If there’s one thing I know about DJs in the modern world; its the fact that they have something special attached to their sound, that speaks to their fans about their overall identity in the music industry. It represents who they are as an artist, what music genres they specialize in, and any other signature traits they may carry with them (or execute on stage). With the market of DJing being as saturated and competitive as it is, many are branding themselves in hopes of standing out from the crowd. But, what does it mean to brand yourself as a DJ? Not only that, but how is your brand going to help you stand out from the rest of the herd?
DJ logos! I honestly don’t know when this trend of DJ branding started, but I’m gonna take a shot in the dark and say around the late 2000’s. Just like your favorite underground alternative rock band had their logo plastered on the front of the drummers…kick drum, DJ’s have their logos branded on their attire, or even on the DJ equipment they use to perform their live DJ sets. Having a DJ brand can really set you apart from the competition, however your brand alone isn’t gonna land you gigs as easily as you think.
You have to go through and learn the practice of marketing and advertising yourself (a.k.a. Your Brand), in order to get promoters interested. Having a website also helps too, and you might as well throw in social media and music streaming platforms as an added bonus. I’ll admit (cuz’ I’m in this camp too); Marketing yourself as a DJ can be a bit hard, when you have little to no experience in how to do it effectively. Major record labels either have in-house marketing, or a third party marketing and advertising agency that they use for all of their new, and current talent. When you’re a DJ/producer who is either not signed to a label, or you’ve decided to go the independent route (like I did); marketing your brand is going to be the most importing thing that will make, or break your DJ career. So let’s say you’ve already got your brand and your sound, now…who do you market to?
This is the first thing all newbie DJ/producers with a brand should do before doing anything else. This is also the first thing every company does when they want to sell a product to a consumer. Figure out how to market your DJ brand, by figuring out who your brand’s target audience is! For EDM in this case, you’re looking at your 20s and 30s age group; as that’s the group that listens to the subgenres attached to it the most. (Also they’re the group that you’ll see the most of at electronic music festivals.) If you’re like me, and like the more subtle side of electronic music; particularly in the House music genre, then your audience will probably be the 30-40 year old crowd. Once you figure out who your target audience is, then the next step is all about communication.
You now have a target audience, but where can they find you? There are so many online platforms out there for DJs to market themselves as well as their skills, which makes advertising easier than it was 20+ years ago. In the 90’s when electronic dance music made its way into the States, the only way you knew about it were the posters that your third cousin (twice removed) slapped on the sides of buildings. (We’ll get to the Raves of the 90’s in another post.)
Now with social media in the form it is today, DJs can market themselves online and build up a following. There’s also music distribution websites like Distrokid and Tunecore, if DJs wanna take a crack at producing their own music. There’s even livestreaming tools like Twitch and Mixcloud for DJs to showcase what they can do, and so also send out demo links to promoters. Having an online presence is key when marketing yourself, but now…what about the financial aspect?
Promotion & Costs
We all know the old saying ‘you’ve gotta spend money, to make money’, right? Well, its true. Do you think any of your favorite DJs got to where they are today by playing all their sets for free? Nope. If you’ve managed to somehow book yourself a gig, have a decent following on social media, and some well-mixed DJ mixes on Mixcloud (or livestreams on Twitch), its time to set a price for what you do. Honestly your price should be determined by your skill level, and not your follower count (though it does help your credibility). Some DJs will probably charge around $75-$150 an hour if their level of skill is novice/intermediate. Others will charge a minimum amount for the time they’re at the event; mostly a 2 or 3-hour minimum, with additional costs like travel and additional equipment they have to bring – like speakers.
Promotion also costs money too; especially if you’re trying to get bookings or even get signed to a record label. The cool thing is that you have a set budget in how much money you want to spend on promotion, of course you also have to do some research into the right kind of promotion. The reason why I say that? Well there are some music promotion sites out there that will say that they’ll help you, but end up flooding your music streams with bots; which is against a lot of well-known music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.
So…promotion, marketing, and advertising. What’s next?
Let’s not kid ourselves. In business its not always about what you know, but who you know. Promotion, marketing, and advertising are big things you need to do in order to make your DJ brand successful. Networking, is the glue that holds everything together. Its the best kind of organic promotion, and it can potentially land you gigs. There is no famous DJ that I know of, who made it big without networking. Doing this along with marketing, promotion, and advertising you brand can (and will) set you apart from other DJs who do the bare minimum; if any minimum at all.
This pretty much wraps up how DJs market themselves. I know this post makes it look like I’m an expert on this subject, but really, I’m only 3 years into this myself. A lot of what I shared in this post comes from my other venture as an anime podcaster and blogger; especially the marketing and advertising aspect of promoting your brand. So if you’re a DJ looking to stand apart and stand out, these four tools are what you’re gonna need to make your brand, a household name.
Until next time, keep on spinnin’! 😉