Last time in this series we talked about how to carry yourself online and in person in order to enhance your brand as a DJ. This week I want to delve a little deeper into DJ marketing and talk about how other elements like your DJ name and even what you wear can affect your brand.
What’s Your Look?
DJing is all about the music, so who cares what you look like, right?
DJing may be all about the music for you, but for about 80% percent of the people who go to an average DJ gig, your music is not how they’ll remember you. While a few people may remember your great song selections or some of the great transitions you played at a gig, most people will remember you by what you looked like. So dress wisely.
Take a look at some of your favourite DJs. Do you think they just show up to their gigs in whatever they happened to be wearing that day? Although most DJs don’t really talk about their “look,” choosing the right look is a huge part of winning at DJ marketing. Virtually every major DJ today has some sort of defining feature (think Daft Punk’s helmets, Skrillex’s haircut and glasses) or if not that, they at least dress in a way that presents an image that’s consistent with their sound.
What’s Your Name?
Choosing a DJ name might seem like a trivial matter when you’re first starting out, but it may actually have a huge impact on your DJ career. Often the name you pick for your first gig will stick for your whole career, so make sure you choose your name wisely, even if you think it doesn’t really matter at first.
A DJ name can be anything you want, but there are a few rules to follow to make sure your name is easy to market: Make it unique, make sure it’s relatively easy to pronounce and easy spell, and most importantly, make sure there’s a good story behind your name.
If you saw our post on How 5 Famous DJ’s Got Their Stage Names, you’ll remember that each of these DJs had not only an interesting name, but also an interesting story behind their name. deadmau5 is an interesting name on its own, but he didn’t just pick this name at random; it came out of an online joke that started when he found a dead mouse while changing his computer’s sound card.
How Good DJ Marketing Helps People Understand Your Music
A lot of DJ marketing is about things other than music, but if you do it right, all of this marketing should actually enhance your music. How? By giving people more ways to understand your sound before they see you DJ.
Every DJ with a signature look and memorable name crafted those elements based around their unique musical style. Think about some of those famous DJs again and pretend that you’ve never heard their music before. What does their name and look tell you about what their music might sound like? If you see a couple of guys with space helmets who call themselves Daft Punk, you probably have all sorts of images in your head already (“There must be funk elements to their music, as well as a punk rock attitude, and what’s with those space helmets? Those guys must be pretty mysterious.”)
Now isn’t that much better than seeing a guy in a t-shirt called “DJ Steve” and trying to guess what his sound is all about?
Next time in this series we’ll wrap up by talking about a few more DJ marketing skills that will help solidify your brand and get you more DJ gigs. For more tips and tutorials on how to become a successful DJ, check out our online DJ school, where we teach you not only how to market yourself, but also how to play great music once you’ve landed some gigs.
A couple of weeks ago we talked about how to book DJ gigs abroad, and this week I want to wrap up the series on planning a DJ vacation by talking about what to do once you get to your vacation spot. Of course all of the DJ skills you’ve honed at home will be an asset no matter what country you’re in, but there are also a few extra factors to be aware of when you’re travelling, so here’s what you need to do to ensure your DJ vacation is a success.
Travelling Light: What Gear to Bring
Once you’ve got some foreign connections lined up, you can start thinking about what to pack. And unless you’re going to be playing some huge stadium dates, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll want to bring your whole DJ rig with you. So what are your options?
The first option is to learn to DJ with just a laptop. This is a good option for beginners and those on a budget, as well as anyone who wants to do the whole “backpack around Europe and be a DJ at the same time” thing.
In order to learn to DJ with just a laptop, you’ll need to change your MIDI mapping so you can control everything easily from your keyboard. You’ll also want to spend some time getting comfortable with your keyboard shortcuts for whatever software you use. With this setup, it’s crucial that you have a proper DJ soundcard, as this will give you much better audio quality than simply plugging a splitter cable into your headphone jack.
Another option is to bring a portable controller like the Numark DJ 2 Go. This gives you some more functionality, and will probably make your performance more interesting since it helps show that you’re really moving knobs and faders around and not just checking your email. Bringing a portable controller also means that you won’t have to change up your performance too much if you’re used to DJing with a controller already.
Finally, don’t overlook your iPhone or iPad, since, as we discussed last week, there are lots of great DJ apps you can use on your mobile device to spice up your DJ set. This way you can learn to DJ with just a laptop, and still add some extra elements without having to lug too much gear around.
Playing it Safe: What to Put on Your Set List
When playing gigs in a new location, the best way to prepare is to learn as much as you can about the place you’re going to, especially when it comes to what sort of music is popular there. The same club hits that go over great in your hometown might totally bomb on the other side of the world. If you take the time to discover some local hits, it shows that you really value the culture you’re visiting, and spinning these hits during your set can really help to win over the local crowd.
You can also throw in some of your hometown favourites that may be unfamiliar to the local crowd as a way to add some exoticism to your set, but pay close attention to the dance floor and be ready to switch back to the local hits if you see that you’re losing the crowd. Make it known that you’re an outsider, but don’t stand out like a tacky tourist with a fanny pack and a Hawaiian shirt.
Wrapping Up: How to Make Sure You’re Invited Back
No matter where in the world you’re DJing, the same basic rules of conduct apply. Namely, show up on time, have a good attitude, and if you can, bring some friends who are willing to buy a few drinks and keep the bar happy. Even if you’re travelling by yourself, you’ll probably meet some travel buddies along the way, so why not invite them to your gig and ask them to help you get the dance floor moving? This, along with the relationships you’ve already established by following the tips in Part 1 of this series, will mean that you have a pretty good chance of getting invited to play the same clubs again, which will make things much easier when it comes to planning your next DJ vacation.
Once you learn to DJ with just a laptop or find a portable DJ controller that fits in your travel bag, you’re set for your DJ vacation. If you do your research ahead of time and leave lots of time for planning, you may be able to cover your trip expenses with the money you make playing DJ gigs, or if you’re really lucky, you might even come home with a little cash. In any event, you’ll at least be able to say that you’re now an internationally-renowned DJ!
Before you head off on your trip, why not brush up on some of your DJ skills with some lessons on cool DJ tricks that will help you get noticed when you play your international gigs? Or, check out our videos on promotion and getting gigs for some more ideas on how you can get gigs in other countries.