SoundCloud has introduced a refreshed home screen that allows users to see more music from the service’s most popular independent creators. The refreshed home screen features song collections sorted by genre and curated playlists popular in the platform’s community. The new home screen is a welcome update that should help differentiate the struggling service against rival offerings from Spotify, Apple, Google, and Amazon.
Nick Minieri, founder of Beantown Boogiedown and Zakim Recordings has recently taught a workshop at MMMMAVEN on self-promotion tactics for DJs and producers who are starting out in the biz. The content was so great that we felt the need to summarize it for our digital readers as well. Nick was gracious enough to let us share the summary of his presentation. So without further ado, here is
Shameless Self Promotion Tactics That Don’t Suck
So you’ve spent thousands of dollars on gear, invested time and energy into learning how it all works, and have acquired the skillz’ to (hopefully) pay the billz’. You should, in theory, be getting gigs like nobody’s business and making money… but wait, what’s that? Gigs aren’t rolling in the way you’d hoped? As DJing continues to grow in popularity around the world, gigs are getting increasingly more difficult to obtain for the average song selector. However, standing out from the crowd and making your mark as a DJ is not an impossible task; It’s basic economics of supply and demand!
Looking at the lineups of every local and regional show in the past year, you’ll notice that the same acts are booked over and over again, that is, 10% of the DJ’s in town get 90% of the gigs. Nevertheless, before getting discouraged, it is important to know that nobody is an overnight success and these 10% were one day just like you. When getting involved in a music scene, it can take years before you start getting your first gigs, especially in a larger city like Boston. Failure is not an option. The DJ’s who get gigs the most frequently are in this for the long haul, and it can take several years of involvement before they start getting booked.
“Why Should I Book You?”
Before anything, ask yourself, what do you bring to the table? Skills are no longer all it takes to be successful in the music industry and performers need to provide some sort of additional value in order to stand out from the rest. DJs are defined by their unique aesthetic; the music they play, the way they play it, and what their “image” is. In a world where the competition is fierce and more and more DJs are springing by the minute, one needs to be aware of the trends in the scene and stay ahead of the pack in order to stay relevant. In order to create memorable setlists and stand out from the rest of the DJs in the crowd, you need to spend time crafting your own individuality and develop a unique library of music.
PRO TIP: Many DJs just download songs from the Beatport charts or the ones featured on blogs. The longer you spend searching for undiscovered content, the more your set lists will stand out.
Passion, Patience, and Persistence
The best DJs in the world are highly dedicated in what they do and have spent years perfecting their craft in order to get to where they are. Because DJing is an art form that is meant to move audiences, in order to really connect, a DJ needs to be very intuitive and view their work as a passion and not just a hobby. If all the little things, such as digging through large crates of music online, setting cue points in Traktor or Serato, debating with other DJ’s why you think Allen and Heath mixers are better than Pioneer ones, and learning the next trends in the industry by reading the blogs don’t excite you, then you’re in for a bumpy ride! Remember, the path to success isn’t always easy and there will be a few setbacks. Set a clear and realistic goal for what you want to do and keep a positive mindset along the way. If your passionate about what you’re trying to accomplish anything is within your reach!
Passion transcribes into the way you present yourself as a performer. If your heart isn’t in it, the audience will know, especially if you aren’t very experienced! Therefore, if you’re truly passionate about the journey into becoming a DJ, you should know that with any skill comes practice and that DJing is more than just selecting tracks and beatmatching. All the best DJs have spent real time developing an understanding of their equipment and getting to know their entire musical catalogue inside and out. This requires a lot of time, effort, and patience, but the rewards are fruitful! Make it a priority to organize your tracks (by style, key, metadata tags, or whatever works for you) and practice your skills, as you’ll need both to navigate through your collection smoothly. Once you’ve become familiar with your library, can prepare and perform an entire set from start to end, and have developed the skills to interact with a crowd through your music, you’re ready to take your act to the next step.
When you’re confident in your ability to deliver a decent performance and have developed a decent following, Promoters nowadays very rarely reach out to people outside of the residents who play their shows on a regular basis, meaning that if you want gigs you have to ask for them! Don’t be afraid of the word ‘NO’. There is no worse question than the that which is not asked. As I stated before, keeping a positive attitude and being persistent is the only way to succeed, and if you continue to kill it and work towards your goal, eventually. When reaching out, one must be persistent and to the point, asking the promoter specifically what it is you hope to get out of them. Something along the lines of “I would like to play your weekly event once during the next 3 months” is better than “if you’re ever looking for a DJ let me know, I can play anything.”
~ How to Get Noticed as a DJ ~
1. Promote Yourself Online
Promoting yourself online is also a major key in getting noticed by both promoters and potential fans. On Facebook, find out who the promoters throwing events based on what you play are, let them know you exist by commenting on past events, and describe to them why you think you’d be a good fit to play their show (think of what YOU can do for them). Limit your intro to a single paragraph and close with a link to your website and Soundcloud account. However, do not rely solely on Soundcloud for promoting your mixes online though, especially as they continue their crackdown on copyright infringement; Consider Mixcloud, YouTube, video streams, self hosting, etc. Additionally, because you want to make an impact, spend time on the cover art for your mix or pay a good designer to do it for you, as this is the first impression potential fans will get of you even BEFORE listening to your mix. Radio shows are also a great way to promote yourself because they are a weekly or bi-weekly commitment that force you to practice and stay up-to-date with your music. Making these mixes on a regular basis shows others that you take your craft seriously and can deliver behind the decks. Also, spend real time crafting your bio, or find someone to write it for you, as these showcase your uniqueness and you don’t want to be caught with something cliche when the promoter asks you for one! Something simple should work, you are an new act after all.
2. Getting Involved in the Local Scene
A general rule of thumb is that you should never even THINK about playing a local event unless you are regularly attending it. This doesn’t mean going every single week, but often enough to get on a friendly basis with the organizers and guests who attend it regularly. This is how you get a sense of what types of music truly work on the dancefloor so that you can compliment the vibe of the night the moment you’re lucky enough to take over the booth.
PRO TIP:When attending a club you would like to perform at, try going to a weekly on a slower night when only locals are playing so that the promoter isn’t as stressed and more open to having a conversation with you.
House parties are also great places to cut your teeth behind the decks before starting to play at larger parties and clubs because it allows you to show people what you do in a more intimate setting. Nightlife opportunities in general are 100% about the connections you make, in case you haven’t noticed yet.
3. Throwing Events: The Fastest Ways To Get Gigs
Have you ever noticed how non-headlining lineups at most parties are comprised of DJs who are also promoters? Whether or not promoters will want to admit it, booking swaps are the norm. This is when a promoter (who happens to be a DJ) invites a DJ (who also happens to be a promoter) to play his/her event.
PRO TIP:Don’t simply book other promoters because you want them to play your nights. People will pick up on this right away. If you’re good, you’ll get booked regardless.
Throwing and playing your own parties allows you to dictate your own circumstances. If you want to start playing immediately, the only way to do it is to throw a party and book yourself to play it. Weeknight shows are easiest to book at venues, as most have minimal event programming during the week. Tell them of your specific vision for the night (kind of music, target market, branding elements, etc) and what your goals are. Your aim should be on getting your name out there and establishing a presence locally.
4. Producing Music
DJs who produce music are a hot commodity nowadays. If you prove yourself as a producer, gigs will just start happening; This means that you have numerous songs signed to well-known labels and have world-renowned A-list DJs playing your music. People who get to this level will commonly also have a manager or agent assisting them in securing gigs. To get to this level, however, you need to spend years practicing and perfecting your craft!