Let me begin this article off by saying that if there was one piece of content that I felt could add the most value to DJs, this would be it. Whether you have been in this industry for 10 years, 10 months or 10 days, the advice and insight contained herein will undoubtedly give you perspective on how to truly build your worth as a DJ & performer.
In 2016, whether you are headlining festivals or playing 5-hour sets in a local bar, you should’ve come to the realisation that LIVE is where you make your money. The reality is that the days of album advances and fat royalty cheques are long gone and the lifeblood of an artist’s career is their ability to sustain a healthy touring schedule.
Many of you believe the answer to getting gigs is simply ‘Talent’ and although I do not deny it’s merit, what I can tell you is that it is not that black and white. Talent means nothing without the platform to expose it to others. So then how do you get these golden opportunities to showcase your skills? Do you make DJ mixes and spam promoters’ inboxes? Do you get an agent (keep an eye out for a lengthly article on this topic btw)? Do you befriend the promoters with tequila? I posed the question to 3 promoters I have had the privilege of working with who run some of the biggest events in this country to find out what they feel you need to be doing.
Danny Figueiredo – Marketing Director, Spiced Productions
Life in Colour, Imagine Nation, Frozen Yoghurt, Sinsational, Sound Of Light
As an up & coming artist the golden rule is building relationships. Unfortunately this industry swallows artists up whole over night and you need the right influences to keep you on the map. Maintain healthy relationships with the right promoters, be on time with your gigs, stay a bit longer and make your presence known and definitely leave the arrogance at home and you will stay relevant. Support the events you want to be a part of and the rest will come. As for production, that is what takes you from being a DJ to being an artist. No promoter wants to work with a lazy, arrogant artist. Work hard in the studio, maintain your relationships, stay humble and the eventing industry will rejoice in your success.
Shaun Duvet – Co-owner Ultra South Africa, COCO and GoldBar
These days getting the good gigs is about way more than just playing a great set. Promoters want to book DJs that will bring their own crowd, promote the event and also bring a good set.
So my advice to young wannabe DJs is this: start producing your own music as well as perfecting your mixing skills. Then create a clique with you and your friends who are into like-minded music so that you come with a following, start throwing parties and build a brand, create your own vibe and following that knows that any gig that you’re at will be their kind of party. This way, when you put your name forward for big gigs, the promoters will be more likely to book you than an unknown DJ, no matter how skilled.
Will McIntyre – Director, Rage Festival
I have been booking local and international talent over the past 8 years. I have watched DJ’s and bands come and go. I have seen DJ’s and Bands evolve and adapt their sound to the ever-changing environment to find amazing success. The music industry is not for the faint-hearted. Don’t get stuck in your ways. Be original in sound and get your music out to as many ears as possible.
Whether you’re trying to approach established promotion companies with a loyal audience or non-established brands who are putting on an event to appeal to a specific demographic, you need to build brand equity. Define your sound and get it out as many ears as possible through marketing and brand building. Be relevant to an audience who the promoters are talking to. If your dream is to play at Rage Festival, don’t look to the promoter, look to the audience, speak to them with your music and the bookings will come your way. Dream big and make sure you set yourself short term goals that will drive you to achieve the long term dream.
If you want my opinion on this, it’s all about adding value. I was speaking to someone I idolised very early on in my career and I was complaining about how I thought I had so much talent, but that no one was giving me the chances I needed. His response was “if the doors you want to open aren’t opening for you, build your own door and kick the fucking thing down”. Which I took to mean, if you don’t have the opportunities, create them yourself. Throw your own events or build equity around yourself by doing something unique (and great) that people will buy into. I know so many people who gave up over time because they felt they never got their ‘golden opportunity’, but the reality was that they didn’t put in enough effort and eventually gave in too soon, before they truly reaped the benefits of their labour.