How to be a DJ in Asia?

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I've been DJing in China and Taiwan for over ten years. I found there are incredible opportunities to DJ around Asia if you have some interpersonal skills, a cool look, and some decent DJ skills.

The key to getting DJ gigs in Asia is knowing the gatekeepers. These are the bar and club managers responsible for not only hiring DJs, but making sure the club is making money. Music and song selection is a huge part of this. Asian club goers are a picky bunch. They either want to hear the songs they know, or be surprised by an eclectic and unusual DJ set. It just depends on the audience.

Step 1: Meet and Greet

The first step is meeting the gatekeepers. These are usually bar managers, club owners and other DJs.

Frequent the club or establishment you want to play at where you think your music fits the crowd the most. Introduce yourself to the bar manager or gatekeeper and hand him or her a drink. Then with a smile on your face, let them know you've been playing DJ gigs in your home country and you'd like to start playing in said establishment. Normally after a drink or two you can start to build a friendship and when you're back to the same place, hand them another drink and repeat the process. Of course, don't be needy and pushy. Just act like a tipsy and happy patron looking to contribute to the business.

Step 2: Record a Mix

Make sure your DJ mix is on the cloud, (like mixcloud.com) and that it fits to that crowd's taste. Send it over to the gatekeeper and let them know it's a recent mix and you'd love to play it for a live crowd.

Follow up with a few more visits to the club and then you'll be in a position to directly ask if you can be added to the line up for next month.

Step 3: Build Your DJ Profile

Once you get booked for your first gig, you'll likely get a very late or very early spot, and possibly on a Tuesday when the club isn't busy. No matter. When you're playing, invite a friend to take some cool photos and videos of you so you can add it to your Mixcloud, Soundcloud, and Facebook fan page. Build a professional image as a real DJ and you'll be treated as such, and book more and more gigs.

Step 4: Host Your Own Events

One of the pain points of every club manager or owner is coming up with new theme nights and events that can fill up a club. This is your chance to add value beyond just playing music and show you have a marketing mind that can make money for the club.

Think of an event you can host once a month, and keep it simple. For example, "Latin Night" is easier to sell and market than "Berlin Minimalist Techno Night". Do the work and make an event page with a professional graphic. Hire a couple of DJ buddies, and start spreading the word. Send some DMs to your friends, especially those people who get their own groups together and offer free entrance to "friends" only. Make sure the event is a success and you're well on your way to establishing yourself in Asia as a DJ.

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