Yo! Its the one and only "DJ JT Da Don" and this will be the first of many blogs to come! In this article I will cover professionalism at performance event such as showcases, concerts, competitions etc. As an independent/upcoming artist, you have to follow certain guidelines and abide by certain rules in order to 1. be taken serious in this industry and 2. be allowed to reach the next level. It does not matter what caliber of artist you can think of, they all follow and have followed certain rules in order to have reached their respective levels in the game.
The first thing that needs to be left at the door is your ego! Having an ego can be one of the biggest career killers. Unless you have established yourself in the industry you have no right to act "Hollywood" or untouchable. Humble yourself and don't be afraid to work with people you have never heard of, because at this point in your career there are millions of people who have never heard of you either. Don't be afraid to support other artists, stand front and center and rock to every word. Talk to strangers, network, collab on projects, go to shows where you're not performing. That is the way you get support, by showing it! You will not get support by treating your peers as if they are beneath you.
Everyone knows that time is money. Money is valuable, but time is the most precious thing we have and professionals hate to waste it. In order to be taken serious, you must start by showing up ON TIME to your shows. If the promoter asks all artists to be in the building by 10pm, you should be there no later than 9:30pm to check in. Don't stroll into the venue 3 hours after it has opened attempting to check in for your performance. Artists who do that may be granted entry into the show, but they are talked about afterwards. There is a network of DJs, club owners, and promoters who talk about certain artists in the city (big & small). The conversations can be both positive and negative. The negative aspect of the conversations can cover an artist that is always late. Negative conversations will cover artists who always want free entry for themselves and their entourage. Artists who always complain about when/what time they are due to perform. Generally artists who make life hard. You don't want to be amongst those artists who make life hard for people who put together events. Attempt to make more friends than enemies in this industry.
When it come to your music, you should have your music with you at all times. As an artist you never know when you're going to be faced with the opportunity to perform. We've all heard the saying "if you stay ready, you don't have to get ready" - and those are facts! When its time to go to a show, always bring your music in 3 forms. You never know what the set up will be. The 3 forms I suggest are: CD, flash drive, and email. You may get to a show and the DJ can't run your flash drive because he's got a PC and you used a MAC to upload your music to the drive. This happens all the time, where the flash drive will not read. If you have a CD instead he can run that, but what if your CD is scratched or by some horrible chance of luck the CD just doesn't read either? You can use the hotspot on your phone to give the DJ internet (if he doesn't have his own connection) and email him/her the track. You must have it ready in your "sent" folder or ready to send as an attachment right from your phone's music playlist. You have to be prepared for anything, because anything can happen.
Performances are your time to shine as an artist! So you want to make your performance both entertaining and memorable. In order to be looked as a serious artist, you have to prepare a show mix. There is nothing that makes a showcase DJ more mad than an artist with 5 different songs that wants the DJ to play the songs in a specific order and cut certain songs at particular points. If you're allowed to perform more than one song within a given time frame, you should always get a show mix made. For those who don't know what a show mix is, a show mix is a singular audio file with all the music you're performing, in the order you're performing, being cut at the points you want. This can be made by a studio engineer or a DJ (such as myself). Sound effects such as horns and explosions can also be added for thrills but are not necessary. Now down to the actual performance. You must be entertaining to watch. There is nothing worse than an artist standing in place, repeating their lyrics (instead of actually performing). Don't be intimidated by the lack of crowd support. They don't gauge your energy, you gauge theirs. What you put out is what you receive! Jump around, get off stage and engage the audience (if the stage/venue permits), look people directly in the eyes, make them feel as if they are apart of your performance. You came in as a stranger, don't leave as one!
For my final point, what do you usually do after you get off stage? My guess is, hit the bar, washroom, or even leave the venue. WRONG!! Well if you really have to pee go do that (LOL), but everything else is a complete no no! You job as a independent artist does not start with the stage and it for sure does not end with the stage. The stage is merely a platform to display your talent, music etc. The real work is in the network. I met the CEO of Coast 2 Coast Mixtapes at Club E (now Club Red) in Chicago in 2014, he said something that has been with me ever since. He said "You net worth, is only as big as your network!" If you are not networking, you are not working. After your performance, go out in the crowd and talk to strangers. Remember what I said, you came in as a stranger, don't leave as one". If you annoy people, or get on people's nerves by coming up to them and introducing yourself to them, so be it! You must leave your mark. Be sure to network with the other artists in the building. They are your peers, they are the people who you will be doing big shows and tours with in 10 years. Build relationships with people before they get to a point where they feel you're only trying to work with them because of who they are. At that point, you're going to have to pay them. A good thing to also do are free features with the artists you meet at events. Just by being on a song with an artist that shows up to events and performs, will put you in a class of "serious artist". There have been many times where I discovered an artists from a feature. The song I heard was not theirs, but they killed the feature and made me a fan. After becoming a fan, I went and searched for their music and original tracks. See how that works? Networking and doing features is the best way to build your fanbase. Networking equals opportunities, opportunities get you fans, and fans buy things which makes you MONEY!
I hope you enjoyed this article, keep it professional and be on the look out for more from Mr. Get You Heard & Seen, DJ JT Da Don (C.E.O. of Mixtape Murderer DJs #MTMDJs, llc)