You are an amazing producer! Your songs are mental! But for some reason, no one invites you to perform at clubs or other events. You begin to ask yourself: Am I really good? Where am I failing? Do I need more marketing?
One of the biggest challenges for rising DJ’s and producers is to find their place in the market and music industry, and consequently, playing in clubs, festivals, weddings, whatever your thing is. I’m not here today to tell you if your music is good enough to start playing in gigs. You need to have that acuity to understand if your music is worth playing in a good club sound system. Trust your ears!
So, how to get more DJ gigs? It’s not that your music is horrible, but maybe you are doing things the wrong way. The truth is that many amateur producers make the huge mistake of not approaching bookings as a business. They only think of themselves, their self-interests and they don’t put themselves in the role of promoters or who will hire them.
In this post, I will share with you some strategies that will help you to approach more effectively promoters, clubs, festivals and other venues. These are strategies that work perfectly with me and I believe they will be helpful to you as well. I don’t promise you that the results will be immediate but if you persist and have a little patience, eventually things will happen.
People are everything! As long as your life depends on music, keep this quote always present in your mind. You make music for people to hear. You play for people. You need people to reach more people. You need people to hire you. People, people, people… And especially in the music industry, your success will come from your connections.
You don’t need to know all the owners of big clubs or festivals. You don’t have to suck dicks in order to play the events you want. By the way, don’t let nobody stare you down or pay you less than you deserve. I’d rather not play than play in exchange for beers. Fuck those guys!
What I mean is that you should keep in touch with people, whether your fans, friends or family. I once got a show because I answered a fan. It turns out that this fan was a good friend of an event promoter. This promoter listened to my music. He liked it and voilà – I was invited to play in Argentina, my first time outside Europe, back in 2017.
This method is called word of mouth, where a person who likes your music will recommend you to 3 friends. After that, each of these 3 friends will recommend you to 3 more friends, and so on. This is perhaps the best marketing tool you can use because it’s the most genuine. Because it’s people talking to other people, organically!
The key point here is that you need to have an entrepreneurial mindset. You have a product (your music) and you want to sell it. Not all entrepreneurs are extroverts but they are passionate about what they do and they are willing to run the extra mile to spread their work and make connections. Don’t be afraid to tell everyone about your music. Don’t be that guy who plays at a local club and doesn’t talk to anyone before or after the gig. In a self-centered digital social media world, getting a real conversation is priceless!
I know some producers and DJ’s who spam every club with the same pitch to try to get more gigs. And this is where most amateur artists make a big mistake. HEY! You are talking to people, not machines. So act like a normal person and direct yourself to each promoter in a unique and individual way. Make them feel special that an artist like you approached them.
The key to a serious inquiry is research. First, try to understand where your music is most heard. Tools like YouTube Analytics, Soundcloud Stats, and Facebook and Instagram Statistics help you understand where the majority of your fans are. Once you have this information, it’s time to create a list of clubs, events or festivals where you would like to play and where your music would fit. I mean, don’t approach Berghain if your thing is EDM.
So, create this list and try to get as much information as possible:
- What is the name of the promoter?
- What is the contact for booking inquiries?
- How is their agenda?
- What country?
- What city?
“Oh, but where do I start? I don’t even know which clubs play my style of music.” A good idea is to take an artist you love who has a big influence on your music and check his schedule, where he/she played and where he/she will play. Usually, you have access to this information on their social media or website. If a venue invited them, they might like your music as well and it would be a good idea to get in touch with them. Odds are on your side.
One last thing – don’t approach venues that are out of your reach! I know your music is amazing but if you’re not playing regularly, don’t expect Tomorrowland or Kappa Future Festival or Amnesia or Awakenings to invite you. Yes, you’re allowed to dream big but at the same time you have to be realistic. If you’re good, don’t worry – the time will come!
PLAN WITH PLENTY OF TIME IN ADVANCE
Give yourself advanced notice. Before you get in touch with venues, plan your schedule and pick the days you want to play and where, given the venue’s schedule of course! Typically, venues and promoters book 2 to 3 months in advance, sometimes more and sometimes less, but always consider this time gap. So my suggestion is: if you want to play in the club X on February 31st, it would be a good idea to approach the promoter in November of the previous year, maximum.
But it depends on many factors. There are many festivals that plan their line-ups almost a year in advance. There are clubs that have a full schedule for the upcoming six months. So it’s all a matter of research and seeing how club X or Y plan their agenda so you know how early you need to approach them.
Also, if you are planning a single show, you may not need to approach with too much time in advance. But if you are planning a tour, then I strongly advise you to plan and approach venues earlier.
WRITING A STRONG AND SUCCINT PITCH
Research is done! It’s time to approach the venues. As I said, each pitch must be unique, segmented for each promoter. You have to put yourself in their role. If you were a club owner and received dozens of booking emails daily, would you answer them all? Maybe not. Maybe you would only answer those who got your attention.
So, given the amount of emails a promoter receives daily, do you think they have time to read your 500 word biography? Forget it mate. If you do this, bye bye! Go straight to the point. You have to be brief and concise. Have the ability to describe your project and sell your strengths in 1 or 2 sentences maximum. Also, don’t try to look desperate. After all, you want them but after they see what you do, oh boy… they will NEED you!
A few key points you should include in your pitch:
- Initial greeting.
- Explain yourself. Why are you writing?
- Introduce yourself.
- Describe yourself. Don’t fear making comparisons or using a genre name.
- Links: preferably a website or a brief PDF presentation (I will talk about this in the next section). NEVER include heavy attachments like WAV files or even MP3. Always use a link to Soundcloud or YouTube, for example.
- Propose a date for your show. Pick out a specific date you’d like to book. Be in command of the conversation.
- Be humble, say thank you.
- Sign-off: use a professional-looking signature with a professional email and other contacts.
I strongly suggest you to create a website and a professional email contact. Imagine that you get an email from email@example.com asking to play at your party.
Now imagine firstname.lastname@example.org sending you the same email. Wow, respect bro!
See the difference? I know that creating a website and having a professional email contact can be expensive for some of you. And if you can’t afford it, that’s ok. This should be no excuse for not trying to reach the venues and promoters. But if you want to be a pro and play in the top leagues, you have to make sacrifices. Just remember, investing in your project is never a bad investment.
It’s impossible for you to present your entire project in one pitch. Well, it’s possible but it’s boring as hell to a promoter and I’m pretty sure he’ll never read everything. As soon as he opened the email and saw the amount of text, he immediately deleted it.
For that reason, it’s a good idea to complement your pitch with a visual presentation where you can give more information about your project:
- About section
- Your highlights
- Your last shows
- Your social media
- Whatever you think is important
This presentation is important because besides having information about your project, it also has images. It’s something visual and it gets the attention of the promoter. You can include your press photos, photos of your shows, etc.
The presentation can be included as an attachment to your email. As I said, the goal of your pitch is to be strong and straight to the point without bore the promoter too much. And if your pitch grabs the promoter’s attention, he’ll want to know more about your project and that’s where the presentation comes in. You may even naturally suggest the promoter to open your presentation. In the middle of your pitch you can write something like:
“You can listen to his recorded work at yourartistname.com and check his highlights in the attached presentation.”
“Oh, but I’m not good at design and making good presentations and PowerPoints and shit …”
I don’t want to hear your excuses! Fortunately, there are still good things on the internet and one of them is a website called Canva. Here you can create your own presentation. This website has a lot of good templates. All you need to do is insert your photos and your information. On this website, you just need to search for “Presentation (1920×1080)” and you will find lots of templates. Choose the one you like the most.
Note: You should write “Presentation” if your Canva website is in English. If it’s in another language, search for “Presentation” in your language (for example, “Apresentação” in Portuguese)
Many times we fall into the temptation to lie to show more than we really are, to get other people attention. But as we say in my country: mais depressa se apanha um mentiroso que um coxo! Eventually, promoters will know that you are lying and you don’t want to start any relationship with a lie. If they like your music, they’ll give you a chance, sooner or later.
Imagine a girl you like. Would you like to start the relationship with a lie? Telling her you drive a BMW when you actually have a Fiat? You might arouse their interest but as soon as she found out, she would kick you in the ass. Or even worse, she would label you as a liar! Same happens with promoters.
If she likes your charisma (or your music) she will like you, even if you ride a bike. But don’t take this advice to serious. Always work for a Ferrari. ALWAYS!
LAW OF PROBABILITY
With a good pitch and a good presentation, the chance of you getting invited to play in shows increases. But like many things in life, success depends on the law of probability. The more venues you approach, the more likely they are to answer you back. So don’t be discouraged if after 20 pitches, none answered you back. Keep trying!
I remember when I worked at a telecommunications company a few years ago. I had to sell products and services door to door. I worked for objectives at that time. And it’s interesting what my manager told me every morning before going to the street: “Hey! Your goal today is not to sell any products. Your goal is to approach 50 people.” He knew that if I talked to 50 people, eventually one or two would buy.
And this was one of the best lessons I learned in my life – don’t focus on results, focus on getting things done right! Eventually, the results will show up.
Be the best!
PS: February 31st doesn’t exist. It was just to check if you were paying attention.
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