Are you a DJ on your way up? Here are a few tips on promotion etc. that might help you along the ride:

1. Keep your online information current and updated, especially your bio. When I am researching an artist and their website has a bio that is still talking about “new release coming in autumn 2009,” it makes me wonder how much they really care about their musical success- and it makes me care a little less.

2. NEVER send out your music (except to your very best friends and collaborators) with a message like this: “Well it’s not quite done, I’m not totally happy with it and want to tweak it here and there, but what do you think?” Either be proud of the art you send out, or don’t send it out and waste people’s time. Knowing when a piece of music or art or writing is “done” is one of the great challenges of creative production, so figure it out. Sending out unfinished work is the mark of an amateur. Save it for yo momma.

3. Put your name on your workevery single time. Label your digital music (or the CDs you hand out) with your name, track title and album if applicable. I have about 8000 awesome tracks in my iTunes library that I consider “lost” because the artist did not label their work and I have no idea who produced them.

4. Make all your social networking updates positive. You may have had a shitty day at the dentist, be feeling completely uninspired and have a gnarly chest cold- but your fans certainly don’t need this image in their heads.

5. NO TEXTING while you are performing. EVER. Even if you are just pulling out your phone to check the time left in your set- figure out another way or hold the phone where it is hidden. The audience should never see you use your phone while performing. Unless of course you are using it as a midi-controller:

Edit & Boreta @ Decibel in the Park 2008

Photo by Donte Parks

6. If you make a mistake while performing, don’t ever let the slip-up show on your face with a grimace or frown. 95% of your audience will never know you made a mistake- unless you tell them by the look on your face. By showing your unease, you are sharing it with the crowd.

7. Hang out, have fun and don’t be an asshole. While obviously your party skills have nothing to do with your production skills, the truth is that people want to hang out with and book artists who are fun to be around, don’t rush for the exit as soon as their set is over, have an inspiring outlook on electronic music and aren’t total dickheads. I am hit up all the time with: “Who should I book for _____ event?” and have heard, “No I don’t want to book him, I heard that he’s a complete asshole,” well over a dozen times. Being nice matters in this world.

8. In your promo press and bio, don’t tell us that you are unique – tell us why you are unique. Come up with a few words that really capture your style and sound. They don’t have to be traditional music terms; in fact it’s better if they’re not. And never answer the question, “What inspires you?” with: “Life.” That’s the well-duh-no-shit answer. Your fans want to know specifics; give it a little thought beforehand and you will be ready for this very popular question.

9. Work on your stage presence. While it may not be fair, it is true: crowds prefer DJs who don’t just stare down at their equipment all night. Your audience doesn’t just want to hear your music, which they could listen to at home- they want a show, they want experience-as-art. Your fans want to connect with you beyond the sonic level and to connect with others who share their musical interests – to feel like part of a community. Your energy helps set the tone of the dance floor.

10. Never engage in internet beefing. Responding to your haters makes you look petty and very small- after all, do you think Kanye is commenting back to the people talking cheese about him on random forum #543? Remember that any press is good press, and haters are just a sign of your pending success. Don’t worry too much about what the words say – just measure them in inches on the page.

Please take these ideas, like anything you ever read anywhere, with a grain of salt and follow the tips that speak to you.

What DJ tips do you have? Please add them in the comments section below!

Want some more tips? Check out the Do’s and Don’t’s of Contacting Record Labels, Press, Blogs, Agents and Promoters

3 Responses to “MY DEAR DJS…”

  1. nice tips shilo!

  2. Big Tip:
    If you deliver your new track to a label and think that’s the last thing you need to do, you failed. Push it, promo it, facebook it, twitter it, get your other DJ homies to promote it for you. Once you do that, call or contact the label manager at the Digital Retailer (Beatport, Trackitdown, Juno) and try to get them to promote it. Do you want it lost in the mp3 pile on some store or do you want it front and center so it’s the first thing consumers see when they go to the site. It takes a little leg work but 5 sales vs 50 sales can make the difference between being known and being forgotten.

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