Networking as a DJ is a massive fundamental ingredient to success; we all need to do it, as nobody succeeds on their own. The thing is we can tend to avoid it, but we underestimate its importance to our music careers. Networking is a learnable skill and no matter how good we think we may be at it, I believe we could all be much better at it. In this blog, I want to highlight how I struggled to network in the music industry, how I overcame it, how you can too, and also the common mistakes I see time and time again from many DJs and Music Producers in Melbourne music industry.
How I struggled to network as a DJ
Being the shy introvert I was when I started out on my journey as a Melbourne DJ, group interaction, meeting new people and then trying to network my way to the top would always be a challenge. I would try to avoid it at all costs, and believe me I paid the price. I went through years of just plodding along in the music industry in Melbourne getting the odd DJ gig here and there, but failing to make an impact and struggling to get the bigger DJ gigs I have always dreamed of.
I guess the root cause of my networking problem was the fear, the rejection, the uncertainty and the lack of social comfort at the time. I was not good with people, but I soon realised it had to change, or I was going nowhere, and my dream of supporting international DJ acts would perish.
How I overcome my networking limitations
In 2010, I jumped on board as a promoter for Big Dog Entertainment. It was a ballsy move because I knew no one in the music industry in Melbourne, I did not know how to promote or even know what a promoter did for a job to the full extent, and I did not know how to sell tickets to random people I have never meet before. What I learned that is I would have access to some of Melbourne’s best DJ’s, promoters, music producers and people behind the scenes that later I would get to know and become great friends with.
It was all a new experience, but I learned not to take myself so seriously, and that other people occasionally are uncomfortable meeting new people of higher status in the industry, and that to meet like minded people that choose to be successful, you have to surround yourself with these people all the time. You have to meet and be around people that share the same vision as you and learn from people more successful than you are to get where you want to go.
To get to know people of key influence, you have to get out of the bedroom and get involved in the inner circle of a networking peer group. “Remember, it’s not what you know, but who you know”.
Common networking mistakes
The most common mistake I see all the time are DJs and music producers that just want to stay home and work on the music until they believe they have written the next hit they think will make them famous. What I believe and what I have learned (the hard way) is that to sell your music to people or interest them in your music, you have to get people interested in you as a person first.
Too many music producers write music and try to sell themselves to people immediately without building any relationship with the individual first, and taking no interest in them first instead of themselves, which is a big mistake. They have not added any value through communication or done something for the other individual before the selling. Would you walk into your normal 9 to 5 day job and ask for your week's wage without doing any work first? I don't think so.
This sounds so simple, but yet we have all fallen into the trap of not knowing the basics of networking and selling. I still to this day get many emails from music producers wanting me to listen to their music, I have never met them, they have never shown an interest in my blogs or videos at The DJ Disclosure or come across in a way where that show appreciation for my time, so why would I show an interest in them?
Now, here are some massive game changing tips I can give you that will help you so people take an interest in what you have or what you want from them, DJ gigs, listen to your music, etc.
How you can become better at networking and selling
Here is the number one tip; the biggest desire of people is the need to feel important and appreciated. If you can give people this, you can get anyone to listen to your music and get DJ gigs, as long as you are good at what you do. How you can do this is by talking to people and speaking in the interests of them. Get to know them, support them by adding value, show respect and appreciation, and you have to give people what they want first before they notice that you are a good character.
Because the harsh reality is people are only interested in themselves and are too busy thinking about themselves to even notice you and what you are doing, and what you want. If you can give people everything they want first, they will give you everything you want, but it may not be straight away. And yes, sure, there will always be the odd person that takes advantage of you, but it is all a part of your networking experience. The key is to be willing to show up and get noticed amongst all the noise (other DJs, music producers).
Many people are never seen in the scene and are too busy hiding behind a computer screen to get attention. It is much easier to get attention from face to face networking than sending hundreds of emails that never get a response or even read. The more you show your face, the more people in the music industry remember your face, it’s that simple.