DJs are the rockstars of the 21st century
The web is an amazing thing. Anyone, anywhere in the world, can create something – stick it on the web – and have a global audience. As a record label owner, the web is how my team sources maybe 80% of the material we release.
Producers have a tonne of awesome tools to help them build a following. SoundCloud, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and many, many more. Some are music focused – some are not. But for DJs, there doesn’t seem to be as many opportunities. There’s a few awesome platforms out there – Mixcloud and Mixlr are two great examples – but to me, it feels like there’s something missing.
It’s estimated there are between half a million and over a million professional DJs around the world – people who’s main source of income is from DJing. But, in a time where EDM has evolved from an underground movement into a significant part of global culture, there are hundreds of millions of amateur and semi-pro DJs itching to make it big.
So is There a Solution to the DJs Problem?
We think so. The technology’s been around for ages, but it’s only just becoming widely and freely available. You might know of a website called Twitch. You know, the one that 30M people visit every month – a site with over 1B (yeah, billion!) pageviews a month that sold to Amazon for just under $1B last year?
Twitch revolutionised how gamers shared their gaming experience – giving bedroom gamers the ability to create global fanbases and, in many cases, livelihoods. How does Twitch do this? Twitch lets gamers livestream themselves gaming so others can watch – and learn – to play the same games.
Yep. Live-streaming enables you, as a broadcaster, to share whatever you’re doing online – live. As it happens. You can reach a truly global audience from your bedroom, studio, garden shed. If you’ve got an internet connection and something to broadcast with, you can livestream from anywhere.
If your goal, as a DJ, is to DJ in front of an audience – and let’s face it, you’re not a real DJ until you’ve done so – then livestreaming can make this happen.
We created Chew.tv because we believe that any DJ, anywhere in the world, should be able to perform to a global audience. We’d seen what Twitch had done for gaming, and what websites like Boiler Room were doing for the established DJs, and wanted to create something open and freely available to any DJ, anywhere in the world.
Chew.tv is the DJs’ live-streaming community. With Chew, DJs can broadcast their performances live to a global audience, from anywhere in the world. It’s that tool the DJs have been missing out on.
How Does Chew.tv Work?
To live-stream, you need a computer, an internet connection, a webcam and an audio source (as a DJ, this can be your controller, your CDJs or even your trusty turntables). Next, download and install an encoder (the software that takes your audio and video feeds and broadcasts them to Chew) like OBS. OBS is free, customisable and awesome.
Once you’ve added your audio and video feeds to your encoder, sign up for a Chew account (yep, that’s free too) and create your first live Show. Add your streaming details to your encoder and start broadcasting. It’s as simple as that! You can stream from your bedroom, studio or even from the club. Take your local events global. Build yourself an audience of fans from across the world. Go Live and go pro!
Sign up to Chew here.
Wil Benton is co-founder of Chew, the DJs’ live streaming community. Explore Chew and get your invite today: chew.tv
Welcome to part two of the DJ promotion series! Lets start with social media…
The most obvious modern form of self promotion is social media. You should be utilising this along with everything I previously mentioned in Part 1.
Twitter is a constant moving medium which allows you to share your current activity. You should focus on updating your followers with news that is relevant. Don’t bombard them with spam. If you already have a website, update twitter whenever you make any changes, or post new blogs etc.
Facebook is a more static medium, where posts should be less frequent.
Instagram is an image / video based medium where users share various images with their followers. This is a great platform that if utilised properly, can allow you to advertise yourself in short snippets that will drip feed onto peoples news feeds. Got a new DJ mix coming out soon? Post a picture/video of your self mixing it. Through adding hashtags, it can allow people to search for images on Instagram’s database e.g. (search “techno”).
Social media is on everyones tablets and phones, so technically you can be in contact with these people 24/7. Utilise the medium and get yourself promoted.
A personal website is a great platform that will allow you to collate all of your ideas and information. This is your personal page, and is something that you can use as an advertisement.
Creating a website from nothing can be very difficult, as designing a website is an art form in itself. I would recommend purchasing a website theme, which is essentially a website that someone designs and codes, and then allows any number of people to buy. These type of themes can be purchased at Themeforest for a price (£10-60+).
There is the possibility of getting your own unique website designed and coded, but this can cost anything from £500+. Each time there is a new development in the digital world you would then need to hire a code developer to then add it to the website which can be costly. The benefit of a theme is that they run on a Content Management System (CMS), such as WordPress that is easy to update, and can be quite self regulating in some respects.
All good DJ promotion websites should have a good mixture of content.
- A bio is a good place to start; who you are and how you got here. This is also a good place to list venues that you have played at.
- Good quality photos are essential. You could give them their own page, or simply post a link to another image hosting site (Flickr).
- A calendar of future events enables fans/promoters to see when and where you are next playing. A link to your own favourite and best DJ mix – can be included at the end too.
- A chart of your latest, favourite music is a good way to show people the kind of music you’re interested in. This also can keep fans coming back to the website.
- If you are someone who enjoys writing, a blog is a great way to get users interacting with your site. It allows you to tell some sort of story. This story allows you to give your readers an insight into your developing DJ career.
- Alternatively, you can also make posts that are tutorials, and these can be a great way to educate, as well as gain new fans.
The most important factor is to keep it simple and elegant (for both design and content). A logo is a useful piece of promotional material that you can attach to images, and at the top of your website. The design of your logo will give a first impression of you for all people who see it.
Have a look at your peers, and take some influence of their logos. Collate information such as font style, colours etc. and send this to a designer and see what they come up with.
An Electronic Press Kit (EPK) is essentially your story, placed nice and tidily into an electronic box. In some respects, you are taking your digital website, with all the images and bio, and placing it into a document of which can be printed, emailed etc. and read on multiple devices. The idea behind an EPK is that you can approach big clubs and provide them with a taste of who you are, and if you are suitable for their club.
The bio is the most important aspect of an EPK. Stick to factual content; style of music you play, venues you have played at etc. Download / purchase stats are also a useful piece of information that can help get the reader interested, so use them! Stick to facts of what you have done, and don’t exaggerate stories as this can often come back to haunt you.
Don’t pad the information with hype, or waffle on about how “you first played a record at your friends house when you were 12, and your life changed from that moment…”. It gets boring and repetitive.
This kit needs to be filled with media. You need to fill this with both audio, video and images. Your friends can help by taking pictures of you while playing, and you can gather audio by recording your sets. Do you have any interview clippings, blog mentions, album reviews, radio interviews etc, if so, include them! Add links to all of your social media platforms, and DJ mix websites that you have used.
If you know a club that would require a professional approach, and they have a spare slot going, give them a try!
Promoting yourself a as a DJ is a vital aspect of getting your self gigs. Without this, no one will know you outside of your immediate circle and will restrict how fast you can expand. Perfecting your DJ promotion will have a huge impact.
This needs to be perfect. Collate a selection of your favourite tracks that you evoke a sense of professionalism and a desire to dance. If you get bored partway through your mix, so will your listeners, and incidentally, turn it off. Aim for 40-60 minutes in length, any shorter and it will not be enough, and any longer people can get bored.
The style of music you play gives a huge indication of the type of DJ you are. Be aware that when looking for a DJ slot, promoters will most likely be looking for a ‘warm-up’ DJ. So avoid all those ‘big hits’, as they will have most probably already been heard, and not what the promoter is seeking.
Once recorded, you need to start sending it out to people. Start by uploading it to the relevant DJ mix websites (Mixcloud, MixCrate, Mix.DJ, House-Mixes.com, Soundcloud). It may be best to upload your mixes to as many different websites as possible to increase your potential listener-base.
Well done, you now have a good piece of DJ promotion material that you can use to raise your profile. There is more that can be done though. Radio stations are a useful way to advertise that can get you heard by potentially a lot of people. As a new DJ, you are best approaching online radio stations with your mix and try to engage with them in conversation. Sometimes radio stations do live streams of DJ’s playing for their radio show. So with a few good conversations with the promoter, could get you in there.
Get Out There
Then the first thing any new Dj can do is get out there and meet people. Get searching on social media for club nights, and add the club promoters as friends. Once added, start talking to them and ask them about their night, the type of music that they are into etc. Don’t go straight in for the sales pitch, hold back and get to know them first, make your self familiar. If you are around when their next club night is on, get down there and show your face. If you accidentally ‘bump’ into the promoter and start a conversation, there is nothing wrong with that, just make sure you find the right moment.
Make sure you fit the ‘image’ that night is putting on (each genre has its own). Try to dress accordingly, first impressions count. Once you get to know a few people either through social media or in person, then it may be appropriate to send them your latest mix and ask them what they think of it. Be respectful, there is an unspoken rule whilst at a club night not to start handing out other promo flyers. The same applies to your own mix CD’s without being asked for it.
Join Facebook groups that are involved in the music scene within your local area. Again, don’t go straight in with the sales pitch as this can put people off.
A lot of DJ’s produce their own music, and this gets them a lot of kudos and incidentally a lot more gigs. This is not easy to do and some people are naturally good at it, whilst others take a lot longer to get the selves to a professional standard.
Only do this if you have an interest in producing and hearing your own music, forcing it won’t work. If you struggle at first, have a go at remixing some of your favourite tracks and seeing where that gets you. If you do get to a stage where your production is of a good standard, it can be a good idea to post it around.
We all forget to bring things when we need them the most. So we created a DJ checklist for you to use while you are packing your bag.
These are probably one of the most important items to bring to your gig. So it’s also important to get a pair that are comfortable, and good quality. There are different types of headphones that you can get, including closed cup headphones that sit on the ear, or a design that is in-between. Each person will have their own preference, so try on a few and see what works best for you.
This can be just a small LED light that you have on your key chain, but bring one. If you are playing on Vinyl / CD then this is even more essential. Not all clubs are properly lit in the booth, making it hard to see the titles of your tracks. Sometimes wires can become loose, power cables can disconnect, and this all needs sorting quickly. Make sure you can see what you are doing.
We all only have one pair of ears. Once damaged, they will not repair themselves. While in clubs you will be subjected to a lot of loud noise which you need protecting from. You can get cheap £10 ear plugs that are designed to reduce the amount of noise that enters your ear, without stopping it completely.
These will help you in the short term, but you’re better of getting custom moulds of your ears, and ear plugs made. These are a lot more professional and comfortable, and most people will not even see you wearing them. They can cost around £120, but they are worth protecting your ears. After all, if you are deaf, say goodbye your DJ career!
These are a quick and easy way to get your contact details out there. Keeping business cards on your DJ checklist is a sure and fast way to build up bookings.
If people liked your set, they will approach you wanting to talk, and to hear more. Having your latest mix burnt onto a CD / USB stick will allow you to give these people another taster of your music, helping to build your self a fan base. You should at least have them on Soundcloud.
Power cables can break and need replacing, possibly part way through your set. If you are a laptop DJ, your laptop will need charging and there are sometimes no more available slots to do so. Bringing your own gives yourself some protection for when this happens.
Pen and Paper
Want to take requests? Want to take that persons email address who has just requested you keep him posted on any new mixes? Bring some, just incase!
Electronics don’t always do what you want them to do. Software can crash and become unresponsive etc. Always bring spare CD’s with you just incase your laptop grinds to a halt. Otherwise it will be a long awkward 5-10 minutes while you stare blankly at the crowd.
Aspiring DJs go through though many stages. Lets start with how to be a DJ and ‘play out’ for the first time.
Prepare Your Set
This does not mean that you plan each and every song from start to end. It simply requires you to give some thought into the type of records you want to play. The type of tempo, style, genre, old bangers and hidden records that you feel need airing. In the days of vinyl, you were physically limited to how many records that you could carry, but in the digital age, you can carry every song that you have ever owned. This can be both positive and negative.
Take time prior to your set selecting certain tracks that you want to play, but don’t plan every track. A lot can change during a DJ set, the energy can quickly change, and can very quickly require a different style of music.
The type of music you play, also depends on the type of gig you are playing at. The only way to find out the type of music they play, is to visit the club. Try going down and having a listen, watch how the crowd react, and take a look at the amount (or lack of) equipment they have. Don’t panic if you arrive to discover the music playing is different to your style, the promoter might have picked you for your different style.
If you can not visit the club for some reason, try and ask people who have, or try and grab a listen to any promotional DJ mixes. Also be aware that promotional DJ mixes can sometime sound very different to what is played in the club.
Everyone has nerves, even the professionals who have been doing it for decades. There is no easy way around nerves, but there are a few tricks. Alcohol can have a relaxing affect that makes you feel a little more in the moment and a little less self conscious. Beware, there is a fine line between slightly merry, to knocking your drink over the mixer and blowing the amps.
Pick the first few records of your set. Start with songs that you are familiar with, and long(ish) have tracks long enough so you have time to mix. Breathe deep, and just pretend you are in your own bedroom and carry on. If you are having fun, so is everyone else.
The Sound System
How records sound on your home hi-fi, to how they sound on a big sound system may come as a shock. There will be certain records that you love, that will just not sound good on a club system. That kick drum that you swear would rip the dance floor apart, may now sound like the a pillow being tickled.
When mixing two records together, while at home, it is usually best to do a smooth transition between the bass frequencies, on a bigger system that often does not work, and it is often better to do a quick transition (slamming one bass out, while the seconds tracks bass-line kicks in).
Fortunately, mistakes on a big system often get lost and forgotten (this has saved most DJs a good number of times). If a mistake is heard, at least the crowd know you are real, and not just a jukebox!
Stepping Into The Booth
The previous DJ is your friend, make good use of her/him! They have just had a complete set where they have gauged the type of crowd, as well as any problems with the DJ equipment. If you are not sure of something, ask! All DJ’s have been in a situation where they are not 100% on how some hardware works (or how to get free drinks) etc.
The DJ monitor is one of the most important factors of the booth, it allows you to hear what the crowd are hearing. If you had no DJ monitors, you would be listening to a delayed, and more reverberant sound to what the dance floor is hearing. This is not good! You want the monitors to be loud enough so you can hear them over the dance floor speakers, but not too loud as to give you hearing damage!
Monitors don’t always need to be loud, you can turn them down most of the time. Only use them every now and then to check the dance floor has got a good, clear sound.
Prior to stepping into the booth, check to see what it sounds like on the dance floor. How is the volume? EQ? Is the bass distorting? Take all this into account when you are DJing and make any necessary adjustments.
Some clubs don’t have monitors. Some club monitors break. This can be disastrous, unless you know how to carry on without them.
If this happens, use your headphone mix. This involves using the headphone feature on the mixer (if it has one). This option will allow you to listen to the track on the dance floor, as well as cue your second track, and get it beat matched before you bring it in.
Mix off the speakers. This is the least desired option, but it’s possible. Beatmatch the record as closely as possible using your headphones, and the speakers on the dance floor. This will be more difficult as there will be a noticeable delay. Now start the record and bring it slowly into the mix at a very low volume. The record may be out of sync slightly. Now just readjust the record until it is in sync with the song currently playing.
The only thing to do now is practise practise practise, and make sure you know your records back to front. Good luck!