A reader has written the following: “I feel all odds are against me in my music scene. I’ve felt like this ever since I DJed one of the biggest parties locally. But since then, I feel shut out by local promoters and other DJs. They all know me. And they all know my potential. But I still feel like I’ll never get a chance.
“So my only option at this point is to work around my scene. I plan on getting my own PA speakers and to start throwing my own gigs. But I’m wondering on how to do this sneakily and effectively. I would hate for word to get to main promoters and have them book bigger talent to shut out my party. Have you had any related problems in the past? How can I get around this dog-eat-dog scene that I’m in?”
Digital DJ Tips says:
OK, so you got your confidence having played a big party, in front of the rest of your “scene”. Since then, you feel like you’re not getting any breaks.
What you’re suffering from here is what I call “mixtape syndrome”. A DJ makes a good mixtape, gives it out to everyone – and then wonders why he or she doesn’t get bookings. As far as the DJ is concerned, they’ve proved your worth – so why aren’t they suddenly in demand? To me, this is how you’re feeling having played one good gig.
But it doesn’t work that way, and it never has. In all likelihood, nobody’s “shutting you out”. It’s just that one gig doesn’t make the DJ, any more than one mixtape does. You’re not the finished article by any means, and you’re no more bookable than any of the rest. By the way you’re speaking, it sounds to me like you’re right at the start of your DJ journey, with a lot still to prove.
Actually, your “only option” of throwing your own parties is not a last resort – it’s the best way to do it, so go right ahead. Why are you worried about booking talent anyway? You just said you’ve got what it takes, so simply DJ your own party. Even if you do choose to book DJs to play with you, you certainly shouldn’t worry about other promoters and DJs “finding you out” and trying to “book bigger talent” to shut you out. As you have correctly identified already, you’re not on their radar. You’re not important to them. They’re busy doing their thing – which is what you should do too.
So, instead of worrying about them, why not worry about your potential audience? What isn’t being done in your scene? What needs aren’t being met? What parties are people crying out for that aren’t currently happening? What can you provide that the others can’t? You have to look for opportunities and think like a business person, because this is a business.
The harsh truth is that if you just try and copy the others you’re going to fail anyway, so make your own scene, and dominate it. Throw great parties. Build a loyal tribe. Attract other DJs to you, rather than expect others to take you into their fold. And please, do try to not see other DJs and promoters as the enemy. It’s only “dog eat dog” out there because you choose to see it that way.
And when you have done all this (expect it to take years, not months, by the way), all of a sudden those people you once felt were “the enemy” will be your potential partners, not your foes. And you may indeed eventually get gigs alongside them once again – but this time, as an equal.
Have you been in this situation? Have we advised our reader correctly? what would you advise? Please share your thoughts below.