There’s a lot of love and loyalty in smaller towns. DJing is about finding the people that matter and making events for them. In this short series, we’re looking at some of the advantages of being in a small town, while also keeping realistic expectations in mind. Learning to DJ is really about learning what your community wants.

Numbers game

It’s a small town, not Tomorrowland. So do the math. If you’re charging $10 a ticket and 20 people rock up and pay, you’re gambling with $200. Whatever you do, don’t spend too much promoting your own parties at first. First, you need to learn the actual behavior of paying clientele. Often, only about 20% of the people who ‘commit’ to being at a public paid event verbally or on Facebook will actually arrive and pay. Money lost is actually spent buying realistic expectations. Money gained gets reinvested into the next party. Profit comes after the audience, venue and other DJs (if any) are happy. You laugh last, and longest.

Adapt to the audience

Here’s an idea: instead of having a door person, leave the door open and have a person collecting money inside the venue. Issue bright armbands to everyone who has paid. Some people will get away with not paying, but that will make their night even more enjoyable. Most people will whip out the cash when confronted. Having the door open is great psychology in small towns, where people aren’t used to paying for anything related to entertainment. Don’t just copy-paste strategies that work in the city onto your event. Know your audience, and adapt to what they actually want. 

It’s just entertainment

A night out dancing is actually way down the list of most people’s needs. So don’t take it too seriously. Your choice of music isn’t the product. Cool DJ gear is the product. The status boost from having a close buddy rocking the stage is the product. Interesting lighting is the product. Don’t get too hung up on your tracklist. Don’t think they’re all there to see you. They’re not. They’re there to shout gossip at each other over a drinks special. And maybe get a selfie with you somewhere in the background. If you’re looking hot. People will pay for these products.

In big cities and small towns alike, running a successful event is ultimately about providing an alternative to people’s worklife. It’s about causing people to forget their troubles, without them necessarily approving up front. It’s about taking them for a ride. So what does the negative image of work life look like? Provide that space and allow people to forget their worries for a night. Get with the program and check out some of the DJ courses offered by DJ Courses Online today. 

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ