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.
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.
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.
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