Agents promise to organise and publicise DJs so that they can spend more time with their craft – what can we learn about whether you need an agent and how to get on their books?
Agents organise your bookings and publicity, using their contacts and experience to get you more gigs and exposure, and to save you time. Them Apples Agency is one such company, with names like Aphroditie and 50 Carrot on their books.
DUPLOC, a platform which promotes the latest unreleased and cutting-edge dubstep – and the DJ behind it, Pieter Grauwels – is represented by Them Apples, too. DUPLOC was willing to share his experience as a DJ and promoter, on the topics of agents, promotion and social media.
Grauwels set up DUPLOCpromotions – a channel on YouTube – nearly two years ago; on it he uploaded totally original and unreleased dubstep tracks with the intention of introducing fans to great but little known producers. After the experiencing renown and appreciation through the channel, DUPLOC accepts bookings as a DJ, and plans to set up a record label in the very near future.
Raising Your Profile In The Scene
DUPLOC explained that, in his experience, the best way to create demand as a DJ is not to focus so much on your DJing as on producing tracks and other relevant endeavours. He noted how this works for his producer friends, “because of these tracks they’re making, they’re getting booking enquiries, even without the intention to ever receive bookings. This is the same for label owners or other people who do something active for the community.”
Ironically, because of the reputation that he created through his platform, DUPLOC gained demand for bookings as a DJ before he knew how to mix. Rock Herk Festival, an important alternative music event, asked him to open, though “it was kind of awkward, because people expected me to have some sick mixing skills, but obviously they had no idea it was never my intention to become a DJ. At that point, I thought (and I still think) that your music knowledge is as important, or even more important, than your DJ-skills.”
Because of this, DUPLOC is of the opinion that DJing, “shouldn’t be a focus at all.”, rather, people should focus on it alongside learning about and making a unique contribution to their musical community.
Getting On An Agent’s Books
DUPLOC explained how getting represented by an agent is largely a case of making an impact in the community and utilising the connections that you have. He advised that, to build a profile, “do something for a community in a respectful, professional way and you’ll see hard work will pay off.”
As a promoter, he was already in contact with Murdock (who runs Them Apples), “so I thought, why not hit up Murdock again to ask if one of their agents want to host my bookings, and after a few days I had been added to their legendary schedule.”
Activities outside DJing can build your list of useful contacts, meaning that when you are seeking representation, you may already be on first name terms with the people that you need to contact.
DUPLOC added that agents have a specific purpose: handling the bookings for DJs who don’t have enough time to manage their bookings personally. This means that it is probably not worthwhile to look for an agent if you are not an established name. Before this point, DUPLOC advised that new DJs should, “be active and respected in a scene/community and these bookings will follow.”
For boosting your reach and generating publicity, DUPLOC recommends the Facebook leviathan. He noted, however, that originality is key because, “after posting your 10th new ‘crazy doubl-drop mix’ that month, your followers will be getting a bit annoyed/bored.”
Part of the reason that he recommended Facebook was its size, being too big to ignore. He added that using some spare cash to promote your posts may well be a good investment, in that Facebook does not automatically show posts to all of a page’s likes. DUPLOC also highlighted the importance of audio-friendly Youtube and SoundCloud, for producers.
On Facebook, the EdgeRank algorithm counts how much interaction a given page’s post is getting and, if it is doing well, shares the content with a larger proportion of the page’s likes. He noted that, to game the system, several top DJs’ pages post like-bait content such as funny memes – as a result, they risk creating a group of ‘likes’ who aren’t truly interested in their music.
He warned that when people grow bored of 9gag photos, they will be bored of pages that share them, too. He summarised that, “if you’re looking to get established on a long term in the scene, you might want to build a quality group of followers.”
Relevant content means relevant likes.
Advice For New DJs
As a DJ who is new on the scene, getting a good reputation and creating demand for bookings may seem a daunting task. DUPLOC, however, warned against settling for free sets at your local club or bar because you might be, “labelled for lifetime as just another local DJ.”
There is nothing wrong with being a local DJ, of course, but if you have bigger ambitions, “establish something yourself!” – produce music, promote events, create a rounded musical persona.
As such, while you need skill to mix, DUPLOC’s experience with promotion and getting on Them Apples’ books suggests that the key is to put your dance-eggs in more than one basket. Create a convincing and wide music industry skill-set, and the agents will come.
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