DJs Are Human Beings Too!
First thing I do in the morning is check the
e-mail. Normally it's 100+ mails ... sure lotsa spam 'n other trash … but, if I
would work on the trash and the serious letters in full detail, it would take me
at least three to four hours.
Next I go to the mail box 'n check for new releases. I now receive an average of five CDs daily. If I would work on these in full detail (really listen, write down songs for airplay, send a mail that the CD arrived, etc.), that would take me approximately another four to five hours.
Add a one hour break for eating/relaxing … that adds up to 10 hours. I guess it's obvious that this doesn't work. DJ-ing is "one third of my life" ... the second third is my own "music/artist career" … last third is freelancing in the multi media genre ... oops … did I forget something? Well, what about a "private life/relaxing/etc." ... ha, ha, ha ... what's that???
I don't think that I can speak for all "free-indie-underground-DJs," but from corresponding I know that there are many similarities. So let me tell you about some dos and don'ts if you are in touch with "indie-underground" DJs.
It's obvious that indie-bands can't send thousands of CDs to just any station/DJ - that's the way the major-promo system does it (their financial background allows it). This system is totally sick - I've seen the piles of releases to be thrown away that didn't reach the "fitting desk."
So, first work on a database with stations/DJs that play your kind of music.
One good way for a first contact is a e-mail
with a very brief description of the artist/band (include a web-link for those
who want to check). Ask if it would be OK to send a CD for possible airplay.
Make it an "easy plain text e-mail." HTML e-mails, online press packages and all
other "fancy internet stuff" leads to problems. Normally e-mails are downloaded
then the DJ goes offline. All fancy internet stuff only works if the one who
reads it is online while doing so - I basically delete all fancy internet stuff.
Don't forget: the Internet is still more expensive in Europe than in the USA!
A very good source to find hundreds of checked addresses worldwide is the
Indie Bible (www.indiebible.com).
Now concentrate on the ones that answer - sounds logical ... but they are the ones that proved to be "reliable." If the station/DJ has info with instructions for what and how to send, check it! Some ask for two copies (one for the DJ the other one for archive, for example). Others probably are not that much interested in heaps of fancy band info like band pictures, reviews, etc. Others may not promote you if you don't send the full package.
In my case, the best way is to include a "one page" info with the main facts that can be folded and put into the CD jewel case. The CD is what the DJ will keep!!! If you make sure that the CD has all a DJ needs to have - the main facts about the artist - that's perfect! Also make sure that it's close to impossible to NOT find a working e-mail address! The best is to have it somewhere on the cover. Have an e-mail address that's easy to remember and that really works!! You wouldn't believe how often I get the playlists back because the e-mail doesn't work. If you want to be "professional," it should be like this:
name: My Band
That's all very easy to remember and leaves no questions! I totally stopped all kind of "researchements"!! ..."Where is the e-mail? ... OK, lets surf to the site 'n see if I can find it." ... No way! No more *researchements*!!
And now THE IRRITATING PART
The above is sure very much based on my own way to handle it all. BUT - there are also DJs who prefer just receiving the releases without any pre-emails … if they like it, they will play it. Some then send a playlist - some play it and DON'T send a playlist, but probably have message boards or their own websites where they post their playlists. I bet there are many more ways to handle it all. I guess it all leads back to the fact that you have to set up your personal DJ data base and cooperate with the ones that "you can get along with" ... there are even DJs who still like snail mail letters!! So, it is a good idea to have as many facts as possible in your DJ database. Also, facts that "identify" the human being behind it all are very worthy, like birthday, day job, special hobbies, etc. - if you have some of these facts. the person "behind the DJ" comes alive and you can set up a personal relationship, which sure leads to many positive aspects for you as musician.
Some More Words About Being "Professional"
Do you know what happens if I receive a burned CD with NO cover, NO label and a crappy note ... well, that's food for my trash can! I'm not asking for 100% glossy stuff, but an aesthetical presentation with easy to find facts, etc., is totally important. The song titles on the label are not enough - the CD will be in the player at the show!! Some DJs (like me) don't write down the titles, etc. In my case, I just write "Band A - Track 3" - so a label AND a cover, that's important! If you send it this way, I've absolutely no problems with burned CDs! This aspect may no longer be THAT strict if I know the artist on grown personal level!
A TOTAL DON'T is to send MP3s as a first contact - this is like an assault - imagine you would receive 50 MBs daily … how long would it take to download? That's the best way to destroy a relationship before it began. There are certain basic rules for communication via the Internet (you can find them in books or on the net) - check them!!
Make it AS EASY AS POSSIBLE for the DJ
Be SHORT AND PRECISE
The Personal Aspect
Oops, what's that? Well, very easy - imagine receiving a package with a CD/info and a short handwritten note saying something like, "Hi, thanks for listening ... hope you'll like - much appreciated!" Bang! … it becomes obvious that there is a human being behind it! Receiving the same without a personal note is just another faceless "promo thing"! On the other hand, to send a five page letter when making the first contact is a definite a DON'T! NO way to really read and answer these... In some cases, a real, personal relationship with the DJ will grow. Then you both can keep working on the relationship/correspondence, etc. It's a no good thing to be pushy - "Have you played our CD? When will you play it? Please play more from my CD," etc. If the DJ wants to promote you, he/she'll do it anyway ... being pushy may destroy the relationship. Act normal and natural!
Now You Are In Touch
A bad thing is to put the DJ on the mailing list without asking - some may want your news. But to be honest, I delete 95% of the newsletters (it's all just TOO MUCH) - to send the news with the usual "unsubscribe" info at the bottom is NOT the solution! This forces work upon the DJ!! So, ask before you do something! If all bands I ever played at my shows would send newsletters I would receive THOUSANDS of newsletters!!
Asking for Favours
If you are in a REAL CLOSE contact with a DJ (like being REAL friends), you can sure ask for all kind of favours ... like the favours you would ask a friend for (never forget: asking for favours always means to be willing to give something back! Otherwise the friendship won't last long.) If you're not close friends, here are some examples of what DJs simply CAN'T do:
- What about venues in your area?
- Can you write a short review?
- Please download my new song!
- Please FW my news to all your friends!
- How are your listeners responding?
- Would you mind signing my guest book?
- Tell me more about your show!
- Please vote for my song!
The list is endless!! DJs work hard to produce the shows. Don't forget most don't earn money with their DJ-ing. They have a family, a private life, etc. They are not promoters, managers, reviewers, etc. By simply asking these questions, you force work upon them! They have to answer - some feel miserable because they would like to help, but simply CAN'T for the above reasons. Be SENSITIVE!!!
Ok - I hope all this gave a basic idea how to approach DJs! Probably I should write another article aimed at DJs, because I'm an artist, too ... but I guess this would have just two main topics: setting up a system of getting back after receiving something and setting up a system so that the audience can get in touch with the artists (buy their recordings) … YEP - I think both aspects are very important.
Producing shows for: Radio Marabu (Germany) / Cyberstorm Radio (USA) / Jolly Roger Radio (Ireland)
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