Today’s topic has special relevance to me, mainly because this is the actual reason why I started this series – always save the best till last, eh? Thing is, we’ve all seen plenty of promotional videos for DJs out on the internet for years, and in my book a lot of them are just terrible. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t need a high-end camera, or an editing studio, or a film degree to make interesting and even exciting promotional videos for yourself. You just need some patience, imagination, and the drive to push for the perfection I’m sure you already put into your mixes and/or production.
How to improve your videos
The YouTube video below was a blooper that DJ Dave Young decided to laugh at, but let’s say his control set-up didn’t collapse. Just look at his video without the “fail moment”. It’s utterly boring, and videos like this have been uploaded in bulk from DJs around the world. You have to remember that a promotional DJ video has to be a visual performance. A single shot of you playing music for five or ten minutes won’t do much to excite your viewer. You need to think about how to visually tantalise the viewer in that time. Here’s a few suggestions:
Use video editing software
This is first and foremost. I have seen too many folks just record and upload. That might have flown in the past, but with the easy access to editing software, you have no excuse. Windows has Movie Maker. Mac has iMovie. Even YouTube has an editing suite built into the web browser. Get acquainted with what’s available to you, learn the basics, and utilise the tools. I use an old copy of Sony Vegas, and it wasn’t very hard to get the basics of editing down. A DAW is way more complex in my book.
Use multiple cameras or do multiple shots
Dave Young’s video could have been improved if he tried a few camera angles. Had things change up in the video as opposed to just looking at straight-on, then it might have been more enticing. If you have access to extra cameras, set them up to record multiple videos at different angles. Do the straight-on, then maybe an angled one from a lower viewpoint, or even set one up above the gear so it looks like you’re looking down at the DJ set-up. If you don’t have multiple cameras, then do multiple takes with your one camera. Cutting around won’t show that you performed multiple times. Trust me.
Try other visual elements. It doesn’t have to always be just you performing. In fact, you don’t have to show yourself performing at all. Take your camera and do other things. Walk around town, shoot yourself playing at a club, drive somewhere with the camera on the dashboard, record a pretty girl (or boy) dancing etc. The only limit is your imagination.
Record and lay in a soundtrack
This is a big pet peeve I have with many videos I see. I’ll see a video from a festival or club, and the sound is blasting, all distorted, and you can’t tell what is going on. That or the DJ is in his/her bedroom, and he/she is using the microphone on their camera, thus the sound is low, canned, and you can often hear sliders moving, buttons being pushed, and other unnecessary noises.
If you’re using a software-based DJ program, then you should have the ability to record audio. Use it. Press record and get a good audio recording of the music you want to put in. When you use your editing software you can lay in the sound only, or intermix it with the sounds picked up by your camera’s mic. It’s up to you, but in the end we’re all music people, and it won’t reflect well on you if your sound is terrible.
Don’t forget branding
If you’re recording, editing, and making a super-awesome video for your promotional needs, then why aren’t you sliding in your branding? In my experiences putting in text or even imagery has been nothing more than just making PNG files of the items and layering them on top of the video with your editing program. A promotional video is like a flyer. It’s media that highlights you, entertains, informs, and thus should have in there some means for viewers to recognise and remember you. Your web address also helps, as many might encounter this video without ever seeing your website.
Thinking beyond performance…
If you’re diving into making promotional videos for yourself, always remember the goal is to gain viewers and eventually lead them to your website, or somewhere that they can get more information about you. Your end goal should be quality, but also to a certain extent quantity. One great video of you performing can only go so far compared to a plethora of video content covering many avenues.
One of the best examples of this is Armin Van Buuren. Go on YouTube and search for him. You’ll find live DJ performances, interviews of him and from him, music videos of his releases, previews of upcoming releases, his podcasts, and even Top 10 charts that are nothing more than a visual of his logo with song titles appearing. So here’s a few ideas if you want to think beyond just you DJing:
- Blogging – Nothing to it. Just pop on your webcam, and speak your mind. You could be serious, silly, or informative. Anything you like. Even if it’s not DJing, it can still put your face and name out there, thus making you recognisable
- Tutorials – If you have the skills or trickery you think you want to share, record it. Show how to scratch, do controllerist tricks, basic DJing, or even production tips. Videos get shared and people will remember you
- Charts/podcasts – I mentioned AvB doing this, but I’m seeing many other DJs jump on board. It’s simply taking 10-20 snippets of tunes you’re rocking, putting them into an order, and have the visual be your branding with the names of the songs as they play. You would be surprised how much this can promote a DJ as an influencer in music… even land you more promos
- Montages – If all else fails, then make a montage with one tune playing. Capture shorts of yourself performing at an event, get the crowd, girls, etc. You could even just make them five-minute memoirs of recent events, or just collages of clips for entertainment. You could go reverse and use this to promote upcoming events. Video flyers basically
…and that’s a wrap!
This brings us to the end of another series on marketing and promotion, so now my brain is open for you. I invite you to hit us up in the comments, or on our forum. If you’re new to Digital DJ Tips, please take the time to look into all the courses and other content we make available to help you in reach your goals both in performance and business.
Here are the links to the other parts in this series:
- Creating Killer DJ Promotional Materials, Part 1: Your Bio
- Creating Killer DJ Promotional Materials, Part 2: Your Logo
- Creating Killer DJ Promotional Materials, Part 3: Your Press Photo
- Creating Killer DJ Promotional Materials, Part 4: Flyers
- Creating Killer DJ Promotional Materials, Part 5: Your Email List