketing manager, and social media manager, who would also be there on the night. “Most of them probably have more time to get to know you and get to know you as a DJ, and then they are more likely to put it on the desk at some point.”

In Berlin, many up-and-coming talents know The Brvatlist because of his established profile as a DJ and writer, so DJs often approach him for a potential set at New Faces on the night itself. However, the results of these in-person pitches depend on a few elements. “I’m always happy to talk to people after a set or when I’m at the club, but I don’t want to feel like I am being mobbed and do not like obvious aggressive networking,” he said. “This is an important part of the job, of course, but I like meeting people who genuinely have something else to say other than ‘book me please,’ and I think you can tell when the person is just about that. For me, if you can establish a rapport first and connect with someone on a music, artistic or any other level, then the booking comes after that.”


In London, Samantha understands that not everyone can attend Boudica’s events due to location or otherwise, but DJs can still reach out with a personalised email explaining their reasons for wanting to join a Boudica bill. “The success of such DMs and emails often hinges on how well they are presented,” she explained. “DJs should take the time to research the platform and make sure their music and style align. They should make sure that what they write is clear, not too long, and well structured, including relevant links to their work, highlighting their experience, and sharing their goals can enhance their chances.”

Hsu recommended email as one of the best ways to reach out to a booker or a promoter: “Include a few words about yourself; keep it short, and always include one or two links to your sets and productions to listen to.”

In New York’s BASEMENT, Téa is always down to meet people, but chatting in the club can be restricted because she’s occupied with running the venue and/or party. “That is why, after a quick in-person introduction and a chat, a follow-up email always comes in handy.”

Another factor to consider is how far promoters and bookers work in advance. This can be as much as six months to a year ahead, so it’s a good idea to reach out to them as soon as you feel ready. Nic, who recently promoted the festival Transmissions from Hackney, reiterated how important this is in larger cities like London. “If someone’s just done a big party or festival, it would be really good to message them after the event and say something like, ‘I came down, it was loads of fun. If you’ve got any slots next year, I’d love to be considered.’ But you want to give the promoter a bit of time.”


Ultimately, it’s down to skill, shared values, musical alignment, party or lineup you want to play, how you present your work and yourself online, and your in-person and email/DM etiquette. However, every booker and promoter has their own way of discovering and booking new DJs. 

“In the end it comes down to multiple factors but the most important are professionalism and, of course, putting together an interesting lineup that has the right flow,” said The Brvtalist. “Even if I really want to book someone, that doesn’t mean they necessarily fit into the lineup for a particular event. I think in general, artists want to get booked so fast and at any cost but we all need to exercise a bit more patience and consideration when we put these things together. I also appreciate artists who are humble and grateful for opportunities and don’t take anything for granted.”

Being polite goes a long way too. “We’re always interested in working with people that are nice people,” added Martin. “If you feel someone appreciates it and is keen to work with you as well, that’s important, you know?”

Nic offered another tip for when you do actually get the booking you’ve always wanted. “It’s nice if people hang around after their set and watch the other artists play because that kind of shows that they are invested and excited about the rest of the lineup. It feels a bit transactional when someone comes in, plays early, and then just leaves again. It can leave you feeling a little bit cold, I guess.”

“There’s no expectation for people to stay all night,” he continued. “Emerging artists also need to look after themselves because they might have a long career ahead of them. It can be tempting to stay out late and go to afterparties, but I think it’s important for [emerging artists] to look after their health and to make sure they have longevity and not burn out.”

Text: Niamh O’Connor

Photo credits

Transmissions: Amy Fern

D8 In The Garden: Killian Whyte (Killian suffered a serious accident last week. You can help his recovery by contributing to his fundraising page.)