Dear DJ Ron:
I am the leading gay DJ at a large gay club in the southeast. My dance floor is always full (that's 300 to 400 people at a time). My problem is that no one really knows who I am. The club I DJ at does not put my name in any of its advertisements; they put everyone else in their ads but me.
I want to get out there and DJ at other clubs, so I need to know how to promote myself in and outside of the club. Please help!
Congratulations on your success as a DJ. Packing a dancefloor on a regular basis - the definition of a residency - is quite an achievement. Going to the next level is a great goal and it sounds like you have the passion to move forward.
Is the DJ Booth accessible to the party people? Do you get requests? If so, then that's a way to start building your eMail list. That's the way to start getting your name out there - a regular eMail update, maybe every two weeks is a good start. You can also use the eMail list to drive people to your website or Myspace page.
It's important to remember that a DJ is an entertainer. You've obviously got the programming and mixing skills, but you can also do more. When you are spinning, you are on stage. Look the part, with appropriate clothing, hairstyle, etc. Even when you are not spinning, when you are out, refrain from drinking alcohol in excess. You want people to see you in a positive light, so remember that when you are in public.
How are your writing skills? Reach out to your local alternative and lifestyle publications and see if they are looking for music reviewers. Who knows dance music better than a DJ? Not only will this get your name out to local people, this will help you network with record labels and publicists.
Speaking of networking, get to know DJs in surrounding cities and around the country. Attend conferences like the Billboard Dance Music Summit and Winter Music Conference to make connections. With these relationships, you can try to broker trades where they spin your club and you spin their club. This can help you start getting on the road a bit.
Having the residency is great and you can use that reach out to the local community. Volunteer to spin at events for pride, AIDS charities, community center, etc and insist that your name be featured as part of the agreement. For credits/tags, have them list Your Name (Resident Club, website) - this will show your local club that you are loyal to them.
These first few steps will help show your club management and owners how serious you are about your career. They obviously know you are talented and reliable or else you wouldn't be working there. Ask for a meeting with them to discuss your career. If you can show them what you are doing, they should be more willing to start including your name in their advertising (links on their website, mentions in the ads). Having a well-known resident DJ will only help the club.
Remember, the more seriously you take your career, the more seriously people will take you.