I cannot believe I am writing another Shaping the Next Big Artist after going on a huge hiatus after the two months I wrote weekly articles. The reason that I am writing this is because I went on a whole rant regarding this topic. The response was so great that I had to write another Shaping the Next Big Artist article to share this with everyone else as I don’t want it to get lost down the Twitter rabbit hole.
The Question That Started It All
Let me give you some backstory with the Twitter rabbit hole and what sparked this all. It is some valuable information that I essentially appropriated from Gary Vaynerchuk, but have mentioned multiple times before in this article. I tailored it to DJ’s. This can be changed to producers for getting their music to labels and other artists. Use the same tactics as mentioned, but change some of the people who you are targeting.
The FPIA tweeted out the following question:
What is your opinion on getting a booking agency? Comment below, share your thoughts w/ us.
In my typical fashion, I answered the question both ways with a yes and a no, but I explained why. I said if you are a salesperson and can sell yourself as well as make sure you can get paid, it doesn’t pay for a booking agency. Regarding the need of an agency, if you’re unable to sell yourself and struggle getting your payment from bad employers, then you need representation. The downside is that you don’t get 100% of the payment, but you can be assured the money.
One isn’t better than the other. Some people don’t have time to sell themselves. Others just aren’t up for the task. Many reasons, but the important thing is to realize that this doesn’t define you or show that you cannot do something. This just allows you to focus on your strengths and outsource your weaknesses so you can continue focusing on your strengths.
Follow Up Question That Sparked This Article
This led to the question by Mikey Barreneche to which I went on a long spiel on Twitter and decided that I needed to write the same information here to share with you. Mikey decided to challenge me on my statements by stating:
I don’t think a club would take a DJ serious if approached for a booking without an agency or management though
I disagreed with him, but stated that if he plainly walked up to a club, he would most likely (99.9%) not achieve success. Of course, you wouldn’t do this with any other career. Why would DJing be any different
May I ask how would you go about doing it?
— MIKEY BARRENECHE (@mikeybarreneche) July 28, 2017
I see this question asked frequently and I figured that I would make a new article that deals with this all. I will be pulling some of the same content you’ve read in all my other articles – Introductions to Making Contacts, Social Media, Basic Branding, Planning Your Moves, Websites, Fully Understanding the Power of Facebook, and Social Media Sucks. I am also going to reference Gary Vee on this one.
Steps to Getting Hired as a DJ
I do want to note before I write this, if someone is going to explain an anecdotal reference on why my method doesn’t work or why theirs works better, I don’t care. Reason being is that this isn’t a guaranteed method. No method is unless you open up a club by yourself and DJ it every night. That said, this will get you a good start.
Step 1. Figure out where you are
Where do you live? Are you in New York City? Are you in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma. Obviously, location matters. Home location isn’t an issue if you don’t mind travelling. If you need to pay for your travels because you’re an unknown DJ and haven’t convinced anyone to pay for your travel accommodations, you are limited. Needless to say, you need to know your area and the limitations you have set on yourself for travel. You wouldn’t try to get places in Las Vegas to hire you if you can’t get there by yourself. Lower your radius.
Step 2. Network your butt off
Everyone will always tell you it is about who you know. Get out there and know everyone. Clubs aren’t about just the person who owns the club. Follow everyone who works for the clubs, bars, venues, etc that are within your radius. Anyone that has a voice in that area, industry, etc. Follow the artists. Follow their management. Follow the PR companies. Follow it all. FOLLOW THEM. Follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and any other PUBLIC social media. Don’t go adding them on Facebook if you never met them and creep into their DM’s. Actually, don’t ever creep into their DM’s unless they invite you to. This is about setting up a circle. No one cares if this screws up your “follower/followers” ratio. Follow the owners. Follow the bartenders. Follow everyone in between.
Now that you follow them, don’t worry if they don’t follow back. That isn’t the point we’re going for right now. The point is to reply to their posts. Reply to everything you can add substance to. This means, if they are asking for an opinion, give it. If they are asking for anyone to help make a decision give it. If you can add to a conversation, reply. If it is to ask them to hire you or follow you, don’t even bother with this article. If you are always expecting a reply back, you are also asking for a bad time. The idea is to get your name out there in order to potentially set up a genuine relationship that extends farther past a professional relationship. You are providing value to yourself outside of your music. Who knows, you can make a friend off of this. I know I have through this site alone.
Here is a theoretical situation. An event coordinator lost his performing artist due to a sickness. They tweet out they are looking for someone. Considering you have been responding to their tweets on a solid basis and been providing some worth, there is a statistically higher chance they go to you because you’re familiar than someone random asking for the same position.
While you cannot base all your relationships off of that, there is always that potential. People help out others that they know. Make yourself known. No one cares if you aren’t the biggest. No one cares if you think you’re unknown. To them, you may be the next breakout star.
Step 3. Take gigs
Are you getting paid? Are there people watching? Are you able to do what you do best? If the answer is yes. Take the gig. Is it for some dive bar? Take it. Is it for a children’s party…well depends who the parents are. Remember, even professionals still perform at Bar Mitzvahs when money is involved. I hate that people say they won’t take gigs because it isn’t worth their time. If you are willing to get paid X amount of dollars, that is apparently what your time is currently worth. You need to earn your digs to get higher.
When people who take off from their job go out, they may attend the dive bar you’re performing. They may like you and want to hire you. The owner may know other owners and help you out. There are lots of scenarios that could happen all because you are trying to claw your way to the top. You are now becoming a go-to guy in your radius of travel. All of those gigs will start to add up. Would you rather do that than deal with a cubicle job next to Janice who won’t shut up about her 5 cats and Carl who talks about a television show you never heard?
I absolutely loathe the idea of doing things for free for exposure. 99% of the time, that is nonsense. I can honestly say that if you sift through all the garbage, there are nuggets of opportunities that can come out of this. You will have to vet these opportunities before you go accepting, but I wouldn’t count out all free gigs.
Step 4. Join groups
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, and social media may make up a good part of the internet, but there are more to those sites and more sites out there. Join niche groups. Join forums. Join local associations. On Facebook, there is this group feature. Find active groups that relate to your niche and even that are somewhat relative. Groups, forums, etc. are great places where all sorts of topics are discussed. Maybe you need help with marketing. There are marketing groups that will help you. Maybe you want to work on composing, there are groups for that. They make great areas for like minded people to discuss topics. Sure, some topics may not relate to you at all, but they are filled with knowledge that is worth as much as gold.
Groups don’t have to deal much with you. Volunteer groups have people from all over helping out for great causes. Think outside the box. People who work in nightlife also do things during the day. They also contribute to society and do charities. This is a cynical way of doing charity for your own good, but you can help out others while networking.
I will give you my personal example. I am apart of a content creator group. The majority of people seem to be Instagram related and the topics follow. I have learned that there is more than meets the eye. There are contacts from many different companies that can connect you to what you want to achieve. To answer your question, I will not invite you in because it isn’t my place to do that.
Step 5. Collect all your content, organize it, and showcase it
This should be step 0 because I shouldn’t have to mention it. Although, this is for your sake, for your fans sake, and for your potential employer’s sake. Have a home base aka a website. With Soundcloud being a sinking ship, learn you cannot rely on other platforms for your fans. Social Media are great tools, but have a website. Keep every track, remix, video, photo, etc on your site. You will want to have them when Soundcloud becomes irrelevant or drops your account like a bad habit. You will want to have it to show how well you’ve progressed rather than going through the list of every reposted track you have because you wanted others to repost yours. You will want to have a site so people can contact you easier rather than handing out that official DJ gmail account you have despite the fact no one is trying to make any unofficial ones nor do they want to copy you.
Websites should be your interactive resume. They should feature your highlights, but also have your discography. You can make a website and use it to your advantage. Having a website means you have a better chance popping up on Google in the top of the ranks when people search for you.
Step 6. Have promotional material
There is nothing more frustrating than meeting someone and forgetting their name or their website. It is human nature that we forget things. Let’s not make you forgotten. Make up businesses cards. Stickers. USB drives with your logo, website, and your music in and on the drives. Yes, you are spending money, but this is for your career. You wouldn’t try and become a photographer with only a cell phone and refuse to buy a DSLR. These small things go a long way especially to those who still use these items. You may not use them, but they are still used very often!
Step 7. Repeat
Keep doing this. Soon your radius will get bigger. Professional DJ’s no longer have a radius unless it is self-imposed after not having a radius. The idea is to network and networking is key. Networking will allow you to showcase your talent and skills to the people that matter. It goes without saying that if you don’t have plenty of content, this article doesn’t apply. I am talking about people that are constantly grinding. They are putting out new tracks, mixes, EP’s, remixes on a consistent basis. You need music to do this. Keep working at everything else.
What I discussed here will get you jobs. It will take sifting through a lot of rejection, but if you are dedicated to your goal, that rejection won’t matter. Plus, you will make a lot of new friends and contacts. Help those friends out. They will help you. Your circle will continue to grow. Keep the grind going and be sure to post actual content while hitting up everyone. If you are doing good work, you will get recognized. These tips will just help you get recognized a bit faster.
Here is the list of all the articles as we put them out week by week:
- Week 0 – Introduction to the Series
- Week 1 – Introductions to Making Contacts
- Week 2 – Receiving Criticism
- Week 3 – Social Media
- Week 4 – Basic Branding
- Week 5 – Planning Your Moves
- Week 6 – Websites
- Week 7 – Fully Understanding the Power of Facebook
- Week 8 – Social Media Sucks, You Suck, Give Up
- Week 9 – Networking in a Social Media Era (Current Post)
- Week 10 – Are Booking Agencies Worth It