Modern DJing has evolved into an international business, but strip clubs or clubs generally still remain vital to the industry, as it has proven to be a ground for established DJs, as well as up-comers. Every good DJ is always ready to play different styles on different occasions. Be it opening the night to an empty dance floor or headlining a packed club, each time and moment has its own demands.
In the DJing business, every set you perform or coordinate is a statement about your person as a DJ, so it is very pertinent you remain diligent in all preparations, especially when you are dealing with booking agents and club managers. New entrants in this business sometimes start by working for free or for drink tickets, so the highest form of advancement in this career is to become one of the few branded DJs who take home millions every year.
7 Steps on How to Become a Strip Club DJ
When looking to become a strip club DJ, note that you are seeking to match your own musical expressions with the desires of an audience. It goes beyond just matching beats, or scratching over songs. It is about being observant, empathic, and reactive.
Have it in mind that learning to DJ is not an easy route to overnight success. To succeed and headline club shows take smart work, and hustle, and time. Although it is not difficult to start, it is difficult to stand out and to be exceptional.
Table of Content
- 1. Outline Your Goals
- 2. Research DJ Software
- 3. Acquire Basic DJ Skills
- 4. Acquire DJ Hardware
- 5. Get DJ Gigs
- 6. Improve and Hone Your Craft
- Educations Requirements to Be a DJ
- Job Description & Duties of a Strip Club DJ
1. Outline Your Goals
Indeed there are plenty of reasons why anyone would wish to become a strip club DJ or work as a resident DJ in a strip club. However, the most important thing is to be completely honest about what those reasons are. For some people, DJing is a career. For others, a side-income and a wonderful way to earn from what they love.
For some other people, DJing is purely an art they enjoy, a hobby per se. These DJs do it mainly for the enjoyment of mixing music. It is personal music therapy. Although they might take small cuts for a birthday gig, or play an open decks night somewhere. But they’re really in it for the love of mixing, curetting, or listening to music.
There are some other people who become DJs with the intention to acquire fame, but few become superstars. You need to be insanely talented, lucky, or both. You have to hustle, you have to love it, and you have to work on it even when it sucks.
2. Research DJ Software
Next, you will have to get some DJ software. In the United States, there are 3 major platforms in the DJ industry:
Rekordbox is Pioneer’s music management platform for DJs. This platform can be used to import music, create playlists, set cue points, and does any other prep work. Export Mode allows you to copy that library to a USB drive, and play it on hardware such as a Pioneer CDJ.
Note that by using the Performance Mode, the laptop functions as the DJ player. Mixing can be done “virtually” using a keyboard and mouse, or with an approved “Hardware Unlock device” (like a Pioneer DJ controller). It is advisable to use Rekordbox if you own Pioneer hardware, you want to learn “the standard”, or you plan on playing large venues.
This program is renowned as one of the smoothest and sturdiest pieces of DJ software available today. This company does not make any hardware of their own; instead, they work with other manufacturers to create smooth operation and tight integration. Serato DJ Lite is free, reliable, and intuitive DJ software for mixing in two channels.
Many budget DJ controllers ship with this software. Thanks to “Practice Mode”, you don’t even need any hardware to start DJing. Should you decide to upgrade later, the transition can be made easily. It is advisable you use a Serato if you want lots of hardware options.
This particular program supports great performance features for DJs. But getting the most out of this software requires you to own official Native Instruments hardware, for which there are few options.
With this program, the relationship between software and hardware is very tight and reliable, being a somewhat “closed system”. Nonetheless, it is advisable you use Traktor if you are an electronic DJ/producer, who wants to merge these two worlds.
Other Great DJ Software
There are many other great options In the United States. Virtual DJ, for example, claims to be the most downloaded DJ software on Earth. And it is easy to see why: it supports the latest DJ technologies, it is backed by a huge community, and it is entirely free for home use. Other great options include djay Pro, Mixxx, and MixvibesCrossDJ.
However, choosing a DJ platform is a matter of preference. But with some demoing, you should be able to find the software that works for you.
3. Acquire Basic DJ Skills
Note there are useful and basic skills to consider when becoming a DJ: mixing, EQing, phrasing, beat matching, and prep.
i. Beat matching
Note that the reason for beat matching is to get two tracks playing at the same tempo (the speed at which the song is playing) and phase (the beats from both tracks playing in – time with each other). This is usually done using your player’s pitch fader, to adjust the tempo of the song. You use a jog wheel, push a pitch bend button, or touch one of your playing records to adjust the phase.
Equalizing (EQing) is simply the act of boosting or cutting frequencies so that multiple audio tracks align smoothly. A typical DJ mixer includes a three-band EQ (low, mid, and high) which allows you to carve out the audio space for a buttery blend.
When leverage effectively, the EQ is both a useful tool and a means of creative expression. Although it will not fix a bad mix, nor will it works miracles. But you can use it to “smooth together” multiple audio signals, and make the mixes come out with a bit more polish.
iii. Gain Control
Notably, a DJ rig is made up of a few different levels of “volume” adjustment. Firstly, each mixer channel has a gain knob, allowing you to adjust the level by watching your meters. Then, each channel has a line fader. In addition, there’s the crossfader which allows you to fade between one channel and another in a left/right motion.
Also, note that all DJ software has its own gain structure. This can make things quite confusing. When in doubt, read the manual. Some DJ software features auto-gain functionality, which helps minimize the amount of manual adjustment between tracks.
Phrasing simply means mixing your tracks together at points in the songs which make sense. Note that almost all music that you will be DJing is in 4/4 time, whether you play electronic dance music in the club, hip-hop, funk, or top 40. Technically, this means is that there are four beats in a measure (bar) and that the quarter note gets one beat. The takeaway is that you need to learn how to count to four, as most “DJ – able” music is 4/4.
4. Acquire DJ Hardware
Although most modern DJs learn the art on their laptop, to become a happening strip club DJ, you are eventually going to want more control over what you are doing. You have to consider getting some personal and essential hardware. There are several types of DJ setups to consider:
a. DJ Controller Setup
A DJ controller provides you hands-on control over your mixing software, for much easier manipulation of the music than a mouse and keyboard. Notably, this is the most sensible way to get started. A modern all-in-one DJ controller contains everything you need to mix and record music (except for a laptop), and options are available anywhere from $100 to over $3000.
b. Time code and HID Setups
Vinyl emulation software allows the user to physically manipulate the playback of digital audio files on a computer using the turntables as an interface, preserving the hands-on control and feel of DJing with vinyl. The technology is also referred to as DVS, for Digital Vinyl System.
You leverage a special vinyl record, which contains an audio signal that your software picks up and uses to manipulate digital files (like mp3s). DVS setup is more or less a compromise for traditional vinyl DJs who don’t want to change their workflow but want to take advantage of modern features.
c. Vinyl Setup
Note that records are harder to mix than any of the other options. Vinyl is also the most expensive format to buy music on. For most people, mixing records is simply fun. Many DJs love that tactile feel of moving the physical record, and many people love watching “real” DJ playing “real” records. It is also still the best route for the pure scratch DJ.
d. CDJ Setup
Originally designed to play music from compact discs, modern CDJs (and XDJs) play digital music stored on USB drives. The players are plugged into a hardware DJ mixer. Note that CDJs (combined with their DJM mixers) provides a shared platform for DJs. Many clubs already have them, and they are the expected standard for any large show. CDJs tend to be more expensive than their controller counterparts, but they do offer a level of separation from the laptop.
5. Get DJ Gigs
Just start small and see if you can get a warm-up gig at a small strip club. Note that you will need to accept some rejections but don’t let that put you off, you’ll soon learn how to up your hustle! Once you start digging you’ll find it easier to get more gigs.
Always ensure you really leverage each opportunity you get, take your business cards along, network and make sure you keep a record of the flyers. You can also use it as a great opportunity to take some photos or videos of your gig to use as content on your social media profiles and in your press pack.
You have to learn how to work with a variety of people to have a successful DJ career. Since you will be playing a club gig, your point of contact is usually the general manager. Speak with the general manager before your gig, and set expectations before you walk in the door.
You need to know what types of music you will be expected to play, and what to avoid (and whether, for example, there are any required or prohibited songs). You also need to understand the flow of a typical night: When does the club get crowded? What does the owner consider a successful night?
You should always arrive early on gig night, especially if you haven’t played the club before. Get to know the bartenders, table hosts, Strippers, and doormen, and be polite and professional–they may help you get booked again. Most importantly, get to know the customers.
6. Improve and Hone Your Craft
Have it in mind there is a lot more to DJing than just transitions. You have to learn to read the crowd: a skill that allows you to both predict and react to an audience, in order to find the common musical ground. You must realize that context is everything in the world of DJing.
The same song will have a much, much different effect depending on your time slot, venue, demographic, crowd size, and more. You must focus on music curation. Get better at finding music that reflects your unique tastes, yet works with your audience.
Educations Requirements to Be a DJ
Presently, there are no degree programs in DJing. Nonetheless, DJ schools and classes do exist, but most DJs in the United States are self-taught. The basic way to improve and lay a solid foundation for success as a DJ is through practice. It is advisable you get familiar with multiple types of technology and mixing software so that any time there’s ever a technological malfunction at the club, you can still play.
Strip club DJs are expected to have experience with more than one operating system (i.e. CDJs vs. turntables), as technology can sometimes backfire, and it is always good to be prepared. Networking and social media skills are very needed for any DJ to build up a fan base. You will have to get conversant with club Promoters, Talent Buyers, and other DJs.
You also have to strategically use social media, be it through conversations and interactions or through just straight up putting on a good live performance that light up the floor for Strippers and club patrons.
Job Description & Duties of a Strip Club DJ
In the United States, most strip club DJs work weekend nights, with the most popular nights being Thursday through Saturday. Shifts are usually a few hours long. Upcoming DJs usually hold down day jobs and start off by playing slower nights. Although it all depends on the events, DJs will work with Promoters, Bookers, Strip Club Managers, and other DJs.
Have it in mind that most strip club DJs initially get jobs through networking before building a fan base, and therefore a reputation. Competition is fierce. Many people get started in this career by offering to play sets for free so that the club gets to know them, their work ethic, and how strippers and audiences react.
How Much Salary Do Strip Club DJs Make Yearly?
According to industry reports, an average annual salary for a club DJ is $40,000. The salary range for DJs runs from approximately $18,000 to $102,000. DJs in the United States are not mandated to be part of any formal organization, but networking is important.
There are so many things to consider when deciding how to become a DJ. It can be intimidating to take all of this in. However, success as a DJ is being the best DJ you can be.
Note that it is practically impossible to compare one artist against another in any creative pursuit, so don’t try and use other people’s journeys as a benchmark to measure the success of your own. Have fun, enjoy the ride and put all your passion for music into your sets. If you are in it just to become famous you are doing it wrong.