For the moment, most of the gigs have stopped, and the DJ, nightclub and festival scenes are hitting reset. But it won’t always be like that – eventually, we’ll all be able to gather again in safer environs and DJs will lay down the beats that get people moving and grooving, a necessary ritual for all.
Still, for most DJs, getting to a position where the big gigs are coming fast and furious requires talent, drive, timing and connections. But how do you make those connections to get the bigger and better gigs? And what is the correct way to step to those booking agents who regularly play in the big leagues?
For the answers to those questions, we asked Sujit Kundu, the founder and CEO of SKAM Artist, one of America’s top DJ and artist booking agencies. With roster acts like Lil Jon, DJ Mustard, Dallas Austin, Swizz Beats, Bad Boy Bill and T-Pain repping all genres from hip-hop to house and R&B, Kundu has the experience from which to offer some valuable advice.
So, for DJs looking to attract a top booking agency, here are Sujit’s 5 do’s and 5 don’ts:
1. Don’t be too pushy! When an agent is ready to make a move, they will. Timing is key! If they are politely beating around the bush to tell you no, don’t push the issue. It may happen down the line, but if you’re too aggressive, it may never happen.
2. Don’t talk shit. Never say you are way more talented than other DJs they already represent.
3. Don’t miss meetings – you should never miss meetings. If an agent asks you for a meeting, make time for it. You can’t be too busy – you have to show you want it.
4. Don’t have unrealistic expectations that the agent won’t be able to achieve. Everyone wants to headline Coachella or get a Las Vegas residency.
5. Don’t have the kind of manager who doesn’t add anything, but instead just complicates things. If a manager and agent are not on the same page, this will be an unhealthy relationship. The first question every manager asks is: “Can you get the money up?” Agents are commission-based, so that’s the ultimate goal. The second question every manager asks is: “Can you see about routing shows around this date?” That is also obvious. Managers need to focus on things to increase demand for the artist, not micro-manage the agents.
1. Know your audience and find an agent that works in the space you are going after. For example, if you’re a festival DJ, find an agency that lives in that world. If you spin at nightclubs or you prefer private-event gigs, you need to find an agency that specializes in that. Also, the genre of music is important when it comes to finding an agent.
2. Manage your expectations when picking an agent. Agents are just that… agents. They are not an employment agency or a manager, so don’t expect that it’s their job to make sure you are working as much as you want.
3. Have solid residencies and/or clients. If you are already working, you are more likely to pick up an agent who can take your existing business and take it to the next level.
4. Have a vision – production, social media, celebrity status, technical DJ skills, etc. There are multiple ways to be a successful DJ, but you have to know your brand. The biggest DJs will do all of the before- mentioned at the same time.
5. Get to know the agent first. Make sure you both get along, vibe well together, and ultimately that you trust them. Success will be much more likely.
On Sunday, Aug. 23, 11:59 EDT, SKAM Artist will present SKAM 24 on twitch.tv/skamartist – a birthday celebration for Sujit Kundu, featuring 24 hours of 24 DJs from 5 different countries. For the lineup, please visit here.
To check out more business tips, click here.