How To Get Your Tracks Played By DJs
How To Get Your Tracks Played By DJs
So you've produced a killer track or remix but how do you get it heard by the masses? Perhaps you've mastered the skill on our music production courses? Well, learning how to produce a track is the first hurdle but then learning how to promote it is the second. Once you've released a track or remix you need to have a clear promotion plan. We've already written many blogs on the subject but this time we want to specifically concentrate on how producers can get their track played by other DJs.
Although it is possible to gain traction and buzz from just having your tracks available on streaming services like Soundcloud and Spotify, or music purchasing sites such as Bandcamp and Beatport, there is no quicker way to create an “I NEED this track ID” moment than when a DJ plays your song. Catching the audience with gaping mouths and gun fingers blazing creates an extremely memorable moment - something that they will associate with a particular track for many years to come. So if you’re starting out as a producer and are struggling to think of ways to put your music out there for your favourite artists to hear, here are a few do’s and don'ts for you when trying to approach other DJs.
DO write personalised messages
It's easy to research a bunch of DJs email addresses and spam them with a bulk email, but taking the time to write a proper email will make you stand out from the crowd. Have a good reason to contact that particular artist - be specific in your message as to why you are contacting them, and include your contact details. Add in some personal flair to show the DJ your email isn’t a carbon copy of the hundreds of other emails they receive from producers.
You can try reaching DJs directly via:
DON'T send tracks to DJs who won't be interested
DJs receive enough music of the genre they actually play without having to trawl through unsolicited submissions in different styles, so sending DJs music they're unlikely to be interested in is a waste of both your time and theirs. You never know what someone else may like, but it is wise to research them a bit before sending. Try to take on board the vibe of each DJ first, then see if the tune you’re sending is able to fit into their style. Listen to their recent radio or Soundcloud mixes to get an idea of what music they’re currently feeling.
DO label your tracks properly
It might be convenient for you to send a track hot from your rendered tracks folder with its original and meaningless filename (Salt N Pepa Loko Motive Big Beat 69.wav), but properly labelling it with your artist name, track name, contact details, and perhaps even date of creation and whether its signed or not will make it easier for its recipient to find it in a hurry.
For example, DJ Slik Pepa - Loko Motive - firstname.lastname@example.org - unsigned.mp3 is a straightforward and information-packed naming convention. From this file name alone the DJ will be able to see everything they need to see, all you can do then is hope they give it a listen!
DON'T send people full files
What's more frustrating than having your email inbox filled to capacity with an unsolicited 60MB .wav file when you're busy? Not much, so why inconvenience someone else in this manner? An email with a link to a high quality mp3 download and/or private stream is more convenient. It also has the advantage of not enraging its recipient or encouraging them to block your email address. Start by sending them an mp3, so you can gauge their interest and then once they’ve confirmed interest, send them a .wav file.
DO arrange your tracks sensibly
DJs like tracks that are easy to mix, and if your track seems like it’s going to be a pain to fit into a set it's more likely to get passed over for something more DJ friendly. It can be beneficial to study other music in the genre you make to see how those tracks are arranged and take your cues from there. Rhythmic intros and a regular number of bars per section are both characteristics of DJ-friendly music.
DON'T send out poor-quality music
It can be hard to judge the quality of our own musical creations but this is an important skill to learn because sending a DJ music that's nowhere near the standard of the competition is likely to put them off from wanting to hear more of your material.
Referencing your tracks against high-quality examples from the same genre is a good way to assess the quality of your mixdown, but bear in mind that unless your tracks have been mastered by yourself or a professional they'll likely be much quieter than commercial releases and not suitable for a DJ to use.
DO have good artwork and graphics
Make sure that your track has professional artwork and associated graphics and that your social media profiles mate the same graphics. This will show your level of professionalism. Artwork also makes a release more memorable and can help it stand-out from the crowd.
DON'T send your track without any links
If the DJ has paid attention to your message you'll want to have a link to your other profiles where they can follow you or a link to an EPK (Electronic Press Kit)
DO ask politely for feedback
Getting helpful feedback from someone who knows what they're talking about is like gold dust for the aspiring producer. Sadly, many DJs are too busy to offer help but it doesn't hurt to ask for feedback. You may get it, and at the very least you'll look sincere in your desire to send them good music.
Try out any suggestions that you receive and judge for yourself if they improve the quality of your productions. If someone is disparaging, don't worry too much about it - if you work hard your production will only get better! You could always try a direct approach for getting a DJ's attention. Firstly, it's always best to try and hit them up at a gig. If not, there are a few options: you can drop them a line on social networks or via their website. Alternatively, you can ask other producers and see if any of them have an email address they don’t mind giving out.
DON'T be obnoxious
Harassing people or being rude and arrogant is not going to help your cause. If you don't receive a response, chances are the DJ has listened to it and, for whatever reason, it's not of interest to them. Accept that some people will ghost you because they are too busy or uninterested.
Sending one polite follow-up email a couple of weeks after you send your track isn't over the top, but don't keep harassing them because you're unlikely to get the kind of response you want. If someone comes back with negative feedback the best way to make yourself feel better is to maintain your dignity and improve your music.
DO present your tracks well
Having more than a second of silence at the start and end of a track is too much and makes it harder for the DJ to cue the track and judge when it's going to end. There's plenty of well-formatted music out there so don't give anyone such a petty reason to not want to play your track.
It also helps if tracks are nice and loud - you don't necessarily need to pay for professional mastering, but look into DIY mastering tutorials to find out how to create ready-to-play versions of your tunes.
If you don't know where to contact DJs try a DJ Promo Service or just play your tracks at your own DJ gigs!
It’s easy to believe that the DJs you look up to have all they need to create unforgettable DJ sets. That may be true with some superstar DJs, but the truth is many DJs (especially the ones on the cutting edge of the underground dance music scene) are always on the lookout for new and unique songs to add to their collection and eventually, to their DJ sets. So, with some perseverance and a strong work ethic, your track could be one of those that make it. Don’t lose faith, keep smashing it and if you feel that you need any help along the way, come and book in for some production classes at London Sound Academy or DJ Gym.