10 Ways To Get Better Paying DJ Gigs
10 Ways To Get Better Paying DJ Gigs
Use these tips to help you improve your image, communicate your professionalism, and get more DJ gigs. We will show you ten ways to improve your position when negotiating your fee for a DJ set. Even if you're an experienced DJ, you might need to revamp your profile and create new strategies to help you get better paid gigs in an increasingly competitive industry.
1 - Control Your Image
Fans and promoters alike will first encounter you online. The message your imagery communicates will be their first impression of you. It's essential that the quality of all your imagery, graphics, photos and videos reflects your professionalism. If your brand looks cheap they will always consider you to be an amateur and not worthy of a high fee. In addition you will need to make sure all the text communication you use, wether it be a biography, tweet, status update or comment, falls in-line with how you want to be known as an artist. Make yourself some guidelines and follow them across all media platforms when communicating with fans or promoters.
Press Photos & Press Pack (EPK)
One of the biggest ways to communicate your professionalism as an artist is to have a selection of high-quality press photos. You need to work with a pro photographer who can create a well-lit image that shows you as an artist. These images will be used on multiple platforms in different shapes and resolutions. Make sure your images are high resolution, and adaptable. It's a good idea to have a range of options for any designer who needs to create graphics with your photo. Have all of the following:
Portrait, landscape and square formats.
Close up portraits, head and shoulders, whole body.
A range of colours, lighting and filters.
A range of emotions or styles, for example some moody and others smiley and happy.
Provide some images that have enough space to be cropped into different sizes and shapes.
Remember, in addition to these options you'll want to try and get an original portfolio of images, avoid cliches like holding headphones and try for a unique concept or setting.
If you're looking for a specialist photographer for DJs and producers check out Thomas Hensher by clicking here.
You should add all these images into your press pack. A press pack, or electronic press kit (EPK) is simply a folder of files you will send any promoter, label owner or music journalist. It will give them all the information they need to promote your gig or write about you. It should contain all the following:
Your artist biography (it's good if you include a short version and a longer version)
Discography (list of all your releases)
Your press photo portfolio
Links to all your social media and website profiles and contact details
Links to your promotional videos (try not to add files as they don't like to download them)
Links to listen to your mixes or release online (try not to add files as they don't like to download them)
Your logo in vector format
Top Tip: In your biography make sure that you have snippets that are easy for a journalist to quote. Some people will also include a dummy Q&A interview with themselves so that the journalists can take inspiration from your answers or simply copy and paste them into their article. Make their life easier and they are more likely to give you more column inches!
Sometimes artists will also hire a graphic designer or website designer to make a user friendly version called an EPK which is just all your content displayed in a nice way graphically, either on a website or a PDF deck.
Just as with imagery, the videos you use to promote yourself will reflect on your professionalism. If you release low-quality videos you will look like a low-quality artist. Make sure you only ever release video material if it's high-grade. Invest in working with directors and good video editors. Go above and beyond other DJs in the scene and make something more more memorable to add value to you as an artist. The creativity in the video will also reflect on your creative abilities as an artist. Push for an original look. Video is one of the most engaging medias, so utilise it!
Remember, most fans are attracted to you as a celebrity as much as you as a creator. Celebrities often talk directly to fans via video on social media because they know this is the best way to communicate. Face-to-face or face-to-phone! If you talk directly to your audience they are far more likely to engage with you compared to passive techniques like just posting a photo. It's not for everyone but it does work.
Along with your videos and photos, a well-designed logo can help identify you in a crowded market. Make sure you work with a professional graphic designer to create a logo that will stand the test of time. Ideally, you don't want to change your logo often so it's important the design is correct and long-lasting from it's launch. A logo should be simple and work on very small scales as well as large-scale. You will need to make sure your designer gives you a vector file so that the size of the logo can be increased to any size without distortion. How are you going to have a billboard with your logo unless you have a vector file!
Instagram Stories & Posts
Although social media content is often fleeting you still need to pay attention to how the quality reflects on your brand identity. Give yourself a style sheet to work with and set standards, if an image or video is not reaching a certain standard level it might be better not to post it. Less is more with brand identity.
How you carry yourself on Twitter and other social media platforms will also have a direct impact on how fans and promoters perceive you. Some artists will deliberately stir the pot on social media in order to become famous, but it can easily backfire. Twitter is a platform where you involve yourself in conversations and hash tags, but sometimes it's better to keep your mouth shut! The more you say the more likely it is you'll say something that will alienate your fans. It's also a strategy in itself to remain more secretive. Rarity breeds value.
Most artists will utilise a Facebook page for another artist profile, while this is free you won't get much interaction because Facebook really wants you to pay for your posts to be seen. However, it's advised to get a profile and keep it updated. If you build a fan base organically you'll get better engagement. Another powerful Facebook tool is the group function. Many DJs can add value to them as a booking by running a popular Facebook group, perhaps for a genre of music or just a group of actively social people. A promoter might see this as added value because you can promote their night in your group. Groups have higher engagement than Facebook pages too.
Soundcloud is another website used heavily by artists. Make sure that you fill in the profile well and use suitable images. Include your DJ bio and contact information for bookings.
In conclusion, be consistent. Make sure that your image is consistent throughout all your profiles so that you come across as coherent and less chaotic. This will make your brand more impactful, and memorable. Promoters want to see you have control over your online presence, the way you coordinate all your profiles will show that you're a serious business person!
2 - Run a Newsletter
If you think about it in a purely business sense, promoters book DJs to make a profit on ticket sales. They want to book an artist who sells tickets. If you don't sell tickets either by being famous and attracting a crowd, or on your own initiative, you're unfortunately unlikely to be paid. Of course, some promoters do it for the music but many of them are purely business people!
One way to help a promoter sell tickets is to operate your own mail-out or newsletter. When negotiating your fee you can then use the inclusion of a mail-out to your fans as leverage. For example, a promoter wants to pay you £100 for a set but you can come back and say okay, but if they pay you £150 you will also include a mail-out to your fans. You can also use other social media posts or promotional posts as leverage too. This way, you'll be paid more for being not just a great act but also useful to their PR campaign.
4 - Run a Blog
If you're not getting media coverage, become the media! One of the best ways to raise your position in a scene and create networking opportunities is to run your own music or events blog. If your blog is popular, and you command a large audience, you can then include a promotional post on your blog in any negotiation with a promoter. The post will help their event reach a larger audience and so makes you a more valuable booking. In addition to this strategy you can use the blog to network with other people in the industry. For example, you want to get to know a label boss, what better way to do so than ask them for an interview. They will be flattered and you'll get valuable personal time with them.
5 - Run a Club Night
Going back to what promoters really want, to sell tickets and make money; they will see dollar signs when you already have an audience of ticket buyers. Many artists run their own events and there are many benefits! Firstly, if you have a following coming to your events it's easy to get them to support you at other gig bookings. Use this as leverage when negotiating a fee with a promoter.
Another great benefit of running your own club night is the ability to up-sell your DJ booking. For example, a promoter wants to book you but isn't paying a great fee, why not instead offer a counter-pitch; offer to run a room in their event.. This way, the promoter might agree to a higher fee because you're now bringing a helping hand in promotion of the whole event and introducing your following to their brand. You're also helping them because they don't have to worry about managing that room anymore!
Don't forget, running a night is also a great vehicle to drive your DJ career forward. You can be the resident or main act and book other DJs who you want to be seen working with. For example, if you book a bigger act and DJ alongside them it will raise your profile by association. This association will be noticed by promoters and increase your worth. They might even see you as a conduit to network with said artist. There is value in your connections, utilise them!
6 - Have a Professional Website
If you want to be as big as a headline act look at what they are doing. They will all have their own website which they update with their images, videos, mixes and tour dates. It's also where they will allow fans to sign up to their mail-out as mentioned in a previous passage. Making a pro-looking website and keeping it working is very expensive and takes a lot of time. Thankfully there is a great solution to this called Vibecast, it's the best DJ website builder out there and very affordable. Create a vibecast website easily in a short amount of time. Keep it updated with your content and you'll be level-pegging with those headline acts you aspire to. Any promoter or label owner will be impressed!
7 - Cultivate Fans
The more fans you have, (we're talking fans not followers here) the more people will pay to come and see you perform, and the more you'll be paid. It's really as simple as that. So, how do you get fans? The best way to build a fan base is to feed them with content and updates that are relevant to why they like to follow you. Engage with your fans on a personal level and give them special access. One great strategy is to have a two-tier mail-out. Fans who are really hooked on you and come to your gigs could be added to a special mail out where you send them exclusive content and discounts on tickets. You can use this list as another incentive for a promoter to give you a better fee. Real fans, not followers, are more likely to convert into sales. Identify your fans who are actively buying into your gigs or music and cultivate them to strengthen their fandom! Real fans also work as great advocates, so keep them happy and they will help spread the word!
8 - Cultivate a Network
We already touched on this in a previous paragraph but your contacts can be very valuable. Sometimes a promoter will book you just to get to someone else. Use that to your advantage. It's also important to realise the music industry really does work on a 'who you know' basis. It's important to build lasting professional relationships with other music industry professionals.
Some of the best ways to do this have already been covered like running a blog or your own event but in addition you can frequent networking events and organise your own social events. Why not book some tickets to a music conference like Brighton Music Conference or the International Music Summit. You'll meet many people who can help grow your career. A lot has to be said for also just going to events and meeting the promoter face-to-face. If you want to DJ at an event you better make sure they see you as a supporter of their work. Buy the promoter a drink and invite your friends, these actions will show the promoter you're there to support the event and not just drain its resources.
Start now by making a spreadsheet of all the music industry contacts you have. Keep this book up to date and try and add one or two contacts a week, or as many as you can!
9 - Specialise
DJs who stand-pout from the crowd get more attention and more bookings. If you want to stand-out sometimes you need to find a niche and master it! Many DJs are simply jumping on bandwagons that have already left. It's not leaving them any creative space to stand-out as artists. Sometimes it's better to find a specialism, either in genre or perhaps in performance. For example, some DJs are DMC champions, vinyl only, known for a unique sound, have live audio-visual performances, stage outfits or are just known for their own whacky personalities! What makes you stand out, what makes you worth booking or writing about? Find a story or something that makes you unique. Embrace the weird and the creative.
10 - Music Production
Ultimately, to make it as a DJ nowadays you need to be releasing popular records. The bar has been raised significantly because of the sheer number of people who want to become DJs. Who can blame them? Being a DJ is great, travelling the world and working with the music you love!
The tracks DJs release are like their business card, only it can travel the world in the blink of an eye. They are ultimately how you build a fan base. If you're not already producing get involved. It's a long process but a journey of 1000 miles starts with one step. Click here to view our music production courses.
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