Finding and Winning Competitions for DJs and Producers

Author : 6AM
February 28, 2017

Finding and Winning Competitions for DJs and Producers

Guest post by Eric Louis

Whether you’re an aspiring DJ, producer or both, competitions are a great way to hone your craft and get noticed. The nature of competitions forces you to do two important things: you have a deadline so you have to get your work done in a set time frame, and you have to put something out there for the world to hear.

Winners of these competitions usually get a release on known labels and other prizes like Dj/production related software and hardware, as well as exposure that could translate into new bookings and opportunities.

In this post you’ll hear from people who have won a range of competitions so you can learn where to look for contests and what you can do to give yourself the best shot at winning. For DJ competitions I checked in with Natalie “Invinta” Bolshakoff, who has done done well in a number of mix competitions. She won both the Tough Love DJ Competition 2016 and of the June 2016 edition of Decoded Magazine’s mix of the month, and was also the finalist of the the CR2 DJ Competition 2017 and semi-finalist of the Coors Light DJ Quest 2016




Where do you go to find DJ competitions?

I usually check Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Mixcloud. Google search is very helpful. And, of course, if I see my DJ/producer-mates enter competitions, I follow them too. However, I do submissions for the contest my sound matches best.

What are your top 3 tips for succeeding in these competitions?

1. Read competition terms & conditions carefully and create a mix as per the requirements 2. Express yourself in the mix, show something creative, something that distinguishes your work 3. Let people hear your mix and support you via social media.

How has winning or the exposure helped your DJ career?

Winning definitely helped me get heard by a wider audience. I would say winning means music industry gurus` recognition and their valuable feedback. This motivates me and allows me to grow as an artist. Besides, I am proud of the winnings and think they add weight to my BIO which is important for both fans and promoters.

For the music makers reading, let’s talk about remix and production contests.

Remix contests are very popular while production contests are a little harder to find.  Both offer the winners a release on credible labels.


Moody Reordings

Last Summer, legendary US house label Moody Recordings partnered up with Point Blank and Magnetic Mag and hosted a competition to celebrate Moody’s 20 year anniversary.  The winner would get their own original track features on a Moody Recordings Compilation, a feature on Magnetic Mag, and $2,000 worth of courses from Point Blank.

Scotty Does Know was 1 of 2 winners selected. Scotty and I had a chance to catch up and here’s what he had to say.

Do you actively look for remix competitions and if so where?

I don’t actively look for remixes but find they come up on my social media accounts a lot whether it be through friends, pages, or artists I follow.

How did you find out about the Moody one?
I found out through the Moody competition on Facebook since I was a follower of both the label and Point Blank at the time

What was your thought process on what to submit as an entry?

I had my track DARE already started with the vocals recorded already when the competition was announced. The track had been sitting on the back-burner for a bit while I made last minute tweaks and worked on other projects, but when I saw the Moody competition I decided to finish it and submit it because I thought it would be a good fit for the label and competition.

This track was an original piece that initially had some sampled vocals in, but decided to work with one of my classmates at the time Lena who is an amazing singer, producer and songwriter. She wrote the lyrics for the track and we recorded them together in LA.

Afterwards I did the post processing and vocal stretching/fx work.
My goal for this track was to make it familiar but different. I had wanted to submit a track to Moody for a while because they are not only a great house label, but also located in my hometown of Denver, Colorado.

When they announced the competition I thought this track might be a good fit for them because it was a bit less “EDM” than a lot of my usual stuff, and also the vibe just felt rather moody!

Any tips for mixing it all down, this is a common question I get?

Mixing is something I’m always getting better at, but lately i’ve found myself monitoring tracks at a much quieter level and I think it has helped my overall balance and clarity. I like to imagine that my mom is sitting next to me in the studio, and I try to keep it at a level that she would find appropriate rather than blasting the volume.

Mastering, did you get it mastered before you submitted your entry? If so was it self mastered or sent to a pro?

I did not do my own mastering for this track, but instead used my usual service called Suture Mastering. I had the track mastered prior to submitting it for the competition.

How has winning helped your career?

Currently, the release of this track is scheduled for some time in March, but winning this competition has been very helpful in making new friends and connections over at Moody Recordings. Since they are located in my hometown only about 15 minutes away, I was able to check out their headquarters and studio space, while also being able to learn from some of the amazing people running the label like Jonas and Ben.

Did you have to promote your mix, or was it totally based on what the judges think rather than popularity?

One thing I really enjoyed about this competition was that you did not have to push for votes, or promote your track since the judging was all handled internally by Moody Recordings, and Point Blank.

Thanks Scotty we’re looking forward to the full release of your song soon. Readers can listen and follow Scotty at this link here.

So What About Remix Competitions?

Like other competitions discussed, follow your favorite artists and labels on social media. That’s what worked for Scotty Does Know and Invinta. In addition here are some sites you can actively search and find remix contests: KreaSound,,, Reddit.

Victor Calderone Roll

How to Make Your Entry Stand Out?

I won a competition on Beatport’s now defunct “Play” platform out of 300+ other submissions.Like the Moody Recordings Competition, the grand prize was a release on a known techno DJ’s label, a pair of Dubs Acoustic Filters, and Rob Pappen’s “Explorer” software synth bundle.

I can definitely tell you that in addition to having a strong sonic fit, have your entry mastered to really stand out.  And in terms of sonic fit, I mean that it matches the sound of the label, in addition to a good mix down.

For vocal remixes it’s usually best to only use the acapella and maybe the main hook or riff.  For “tracks” it’s a similar process.  Most tracks have a central musical hook or short vocal samples to keep things interesting.  Most remixers will build their remixes around these 1 or 2 main ideas and do everything else from scratch. Whatever elements you choose to keep, let’s say vocals, you don’t have to give yourself more work by further editing them and coming up with a new arrangement. In my winning remix entry I left the arrangement as is, and added my own original tracks as needed.

It’s also a good idea to find out the original tracks music key, this way what you bring to the table will have the right pitch.  Popular DJ software like Rekordbox and Mixed in Key will tell you this. You can also check Beatport for a song’s key signature.

I checked in with a number of people on Reddit and Facebook, and many are challenged by the mix down.

There aren’t really any “remix competition” specific mixing tips I can give you since a well mixed song is a well mixed song no matter if it’s a competition entry or not. It is a big time saver to work with the flow and arrangement of the original. You can still craft a very unique winning remix while keeping the arrangement of the original.  This way you can reduce time spent figuring out where to place elements of your mix, such as bass, cymbals, effects, noises and synths.

So if the main riff you’re keeping from the original starts at bar 33, just leave it there.  If a percussive element starts 8 bars later, add your own hi-hat or drum part 8 bars later. If the main “drop” in the original is at bar 149, then make your drop there too — obviously your drop’s sounds will be different.

These competitions are a lot of work and coming up with a brand new arrangement is not needed most of the time.

Feel free to listen to my winning remix from Victor Calderone’s contest and his original mix on Beatport.  Mine is much different, although you would only know I worked with his original arrangement if you opened both tracks in a DAW like Ableton Live and looked at the wave forms. The judges picked the grand prize winner.  Number of plays, likes, votes, or social media mentions had no impact.

In short, I hope this article arms you with sources and knowledge to win a competition.  The key things to remember are to follow the rules: if it’s a 30 minute DJ mix competition, keep it to 30 minutes. No matter if it’s a remix, production, or mix competition you have the best shot at winning if your entry fits the genre.

Lastly, don’t forget mastering for remix and production competitions! It’s not hard to tell a professional master from a self master. In my remix entry I used The Fat Mastering for my submission, and the version in stores was mastered by Rob Small. Scotty Knows Best used Suture Mastering for his Moody submission.

Keep your eyes open on social media, the bigger more high profile contests worth winning will be shared by artists, labels, and publishers you probably already follow.  These bigger contests tend to have guest panels of judges so it’s a talent competition, not a social media marketing competition. Good luck!

6AM Readers Can Get More Tips and Tutorials from Eric Louis at this Link

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