How to Make Your Mark in the DJ Industry with Portia Luma
Being a DJ is not just about playing beats; to make it a career you have to treat it like a business by marketing your brand, and networking on and off line. To learn techniques in creating your own opportunities and market your DJ brand, we spoke with Portia Luma; a Cape Town based afro house DJ and marketing guru, for her advice for aspiring DJs.
Network with people in the industry. Beyond your immediate group of like-minded friends and acquaintances, focus on networking with people within your niche market or complimentary businesses. For example, join and contribute to business Facebook groups, LinkedIn, business clubs, or find smaller gigs in venues you hope to be a resident DJ, in order to meet potential clients and referrals.
Once you’ve established connections, try and gain experience working in the industry by volunteering help to a residential DJ, events crew, or band. This way, you will know more about the ins-and-outs of the production process, and will feel more confident doing your own gigs.
Collaborate with other DJs. Not only is working with other DJs a great source of creative inspiration, but they can also acts as a mentor to open doors to new business leads, connections, and advice. Often experienced DJs are in high demand over certain seasonal periods, so should you connect with one that is already booked they may be able to refer you to play in their place.
Producing music with another DJ can also help you to perfect, and build upon your talents; ultimately expanding your brand. Look to work with someone who both compliments your skills, and is diverse in taste so that you can develop and add depth to your tracks.
Determine your style. To sell your business, you will need to have professional images of yourself, and a logo that portrays your musical and personal style. When designing media, think about your target market, colours, and branding that is likely to attract their attention. Having these materials on hand will allow you to be seen as professional, and organised in the industry.
Should you secure a big gig, the club or venue may want to promote the show on flyers or signs in the area, which will require high-res professional photos of you and/or your logo. Additionally, having styled photos will help you to potentially build relationships with designers, and stores as you could agree to simultaneously promote each other online and/or at gigs.
Be open to performing in different settings. When in the early stages of your DJ career it is imperative that you try and gain as much experience as possible. While you may envision yourself as a club DJ, offer to perform at weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. to build your skills, and brand while also ensuring a steady cash flow.
Be social. Social media is an essential and free way to promote yourself as a DJ. To start out, make sure you have a Facebook Page, Twitter account, and a blog that you use and update regularly to communicate to your fans. Engage by sharing tips from your experiences, news that inspires you, your gig schedule, music etc. that fans may enjoy. Building a social media base and following is a valuable and simple way to demonstrate your worth in the industry.