In part one of our Zero To Hero: How To Hustle For DJ/Producer Success series we covered seven micro income streams to keep cash coming in while you pursue your DJ/producing.
Today, we’re going to focus on putting your name behind something creative and something that people will know you for: That’s because once you’ve got money coming in to sustain you, you’re now out of “survival panic mode” and you can begin putting out work that generates influence, authority and “stickiness” for you in the minds of people.
Gigging isn’t enough these days – unless you’re already a famous superstar DJ/producer, to become successful and to sustain that success you have to put yourself “out there”. That means creating content online that gets eyeballs and hooks people in, whether that’s a tune, a blog, a vlog, or any other work that can be readily shared online.
Even the biggest names in DJing still need to put out stuff like vlogs, podcasts and Instagram Stories because this is what captures fans’ attention in a social media-driven society. As Gary Vaynerchuk likes to say, we’re living in an “attention economy”, and every second of attention that you can draw to yourself as a DJ/producer counts.
The best way to gain attention as a DJ/producer apart from gigging is to consistently put out this sort of attention-grabbing creative work. The great news is that thanks to the internet and social media, you’ve got tons of ways to do just that. Here are four ideas for creative work that you can put out to hook people in.
1. Put out a mixtape series
Every DJ has made a mixtape, but really the trick is to keep pumping out these mixtapes on a regular basis and to give them an appropriate branding. In other words, don’t just call them “Tech House Mix” or some other generic name. Think of your mixtapes as part of your suite of “DJ calling cards” that include your press kit and productions (more on this later). Releasing quality mixtapes on a schedule helps to build an audience because they’ll learn to expect them from you on a regular basis.
The cool thing about making these mixtapes is that when you’ve got a couple of them out already, it’s easy to group them all together and turn them into a series that you can reuse and re-release as a podcast or mixshow, which we’ll talk about next.
2. Start your own podcast or mixshow
If you want to take things a step further and really put a stamp on the mixtapes that you churn out, you can try creating a mixshow: Just plug a microphone into your laptop and record an introduction to the mix (eg talk about what’s coming, who the artists are and what tracks), and then just mix your set as if you were creating a mixtape. The difference here is the mixshow will have your voice and, thus, more of your personality in it. You can use your DJ software to do this, or free digital audio workstations like Audacity or Garageband.
You can also reuse your mixtapes by turning them into a mixshow: just add your intros and voiceovers and you’re all set. It’s a fantastic way to get more mileage out of the mixtapes that you’ve done.
Once you’ve finished recording your mixshow, upload it to a site like Mixcloud, or you can even use podcast hosting sites such as Buzzsprout or Podomatic to get your mixshows over onto podcast apps like iTunes and Stitcher. You’ve now got a podcast!
3. Release your own music
One of the best ways to get your name out there and put a flag in the dance music sand is to produce your own music. All the biggest headliners in the last 10 years have a production credit to their name, and often the reason they are able to tour is because people know their songs. This is a perfect example of DJs today being known not for “who” they are, but for the content that they put out. In this case, the “content” is their own dance tune.
Apart from making your own track, you can also put out remixes and mashups. By doing this, you’re essentially adding your name to the end of another DJ/producer’s. If it’s a massive track, your brand gets associated with that DJ/producer’s, and in some cases the remix does even better than the original. (Check out Steve Aoki’s remix of Kid Cudi’s Pursuit Of Happiness to see what I mean.)
4. Put out blogs, vlogs and other social content
It’s easy to forget that you’ve got one of the easiest, most powerful content creation tools in your pocket: your smartphone. Use it and get active on social media by posting and engaging regularly. It doesn’t have to be life-changing to show up on your social profiles: Process is art. Capture moments of your day to day and put them up on Instagram Stories, which let you post photos and video clips that disappear after 24 hours. Speak your mind on Twitter and engage with other users who share the same interests (and follow the same DJs) as you.
As internet speeds rise and smartphone cameras improve, video content is increasingly becoming the way that people prefer to consume content. Sites like YouTube lead the charge, with Facebook not far behind simply because almost everyone is on it. The combination of easy consumption with accessibility make video blogs, or vlogs, a cool way to put yourself out there. Laidback Luke and DJ TLM are fantastic examples of DJs who put a lot of effort into creating vlogs that are both entertaining and helpful.
Blogging is another fantastic way to build credibility and get your name out there. You can write articles on DJing using sites like Medium, or try guest posting on your favourite DJ blog (it’s how I got started!).
We just looked at a handful of ways to create content that gets you noticed. As always, getting started is the hardest part but remember that doing something makes you “right” – it’s infinitely better to be an “uncool” creator than someone who isn’t making anything and just sits on his or her butt typing rude comments. A statue has never been set up in honour of a critic, as the saying goes.
If there’s anything you take away from this article, it’s this: ideas are cheap, output is king (or queen). Here’s the difference between DJ/producers who’ve made it and DJ/producers who haven’t: DJ/producers who are successful have put out tons of work. 99.99% of that stuff is disposable, but that’s fine. Even failure counts as done – make mistakes, “practise in public” as they say.
Put out enough creative work on a consistent basis, and you’ll be known for something – this makes you “sticky” in the minds of fans and potential listeners.
What other content ideas do you think DJs should work on to get noticed? What do you do to get yourself noticed in today’s noisy social media space? Share your tips with use below.