Are you the best DJ/producer who just hasn’t yet been discovered by the mighty Pete Tong to catapult your career into an overnight success? We tapped artist relations guru at Club Space & The Opium Group in Miami, Travis Rogers, to guide you through industry so that you can gain an understanding of how to market yourself, get exposure, and potentially get some bookings.
Artist Name / Brand
This to me is the most important part, other than the obvious, which is being a good DJ and/or producer. Your artist name can make or break you, which is why most of the big artist out there use a stage name (from Angello, Calvin Harris, Loco Dice, etc.) Whenever asked I always tell artist to make your name “Americanized” and by that I mean it needs to be easy to remember and pronounce by the biggest uneducated idiot.
After you have your artist name creates, developing your brand and identity come next. This means treat yourself as a business because, ultimately, you are. You must build it into something people can follow and identify with. This is the part when a quality logo is needed (please don’t do anything crazy or extravagant). Remember crazy logos can be hard to read and if/when the day comes that your name is on a festival flyer with 100+ others it will be small making it even harder to read. Less is more in this case. The next big thing is your press photo, hire a photographer and do them right. Nothing looks worse than your main pictures looking as if they were taking on a cheap cellphone.
Promoting not spamming and the misconceptions you may have
Your job is to play music, not show up with a certain amount of people (that’s called a promoter). That said, if you show up with no one or are playing for an empty room, why should you be booked over someone else? Are there crummy promoters or venues that book DJs to show up with X amount of people in order to play? Of course! It sucks and it will happen. Get over it because this is a shady business. Remember the grass is always greener on the other side and, one day, if you do things right, those same people will be on their knees begging you to play.
The biggest mistake DJs, producers and even promoters make is knowing the difference between promoting and spamming. Promoting is putting yourself or your content out for the world to see. Spamming is forcing it on them by posting on other peoples walls, tagging them, commenting, etc.
The main difference is giving the person the option to see what you have to say. You will turn more people away by being invasive more than it could actually help you. In the social media section and networking section, we will discuss further on using effective tactics.
Networking and making proper industry contacts
This is a key skill and is crucial in getting some bookings. Without people knowing who you are makes no sense (from a business standpoint) to book you. So, start clearing up your nights and get in the habit of going out and making the rounds to all the different venues you aim to play at. This is the part of growing yourself that can get exhausting, but it’s a necessary piece. Plus, you want to be in the nightlife business so it helps to get used to it.
Now that your going out, its key to start meeting the right people. From the other DJs, to the promoters, managers and possibly the owners. Meeting people breeds meeting more people since industry folks will tend to introduce you to even more key players in the industry. They all hang out together. With this said don’t neglect the party people and the VIPs. These are the ones who might support when the day comes that you get booked.
The hard part: figure out the really fine line between talking to these people without being that annoying stalker guy. No one wants to talk to him. Also, I plead and beg, avoid asking the question “book me please” or “when can I play here” or any variation, especially when you first meet industry folks. It’s the question that they get asked several times a night and remember they have no desire to book you until you build some kind of valuable reputation or, possibly, if they really like you. So focus on building relationships before focusing on getting gigs. Don’t worry, if done right, the gigs will follow.
Social Media / Online Marketing
This is a world driven around the Internet and social media. If you don’t know this, crawl out from under that rock and get active on all different forms of social media. First, make sure you register on every major social network. Please make sure all your user names and/or short urls are the exact same, its makes it easier for your followers to remember or for you to market.
Now, this isn’t a social media crash course so we highly recommend you start getting on some blogs and doing some research. Remember everything extra you learn to do may give you the leg up in getting your name and music out to the world. One thing I can recommend is if you can spend a little money, put it toward marketing yourself correctly.
This has always been a discussion up for debate and a conversation that tends to get people riled up. To begin, remember DJs nowadays are a dime a dozen and some might try to undercut you to get bookings. Also, you need to remember that some smaller venues or parties are in a building phase and struggling to make money so they are always looking for free or cheap labor. As an artist, you need to make the decision to sometimes work with the right people and doing that might mean not get paid immediately. Always aim for a paid gig but don’t pass up a good opportunity because your ego thinks you are too good to work for free.
There are a dozen guys behind you who can do the same thing and are more than happy to do it for free. It sucks, but one day you will have a reputation and your career will grow to a point that will make everything worth it. Also, please watch some documentaries if you think that doing free gigs will lead nowhere, you are wrong. Guys like Richie Hawtin, Kaskade, Guetta and so on all had to do this to get to where they are now. They went in with a desire to just play music and didn’t worry about the money. The key is to use the advice we gave in the networking section and make the most of these gigs so you can grow yourself and start working towards making this your full-time profession.
Stop Talking Trash Online and Offline
This is now becoming a big and big problem for all artists. Feeling the need to talk trash other artists, promoters, venues, etc. is wholly negative. Remember that people are always listening and watching. These negative comments will bite you in the ass. I can remember countless times when an artist talked crap about someone to me and the person they were talking about is someone I really liked or worked with regularly. Guess what? You’re not getting booked by our team again. This isn’t just an offline issue either, I’ve seen artist complain about issues they have with venues via social media. This is really bad because even though that venue might have treated you poorly other venues will become afraid to book you, thinking that you might eventually talk trash about them also. If things go wrong, keep it offline and just remember not to work with them again.
Since we are on this topic, refrain from being negative in general. Not just talking trash; people don’t like working with anyone who brings a negative vibe. Always remember it’s best to build a positive reputation and have everyone remember you for that.
Your DJ Rider
What the fuck? Are you serious? If you’re reading this then you definitely DO NOT need a rider. Don’t complain: You’re a DJ. All you need is some knobs to turn and get some people to dance. This stage in your career, be prepared to play on any gear. If you rock Traktor, then bring an usb or some CDJ’s as a backup because sometimes laptops fail. If you can’t play because you’re unprepared then your chance of being booked again by that promoter or venue is probably non-existent. As for free liquor, bottles, or comps make sure you have that worked out before you accept the gig. By the time you actually need a proper rider you won’t have to worry about it because your manager will prepare that for you.
Don’t forget the music
It’s important to stay on top of regularly pushing out new content such as releases, podcasts, live sets, videos, teasers, etc. Doing this gives your followers a reason to pay attention to what your doing and a reason to even follow you in the first place.
Throw your own event
So, getting actual bookings aren’t working out or the bookings you have been getting you don’t like? Don’t be shy, reach into your pocket grab some extra cash and throw your own event as you see fit. Find a venue you like, work out a deal on a night they are slow or closed, then do your best to make it work. If you end up making it work not only with you earn some respect but you will see yourself grow at a much faster pace. If you fail miserably, don’t stress it. This happens to all of us even those of us who have been successful in the past. Learn from what you did wrong and apply it to your next party or team up with some promoters next time and figure out a formula that works for you.
Do the work… no one else will do it for you
As the title of this section says: go in with the mentality that no one is going to help you. Pay your dues, as they say, and when the time comes for people to help you it will only make everything easier.
I look at it like this, I put years into building myself in this business and I don’t just plan on handing that to you unless you done some work on your own.
Be original and stand out
That is all. It’s easy to copy what works but you can be much bigger by taking risk and paving a new path for followers to copy you.
This article is written in the views of Travis Rogers and his team. Though certain things you may disagree with. The views are written from his experiences and knowledge of the industry. Even following all these points of advice might not help you advance your career. No amount of advice can help you if you suck at music or are just a douche bag.
Copyright Thrust Publishing Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.djmag.com as the source.