So, you’re a DJ or music producer and you think you have the “industry” alllll figured out, or you might just be frustrated with where you’re at in your career, or don’t understand why certain things are not happening for you that you feel you’ve earned, and maybe even, you’re not getting the attention you think you deserve. As much as you think you know about bookings, you’re just seeing what is on the surface. There is MUCH more going on behind the scenes than what meets the eye and I’m here to shed a little light.
Be Cool: Nobody wants to work with someone who is constantly blowing up their phone/email/social media. Be cool, kind, and easy to work with. Work on developing relationships with talent buyers, managers, promoters, agents, bartenders, EVERYONE and the gigs should follow.
Be A Professional: This ties into several areas of DJing or any other business. But when dealing with people that handle bookings, be a professional and treat this like a business. Agents and managers are always working, always on their phone and always responding to emails. They appreciate responsiveness just as much as you do, if not more. If you make their job easy, it goes a long way! If you take a few days to respond or need a few reminders to do a task, it does not make you easy to work with or put you in a good light with the person you are speaking with for bookings. Chances are, there is another person out there grinding just as hard, if not harder than you. We all know “the early bird, gets the worm”.
Be Marketable: Maybe you have a manager/agency, maybe you don’t. Either way, make sure you’re marketable. First impressions are everything so make sure your content is on point. Everything from your social media accounts, website, email address (yes, email address matters too), responsiveness, mixes, etc. Any good agent, manager or promoter, will be looking at/for this information. If you don’t have a website, get one. If you’re not good on social media, find someone who is that can manage it for you. This can literally make or break your potential right out of the gate.
Competition: You may think that DJing is a highly competitive market, well, you’re right. But it’s probably more competitive than you think! Everyone want’s to be a DJ or is already a DJ, or know’s somebody who is a DJ. As an agent now, I know this to be even more, true. We receive hundreds of inquires weekly of people looking for gigs and representation. What are you doing to do to set yourself apart? Why are you better than the competition? These are all questions you should ask yourself and know the answer to before approaching an agency.
Don’t Be A Sucker DJ: You may have seen this expression and wonder “What do they mean by that?!”. It’s simple. Practice. Practice. Practice. PRACTICE! If you want to be the person behind the booth, and not standing in front of it, make sure you sound as good, if not better, than the person DJ’ing. Turn the people you look up to, into peers.
Feedback: An agent has two sets of clients, the venue and the artist. It’s crucial when placing talent in a venue, that the agent keep the venue happy with the talent they are providing. People talk; we all know this. With bookings, it’s no different. Every single time a DJ plays somewhere the agent will follow up with the talent buyer/manager and see how the night played out. If you ever question why you haven’t been put back into a spot, you may not have received the best feedback. How does one get positive feedback? Not only should you be the most pleasant person walking through the door, but you should also be the most professional and KILL IT every single time you play at “xx” spot. It’s important to gain the trust of the venue you are playing at and maybe even more important to gain the trust of the people booking you. If you’re consistent in your performance then the person booking you can be confident in what they are selling. The more consistency, the more bookings!
Politics: Ahh yes, politics. Love em’ or hate em’, they are real and they are in every single industry you work in, rather you choose to believe it, or not. Coming up in the nightlife scene, you will experience many cliques and sooner or later start to associate with some more than others. As a DJ, you should choose your cliques wisely. Who you run with can ultimately affect where you do and do not get plays. This goes back to the age old saying, “guilty by association”. As a DJ I would see certain people getting booked at certain places, but really had no idea why. As an agent, I understand there are relationships that certain people have with managers, club owners, agencies, etc. that have been established and in place for many years. Politics serve a place and although you may not agree with all aspects of it, you still have to “play the game”.
Some of this may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised by how many people I’ve come across that do not realize how all of these factors come together and play part in a much bigger role in creating a complete package. If you’re going to pursue this DJ game, make sure you do it, and do it well. You will face several challenges along the way and as long as you’re doing your part and are consistent in your work, people will begin to take notice and the things should start shifting in your favor.