Keeping Your Mind On The Prize

#WisdomWednesday

It was blistering cold. Probably the chilliest day to date and the wind was horrid. I was without a vehicle, had things to do and I wasn’t about to let the weather get in the way. I bundled myself up and got to it. I literally had my head down most of the trip to avoid the sharp wind, as per usual ear buds in with banging tunes motivating me to keep going.

It made me think about our commitments, whatever they may be in music. That big ‘goal’ or prize. Maybe it’s our head in the books, learning about our craft, practicing our skills and putting our knowledge to use. All while the constant chitter chatter of life around us. How sometimes we just need to tune out the world, to get work done.

While some may choose to look out into the blizzard and use it as an excuse. “I can’t go out into that, I’ll freeze to death.” Or complain about it’s presence, “I miss the summer, when I could actually do things.” Those pursuing the frozen world are, “crazy” for trying.

Especially when living in the night life I find people can get caught up in the party and drama. This is where it’s incredibly important to keep your MIND on the prize.

Thanks for coming to my #TedTalk.

Just a Friendly Neighbourhood DJ Reminder…

STOP playing for jerk promoters that don’t give two $*#!s about you.

Hi, it’s me again.
Yeah I know, my articles have been almost non-existence this year. My head was focused so much in recording and editing videos for Disc Jockey News T.V. that it wasn’t until today, when I was about to go on a facebook rant that I decided this was far better as an article.

Why?

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Because I am SICK AND TIRED of seeing good people get used, that’s why! I want to scream if from the mountains, “CHARGE YOUR WORTH!”

The other day I was chatting with this super rad, hard working human in the rave music. They were asking for advice on a situation they had found themselves in. A promoter they’d previously played for was doing some more than shady iiiish with an upcoming event. They didn’t know whether or to take on the event or avoid the headache. Was it really worth the drama? One of the questions I asked right off the hop was, “Is this a paid gig?” In which they told me they hadn’t even paid for the LAST event.

This is what BLOWS MY MIND…

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There are hard working promoters, busting their butts, competing against people like this. The ones that aren’t paying their DJs, they are causing a mess of a situation meanwhile the promoter that ACTUALLY CARES is paying out of pocket; REGARDLESS OF ATTENDANCE.

Yes, that’s right.
You heard me.
Giving you cash, no matter what.

If we want to be the change that we want to see in our industry, it’s important to work with people on the same wavelength. Why? Because when we continue to support people that continue to USE artists, we ALL suffer. We are not only teaching them ‘this is okay…’ but we screw over the good people. The promoter, the artists, the club owner, go-go dancers, visual artists, designers etc. The only people that end up thriving are those that are literally screwing others out of their hard earned cash.

And yeah, I get it. Some people are sooo green, they just don’t ‘get it.’ And that’s okay. We can teach through what we allow. We can educate in kind ways. BUT… we need to STOP being desperate for ANY and all DJ GIGS. Start searching for the RIGHT events and people to work with. 

This article is clearly MY opinion. But the more artists I interview, industry people I work with, the MORE I see and hear about this standard and it’s importants. And while there are exceptions to the rules (Yeah, I know you’re already heading to the comments section to tell me…) definitely don’t be bending those rules for people who are making money off the backs of hard working artists. Don’t fall for the sob stories.

Playing a few gigs in the beginning of your career, great. Wanting to guarantee the quality of your work and offering a full refund and or  ‘try it out’ kind of thing, might work for you. Sometimes. In specific cases. I hear you!

It just hurts my heart to see exceptional artists get straight up USED. Spend their hard earned cash on new music, equipment, design work, and hours into practicing and branding, to walk away feeling exploited. This is NOT okay.

If you walk away with anything today, I encourage you to LEARN the difference between ‘means well’ and someone manipulating kind hearted humans. When you make the mistakes, learn the lesson. ALWAYS!

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And guess what? Been there, done that myself, too!  You’re not stupid. You’re still learning and we will CONTINUE to learn a lot of hard lessons in this industry. It’s just easier when we aren’t making the same mistakes all the time.

Work for quality promoters, EXPERIENCE the difference and then go tell your friends!

Here are some awesome articles to help you on your journey of educating yourself:

5 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF WHEN

BEING OFFERED “EXPOSURE” PAYMENTS

7 REASONS YOU SHOULD NEVER DO A DJ GIG FOR FREE

DON’T GET SCREWED! – A DJS GUIDE IN DEALING WITH BAD PROMOTERS

HOW TO NEGOTIATE A WAGE – YOUR DJ FEE

3 REASONS ARTISTS NEED TO INVEST IN THEMSELVES FIRST

Here is all that video stuff I have been business with:

Have a question for the series? Tweet me @KilmaMusic

Building Better DJ Habits You Can Actually Stick To In The New Year

It’s 3 days into the new year and you may already be feeling off track from your goals. In this video I am going to talk about the 6 ways you can build better habits, ones you can actually stick to. I’ll go into more detail in the video.

1. Focus on the baby steps
2. Make it easy
3. Remove distractions
4. Build your like minded tribe
5. Utilize your creative hours
6. Reward yourself

More fantastic content for DJs and Producers:

 

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Planning for the New Year

Before planning for the new year, I like to reevaluate the previous year. I do this because it gets me to question just how efficient I am being with my time, money and energy. It’s not an easy task mind you, because it’s one where we must be TRULY honest with ourselves and it’s easy to make excuses. If however you can be direct in finding those answers, the benefits will far outweigh the slight discomfort. Moving forward you can really start to change the behaviours that are not working. I find it best to write these answers down starting with the question:

1. What did you set out to accomplish this year?

2. Why or why didn’t you achieve these goals?

3. How can you do differently moving forward?

 

More awesome ADVICE 4 DJS

Studio Gear Tips For Artist With A Small Budget

Is a tight budget stopping you from building your producer studio? Here is the thing, you can have all the best studio gear in the world but it won’t make you the best producer. We have a simple solution for your tight budget, so you can focus your energy in sound design and getting into that creative mindset.

 

Studio gear on a budget:
Focusrite – https://www.focusrite.com
KRK – http://www.krksys.com/
M-Audio – http://www.m-audio.com/

More Great Articles:

6 Ways to Gain Trust and Decode The Needs of Promoters

Not every potential client is looking for the same skill set or experience when booking a disc jockey. It’s important not only to ask the right questions but decode the needs of these business owners so you avoid wasting time and focus on what will help your clients. So how can we gain trust while figuring out their needs?

1. Leave your ego at the door

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Our ego LOVES to get in the way. You know the feeling, That need to correct people. Not only does this put most people into a fight of flight mode when it goes against their belief system, it makes us less likable. Yuck! And if that’s our first impression, well… you get the picture. While we all want to show our confidence in the business, check yourself before you wreck your chances.

2. Ensure Your Potential Client Is Heard

Are you in a business meeting and thinking about what to say next? Stop! Listen to your client. Hear what they are saying and think about what you’d like to know MORE about. If you want to gain trust they need to KNOW your invest and fully understand their needs. You can’t do this if you’re trying to finish their sentences or heaven forbid ‘correct’ them.

3. Ask Questions Regarding What You’ve Seen & Heard

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Dive into a comment they made. Maybe a potential client is talking about how they’d like to gain more notice of their new club. Keep it light but positive. “I took a look at the reviews online and it clear people really love coming here. Can you tell me what you’ve found has and hasn’t worked this far?” Or, “Why do you think you may be struggling to bring in more clients?” Instead of guessing, ask what their thoughts are, first. Maybe they are a new business and they haven’t considered hiring someone to market their brand? If the client it open to consider additional options to benefit the business, instead of promising them the world by booking you (which likely wouldn’t help in the long run) the questions open up the conversation about possible solutions.

4. Offer New Information In The Form of Questions

We did this a bit in number three however this is where you may be thinking about how this will effect your own live DJ Gig, for example sound. If you straight out tell a client that the quality of their sound is awful, after they just spent all that money on their new system, chances are there will be push back. However if you ask, “Have you thought about hiring someone to run sound for your establishment?”  If they’ve never thought about hiring someone to run this, here if your opportunity to sneak in the benefits of having an engineer to keep things running smoothly throughout the night. Or maybe they are thinking about doing top 40 bar music in a swanky lounge. Ask them if they’ve considered house music and what sort of mature, higher paying clientele that may bring in.

5. Avoid wasting energy on things they don’t need

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Some events don’t want nor need your help bringing in a clientele. This might sound odd at first, but if your doing an opening for a store, or maybe you’re a mobile dj doing a wedding, getting the word out about the event might not only be unprofessional but may clash with the marketing teams ideas. Maybe they’ve got an in house designer and that saved you time coming up with a new logo for the event you’ve got coming up.

6. Focus On Setting Yourself Apart While Adding To Your Clients Experience

We can’t do it all. I mean, we can but we just end up being, ‘okay’ at a bunch of things, instead of REALLY GREAT at one or two things that set us apart. To be a great DJ is to know what you can and can’t do so that you can delegate the rest. Maybe you are not the best at marketing a business, but you know a few great businesses that are. Maybe setting up sound is something you can do, but it time consuming and takes away from your performance. Hire or suggest a business hires someone. If you’re up front about what you can do but also give they client references, you’re giving them options they may have not considered so you can focus on the end goal. Putting on a fantastic DJ set.

Note: If you are just faking it through these interactions, people will see right through it. Practice this in your everyday life, with people you care about and you’ll soon see how your relationships can change. In turn it can make these business relationships and meetings go much smoother. So practice, practice, practice!

Speaking of promoters, you may want to avoid these nightmare ones or at least know HOW to deal with them.

More awesome Advice:

3 Common Mistakes To Avoid at DJ Gigs for both Beginners and Advance Artists

The absolutely worst time to have you vibe killed is during your own DJ set. These are situations both  beginner and experienced DJs can find themselves in. Below each example I’m going to touch on how this can effect BOTH seasoned vets and those still trying to hit that learning curve. Starting with one of the more obvious issues we note first.

1. Your Levels Are All Over The Place

If you haven’t been educated on the distortion followed by redlining your mixer, listen up now. If the sound on your mixer’s master output or even the channel in which you are mixing is hitting the red, the sound of your music is being compromised. We find this happens in few situations. The artist can’t hear their monitor and turn up their master output instead of their booth or maybe they simply do not know what is going on.

Solution: Find the loudest part of your track and see where the levels are on your mixer BEFORE you mix it in. This way you know that when at full volume your mix will not clip because you’ve change the level to match below 0.

2. Messy or lack of Eqing

 

This can go one of two ways. You’re not allowing for your tracks to breath or you are over EQing causing some uncomfortable sounds like harsh highs. Sometimes you’ve got both tracks match up perfectly and as you’re bringing in your next track the bass drops. Even though everything is in the same key you’re noticing your mix sounds muddy. In very active music like drum and bass and dubstep (the robots and dinosaurs fighting kind) the bass or multiple sounds can compete which is how you can end up with a unappealing sound. On the other side over eqing can also create some sharp even painful (for some of us) noise.

Solution:
This video is a simplified explanation on eqing.

3. Being under prepared

 

Whether you have a 5 hours gig at in a lounge where you’ve got to keep the atmosphere swanky or you’re at the club and have an opening slot for the headlining act. Being prepared is something most DJs aim for, but we don’t always think of the ‘what ifs’ and make assumptions about how the night may go down smoothly. In those situations when things go the wrong way, we are thrown off and suddenly our vibe is seriously killed. From technical issues with the software to a hardware cord snapping in two. Being prepared can start with the music, having the right vibe to ensure that if things to go awry there is a back up but it doesn’t end there.

Solution:
Make a list of things that could go wrong and then plan for it. From cords to ensure your programs are updated but also tested in advance. Double checking on the gear being supplied, even speaking with sound personal if your set ups are more extensive.

At the end of the day we’re human, we make mistakes and all the preparing in the world doesn’t mean you won’t run into issues from time to time. In our opinion and experience these are the common ones, so if you find this helpful please share with your DJ friends so we can all enjoy more smoothly run shows!

Awesome helpful articles:

How to STOP Missing Out On Paying DJ Gigs

It blows my mind the amount of times artists miss out on opportunities to make money. Not because there is something wrong with their talents or even something out of line with their style of music. As you’ll soon see for some of the silliest reasons disc jockeys around the world are missing out on quality, paying gigs. There may even be a few you didn’t think of yourself. I know number 3 surprised me the first few times. Let us start with something obvious but often missed.

1. You are simply not reliable

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You have a business opportunity and you pass it by. Not because you can’t do it, but because you don’t make it a priority. A potential new client sets up a meeting with you and you never show or come too late and forget to bring that DJ mix you promised.

2. You are too slow to reply

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I’m sure you’ve heard that saying that the early bird gets the worm. If you respond quickly, execute on what you SAY you’re going to do; you’re already a head of the game. You’re showing that you are both reliable AND you are eager to work with them. But if you take your time, watch out because someone else WILL rise to the occasion and scoop up that gig.

3. You’re not charging enough
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If you think putting your price too high seems pretentious, imagine what charging too little looks like. Why is charging a fair price important? Imagine purchasing discount clothing and you get tired of it before even wearing it. When your not invest you won’t feel bad about throwing them items away or forgetting that you ever own it. In the DJ world, sadly you become easily replaceable with too low of a price. Why? You won’t be the only one offering too low. If you can add value to your service, you’re talking a whole other game that I get into here. 

Need some help to figure out how much to charge, check out the DJ fee calculator here.

4. You rely on them for things that are your job

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Unless you’re the IKEA of DJs you wouldn’t expect the newly weds to set up your equipment at a wedding you’re djing at. Or maybe you are a club DJ would you expect the bar manager to be responsibility for your evenings playlist? Extreme? I’ve have more than a few DJs playing after me asking me to help them figure out how to set up their Virtual DJ at a live gig.

5. You do the bare minimum
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You are either uninterested or don’t think do go above and beyond for your clients and or fans. It’s unfortunate because even the smallest of things can make a HUGE difference for those in support. For example you may consider doing a sound check before a dinner rush in a lounge to ensure you will not interrupt the dinner service. As a wedding DJ and master of ceremonies getting to know the wedding party before making introductions is a biggie. And if you are a DJ booked on a line up with many other artists, promoters and even fans tend to take note when you simply show up, play and then leave the event.

Think about the time you had exceptional customer service. People remember the employee that went above and beyond. The person noting even the smallest of details. Even with artists, people remember the talent that came up and spoke to them after the show or asked about their day. Fans remember the artist that took the time to support the other DJs that came on before their set.

Now I’m not saying put on a phony smile and make nice with people kissing babies and shaking hands. At the end of the day you’re going to do what works best for your brand. I think it’s worth consider your experience as a fan of other artists and what sort of treatment meant the most to you. Think about how you can implement it in your industry and then DO IT.

Enjoy this article? There is a hell of a lot more where that came from.

3 Steps to Become the DJ You Want to Be

 

Whether you’ve been in the industry as a DJ for a long time or are just jumping into things now, these three things can make a HUGE different in your career.

1. Change the story you tell yourself.
2. Change the people you hang around.
3. Use the 5 second rule

I dive more into this in the video.

Want to hear more great advice for djs? Click on one of the articles below!

The truth about landing Artist Representation with Founder of Cyber Groove Scott McCusker.

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Looking for an Artist Management company but don’t know who to talk to or how to get noticed? Who better than the professionals to explain the ins and outs of artist management. I ask Scott McCusker the founder of Cyber Groove and he gives some surprising answers and advice on the matter.

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State Of Mind

Before we get into it, what exactly is Artist Management? What do you do? What can an artist expect?

Thank you for the introduction Kilma, and hope I can provide your reading audience with some sort of value.

With this question it is better just to introduce all the different roles that work with artists to fulfill their end goals. There are managers, agents, and then Public Relations / Press people.

A manager works with an artist to present them with opportunities in order to organically build a fan base with them so their career can flourish. Managers also review all in coming booking opportunities from Agents to make sure it is a good fit for the artist, and they will also review all other business dealings such as contract negotiations.

Agents facilitate the bookings for a given artist using their existing demand. Also an agent will present that artist to promoters and talent buyers in the attempt to get shows even if they are not known in that given area.

Public Relations and Press people publicize all of these opportunities, and bookings so more fans and connections can be created.

If an artist has all of these people on board and has actual talent and everyone does the work they aren’t guaranteed a successful career but they should do pretty damn good.

I am both an agent and a manager, although I do not manage and act as an agent for the same artists. This would not be in their best interest.

Within my primary role of an agent I work with promoters mainly throughout North America and put artists onto shows. In the management role I set up short term goals with my artists and we work together to achieve them. The goal is to build as many fans and connections as possible so we can transition them from our management to our agency or shop them to a more suited agency if we do not line up with their career path.

In general, getting a manager or an agent, an artist can expect a lot of work. I become a member of a team when I work with artists. I don’t carry the weight of everything, this isn’t realistic. If an artist lives in the studio when he isn’t popular then he will remain this way. All you need is 1,000 loyal fans and you have yourself a career. However, engagement is the way to capture these people so you must be out there. The music is important but when you hit play, who is listening?

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Prolix

  • If you have artist representation the tours will start rolling in:

Obtaining a manager or an agent does not mean that you will start to get shows right off the bat. Getting shows is based on the demand a given artist has and how many asses you can put in seats. Will getting an agent help? Yea sure since the promoters we work with usually trust us so when we speak a new name to them, they will listen. If it is a local agency to you then the chances for more local shows are pretty much guaranteed,  but I am referring to regional or national touring placement.

Having a top chart tunes helps you land more bookings:

Top charting tunes do matter, but more so just to validate your abilities. This is where your manager or PR people come in. They will be able to take this and shop your tunes onto larger labels or work out collaborations with established artists and then that’s really when things start to happen because naturally your reach will be larger therefore more fans will be in existence. Also promoters who can market effectively can present you in a better light since you have become marketable.

  • If you get signed to a big label, artist management companies are jumping for the opportunity to represent you:

This used to be the case, all of us industry folk used to find artists using the Beatport Top 10. We would bring artists on and work with them and that was great while it existed. Then all of a sudden it didn’t matter anymore since the system was a bit flawed. Now you can’t tell what’s what anymore. For promotional use though, it is great.

  • You don’t need a strong online presences to get quality gigs. (Social Media isn’t that important.)

Social media is important however, it goes back to fans and demand. If your social media follows and likes are paid for then those likes or follows from China or India isn’t going to help you. Social media is so you can be social with your following. What you should be doing is engaging them and bring them all off line (ie. Email list / Blog). Still to this day, promoters do look at these numbers and I do have artists who get passed up because of artists who have these inflated numbers. An artist shouldn’t want to work with that kind of promoter right?

  • If you are really talented someone will discover you. Ie: Artist, Promoters, Labels, Management Companies

If you are super talented in time you will be noticed because heat rises right? However this goes back to the artist who just sits in the studio, if no work is being done on the brand or to capture fans then even the most connected agent or manager won’t have much to use in order to get you out there. So for those artists who are super talented and just don’t have any business experience I am sure you can find someone to help you. If your music moves people, finding help is just a question away.

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What are some other misconceptions?

There are really no misconceptions, just people who don’t know the roles well enough to know how to split up the work or responsibilities. I get artists who tell me I don’t promote their releases enough. I have to remind them I am their agent so they should look into getting a person in PR. We promote our artists since all content of our artists will help in the booking process but outside of Facebook, Twitter, and our mailing lists there we just can’t help with. Then I have artists who want to get into other areas of this business and they come to me on why this isn’t happening. I suggest for them to get a manager. An agent does one thing, get an artist gigs. Gigs now of days will be the most consistent source of income an artist can get.

What are your pet peeves working in this scene? (Promoters with no response/refusal or contacts/deposits.

Pet peeves, oh Kilma, don’t get me started. In this business there is a 10% response rate and that is after the 4th follow up. So yea that is probably the big one. In my eyes, it is rude not to respond to people who spent the time to generate an email to you, or pick up the phone. My advice to those who ignore emails and phone calls is to “Grow a Pair”. Say “No, Thank You”. If that is your answer I am able to move on to the next person who may want to work with me. The second is the question, “How Much?” Stay tuned for the guide I wrote up about this whole topic, I’ll share it with you once I am done with the design.

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Freaky Flow

Before we move into advice you have for artists, tell us a bit about Cyber Groove. What you offer that is unique from others companies and how you continue to stand apart.

Cyber Groove deals primarily within bass music (Drum and Bass, Dubstep, Electro). We dabble in house as well pretty much if it’s a great sound and it moves me emotionally and appeals to my promoter public we can work with it. We have been around since October 2000 starting out as a NYC promoter company. After we got over the promotional bug, we went into the agency game.

How I believe we are different from other agencies is the quality control on all sides of our business. We get back in touch within 24hrs, we give every promoter at all levels an opportunity to work with us, we represent great positive people (I have a unwritten no s**t head clause on my artist agreement) that are extremely talented. Most important we work with promoters to ensure that every step of the process is on point and that their shows are successful. We are authentic and we do what is right. Not everything is about making the quick buck, we are not in the business to put promoters out of business.

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Back story: When I was looking for representation what made you decide I was the right fit for Cyber Groove AM?

Kilma, you appealed to us because you are marketable, talented, and persistent. I like artists with a hustle to them since that is a key trait of a successful artist. Those who sit back and wait for things that happen usually don’t make it.

What advice do you have for artists looking for representation? How can they put themselves on your radar?

Do your ground work and start to build yourself up locally. It is better to approach an agency when you have something to show. If you have a number of tunes signed to mid-level labels then maybe it is time to reach out to a manager or a PR person to see about building up your name in your area. With this you will most likely get bookings and you can take it from there. If you can do it in one city, the chances of bleeding over into other scenes should be easy. Once you can take on a region, then it might be agency time. Agencies really don’t look out for artists all the time; they usually fall into our laps. Artists do this by having someone we know directly get in touch with us about that artist, or they just get in touch with us directly.

Where do you see Cyber Groove in a year from today? 5 years?

I would say in a year, we should have our agency pretty well sorted with an active touring schedule for a majority of our artists. Our management roster should also be pretty strong as well. In this business you have to take it, day by day, so I can’t even forecast accurately. Watch our journey!

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Anything else?

Keep in touch with us! Get on our Facebook (http://www.Facebook.com/cybergrooveprod), Twitter (@cybergroove), website (http://www.CyberGrooveAM.com), and our blog (http://cybergrooveprod.wordpress.com). We will also be forming a Podcast soon enough and the home for that will be http://www.CyberGrooveRadio.com. Thank you Kilma for giving us a place to spread our message #BeSimple