Last week, I laid down 10 ways to ruin your music career and at the time, it was no means a definitive guide, nor was it finished. There really are no written rules to what you should or shouldn’t do, but as a hard fought and passionate music industry, we expect people to act with morality and professionalism that some industries don’t worry about. This is primarily due to the scene being created by artists, creative’s and dreamers who believed in a better world through music and freedom of expression. Over the years as we fought long and hard for acceptance that electronic music was a legitimate genre and what we built was real. We can be fickle, passionate, dreamers, idealists, creative’s and yes; sometimes bitchy, but we expect a degree of professionalism to always advance the scene we created so long ago. So, as requested, here is another 10 ways to ruin your music career. This will be the last in this series, as I would prefer to give advice on how to advance your career, how to enjoy it, love it, network, create and experience the industry.
Starting off from my last article (we reached #10)
11. Ladies, there is no need to sell your body
I have never got this, why would anyone set about devaluing their dignity to sell themselves to get a gig or fans? I get that women can be sexy, I get that it can make them feel empowered or nice inside, but by removing most your clothes or having your top off whilst playing is not about the music, it is about yourself, it is about making you feel wanted and if that is something you crave, stick to selfies or take up stripping. Nobody is there to see you DJ, they are there to see a strip show. If you are truly passionate about the music, then study it, learn its intricacies, production, the business and network, and be proud of who you are and what you know. This will be noticed and appreciated across the wider community. Sure, there will be douche male promoters and punters who won’t give you the respect you deserve, but they most likely still live in the 1950’s in their head and Mum still does their washing, forget, leave it and look to positive role models (and amazing DJs) as Anja Schneider, Ellie Pettersson, Nicole Moudaber or Maya Jane Coles, Chloe Fontaine, Hannah Want for example.
12. Not believing in your music
Ever shaken someone’s hand that is limp wristed, kind of weak and instantly sets about what you feel of them?, the same is with your music. Be passionate! Downloading the Beatport Top 10 each week to simply feel like you have to be relevant or part of the gang is wrong. Play what YOU love, hone your craft, know your scene, play whatever you like, just don’t be a sheep and play whatever is rammed down your throat by crafty PR agents using magazines to sell artists. Make your own mind up, stick to it and love it. Nothing excites me more, than seeing a DJ, who I may not even like his taste in music, absolutely loving it and rocking a mix because they are so passionate in what they play. The crowd will feed of this, the promoter will and you will create energy into a room.
13. Stop tagging me in your posts
Fine, we get it, you are excited for your gig, it may be your first, it may just be another show, whatever it is; it is bad manners to tag people that you do not know personally, are not in the same town/city/country or even like your type of music on your flyers. Stop it, you are being annoying and 9 out of 10 times, I will report you for spamming and delete you. Keep doing that to others, including other DJs and promoters and you will quickly find your networking base has diminished and tarnished your reputation as a spammer. If you would like to invite people, try a personal message; build yourself a database or following and some gain rapport with people to get them to come along to your event.
14. Want a gig? Try talking to the promoter first
It is never easy to get a gig, even industry veterans find it tough sometimes with so much competition, but messaging a promoter on Facebook (or any other medium) with a link to your mix and asking for a gig is the biggest mistake you can do, it will set you up to fail, be ridiculed and shunned forever. Not only is it annoying to bookers / promoters / clubs, but it is stupid. Some advice to help, ALWAYS develop a conversation with the promoter, always support their events, always get involved in the scene you are in, invest in yourself, support the other DJs that play a night. A promoter will always notice this and appreciate it more over someone who sends them a random message on Facebook with a link and “check out my mix, book me as I will rock your club” crap. Take time to understand the nights, how it fits with your music, be prepared to play whatever time you are asked etc, you are the one that needs to prove yourself. If they ask you to sell tickets in order to play or get the best timeslot, send me their details, I will happily out them.
15. Redline the mixer
Nothing ruins a good set more, than distorting the music and ruining the vibe. We get it, you are enjoying the music, loving it, bouncing around and pulling heart shapes, but redlining a system actually distorts the music that the punter hears, it can damage hearing, it can burn out the amps, can fry speakers and you are just making things worse. What you hear in your headphones and monitors is completely different to what is heard beyond the booth. Learn to adjust levels appropriately and ensuring you have a minimum of 320k MP3’s will lessen the need to overdrive the gains to get a better sound. Show some respect to the equipment you are using, to the venue and most of all the people who are there to hear you play.
16. Don’t Spam
Ok, so yes, I did touch on tagging, but this one really is about posting your mixes on peoples walls on into conversations, even on other people’s Soundcloud sets. Stop it! It is extremely rude, poor form and one of the most idiotic ways to get you heard. It would be as if two friends where having a conversation and you walk up, interrupt them and hand them a flyer, then walk off. You will only come out of it looking bad. If you like someone’s set on Soundcloud or Facebook (whatever the medium) why not drop them a personal message saying you enjoyed their music and you are also a fan of that style and if they have a few spare moments, can they have a listen of your latest stuff and ask for some feedback. Don’t invade other people’s space by spamming.
17. Learn and respect the history
The dance music industry has come a long way in the last 30 odd years, most said it would never last, but we proved them wrong. It was a long and hard fought battle that many people behind and in front of the scene dedicated their lives to. By not understanding where it started and who shaped it, you will never truly understand where we are now, why a certain genre is trending, why it takes from other genres etc and where it is heading. By proclaiming (for example) Deep House is so hot and the sound of now throws it in the face of those that have been pushing it for the last 20 years, it only makes you a fool. Listen, observe, learn and respect those who set the scene for today, giving you the ability to be in this industry.
18. Don’t get in beefs with other DJs or promoters
Yep, we have all seen Deadmau5 vs. Sneak vs. SHM, vs. whomever. Leave it to them to sort it out. They have enough money, PR agents, labels, bookings, media exposure to ride the storm. I personally don’t agree with them acting that way, but I can definitely make sure I don’t get involved. It is unprofessional and most of the time, you will only divide the scene or fans you have, you may even ruin your name and never be booked again. (Believe it when I say all promoters talk to each other about attitudes or beefs with DJs) Bitching, snide remarks, rumours and unprofessional behaviour do nothing to create a cohesive industry. Doing it online will only spread the hate and your name. Stop it!
19. Don’t forget those who are important.
As you career advances, you will find yourself more and more in demand, busy, constantly answering more emails than playing music, but that does not mean you have to turn your back on those that care about you. Be it friends, family, wives, children, partners, whoever. Don’t be a dickhead and turn your back on those who supported you on the way up, as you may need them on the way down. Always make time for people, be it a quick coffee (don’t sit and talk about yourself either, they get it, they are happy for you, no need to bang on about it) or a movie, lunch, dinner, whatever it takes, but you will need those people long after your music career has faded.
20. Don’t steal music!!!
I guess this one has been said for many years, but it can never be said enough. An artist invests thousands of money and hours into their music, most not for any financial gain, but for love, passion and exposure. Yes, making a return, be it small or large is always a vindication that what they are doing is right, as someone who buys it, you are supporting their work. When you steal it, you rob them of even the most basic indication they are on the right track and at worst, you are an arsehole. You wouldn’t walk into a record store and steal a bunch of records, nor with CD’s, so what makes it ok for you to download from sites that effectively do the same. If you claim you love the music so much, then buy it, otherwise you are lying to yourself, are in it for all the wrong reasons and no matter how many do’s and don’t I give you, you will always be destined to fail in the industry.
Another is stealing artists music, mixes or even label name (yes, this happened recently) and palming them off as your own, is deceitful, shameful and you WILL be found out sooner or later, so why do it? You will never get away with it, so why bother?
It tires me to think of the negatives in the scene, it will be the last in how to ruin your music career and my next focus, will be on tips to improve your profile, how to get gigs, how to use social media, improve mixes and so forth. Something you can use to help you everyday. I hope these 20 tips have also helped you though in pitfalls you may or may not know you are doing. It can happen to the best of them, but if we are to continue with a professional, happy and cohesive industry, we need to stamp out some piss poor behaviour from a few individuals who ruin it for the majority of us.
The moral of the story is, just enjoy the music, be true to yourself, learn and respect. Feel free to share your experiences, thoughts and tips below in the comments.