You have been practicing your set, you have spent your time learning under a Mentor, you have been rocking out crowds and now you are ready to hit up the hot new club. What are next steps in getting booked? Who better to ask than the people who do the bookings. This Column is dedicated to educating DJs on how to improve their chances of landing a gig and hopefully get booked again. Lets Ask a Promoter
We have asked one of the West Coast’s best promoters, Eddie Martinez, a couple questions about the DJs he uses. As a long time veteran of the club scene, his knowledge and experience working with venues, DJs, and crowds is top notch. We are honored to have him him contribute such an important article for DJ culture.
How do you choose the DJs you use?
It varies, I don’t really have a set formula for bookings. I think every promoter has been guilty of booking their friends at one point or another. I also look at who has a buzz around them at the time. Sometimes when I have time, I like to go talent scouting at other venues since you never know who you will stumble on. Since most of my friends are in the industry it also helps to see who they like or who they are eyeing.
What is the most important factor for a DJ to get booked?
There are two key elements in my way of booking, you need to have talent and I have to be able to market you. Ever since I started in the scene over 20 years ago I have always been into fliers and how they are designed, so I have always liked good logos or good press pictures I can use for my fliers. That’s just my personal preference. Above all you have to have skills or what’s the point of being a DJ if you don’t.
Would you hire a DJ you didn’t know?
I would say 90% if not more of the DJs I have booked have been complete strangers to me at the time of the booking. I might know their name or reputation, but I wouldn’t say I knew them personally at the time of the booking. Especially when I first started in the scene, I didn’t know anyone. I sort of fell into it and just networked into meeting the right people.
What are the chances of you hiring a DJ who cold-called you?
It all depends on the approach. It’s like dating you don’t want to come off too desperate or too cocky. Talent speaks for itself. There was this one DJ that use to hit me up on this chat room (yea that’s how old this story is) every single day. I use to joke around with him that I would use his demo CDs (remember those things?) as coasters for my drinks at my house. Then one day I was looking for a new DJ for a new club I was doing and decided to give him a shot. Till this day I think this guy was one of the most underrated DJs I have ever met. He had great talent and turntablists skills and we stayed friends for years.
Who were some of your favorites DJs?
I have probably booked 100s if not 1000s of DJs in all these years. Some have become headliners in Las Vegas, Dubai, Hong Kong, but 4 stick in my head at the moment. Dirty Draws (now goes by just DRAWS), Splyce, Cheapshot and Playboi.
What separated them from the rest?
All I knew of Splyce was that he was “DJ to the Stars” out in Hollywood. When I first booked him for a club I was doing in Orange County, I automatically knew why he was in demand, the crowd loved him. We hit it off right away and oddly he became one of the few people I consider a friend outside of the industry. I still hit up from time to time when I need an opinion on new ideas I have.
Draws was a DJ that was doing his thing out in LA and what really stood out aside from his talent was how humble he is. To me that goes a long way, nobody wants to deal with a diva on the turntables. He always rolled with an entourage of friends that just made you part of the family right away. Now he is spinning along side big names in the hip hop game.
Those who know Cheapshot already know why he stands out…… that guy is just a character and can read a crowd like no other.
Playboi is a promoter turned DJ. That’s something that the very few can pull off right and I must admit I was more than surprised when I heard him spin the first time. You knew he worked on his craft before making that transition from promoter to DJ.
What tips do you have for DJs improve their chances of bookings?
I’m going to steal my answer from another DJ friend of mine Alex Dreamz, he said it best ” You have to know what the person who is listening to your mix likes.” Whether it is the promoter, the venue owner or the music director find out what they are looking for and combine that with your skill set. Either that, or you better find a way to convince them that your format is the way to go. At the end of the day, the nightlife industry is a business. Learn to take rejections, because you won’t book every gig, but BE PERSISTENT and never stop practicing on your craft.
Thank you Eddie Martinez, for taking the time to answer our questions and helping DJ’s everywhere
Video DJ World Champion