A guide to booking more DJ gigs – From a non-DJ’s perspective

This article is an opinion-based guide of personal perspective on how to book more DJ gigs and increase your overall value/appearance as a DJ. It’s pretty long…and I’m not a DJ…so now you’re warned.

( Total reading time: 10 minutes )

Electronic Music Culture as a whole, is the fastest growing market in North America right now. A market that’s been evaluated earlier this year at 20 billion dollars by a couple capital groups – which doesn’t make it the most-humungous ever, but makes it a real noticeable thing, with lots of people servicing and participating in it that definitely were not a couple minutes ago. Night clubs are popping up everywhere, people are becoming promoters, vip hosts, bartenders, dancers, video techs, stage production techs, photographers, blog writers, but most commonly, 1 out of 5 of your friends that enjoy the electronic music culture are probably in someway now, a DJ and or Producer.

This means that DJ supply is going up, booking fee’s are going down and it’s taking much more than it did in the past to stand out…which to be honest, is totally fine with me.

Below I am going to go over questions to ask yourself, marketing tips and essentials, I feel that you, ( assuming you’re a dj ) must have to not only book more gigs, but survive in general within the culture. Feel free to leave your comments in the end or ask any questions and I’ll be sure to answer them.

First ask: Why am I a DJ/Producer?

Let’s answer a couple questions I feel are pretty important: Why are you doing this? Are you in this for the long haul? Have you planned on this being your career for a while now, examining what it takes to make it to the top? Are you willing to sacrifice recreational and social areas of your life? Is your goal to be paid to tour around the world and play the music that you produce? To fill the masses with heart throbbing joy because of your awesome sounds? Or, is this a fun hobby? Something out of the ordinary that’s cool to do on the weekends or during the week for common bar weekly’s and raves? Is this a way to party with your community? Be involved with the industry? A scene to speculate on with gossip and stats that you follow like a sport? Do you truly just love the music and view it as a way of expressing creativity and being involved in the arts? Or do you just enjoy the energy of being in front of a cheering crowd dancing to loud music, doing drugs and hooking up with people you meet in the club?

No matter what the answer is, you have to decide if you are genuinely committed to it if you want to see any results and stand out. “”Committed” – Feeling dedication and loyalty to a cause, activity, or job; wholeheartedly.”

Step 1: Create original content

I say create content first, because without this step, you have nothing of substance to share, nothing for people to connect with or build on, nor do you have anything for people to relate too or become excited about. Content is king for a reason. It’s the only thing that people will gravitate towards that’s actually yours, on the internet. Below are Examples of content DJ’s can release, and if done properly and with consistence, can gain traction ( Even if you haven’t refined your production to a level that’s ready for the big leagues, you can still create great content, regularly. ):

– Well planned mixes using high quality tracks work very well, especially when they’re uploaded to soundcloud + mixcloud and youtube using proper tags and added to the right groups + channels. Always list the tracks in your descriptions as well as your social media and never forget to @credit the artists. Also, use sites like http://www.harmonic-mixing.com/ to make sure your tracks are in harmony.

– Release Remix tracks from competitions and artists that release stems or are willing to give you theirs – Use sites like http://www.remixcomps.com/, http://play.beatport.com/contests/ and http://creativeallies.com/ – These spots sometimes yield really dope rewards that make it worth your time and if won, can boost your numbers, ( I talk about numbers in 2 sections ).

– Spend time putting together creative bootleg/mashups that flow well. A well thought out bootleg/Mashup submitted to the right blog can hit the top of Hypem.com (if you don’t know what hypem.com is, it’s important that you know). Soon blogs and promoters will be keeping their eyes on you, willing to re-post more of your content. A lot of DJ/Producers have come up strictly from Bootleg/Mashups.

It’s important to make sure that your content is distributed/released consistently so people start to expect it and eventually follow/subscribe.

Please note: I did not mention anything about t-shirts or merchandise, you don’t need that shit until you’re selling out shows. This comes LAST

Step 2: Present yourself like a top DJ/Producer

First impressions are pretty much everything. Especially considering the attention span of people in today’s super ad infested, fake story telling, Illuminati theorizing, anti-government raging, crappy meme soaked internet that we live in today. I give about 4 seconds of my browsing on your facebook page or soundcloud before I determine if I’m going to be able to connect and appreciate you as a DJ or producing artist or not. It’s important that your facebook tabs are set up with links to your content, your free downloads and mixes are set up with fangates and your soundcloud is set up with spotlight tracks and neatly organized mixes and playlists ( if you have any )

Do not spend time building your IMAGE before you have built CONTENT. Your image is created to represent your content.

I cannot stress this enough, take your time to choose and save at least $300 for the right photographer or Photography studio. Everyone and their mother has a dslr camera and can take pictures, this doesn’t mean that they all look good…( Side note: Always be prepared, before contacting a photographer have a select amount of photos that you truly want to replicate, this way the photographer has reference and you have an image to compare against )

Certain photographers come with certain techniques and equipment and can pull off specific looks, make sure you choose one that can pull off the look you’re going for. Places to find a photographer:

– http://modelmayehm.com

If you don’t know any designers use services like http://microlancer.com or http://elance.com to find someone that’s right for you. If you wanna go above and beyond and hit a top tier provider then contact an artist off http://behance.net – Behance makes it easy to find the best.

Make sure that when your logo is completed you get it in a variety of shapes and sizes ( like small, medium, hi-rez, vector for video, PNG in black and white for fliers, with outlines and without and sized for square and facebook timeline images. This way when you receive the package you can just plug it in and go and don’t have to ask anyone else for stuff to do for you….ALSO, when you play at shows you will have a ready-to-go pack for the visual/video peeps and promoters…which will 1) make you look like a prepared boss and 2) People will fucking remember you. )

– Don’t ask for a record, headphones, or a person DJ`ing to be in your logo
– Don’t ask for a variety to choose from, if you require some wack indecisive volume shit like that, go to 99designs.com ( not advised ) – If you don’t trust your designer, then hire someone else that you’re confident can provide the work you’re looking for and let it be.

Also, an important rule of thumb, whenever you do a track release – Try your best to put YOUR logo above the title of the track in the artwork – It’s not always necessary, but people read from top to bottom.

Press Kits and Websites

Do not need to be made into a long story, the job of the press kit is to provide all of your information as a hub, to show that you’re the right person for the job. It should be like…the venue map of you as a DJ: – Where are your tracks, where are your social sites, why are you special, who is to be contacted for booking. No one reads bio’s anymore, no need for use of magical words and jargon to make it seem like you bring Jesus back to watch your sets and your struggle was real…be clear and concise, mention your top 3 biggest accomplishments: “I opened for Tiesto, I run my own weekly at a poppin bar, My latest track has been featured on dancing astronaut and has capped 50,000 plays on soundcloud it’s first week”…boom. Done.

A website should be the same way and in my opinion works better than a press-kit….don’t turn putting up a site into a long story..Use a service like http://squarespace.com or http://wordpress.org with some drag and drop modules. There’s a billion themes and people talking about how to make them function cool all over the internet. Buy a domain from godaddy.com and be done with it. Install a soundcloud plugin, event plugin, google analytics plugin, social links at top and bottom and a page where they can download your logos, photos for fliers and presskit….All this crazy custom flashing lights and shit doesn’t matter – people need DATA, not fancy shit. The only thing fancy should be your mixes and tracks you’re releasing to get your numbers up….which takes me to the next topic:

Getting your numbers up.

Since you don’t have a floating report card above your head available for anyone in the industry to verify your experience and pull, the next best thing is to develop a healthy online presence or….re-assuring social media indicators that prove you can bring people to watch you play music.

It’s all about numbers….tickets > buses > tables > drinks…..or, what it all truly comes down to….moniez. The only way to show you’re able to bring more money ahead of the next 100 DJ’s in line…..are your numbers.

Soundcloud Followers: Releasing content, adding to the right groups, tagging your releases properly, sharing your content quickly with the right blogs ( exposing yourself to blogs explained in the next section ), creating and using clean and branded cover artwork and interaction/re-posting of other artists work that you applaud or feel compliments your work.

Facebook Fans: It’s shitty, but Facebook has dumbed down the exposure of posts to almost nothing unless you pay. THIS is a good thing, the reason why it’s a good thing is because now people are only staring at content that other people REALLY want them to see…I want my 20,000 fans to see my new track, I boost it with 20$…I want them to know I ate pizza with Skrillex, $10. You’re meme about deserving to get paid more as a dj or a girl on E tripping too hard – keep it. I don’t give a fuck….the internet doesn't need anymore pollution. 

Set up app links in your TABS that link to your actual site or soundcloud. Set up a fan gate with free “like to download” music…Make sure you collect their email address no matter WHAT if they are interacting with any of your content…Anything. The emails are going to come in handy down the road….especially if they are local. I’ve used http://woobox.com for all of our Facebook stuff and it works well…the tracking is insane and it’s easy to set up.

When you have a big show or big release coming up, create build-up and countdown images ( see my article on hosting an event at a night club, for examples ). Create nicely fitting timeline and profile pictures to create hype and boost the info to your event at least once with included links to your event page…no brainer right?

Develop methods to interact with your people and promote your event without spamming your digital flier too often – people now are inundated with so much crap, especially digital crap on facebook. Interact with people in groups that are local. Show up to similar events to network and meet new people that don’t currently hit the events that you have upcoming…Private message people about your event in a simple sentence and add a personal touch…what’s an hour of your time if you bring 20 more people to your event? It’s hard, but no one ever said building a new audience to come pay money to see you play music was easy.

Twitter Followers – How big is your voice? Who else that’s doing it in the scene are you interacting with? Have you created a hashtag that’s unique to your persona or campaign?

Get under the radar.

The engines that drive visibility and exposure are music blogs. Plain and simple. Hype Machine is a blog syndicate and ranking hub that lists tracks from ‘approved’ blogs and offers amazing exposure if people “heart” your track. I’ve seen artists go from bedroom producers to labels and tours overnight because of the right Hype Machine exposure. Here’s an easy strategy to get on Hype Machine. If you do what I list below, you will never have to set it up again and you’ll have a broadcasting engine to promote yourself as often as you would like.

Blog / Label collection: Use Hype Machine’s list of blogs to build a database of syndicated blogs that post the genre or style of music you produce or mix. Go to http://hypemachine.com > blogs > select genre > see list of blogs. Find the submission or info or contact info for each blog, if they are an approved music blog they all have a submission email. 2nd, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_record_labels and source the submission addresses for all the music labels in existence..just do it. Create a google docs spread sheet with 2 columns: Blog Name of blog or label and E-mail address – that is it.

Below you can find a list of blogs I have collected in 10 minutes using this methodology:

–BPM Network

Setting up your blast: Check this out….Mail Chimp allows you to send 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers for free..forever. http://mailchimp.com/pricing/ – I listed like 36 sites, that means you can blast or promo yourself a fuck ton of times before even having to pay them a penny…and the next upgrade is only 10$ a month anyways…Import your spreadsheet to a template and blast your cover or track artwork to the music blogs with 1 sentence about yourself and your 3 social links..instantly…that is it. Whenever you have a show, blast it to the email addresses you got from your facebook fangate, whenever you release a track, blast it out to the blogs instantly…Congrats, now you don’t have to manually e-mail your shit out 1 by 1 through gmail. Leverage the power of the internetz. Oh yeah, and if you can’t figure out how to set up a campaign refer to dis: http://kb.mailchimp.com/article/how-do-i-create-a-new-campaign/ – Mailchimp has like…documentation my grandma could understand. Get wit it.

Closing words

I asked a top talent buyer his thoughts on how to book more dj gigs and his immediate reply was simple:

Don’t be a dick
remember..this isn’t going to make you rich
Patience Persistence Patience
Don’t burn bridges

Simple enough right? Be righteous, do it for the right reasons, stay committed and take advantage of what’s available to you…

I hope this article helps! Please share with your friends or peers. Also, feel free to leave your thoughts or ask questions in the commenting section.

-Nate Khouli

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This was a great read… and a better re-read. Solid.

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