Working with a DJ agency
A recurring question is House Music Express gets all the time: can you recommend a good DJ agency?
That’s actually a tough question. In order to become well-known in the dance music scene, you to play great music but that’s not enough. You should make sure that you can play at the best events and release music on top labels. Besides, you should create a huge fan base. In other words, you need a strong brand.
From my experience, only top DJ’s like Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, David Guetta, Carl Cox, etc. can really benefit from the services of a booking agent. Agents are probably one of the best ways to get regular bookings and raise your profile. But, on the other hand, it is also very difficult to find an agent who is willing to promote you if you are not a star. It also correct to state that promoters will take you more seriously if a booking agency is behind you. Agents are actually part of an industry that also comprises promoters, singers, artists, record labels, and most of the other major players in the scene.
They will provide promoters of various events with the acts, DJs, singers, artists they need in return for a percentage of the booking fee, which usually ranges from 15 to 25%. So if you are a DJ, you become interesting to them when you can generate an average of 3,000 dollars or euros per gig. Not many agencies are going to work with an artist below this amount of money. Think of it: 20% out of 3,000 is only 600, which is not that much for the amount of calls, press material, bios, promotional material like CDs or mixes that they have to pitch to potential clients. Before signing any contract, read it and get it checked by your solicitor first. Of course, the contract can vary from company to company.
If an agency is not willing to promote you, instead of feeling sorry for yourself, you can take your destiny into your own hands. Create a buzz by producing tracks, mixes, remixes, podcasts, radio shows, and playing records in clubs, too. The fact is if you are good enough an agent will find you rather than the other way around. Agents find out about potential deejays for their own roster through word of mouth, personal contacts, by listening to mixes and the latest productions.
In addition to this, agencies specialize in different types of music, so make sure you find one who can best represent you. Your trademark should be clear from the very beginning and you should focus on some USPs (unique selling propositions). What makes you different from all the others? What is your added value? Agents are usually flooded with talented people wanting to be represented so it can be really hard to get taken on.
The internet has made it much easier for DJs to build a web site, develop a group of followers and to release their music on respected labels. However, the booking business is tough and based on personal relationships, aggressive negotiations and legally bound contracts.
An agent negotiates all your booking requests and fees on your behalf. In other words, he pushes your career.
Also, it is very important to be popular with other DJs. Oftentimes, before booking you, club owners and promoters ask the DJs they have been working with if they have heard of you. There are many scenarios you might be confronted with:
- You have to deal with haters
- People who have never heard of you
- Other DJs who think you are not worth the money
So networking and humility might be good tools to boost your career and to give you access to the venues you are interested in. Getting a recommendation from a taste maker is the best way forward. If you specifically target your audience and really focus on building the numbers of people who are coming to listen to you deejay, you'll really start to generate interest in what you're doing.