If you build a better mouse trap the world isn't going to race to your door step. They are more likely to yawn or say "so what."
So when it comes to building an audience, just putting your stuff out there isn't going to move the needle. More than likely you'll get a trickle of likes and follows.
You have to promote yourself.
There's basically 2 ways. Paid and "organic." Organic is nice but it takes time, it's also something the underground community prides itself on. The brick by brick building of a brand, word of mouth and so on. We music makers tend to view advertising as "yucky" but this is a limiting belief. We know some artist have bought fans which come from "bot farms," but don't disregard all advertising because of this foolishness.
10 years ago tit was easy to get a lot of growth just by putting stuff out there. Today things have evolved - you can't only rely on "organic" growth. It's going to be slow and frustrating unless you get lucky. So let's make our own luck.
What most people think of as promotion is really public relations. Working with influencers, posting and sharing on social this is all PR. It's creating a favorable image by communicating with the masses . This is great but it's hard to measure and takes lots of time. Good to do but you can't have all your eggs in PR.
Typically "PR" campaigns involve lots of manual labor with no guarantee of a pay off, such as a favorable mention in the press that would result in bookings or record sales. By manual labor I mean cultivating a list of influencers or people in the press and then doing direct out reach. Or submitting your music to popular blogs.
Getting back to basic text book basics, marketing is price, place, promotion and price. The promotion part consists of personal selling, direct marketing, sales promotions, advertisements, and public relations.
Personal selling is the sales hustle - think "buy my mix CD." You can do that but you need an audience first.
Direct marketing - this is selling directly to the masses without a distributor, like you selling your music direct to fans without Beatport or digital distribution.
Advertising- this is how you build an audience. More on that in a second.
PR. This is about communicating with the public and building up a good brand. Posting on social is what we're most familiar with. Or maybe you run a Facebook group to establish yourself as an expert or taste maker - good stuff but time consuming with no immediate pay off in terms of bookings, music sales or even new rampage likes. There's press releases too but that's another subject. It's still another thing that takes time and money with no immediate result.
Back to advertising. This is how you grow because Facebook and many big media sites are pay to play. If you are active on social, you have to put some money behind your activity to fuel growth - and it has to be done in a strategic way because otherwise you'll waste money.
Even DJs have to advertise to reach high percentages of their audiences. Paid campaigns also allow super specific targeting options. Like a European based DJ could run an ad just to her US fans that like Output if she want to laser in on a specific audience for an upcoming gig.
When you advertise consider that people are in 3 basic stages.
Facebook offers you the ability to create new campaigns based on these 3 stages.
In addition you want to reach the right audience. This is a key part of campaign planning. Audience, message, results. An audience could be people that like the same things you do - fans of DJs you like, like websites such as Resident Advisor, or Attack Magazine, an audience could be people who already like your page, friends of people who like your page, people who visited your website in the past 30 days. These are all examples of audiences.
The smart approach to use when resources are limited are to reach people at the consideration or decision making stages.
So if you're a new producer you want to reach other DJs who not only play your genre but also like things like Beatport or track source.
These are your buyers. The more general clubber or festival goer may spend little to nothing buying music.
Driving to beatport is not really advised because you can't measure the result.
You measure results by placing the Facebook pixel across your website, so you should have a website. It's not that hard to do a basic one.
If I was building an audience from scratch, I'd probably do things like:
Drive website clicks to my own site, where people can sign up for my email list in exchange for a free piece of music.
Upload a video of an original track to Facebook while building an audience of people who watched at least 50% if it's a longer video say 2 minutes or more.
Use retargeting ads to promote something to these people interested enough to watch my stuff for a decent amount of time.
To get this right, you need to have some tracks to give away or sell and your own website.
For a general awareness play it's not a bad idea to run an ad the way Agent Orange has, but in the long run ads like these are not sustainable because you can only track link clicks. It's impossible for him to measure sales on beatport back to clicks spend on Facebook.
This is just a primer on using paid Facebook ads, remember that the best thing you can do is to be out supporting other parties and meeting people. But again, this is like PR, you just don't know if each time you go out you're going to make a solid connection.
Consider that for the cost of a couple nights out you can buy web hosting for a year and pay for a basic website theme. For a few bucks a day here and there you can begin advertising your stuff to build an audience.
Let me know your questions and comments because I could go real deep on this if you like.
Who are you? I have been a DJ for well over 25 years now. I started producing my own stuff about two years ago and have not looked back since! I spend as much time as I can producing- on the train, during my lunch hour, over the weekends basically whenever I have a few minutes spare you will find me plugged in.
Tell us about your and your background in dance music? I originally started out as a radio presenter back in the mid 90's in South Africa. Rave had just hit the scene and I covered (for the radio station) most of the big parties that took place at that time. I had the privilege of interviewing Tony De Vit watching Carl Cox mix on 3 decks up close, met Frankie Knuckles and many other great memories from that time.
I decided to move to the UK in 1998 but could not find any work as a radio presenter. So I decided to lock myself in a friends basement in London for 4 months and teach myself to mix using vinyl and an old Gemini 626 mixer. In those days it was all about hard house! Following that I left the UK to go travelling and ended up playing in Thailand - Indonesia and Australia. I landed up back in the UK where I played professionally and promoted gigs in one of the best towns in the U.K. For dance culture and live music: Brighton that is where I find myself today- not playing professionally any more but I do get out at least once a month - the DJ bug never lets go 🙂
Describe your skill level as a producer? I would say that I am at an intermediate level. My skill set improves all the time. To quote one of my favorite producers: Maceo Plex: " Make a lot of shit music and you will eventually start to make good music" I have made a lot of crap music! I am happy to say that I have started to turn a corner and every next tune I make is better than the last one!
Where did you look for production related tips and tutorials before finding the Underground Elite course and ItsTheDJ.com? I am a course junky! I have used : Producer Tech / Sonic Academy / Fader Pro and loads of you tube videos in the past.
What was/is your #1 sticking point? My number one sticking point was moving away from what I call clip based production and using midi to create my own sounds and patterns.
How has the course helped you over come it? The course cut through the noise and uncertainty by being a no BS one stop shop to finishing music quickly whilst achieving great sound.
How long did it used to take you to complete a track? It used to take ages to finish tunes mostly because of procrastination and self doubt.
How long are tracks taking you now? I knock them out super quick now. I have a six month release schedule of tunes all ready to go. With at least 3 more in the pipeline. My main focus right now is getting the social media stuff in order to increase my followers and fan base.
How has the course save you time, money, or frustration? The price was super reasonable and Eric is always on hand to answer any questions and feedback that I have. Being on hand to discuss is what sets this course aside. I haven't done another course since this one and have completed at least 4 records in a couple of months.
Can you name 3 other things, good, bad about your experience? Good: very informative and easy to understand. Bad: not having access to all of the plugins!
Is there anything that stands out that you'd want others to know? Do the course spend a little money and you will get so much more in return! Hands on help and weekly updates with plenty of useful free stuff that will assist you to make better music quicker!
Here's a track Simon recently finished. Check it out.
Till next time.
Had a lot of fun making this. Mastering was by Russell at Warm Audio Mastering - he's a big 90s guy himself and loved mastering this so he sent me 2 different versions, 1 "regular" and 1 with a bit more bass. Both are included in the download package. Use the Green Button to Get the Files.
Here's what caught my eyes this week.
In defense of lazyness - this is an article about sports and how some athletes with better genes have a natural ability to recover fast from intense workouts. Obviously this is an advantage - in addition to other talents. Give this a read and apply it to your music making and professional lives. I say that because it's a slap in the face to the "work hard" "hustle' mentality that's so popular right now.
Everyone says they work hard but what does that really mean? How do you define it...how do you know you're really working hard.
People love to believe that "working hard" will get them success while failing to acknowledge the role that luck, and timing play. And you see the reward for hard work play it self out in things like movies. We love to see people rewarded for their effort which makes for a nice story but reality seldom works this way.
How many producers catch a lucky break because they are already connected? Many. This is part of the reason I made Underground Elite, to get people good at production fast so that when you make a connection and start building a fan base around your DJ following it doesn't take you 5 years to produce a piece of music.
It's the lazy smart approach.
Being lazy smart is ideal, however don't brag about it. It usually won't win you any fans in the office because most companies glorify work martyrdom and "putting in the hours." Ever go to work and get frustrated by all the stupid pointless procedures? I have many times. The obsession with email distribution lists and getting emails you just don't need. Pointless reports, endless analysis of data...fuck that. If you've ever done anything entrepreneurial you realize how pointless this crap is and you rid your self of it.
Sadly this thought process spills over into the production world - it's not about hours logged but results. So yeah, think about how you can apply being lazy smart to production as this coach has done for athletes.
When you get to that level Anthony Parasole and others have advice about leaving your day job. I can't say Im the biggest fan of Anthony's flavor of techno however he seems like a regular working class dude turned DJ.
Sadly some people did quit their jobs to work at Soundcloud and sadly found their new positions gone. News of this along with learning about their lavish office culture has been a complete turn off. I've been a paying member for 4 years now, so I won't be sad if the whole shit house goes up in flames.
I guess they never really figured out their product and in the process let some rounds of funding go to their heads. Plus the founders must have made some big promises about sales growth that were based on hopes and dreams and not traffic and conversion. One day this thing will be sorted out - could take 5-10 years. So work on your music and grow your fan base.