DJ Persona: 3 Easy Steps to Start Self-Promoting

Female DJ Mixing

Let’s say you’ve been DJing for a while. You’re good at your craft and have somewhat of a following, but you would like to lift your DJ brand and persona to new heights. This is where self-promotion comes in. Major companies and big artists have a team of marketers to help spread their product and connect with other creatives in the field. But if you’re a small-time creator, you have to play the marketing game all on your own.

Fortunately, the internet makes it easier than ever to self-promote, connect, and win fans and collaborations. However, there are a couple key things to keep in mind if you want to market yourself successfully as an artist. Not only do you have to have vision and a brand that sets you apart from everyone else, but you need to have a strategy for online communications and networking. What works for each individual artist is a little bit different, but these are the three starting points that will help launch your career into the stratosphere.

Step One: Crafting Your Persona

The first step to successful self-promotion is to determine what your overall image is going to be. You need a hook­–something that makes you stand out from the crowd. This can be the hardest part, so don’t be afraid to experiment! Work towards the vision you set out for yourself and have the willingness to fail along the way. A passionate work ethic will push challenges you may face into progress during your journey. Having a unique personality and stage presence is attractive to potential fans and promoters. Knowing your purpose and expressing your passion through your work creates a persona that reaches a larger audience and gains recognition overall.

DJ Khaled is a great example of this! DJ Khaled is a self-made producer that would bounce around hotels in Orlando, Florida before he made it big. Soon after, he was acknowledged nationwide by giving back to schools and organizations in the Orlando community.  His persona centers around happiness and spreading loving energy throughout the world, primarily through social media. Speaking of, a unique personality stands out on social media, and utilizing online spaces is often how successful DJs market their personality to the masses.

Step Two: Online Presence

Now that you have a cohesive image and a recognizable brand, it’s time to create an online presence for yourself. Having quality content and engaging with audiences on social media is the number one way you can market yourself as an artist. You can connect with fans and other creative professionals in the music industry and show off your skills online. And all it takes is one hit song or one video to go viral and BAM! You’ve got reach! But going viral won’t happen overnight; it takes a lot of work to build your presence and fan base first. Spreading yourself far and wide online is the key to masterful self-promotion.

Social Media

If you don’t have a professional social media presence, now is the time to create one.  Social media is where most people spend their time online these days, so you’ll need to be where the fans are. Build your following on multiple platforms and connect with your fans. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, TikTok, and Youtube all have their pros and cons, but the number one rule across all of them? Engaging content.

Build your following by telling your personal story on social media. Show off your work and stay true to your brand and persona that you developed in step one. Be authentic, but above all else, you want to draw attention. And the number one way to draw attention on social media is to engage.

Interact with other accounts and your followers to keep people coming back to your page. Post upcoming events, mixes, news, merchandise, and other creative content. Improve your reach by jumping on industry trends and interacting not only with your followers, but with other DJs as well. You can create challenges or participate in challenges created by others. Comment on other DJs’ content and reply to your fans! Interacting with content is a great way to increase your reach organically, and without having to pay for pricey advertising.

Finally, don’t forget about the power of video! TikTok is one of the fastest growing social media platforms and posting promotional videos or previews of your mixes or shows is an easy way to gain followers and fans. TikTok doesn’t necessarily need flashy, produced videos, but professional-looking cinematography certainly doesn’t hurt you either. Keep your videos short and engaging and lean into your persona that you’ve crafted to keep up with your image. Adding an engaging call to action at the end of a video can also be a way to get viewers to remember your brand. Ask them to visit your website, follow your socials, or check out your next event on Facebook.

Website

While social media is where a lot of the magic happens, you don’t want to skimp on a website. A professionally designed website will go far in making you appear legitimate, and you can present other types of content on a professional website more easily than you can on social media.

Your website often will be the first thing your audience will find when they put your handle in a search engine. Link to your website on social media, and make sure it’s well-designed, clean, and full of good content. Post your vision, brand, good quality photos, your best mixes, upcoming gigs, and merchandise options on your website. An Electronic Press Kit (EPK) groups these segments on your website to display information about you and your music career. Adding this will allow you to reach viewers outside of your existing network and give promoters, organizers, and future fans a quick synopsis on who you are and what you are all about.

Step Three: Networking

Now that you have a persona and an online presence to back it up, you can start building relationships with others. Networking is the most effective skill for DJs to promote their talent. You need to have the skills to pay the bills; however, networking your brand and persona is essential to building your audience. It is important to have a professional approach when networking as a DJ because it can be easy to sound desperate. If you build a relationship with promoters and organizers first, it will increase your chances of being able to perform onstage when you ask.

Networking topics to help build professional relationships:

1. “My fans are discussing your upcoming event and I wanted to find out more.”

2. “I’m following your social media accounts and I’d love to find a way to collaborate with you.”

If you’re looking to promote yourself, you’ll need to provide value in having other industry professionals work with you. They likely want to promote their own brand. Being able to set yourself apart from others is key to landing  the opportunity to collaborate. Remember the engagement you’re doing on social media? Start by connecting with other artists there, and you can use it as a springboard when talking with promoters or other industry professionals. “Check out my work on TikTok with So-and-So.”

Collaborating with other DJs is a win-win situation that will gain both you and your colleague exposure to a wider network. Partnerships also allow you to break into new markets and find more ways you can better yourself as a DJ. You can always learn something from other artists. You can also connect with your community to find out what your city has to offer in terms of DJ opportunities. Other artists in the community can help you discover opportunities, such as weddings, clubs, and other venues.

Now Climb the Ladder!

Self-promotion is a long, hard, never-ending road, but learning how to market yourself is the key to becoming successful in the industry. The more you practice at it, the better you’ll get, and the more easily you’ll be able to find collaboration opportunities.

Use these three strategies to get you started, and don’t be afraid to experiment along the way. Some things you try may fail and others may succeed, but as long as you keep trying, you’ll get to where you want to be.

Apply a diverse collection of celebrity, custom, and pre-produced DJ drops to your track list to make your work stand out even more. Check them out in our store.

6 Important EDM Subgenres DJs Should Know

DJ Playing EDM

Electronic Dance Music, or better known as EDM has dominated the club and party scene for years. EDM is not a genre in and of itself, but rather an umbrella term for electronically produced music of many different styles. It can encompass everything from dance beats to ambient, chill-out music. The only similarities between the different styles of EDM are how they are produced and their technical elements. Many styles of EDM use bass synthesizers, drum machines and other inorganic sounds. These elements characterize EDM as a whole.

EDM emerged in the mid-1980s as music technology became readily available for artists to use. It expanded internationally in the 90s and has continued to grow into a wide array of genres and subgenres. These genres evolve continuously as DJs and producers blend, remix, and rehash different sounds into new combinations.

As a new DJ starting out, you might wonder which genre you should work with or where to even begin. This handy guide will walk you through some of the most popular EDM subgenres and give you an overview of the history, sound, influences, and popular artists of each genre.

House

House music originated in Chicago’s underground club scene in the early to mid-1980s. DJs of the time mixed the soaring 70s disco vocals with synth and electronic production. These new sounds exploded across the country and around the world. Today, it’s one of the most dominant genres of EDM, with many subgenres characterized by their own unique sounds and production styles.

Classic house is characterized by 4/4 kick drum rhythms, funky basslines, and sampled soulful vocals. These sounds are designed to get you up on the floor dancing the night away, and house is still quite popular in clubs. Notable subgenres include acid house, deep house, progressive house, and electro house. 

BPM: 115-130

Notable Artists: Frankie Knuckles, Larry Heard, Daft Punk, Calvin Harris, Deadmau5, Avicii

Trance

Trance dominated the EDM scene for many years, although it has waned in popularity over the last decade. Originating in the German club scene in the late 80s and early 90s, trance is characterized by soaring melodies, long build-ups, and a slightly faster tempo than House. Tracks are usually instrumental, but can have dreamy, usually female vocals that don’t follow a typical verse-chorus structure.

The mood of trance is usually euphoric, getting its inspiration from and hitting its heyday in the ecstasy-fueled raves of the mid-90s. Light and airy. Its popularity has given way to harder styles in recent years, it’s still easy listening and upbeat to dance to. Trance also has several subgenres, including vocal trance that contains more structured vocals, and psychedelic trance.

BPM: 135-150

Notable Artists: Armin Van Buurin, Paul Van Dyk, Paul Okenfold, Tiesto

Techno

Techno was born out of the predominantly African American music scene in Detroit in the mid-80s. Although techno has earlier roots in disco and funk from the 70s. Influenced by Kraftwerk, the four on the floor rhythms of techno, really hit its stride once it made its way overseas. Like house music, techno found a home in European clubs, and in 1988, UK journalist Neil Rushton released a music compilation record titled Techno! (The New Dance Sound of Detroit). From there, “Detroit Techno” was put on the map, becoming a staple of European rave culture for many years.

Primarily instrumental, techno is characterized by pounding beats and a repetitive sound meant to be the base of a DJ’s set, blending seamlessly from one track into the next. Futuristic sounds have always been part of techno’s signature sound and are what set it apart from other genres. It has also given birth to several subgenres and spinoffs, such as digital hardcore, acid techno, and even trance.

BPM: 120-150

Notable Artists: Kraftwerk, Jeff Mills, Kevin Saunderson, Nina Kraviz, Aphex Twin, Carl Cox

Garage

Also known as UK Garage (and pronounced ‘Garridge’ like the British pronunciation), Garage developed out of house in Europe in the mid-1990s. The term’s use in the U.S. was coined from the eclectic playlist of New York’s popular gay club “Paradise Garage”. However, the genre itself developed more from its’ UK roots. A faster tempo than house music, the 4/4 beat of the early influences of Garage became too fast to dance to, so DJs dropped every other beat to create “speed garage”, and eventually 2-step Garage.

Garage has other influences in Drum and Bass, Jungle, Hip Hop, and other genres, making it a blend of many different sounds. It’s mostly characterized by syncopated drums with shuffled rhythms and pitch-shifted vocals. The mid-2000s to early 2010s brought about other subgenres and derivative genres, such as dubstep, bassline, and grime.

BPM: 128-140

Notable Artists: MJ Cole, Zed Bias, Ms. Dynamite, Disclosure

Dubstep

Speaking of Garage subgenres, Dubstep has become its own notable and popular subgenre to the point it’s essentially a full genre of its own. Dubstep evolved from Garage and 2-step in the early 2000s, slowly increasing in popularity in Europe and beyond up through the later half of the decade. Spreading mainly through the internet, dubstep became a dominant cultural phenomenon in the pop music scene thanks to American artists like Skrillex in the early 2010s. Its’ trademark sounds even made their way into top-charting pop hits.

Defined by its’ characteristic “wobble-bass” and darker tone and rhythms, Dubstep uses a lot of different sounds for complex, layered tracks. There aren’t a lot of vocals involved in most dubstep, with producers sticking mainly to samples they edit nearly beyond recognition. The wildly popular American variety of dubstep has evolved into a subgenre of its own called brostep, but as of 2021 dubstep’s popularity has decreased substantially.

BPM: 138-142

Notable Artists: Skrillex, Zomboy, Knife Party, Krewella, Flux Pavilion

Drum and Bass

Drum and Bass, often stylized as Drum ‘n’ Bass or simply DnB, originated from the early 90s UK rave scene. Heavily emphasizing—you guessed it, drums and basslines—the genre was influenced by breakbeat and jungle tracks, as well as Jamaican styles such as dub and reggae. DnB reached peak popularity across Europe in the mid to late-90s but started to dwindle towards the start of the new millennium. However, it still has a strong niche audience and core set of artists, and its sound makes for a fantastic dance floor atmosphere.

Syncopation is the name of the game for DnB, with rolling basslines and sampled drum breakbeats making up the core part of its’ sound. The most influential track in DnB history was 1969’s “Amen Brother” by The Winstons. The 7-second-long drum breakbeat known as the “Amen break” has been widely sampled throughout the genre, providing the backbone to its’ sound as a whole. Multiple sampled breakbeats in the same track are common, the artist switching back and forth between them to create complex, syncopated rhythms.  DnB has evolved into multiple subgenres with different tones and conventions, such as darkstep, liquid funk, jump-up, and techstep.

BPM: 160-180

Notable Artists: Pendulum, Noisia, Andy C, Netsky

The Evolving EDM Landscape

This is by no means an exhaustive list of every genre and subgenre of EDM. The musical landscape of EDM continues to evolve and grow, giving way to new sounds and blends of existing genres until they transform into something new. There are hundreds of styles out there, each just waiting to be discovered. New DJs should listen to many genres and experiment with their own sound to figure out what style of mixing or producing they want to do. You can take the time to craft your own unique sound and style, learning from those who came before. And just have fun with it! You never know, you could help to create the next big sound in EDM.

Want to add a personalized touch to your next set for the perfect, memorable sound? Look no further than our custom DJ Drops.