Breaking in to Vancouver’s music industry is tough as-is, but there may be a few things you could be doing wrong that are impacting your break through. We interviewed Sivz, a local house DJ at the top of her game to find out what she did to rise to the top of the scene as a clubber-turned-DJ. Now also taking on the role as a booker for her own project, Beatginnings, she had some interesting insights from the shoes of a promoter.
Here are a few behavioural things you could be doing wrong, and how to correct them:
1. You’re not supporting the scene
Hiding behind a laptop and sending out your mixes will get you nowhere when others are out there introducing themselves to promoters. The number one way to get booked at a local night is simply to show up and show your genuine support for as often as you can. You are much more likely to become top of mind when a slot opens up if bookers recognize you and have gotten to know you. So show up, get to know the people who run the night, express your interest, and even start promoting.
2. You’re not active online
You’d be surprised just how many gigs come from actively sharing your interests online, and you really don’t have to a social media expert to share content you care about. The more you share your own tracks, mixes, live streams or even the work of others you admire, the better. Event throwers and friends of friends will undoubtedly contact you if they see that you’re passionate about what you do.
3. You’re not confident in yourself
You might be missing out on opportunities because you don’t believe in yourself. You might have already made that personal connection to a night, but keep telling yourself you’re not good enough yet. I quote: “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity but you’re not sure if you know how to do it, say yes, and then learn how to do it later” - Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group. Take risks. A little belief in yourself can take you a really long way. More gigs tend to roll in after you nail your first one (sometimes even after you bomb it).
4. You’re not asking for the opportunity
You might be an active supporter, but chicken out when it comes to asking for the opportunity. The worst thing anyone can tell you is no, and it’s easier to recover than you think. Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you from acting at all. When you’ve established a good connection, let promoters know you’re interested in playing an opening slot whenever becomes available. Follow up after. If nothing materializes, use your judgement to give it some time, then express your interest again. Promoters love go getters and need to be reminded of your interest with so much on their plates.
5. You’re harassing promoters
On the flip side of this, you could be harassing promoters. There’s a fine line between following up, and being that annoying person. If a promoter hasn’t gotten back to you, it mean be a number of things – they don’t have any dates open in the near future, slots have been filled, or your style simply doesn’t match the sound they're looking for. To avoid being this person, truly research the nights you’re trying to play. Don’t repeatedly contact a promoter telling them how rad of a trap DJ you are when they’re running a house night. It shows you have no idea what the night is about and have ever actually been.
6. You’re hating on others
You might not be getting the gigs you want because you’re wasting your energy hating on others that are succeeding. Becoming a know-it-all, thinking others are undeserving of the slots they are getting, acting like you can do it better and talking smack about others in the city spreads very fast. If promoters sense a terrible attitude, its very easy to decide not to work with that kind of person, as there are many more humble and eager people waiting for the opportunity. You might have landed some gigs, and then become very difficult. You complain about the pay, you’re not happy with your slot, and you start to tell the promoter what to do. Handle things with grace, wait your turn, and express your gratitude for getting the slots that you do and people will want to work with you again.
7. You’re not playing appropriately
What a lot of DJs get wrong in the beginning is the fact that a show isn’t about you. They go in, bang out a set and pay no attention to their actual role in a club setting. Learn what it means to play a proper opening slot and setting the mood for the next DJ that takes over after you. Look up other artists on the lineup and get familiar with their styles. After a gig, find the promoter, thank them, and ask for any feedback they might have for you. It’s important to demonstrate that you’re willing to be flexible with your style to meet what the club needs. Promoters can spend years building the perfect sound for their nights, and one that their crowd is used to, so it’s your job to respect that when you’re trying to get started.
8. You’re not building a following
Don’t assume that being a producer with a few great tracks is what’s going to get you booked. People are. Reputation is. Word of mouth is. Frankly, DJing locally is a whole different ball game to producing. Success does not come in isolation, and promoters will literally always care about numbers. Do your best to rally a troop when you do get a booking, reach out to friends old and new and let them know what the opportunity means to you. Host a pre party and get everyone to rally there with you and you will be remembered for bringing a crowd.
9. You’re only in it for yourself
It’s easy to distinguish between those who have genuine care for building the city’s scene and those who are only out for themselves and being in the spotlight. So many people contribute nothing but expect headlining slots. Spend a little time asking yourself why you are in this and what it really means to you, and begin to express that so others can join you in your vision.
10. You’re simply not being patient
Even when doing all the above, you need to be patient. Some gigs take an entire year of relationship nurturing before they actually materialize; and you need to be willing to put in the time for what you want. Always remember that overnight success is unheard of these days, and everyone you see killing it has had to go through the same process.
So there you have it, some insights from both an established DJ and active booker. Remember these fine lines, do your research, show genuine support and you’ll develop one professional and respected attitude promoters and crowds will only love to see more of.