I’m just back home from the first ever coaching webinar inside our brand new Digital DJ Lab training programme (which was awesome, by the way – a big shout out to you if you were one of the students in there with us), and one question about mixtapes wouldn’t leave my head on the long drive back.
The reason it wouldn’t leave my head is because of the utter simplicity of the answer – and yet it’s something that DJs the world over get wrong year after year, and often get quite angry about. And so I wanted to share it, if only so I can get it off my mind and get some sleep!
The question is simple: “Why aren’t my mixtapes getting me DJ gigs?”
Now, before we answer it, we’re going to assume that your latest mixtape is pretty good – certainly good enough for you to be able to hold your own playing a DJ set in the venue or venues you’re giving it to. It’s not about quality, then. So what is it?
Before I tell you, let me just say that I’ve made scores of mixtapes, going back to the day when they actually were tapes, so I know what it’s like making them and sending them out into the world.
But I’ve also been a club promoter, so I know what it’s like getting dozens of mixes land on my desk every week.
Assuming you are banging out the mixtapes but with no bookings pouring in, what I am about to share with you comes from a place of trying to help you get two very basic things right, to save you putting all that effort in for nothing at all.
So, if your last mixtape didn’t getting you booked, here are the likely reasons why:
- Nobody asked for it in the first place – Giving mixtapes out to people who didn’t ask for them is like applying for jobs that don’t exist. In fact, it is applying for jobs that don’t exist. Isn’t it better to find out if there’s actually any position to apply for first? Just because it takes a bit of effort to get this info, doesn’t make it any less important to do it. If there are no jobs, the mixes will be piling up and up, for all the good it does any of those DJs…
- You didn’t deliver your mix in person – So you know there’s a vacancy for a DJ. Unfortunately, popping a mix in the post with a nice cover letter doesn’t work. At best, your mix is a slight bit of proof that you can use DJ gear… but you are the reason someone will or won’t book you. They won’t make that decision until they’ve met you – so you simply have to hand them the damned mix in person. There’s no interview process or shortlist… that moment is your interview
That’s it, 90% of the time, if not more.
Of course, just because there’s a DJ slot going and just because you manage to find the promoter and hand them a mix and just because you called back a week later to see if he or she liked it doesn’t mean you’ve got the job. But if you don’t do these two things, it’s never going to happen.
What to do instead? It’s easy to say, but not simple to do – but do it you must if you really want to get booked from your mixtapes.
You need to: Learn where the opportunities are in your local scene. Jump on them first. Do it in person. And yeah, make sure your mix rocks. That’s how to land club residencies.
So now you know.
Tell us your story of getting a booking from a mixtape. Did you do at least one, if not both, of the things above? Are you a promoter who wants to add something to my advice, or even a DJ who disagrees with it? Whatever – I’d love to hear your comments below.