As the months and years go by, technology continues to take a hold of our lives more and more, both personally and professionally. The last two decades of advancements have seen the daily life of DJs and producers all over the world change drastically from a musical standpoint, shaping the way electronic music is made and played in all four corners of the world.
But that is not all, for technology has also changed the way DJs and producers get noticed and, as a result, move up the industry ladder in this over-competitive industry. Yet, it appears that despite all the tools at our disposal, artists all over the world are struggling to get their talent to the ears of those who have the power of launching their careers. The truth is that with so many bedroom producers and rising DJ talent, it is not enough to wait to “get discovered” for your skills — you must go out there and get yourself noticed.
You may think that you’ve paid your dues playing local shows, honing your craft for countless hours on your own, practicing, practicing, practicing, or spending endless time in the studio churning out music you truly believe is better than a lot of tunes you hear out there, but unless you take the extra steps to get your talent noticed it won’t mean anything more than that. Can you guess what the biggest mistake most producers and DJs make in not getting noticed by those who matter? They believe that technology replaces the hustle, and won’t go beyond the comfort zone of their social media to get discovered or picked.
John Digweed is undoubtedly one of the best in the game, and he has been playing it for literally decades now. It comes to no surprise that he has had some wisdom to share on the matter, “People think my career started when I sent that tape to Renaissance. I’d actually been working for seven years before I got to that point. I was putting on parties and booking DJs around me to get my name on the flyer. I knew I had to do it for myself. I knew no one was going to come knocking on my door. I knew it was up to me.”
Don’t be lazy. You have got to be creative to get noticed and you have got to get your face out there if you want playing time. Promoters get hit up by tens and tens of local DJs asking for gigs, but the unwritten rule is that unless you are supporting the promoter’s party and getting your face recognized it’s not likely they will ever book you. It’s all about networking and not just relying on social media to get recognized.
You have got to be ok with rejection because you will be rejected. You will hear the word “no” more times than you can imagine, but the important thing is to keep going and persevere. As we covered in our article dissecting the important qualities and traits of a successful DJ and producer, it’s imperative to be patient and persistent.
This also means that you cannot stop yourself at just contacting 2 or 5 promoters, record labels or club owners. You must react out to plenty more to increase your odds of success. These promoters, label owners and clubs are being hit up by tens of other local DJs and producers, so reaching out to them incessantly until they feel nauseous just hearing your name isn’t a solution either. You have got to be creative, to provide value and to let them understand that booking or signing you is the right move. Do whatever it takes to stand apart and ahead of the rest of the pack.
The answer is always no if you don’t ask, so go out there and ask.
Make yourself visible in every way you can. Attend the parties you would love to play one day, meet the people putting them on, introduce yourself and keep doing so until they know who you are. Be real and genuine in your connections with them and little by little begin friendships with those in the industry who have the necessary connections and skills to recognize your talents and allow you the space to exhibit them.
By giving you playing time, promoters and club owners are putting their party and/or venue’s reputation on the line, so you have got to give them no doubt as to the kind of professional job you will do once behind the decks.
It’s important to remain humble and realistic in your ascent in the music industry, all the while being sure of your talent and potential. You will be hearing “no” more than a few times as you meet more and more people, but don’t let that discourage you.
Remain motivated and keep any negative, disgruntled thoughts out of your head. Don’t complain about why you haven’t been given the chance you feel you deserve; nobody likes the jaded local artist who points the finger at everyone around him instead of looking inward for the reasons he hasn’t accomplished what he wants. The nightlife and electronic music industry is no walk in the park and having a thick skin is key, as you will be needing to prove yourself more than once before you truly make it.
If you are reading this and have come this far there is no denying that you consider DJing and producing to be more than just a hobby or something you do in your spare time. Likely you really want to turn what you consider a hobby and passion into a fully-fledged career.
That being the case, it’s also important that you treat your art, whether it be DJing, producing or both, as a business. You may still have a day job or other sources of income, but your approach to your art of choice should still be professional and business-like just as anyone would expect from a worker at any other job.
Everything people see, hear and read about you, whether in person or via social media, forms up the brand you present to your audience as a DJ and producer. People in your local scene will know who you hang around with, what your FB statuses say, the kind of activities you get up to on the weekend and ultimately what your thoughts and beliefs are about certain subjects some may consider touchy. Whether you like it or not, your tweets and FB posts concerning social issues and politics may be scrutinized by promoters and club owners, just as HR personnel would do if you were applying for a corporate job. Social media is a powerful tool and you alone have the power to use it as your weapon to create the PR image of yourself you wish others to know you for.
Last but not least do not forget that you’re on this ride called life and you’re meant to be having fun while on it, perhaps even more so if you’re choosing to be a producer and/or DJ as your career. Be professional and make the right moves, but make sure you’re having fun while doing so!
We launched ArtistMap to give electronic music producers and DJs the necessary tools to succeed with their artist journey. Sign up for Phase-1 of ArtistMap for FREE by clicking HERE.