It’s been my pleasure to write this series for the past two years. When I started writing “The Business of Dance Music” two years ago, it seemed as if all you Tastyfreshers knew where you wanted to go, but had no idea how to get there. In that two year span, I’ve seen many new faces come aboard, and many old faces step up their game. I’ve seen Christians take their production levels up to a standard that is now acceptable in the secular scene, as opposed to just settling for “good enough”. I’ve seen Christian events and events with Christians pop up all over the world on par with a product capable of standing on its own. I’d like to think that my advice has played some small part in this, but in reality, it’s the Christian Dance Music microcosm stepping up and deciding to put out a better product. For that, I am very proud of all of you.
As I wrap up this series to begin a new chain of articles, I’d like to take a moment and go over the core of what I’ve tried to get across for the past two years. Please be aware that I don’t mind if you email me for advice at any time. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we should promote each other’s personal growth. As your brother, I want to see you succeed. With that being said, here are the basic principles for making it in the music industry.
Like Paul Van Dyk told us in the very first article, don’t let your personal situation hold you back. Paul grew up in East Berlin, behind the Berlin wall. His only exposure to the music came from radio broadcasts from the West and records that his Grandmother smuggled in to him. Paul didn’t let this hold him back. He kept working, kept plugging along until his situation changed. The Berlin Wall came down and Paul’s career rose. Paul said that we should never compromise what we do and remain true to ourselves and the music. As long as you do that, you will succeed.
Make a good press kit and get to know people. I cannot stress the value of a good press kit enough. Have someone write a bio for you. Take some really good pictures (being aware of background) and cut that killer demo. Do not call your house music “soulful” or your trance music “uplifting.”
Remember that it’s not what you know, but rather who you know. If you’re not getting out and meeting people, you’re not getting booked. How can you expect to be booked if people don’t know who you are and what you’re all about? Take advantage of networking opportunities. Go to conferences, big shows, meetings; whatever you can do to increase your visibility. It takes 29 points of exposure for someone to decide to buy. Remember that your services as a DJ or producer are a product, and the promoter/label boss is the consumer. Don’t forget that the real key here is the follow up. Send someone your information, and remember to follow up with them. Don’t annoy them, but a gentle “Hey, did you get my information” is quite acceptable. If someone says “no”, it really means “not right now”. Don’t give up on that person until it’s clear that you’re not getting in.
It’s all about value! What value do you provide as an act? What sets you apart? What do you do that makes you unique? If you want someone to book you, there has to be a reason for them to make the effort to bring you in. Is it your connection to someone else? How about the fact that you do a Live PA show? Maybe you’re full of energy and provide an exciting, electrifying performance. It’s crucial for you to show the promoter that they’re getting value for their dollar spent.
Networking, networking, networking! Never stop networking. Get to know as many people as you can. Beat down the doors to find the promoters, A&R heads, influential parties, magazine editors, etc. It’s these people that will get you to the next level. Make friends with other DJs and producers who are doing things similar to you. Take interests in their careers. Find things outside of music that you have in common with those people. In other words, become a real friend.
Promoting an event isn’t easy. Make sure you’ve set aside enough money in your marketing budget to get nice flyers. Crunch the numbers on everything so you get the best value per dollar spent on your show. Line up a nice venue and the best value talent you can find. Get as many people as you can on your team to get the word out. Remember that if your headliner isn’t quite as well known, it takes more effort because you’ll have to make your potential attendees aware of your headliner’s work. They have to be given a reason to come out.
Treat your music as a business. If you don’t take yourself seriously, how can you expect anyone else to do the same? Save those receipts to write off on your taxes. Start sample pools with your friends to share sounds you’ve made. Look for all those free refills and wav sounds on the net. Learn all you can about business, copyright laws, distribution, and contracting issues. The more knowledge you arm yourself with, the less likely you are to be taken advantage of by some shady label boss or sketchy venue owner.
Be supportive of others in our little microcosm of a scene here. It’s important to be supportive and provide a good word to others when they need it. Let’s face it; there are not many of us here in the Christian EDM scene. We have to stick together and help each other out whenever we can. We’re too small to be divided, so it’s important for us to present a unified front as we struggle for acceptance within Christian music circles. Remember the Andrew Carnegie “Gospel of Wealth” and how it applies to us in our daily lives. Remember that we all have things we can add to the whole for the common good.
Like I said, it’s been really fun writing this series and I hope you all take something away from it that can help advance your career. Remember that I’m always here to help, and I’m praying for your further success. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to read these articles. As I wrap this up to start a new series, I leave you with this thought.
It’s all about relationships…