To Deejay or Not: Tutorial Part II

In Part I we discussed some Deejaying skills like

basic and advanced scratches as well as blendin' skills. In Part II, we

have some great advice to assist in taking your skills from the club /

streets to the radio:

3. Create a buzz In

the beginning, perform as many functions as possible (with or without pay). 

Exposure is the key. Try to get gigs where the crowds are larger, even

if the pay is lower. Sometimes it's better to sacrifice a few dollars

for a better gig. I deejayed several parties starting out for little or no

money, but I was building up my client list and my brand. Create mix CDs

and flood your area with them by giving a bunch away free of charge. If

you can sell some, cool, but the main objective is to get your name out

there. Make sure you include all of your contact information including your phone

number and email address and let the masses know you're available for

parties. Take advantage of the internet via various web sites that are conducive to music promotions and friend connections; send

email blasts regarding your upcoming functions, and mix-tapes.

After I created a buzz locally, I was invited to sit

in at the radio station's music meetings to help them select music and give

my opinion. I would bring in the records that were hot on the streets

and let them know which songs people were feeling in the clubs and at

the parties. I was later offered a late night mix-show slot from

Midnight to 3 AM on Saturday nights. I did this for a few years until

the Friday night 6 PM- 10 PM slot opened up, then I was offered that

gig. It's all about paying your dues and being prepared to take

advantage of the next opportunity.

4. Personality Honestly, I'm a good DJ, but there are a lot of DJs on the streets that

may be a lot better in the raw skills department. The key is to know

your strengths and natural abilities and take advantage of them. One of

my strengths is my ability to put together well-rounded sets

(programming / record selection, we'll focus on this aspect in # 5) and

my good ear for predicting the hits. Another one of my strengths is my

ability to network and socialize with people (I've always been a

people person). Your personality is key because who wants to hire a

boring DJ that just plays music but lacks the ability to socially

connect with the people?

The DJ should create a level of excitement and

display confidence when they step in the building. There's a particular

swagger and aura that the most sought after DJs carry. They should be

able to command the crowd with not only their music selection, but the

microphone as well. Also they should be able to listen to requests, especially from the

ladies. 95 percent of the time I was going to play everything that the fellas

requested anyway but sometimes the ladies would come to the booth and

request a song that I wasn't necessarily going to play. The bottom line

is, DJs with a winning personality are more likely to get the better

gigs and a chance at a radio slot just off of popularity and

personality alone. That's why radio hosts are called an on-air


5. Programming When

you're playing at the party, you may not realize it, but you're actually

programming like a music director when you put your sets together. Just

like a music director or program director, you are selecting songs for

the demographic or audience you're playing for. You may not carry out

the same type of extensive research that a radio station does, but you

are programming because you have a good idea of what songs your

audience wants to hear. Playing in the club and on radio are two

different beasts, it's totally different in the clubs because a lot of

your selections are determined by the vibe, mood and reactions from the

crowd. You can play anything you want, when you want, in the club. On

the radio there are parameters you have to follow and you have to

recognize that a majority of the people listening are not dancing,

they're at home relaxing, at work, or driving.

When I was spinning on the radio I broke the music

down into five categories. First were the "hits." These songs were

currently in high rotation on the station's play list. Then we had the

"club hits." These were songs hot on the streets and in the clubs. We had the

"news" records that the people were just getting familiar with or

hadn't heard at all. We also had "oldies" or "re-currents"which are hits from

back in the day or songs that were previously "hits." A good DJ can program a nice blend of all

of the above and create a good balance of what's being played on the

streets, in the clubs as well as what's hot on the radio station. For

instance, I would start my set with a "hit," go to a "new," put on a

"club hit," followed by a "hit,"

thenan "oldie or re-current," to a

"personal favorite," and then back to a "hit". This winning formula created

a top-rated show. To hear some classic excepts from our radio show Live In The Den With Big Tigger, check out

This concludes Part II of the series, in Part III

we'll discuss the Pros and Cons of MP3s and making the transition from

DJ to producer.