Learn how to get more press coverage as a DJ or Producer
One of the most important skills an artist needs to have is how to court press attention, curate a public image, and get their particular message out to the fans. You can be one of the best DJs and producers ever but never leave the bedroom. How do you get out there, get attention and get gigs? We'll, I've put together some tips, based on my own experience being a promoter, music journalist, DJ and founder of London Sound Academy.
To be honest, I could fill this blog with cookie-cutter bullet-point lists but I really don’t think it will get you anywhere unless you actually have some concept of what you’re trying to promote in the first place. The first question you have to ask yourself is why on earth would anyone want to write about you? There are a million DJs and producers out there, what makes you so darn special? If you don’t feel like you’re doing anything remarkable then it really is time to evaluate your whole game plan. You have to have a drive and passion and something that makes you distinct from the crowd. You then need to turn the volume on that way up!
The best artists are the ones who went above and beyond, think of some of the greats, the legends like David Bowie, Prince, Grace Jones, Björk or Daft Punk, for example. These are true artists, not just in music but in the theatre of show-business. They are iconic, design-conscious, artistic, cutting-edge, risk-takers, always many steps ahead of the average musician. They also spanned decades without going out of fashion with constant re-inventions of themselves.
You can reinvent yourself too, anytime, just take the leap. Start by curating your self-image, not just in terms of your style and appearance, but what your music represents, what your political agenda is and what good you think you’re bringing to the dance-floor. Write a manifesto, get some paper and a pen and write down why you think you want to change to music world. Now write a plan detailing the steps of how to get from where you are now to where you want to be.
Work With Other Artists
One thing's for sure, you’re not going to get there on your own. Think about how many collaborations someone like David Bowie had, from every makeup artists, fashion designers, film director, musician, singer etc, the list goes on. Surely, that is the spice of life anyway, meeting other passionate people and making cool stuff happen! Make it your goal to know and be socialising with leading figures from all disciplines of the creative industries, together you can all rise, and have a lot of fun on the way.
The secret really to getting press is don’t give a thought about it, play hard to get. Just be an amazing visible and an unavoidable zeitgeist, they will soon be knocking at your door. But, I know you guys are thirsty for a list to follow so here you go (I gave in!)
- Get yourself a look. Stand out from the crowd. If you want to be the centre of attention you better start acting like a star. I’m not saying you have to prance about on stage in a mouse helmet, if you’re style is more subtle then show us that, but amp it up! Even normcore can make a headline, Shia LaBeouf and Yaeji spring to mind.
- Involve yourself in photography, film, illustration and the arts. Make sure you’re pumping out creative content around your music projects and working with other artists in as many disciplines as possible, always looking to stand out from the crowd with new ideas. Your fans will come to learn your music but also the culture you create around it.
- Don’t cut corners, work hard, 10,000 hours practice if you want to become experienced in any artform. Real talent always courts attention when coupled with the correct exposure.
- Socialise! I think this is actually the most critical one. Most of the connections in the music industry happen on the dancefloor, if you’re not hitting those floors talking and meeting people you’ll never get anywhere. Aim to go to five events a week. If you go out the regularly you’ll be on all the guest lists soon enough anyway. Just don’t get to caught up in the hedonistic lifestyle that you can’t function the next day.
- Have a press-pack, just a simple folder of files you can send to promoters and press. Include professional high quality photos, associated graphic design, a biography and anything else of note. I think it’s a good idea to have a dummy interview in there too, where you ask yourself maybe 20 questions. The press can then cherry pick any quotes they want to use directly with minimal fuss. If you make their job easier you’re more likely to get exposure.
- When it comes to press pictures make sure you have a range of photographs, black and white, colour, portrait, landscape, illustrated etc. No magazine wants to print a photo which has been used in another magazine already. Why not use a great new photo to your advantage and tell them you want to give them exclusive use of it, that extra leverage might give you a leg up.
- Have a story to tell. If you don’t have one you probably need to live it up a bit more, so get your skates on and lose it on the dancefloor, the stories will come!
- Read music magazines, blogs and follow any other media channels. Make sure you pick up on the clues of what other people are doing and the lengths they are going to. Match it, and then go one step beyond. Immerse yourself in the culture around your music and become knowledgeable so when you are interviewed you know what you are talking about.
- If you want to chase press start small, find some small blogs and see if they will write about you. Make your story compelling and interesting to read, make it memorable. Get some momentum going with the smaller media channels and if your whole package above is right you’ll start courting the attention of other writers. Have some kind of production or event to shout about.
- If you want to be proactive, pull a press stunt. Hold a rave on a tube train to further your political agenda, or just do something so utterly preposterous people have to pay attention.
- There is nothing more desperate looking than approaching someone to write about you, really you want someone else to do that for you, if you’re the headline act of a an event get the promoter to send your press info to the media. Push them, it’s their job.
- Be a true ‘influencer.’ I hate this word but it’s the easiest way to talk about it. Anyone can buy followers and likes but only true artists and creatives can actually influence people, if you truly are a creative leader you will naturally influence other people creatively, this is a good influence. The other influence type is those basic people who focus on good looks, luxury lifestyles or possessions. Don’t be like those, it’s so tacky, transparently hollow and has a short shelf life.
- Become the press! Set up your own blog, your own zine, your own little platform to shout from. This is also one of the best ways to create a culture around your music and your friends creative pursuits, build a grass-roots movement and build your media.
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