What are some most common mistakes DJs make which potentially lead to career slumps or their complete demise and how to avoid them? Bundled below you will find the DOs we've seen plenty of artists do and have led to bigger success.
"Always be on top of your business."
Never leave it all up to your manager, label, agent or whomever. Try to be involved in all decisions. Make sure you are getting cards, keeping contacts, building e-lists for newsletters etc. If your manager leaves, most of the contacts leave with him. Nobody wants that. Always have your contact details included on everything so people can contact you for bookings etc.
What is the best way to sprinkle your name accross the interwebs in a smoth way like the "Turkish meme guy salting his meat"? Through your social media and your personal newsletter. People need to see you're getting more gigs, establishing a name and brand for yourself. With all the social media available, one thing is crucial and you need to understand it fully before reaching out to people. The market is saturated. We've covered this topic a bit in one of our previous HOW TO's.
"Help promote the event you're playing at."
The oldschool djs were doing whatever it took to promote the events with flyers, posters sometimes also by selling tickets. "It's not my responsibility to promote, I'm not the promoter." Don't be that guy. Promoters want to book DJs who have something to push or something new out. Being a cool dude who occasionally promotes shows and other talent might score you additional bookings. Kindness goes a long way.
Humility is attractive. Be polite, always know it's not just the talent that put you there. It's also the people. Nobody likes an arrogant douchebag who thinks he's entitled to everything. "Don't you know who I am?" when people don't recognize you. Keep it in your pants, bro.
It's your duty to be at the airport on time, with all the traveling documents, intinerary, equipment. Always have all the contact numbers, know where you are staying, how long you are DJing, what time you go on, etc.
"Keep an honest bio."
We've seen the shit you write in there. Don't do it, it's funny. An embellished bio will lose the support of your fellow DJ friends and people who pay close attention to your career. Your dj friends and agents are the ones in the know, the ones potentially booking you or placing you on the catalogue of their labels. People know each other and the word spreads like wildfire. Don't do that, it's weak. Also remember it's not wise to drop names when pitching yourself to a promoter unless someone tells you to do so. You never know what are the relations in the "backstage". It could cost you a booking.
"Always ask to approve any flyers, bios or anything else written about you."
You should make sure that a promoter doesn't spell your name wrong and also has your proper achievements.
*Going the extra mile*
Always try to have exclusive merch like personalized USBs, vinyls, t-shirts or whatever to sell. That's how you can get extra cash if the promoter cannot pay more. It is a nice gesture to bring the promoter who hires you a gift (maybe one of your cds, whatever). People love gifts, it doesn't have to be too big. Just show the people who support you and your work, even so much that are willing to pay for it, a little gratitude.
"Never take advantage of your DJ status."
Never roll in with a 15 person crew claiming they are with you. The number is 4 to 5 people max. Don't bring idiots with you, as it may reflect negatively on you. Try to negotiate these things with the promoter beforehand.
"Never play before you get paid."
Unless it's a promoter you know and trust. Try to get at least half of your fee before. There are dodgy people in this business and you will get screwed over. Time and time again. You can thank me at the end of the month when you don't starve to death. Also remember never to argue with a promoter if you have an agent. It's their job.
"Don't get too comfortable drinking on the promoter's tab."
They should supply some free drinks of course. You are getting paid, it's just not a nice gesture.
"Girlfriends at work."
Are a risk you sometimes shouldn't take. Unless she's super down-to-earth, doesn't drag you down, let's you work and understands your surroundings completely. You cannot afford looking after your girl when you're in the zone. She is hot and will be hit on - trust me. Never let your girlfriend be your manager. Just don't do it bro.
"Don't get too smashed before your set."
"Don't talk smack about other DJs."
It will bite you on the butt later. Karma is a bitch. Try to be nice and understand that people will do what they can to get ahead. Being successful in music industry is hard. Nobody likes a hater. Do your best and try to respect people who work hard like you - even if their output is different. We're watching you.
"Don't cancel shows."
Especially after they've been confirmed by you or your agent. Never ever ask for more money after you agreed upon a price. Unless you're Daft Punk and are planning the biggest stage attraction and need more money to build it so people will go crazy (like they did at Coachella). Reminder: you're not Daft Punk.
"Don't be lazy."
Never tell a new contact to go to your site for music and bios. It seems natural to do so but you will appear super lazy. If people work for you and ask you for stuff directly - it's because they are busy and don't have the time to search for it on the web.
"Never turn down a gig because of a low fee."
Even if it's grocery money and your fees are usually greater. People might have mixed feelings about this (depends on how big your name is). I think it's all about connecting and doing favours for each other. Never do gigs for free. By playing for free you are communicating to your audience that your music is worthless. The idea of playing for free is a controversial one that especially rubs working musicians the wrong way. But it’s not always a black-and-white issue. Often the decision to take a gig that doesn’t pay is measured according to the potential good it can bring – i.e. new fans, resume building, connections with the right people, etc. Charity gigs are different. If you're playing a charity event always ask if the staff (bar people, security) also work for free. If you want to support a charity have the promoter pay you your fee and then offer to donate part or all of it back. You decide how much.
"Never lose contact with your original fan base."
Please don't let this happen to you.
"Don't talk to agents and promoters when angry."
If you are burning bridges make sure you have all the right reasons. Keep it zen.
*Going the extra mile not being a douche*
If you don't necessarily need to be on stage or in the booth, please stay put. It's a nice gesture and you won't look so desperate for attention. Don't blame the promoter if your belongings are missing after you've left them unattended.