Learning the skills needed to be a DJ is only part of the equation to actually be a success. You also need to get yourself out there and get known and the way to do that is to essentially turn yourself into a brand. I have been DJing for years, as well as working with digital businesses. So in this article, I’m going to go over how to brand yourself as a DJ, how to learn from others, and how to do things that your peers aren’t.
The key to branding yourself as a DJ is to ensure consistency in how you present yourself and how you spend your time. Having an easy to find name, a clear logo, promo images, a press pack, and a website are all essential. That might sound like a lot to do, but everything can actually be done upfront.
There is a lot to cover when it comes to creating a DJ brand so let’s dive in…
Your Name Should Be Easy to Find
Choosing your DJ name is not as easy as people think and you’ll want to put some serious thought into it. Mostly because you don’t want to choose something that is too common and therefore difficult to find in Google.
Like the drum & bass producer, Audio, for example. There is not a chance he will be the top result when people search the word “audio”, it is far too common a word and has many different contexts.
At the same time, you’ll want to avoid choosing something too difficult. Either difficult to remember, or difficult to spell. After all, being found in Google is only useful if people actually know what to search!
When using your own name do consider whether it is a common name, or whether it is unique enough that you will stand out. The other option is to make up a pseudonym of course.
When it comes to choosing your DJ name (and throughout this article) I’m going to suggest that you learn from others. Seeing what is working for established DJs can help make your decisions easier.
An analysis of the DJ mag top 100 DJs shows:
- 34% of DJs use their real name
- 38% are pseudonyms
- 28% are made-up words
To read more about choosing a DJ name, check out this in-depth article.
Your Logo Is an Essential Part of Your Brand
Logos are an important element of your brand, as it allows your audience to quickly identify you (on flyers etc) without necessarily having to read. Again you can learn from others when it comes to gaining ideas for your logo.
A good example is this festival flyer. Instead of writing the DJ’s names, they have included their logos. This also shows that having a logo is vital.
There are some basic principles to bear in mind when designing or choosing a logo.
- Keep it simple
- People often overcomplicate logos and try to include too many elements
- A good rule of thumb is that a logo should be able to be processed and understood within a second
- Think of the Nike or Adidas logo for example. Even if you were whizzing past in a car, you would still know which brand you had just glimpsed
- Make sure it works in black and white
- Another common problem is that brands try and shoehorn too many colors into their logo. This might be ok for the large full-resolution version, however…
- You should make sure that even in black & white that the logo is clear and stands out.
- When it does then you’ll know you have a good, strong logo.
Getting Your Logo Designed
A good logo can be a tricky thing to design, which is why you have designers that specialize in them. Myself for example, although I do some design, I won’t do logos. They are such a personal and finicky thing to get right that I just don’t enjoy designing them.
However, I do have a process that allows you to get a logo you are happy with without spending hundreds of dollars.
My Process for Designing Logos
- Go to fiverr.com and search for logo designers.
- Choose between three and five individual designers whose style you like.
- Employ all of these designers for their minimum rate, usually $5.
- So you’ll spend a total of $25 if you employ 5 designers.
- Answer their questions in as much detail as possible.
- The more detail you give, the more the designer will be able to produce a logo that fits your taste and style.
- Choose your favorite design from the selections you receive from the designers.
- You will usually get all designs back within 2 or 3 days.
- If you’re completely happy with the design then you are pretty much finished.
- You may need to request the high-res version of the logo.
- It is worth noting that some designers will charge a little extra to provide you with the actual design file.
- Alternatively, if you’re not yet satisfied, you may choose to do some further work or amendments with your favorite designer.
- For example, you may take elements from the other logos and ask your chosen designer to incorporate them into the final thing.
Using this method you will be able to get a professionally designed logo, specifically customized to your style for approximately $30 to $60.
Far cheaper than if you went directly to a design agency for example, which could cost you hundreds or even thousands.
Analyze What’s Working for Successful DJs
As I mentioned above, it can be a good idea to learn what’s working for other DJs. Doing so makes it easier to then replicate their success.
There are a few different areas you should analyze and the more DJs you choose the more inspiration you will develop. I would suggest comparing 10-20 established/successful DJs and analyzing their methods and successes.
Obviously, the more you do, the more accurate and complete the ideas you will form.
The areas you should focus on are…
Social media is one of the most powerful ways for any brand, including DJs, to put themself in front of their chosen audience. However, it is an area that a lot of brands get wrong.
One thing many brands do is just simply try and post a large volume of content. While posting a significant amount of content can be a good way to build a following, what’s better is posting the right content at the right time…
Therefore, when you’ve selected your successful DJs look at and make notes on:
- How often they post
- What type of posts they share
- The time of day they post most regularly
- What networks they are posting to
Not all DJs will use all networks. However, by analyzing multiple DJs, you will find the networks that you should focus on, and give you the best return for your time spent.
Type of Content
You will want to analyze what type of content your chosen DJs are posting.
- Sharing mixes?
- And if so, what platform are they using? Mixcloud, SoundCloud or perhaps their own platform?
- Are they posting videos, or sharing photos of their gigs?
- How much do they write in their captions?
- Are they descriptive or do they keep them brief?
- Do they tag people?
Overall branding of their social media
It is a good idea to look at your chosen DJs and see how they are branding their social media as a whole.
- What are they using for their profile image?
- Is it a picture of them, or is it their logo?
- What are they using for their cover image?
- Is it a picture of them, a gig photo, or their logo?
- It may even be a flyer of their next upcoming show that they change regularly
Look at how often your DJs are engaging with their audience.
Are they active in the comments for example? Do they ask questions in their posts or start discussions to encourage engagement with their audience?
Active engagement is less likely the bigger a DJ is. So also be sure to not only look at superstar DJs but also smaller, up and coming and local DJs.
This way you get a broad range of what is working for a DJ at every stage of their career.
Of course, superstar DJs will often have staff that runs their social media. While you will be able to build up to this stage, in all likelihood, you are going to be doing social media yourself to begin with.
So be sure to find other DJs that are gaining momentum, but are still managing their social media accounts themselves.
Although there is an argument that, with the effectiveness of social media, you don’t necessarily need a website. And, to a certain extent, I would agree with this.
However, all successful DJs will have a website that serves as a central hub to their online presence.
So again, it is worth analyzing multiple websites and determining the commonalities between them. This way you can make the best decision for your own site.
Things to look for are:
- What content are they including on their website?
- Are they self-hosting mixes on there? or embedding Soundcloud or Mixcloud?
- A note on self-hosting – This can be a way to ensure your mixes do not get taken down by copyright restrictions of services like Soundcloud, or Mixcloud.
- An extra note – However, be aware that if a record label contacts you through your website to take down a mix it is best to comply immediately. Trust me when I say the copyright issues are not a fight worth getting into. So you still need to be mindful even when self-hosting mixes.
- Does the website have a gallery, either of videos or pictures of gigs?
- Does the site have a section for upcoming gigs?
- What is the branding like?
- What colors are they using for example?
- Is their logo prominently displayed?
- Is the design simple or complicated?
- And most importantly… What contact details do they have on there?
Make sure your Contact Form Works…
This last point is essentially the most important aspect of your website. Obviously, what is the point of a website if a user is unable to get in touch with you to book gigs or ask questions?
Therefore, make sure you have a contact form that is linked to an email that you check every day.
And make sure that the contact form actually works, so test it yourself regularly.
It blows my mind how often you have DJs, brands, and companies that have contact forms that either don’t work or the emails end up in spam and are never actually checked or replied to.
You may also have a phone number on their website, but this is down to personal preference.
Your About You Section
You will also want to have an About section. So analyze what sorts of information successful DJs are including in theirs.
- Look at how long it is.
- Whether it is written in first person i.e “I have been a DJ for 10 years” or is written in the third person “Carl Cox has been a DJ since the 80s”
Once you have these details you find it easy to write your own about section.
Building Your Website For Easy Maintenance
I will discuss in further detail how to get your own cost-effective website further down.
One thing to bear in mind with websites is that it can be easy for them to become outdated.
For example, if you are adding gigs, but then don’t take down the old ones. Meaning when someone looks at your website it may still show a past gig as being upcoming.
So decide how much time you want to spend actually updating your website. It’s okay if you want to spend minimal time doing so.
One of the best sites I built for a DJ actually required zero input from them. They were active on their social media however.
So, rather than having to update their site and their social media. They had a simple but effective website with a section for every network that they used.
So for example:
- They had a ‘mixes’ section that had their Soundcloud embed.
- This meant when they added a mix to Soundcloud the section on the website was automatically updated.
- They embedded their Instagram feed.
- So as they added pictures, the ‘gallery’ section on their website automatically updated.
- There was a Facebook embed.
- This showed their posts as well as any events created or had been tagged in.
Doing things this way allowed them to do the activities they felt most comfortable with i.e using social media. Yet their website always looked current while requiring no actual maintenance or updating from the DJ themselves.
This is another area where you can get ideas from a whole spectrum, not just what DJs do. You can also look at what companies or brands in any industry have done to get their name known to the public.
So do some research on Google to look up successful marketing stunts and see whether you can replicate these yourself
For Example…Fly Gigging
One of my favorite marketing stunts was when Bloc Party held an impromptu gig… in a subway train carriage. Using a stripped-down setup, they held a small but raucous gig that gained national media coverage.
One of the most famous fly gigs was when the Beatles played on a rooftop in Savile Row in London. Of course, this quickly led to a huge crowd, the shutting down of roads, and the police showing up.
But you could take inspiration from this and throw impromptu gigs. In a similar style to busking.
There are not many DJs that busk, so this would definitely make you stand out. Particularly if you used a projector to draw attention at night. This could have a simple animation of your logo or complete visuals (if you wanted to go that far).
A marketing stunt we used to do in our DJ duo was to leave CDs and USBs out in public. This would contain a mix, as well as an instruction.
To listen to the mix, but then also contact us on social media saying where you found it as well as what you thought. We also encouraged to put the mix back out in public for someone else to find.
Although the rate of messages is proportional to how many you put out, we liked doing it as it brings a bit of random joy to whoever finds it. As well as encouraging someone to go to your socials who otherwise never would have found you.
Know & Analyze Your Audience
This works well as a development from analyzing other DJs. Essentially, you know what type of music you want to play and what type of DJs you want to emulate.
So it helps to have a clear idea of who your audience is and then actually analyze how they behave online.
Firstly look out where they hang out online, by this I mean:
- Look for which pages your ideal audience follow on social media
- Then go a step further and look at what type of posts they respond to the most i.e what do they like engaging in?
- What are some of the other pages and interests they follow
Building up a complete picture of your ideal audience helps you tailor your own social media strategy and activities. This way you know you’re going to get the best response and the biggest return on the time you spend.
For example, why waste time trying to get the perfect picture at a gig, when you realize your audience responds better to a series of candid pictures.
Building up a clear picture of your audience is known as a customer avatar in the business world. It is one of the tricks that big brands use that can be directly applied to the DJ world.
Doing this will actually give you an edge over many of the other DJs in your niche.
It is not common practice but allows you to have a much clearer direction when it comes to focusing your branding and online activity
Takeaways: Analyzing Your Audience
When deciding on your audience, consider:
- What music do they like the most i.e obviously the music you DJ, but what other music do they like?
- What pages do they follow on Facebook, both music and non-music pages
- What social media networks do they use the most?
- What groups are they in? Either on Facebook or Reddit for example
- What type of social posts do they respond most to?
- Use all of this information to inform and plan your own social media activity.
- This saves you wasting time by producing content that is not going to be of interest to your chosen audience.
Piggyback Off Current Trends
As you know, there are lots of trends happening on social media all the time. So make sure you are riding the waves. One of the best places where trends are happening non-stop at the moment is Tik Tok.
Keep an eye on what your ideal audience is doing and what trends are getting the most engagement. Then, as long as it fits in with your brand and is something you’re comfortable doing, get involved in that trend.
This not only helps you gain more engagement, and potentially more followers, but it is also easy content. As you don’t have to think or plan anything specific.
Instead, you are able to use the inspiration of the trend and put your own spin on it. This leads me to my next point…
A great way to squeeze some extra engagement out of trends is to think about how you can change them slightly and put on your own spin. This will further strengthen your brand as a DJ and show you as a creative person.
One of the easiest ways to come up with ideas is to think about what you do that is opposite to the trend.
One of the best examples of this comes from Instagram. While everyone was posting their aged up photos, Gary Vee, a marketing expert, did the complete opposite and posted his aged down photos.
This not only received similar engagement to the current trend but also sparked its own spin-off. As well as creating surprise and engagement from the audience by bucking the trend.
As I mentioned above, make sure any trends that you piggyback off are in line with what you’re aiming to achieve.
When you are branding as a DJ it is important to be cohesive and remain relevant to your ideal audience. So avoid doing anything that is confusing or not relevant to your audience.
Have Promo Photos Done
I actually cannot stress the importance of having decent high-quality photos available and for a couple of reasons…
- It sets you apart from other DJs who are not willing to put the time or effort into having promo shots done
- It can actually damage your chances of being featured on websites or in magazine previews for example
I know this to be a fact because I have passed over DJs or artists who did not have decent photos available.
Now a note here…
You don’t particularly need to pay a professional to take these photos or even go to the point of staging them. Instead, you can use a decent camera phone and just make sure that they are in focus and with decent lighting.
They can also be action shots of you actually DJing. But again, make sure they are high resolution, in focus, and ideally, show your face clearly.
Obviously, you will need someone to help, so ask them to take literally hundreds, playing around with the focus and light settings. Then, by sheer number, you will be able to pick out two to five images that are press and promo worthy.
You can, of course, go the extra mile and stage shots.
For example, this press shot that we took was a night spent getting drunk in our kitchen playing around with a projector.
Not only was it a fun, creative evening it also produced a press photo we were very happy with. It also stands out as it’s totally different from the standard posed photo that everyone else takes.
So, just to reiterate, having promo photos available is absolutely essential. Both for use on your social media. But then also make sure that you have the high-resolution version available for download somewhere i.e Google Drive or Dropbox.
I actually recommend pCloud for permanent storage as they have one-off cost, instead of Dropbox’s monthly subscription.
The reason you want high-resolution images specifically is that if you are ever featured in a magazine for example. They will not be able to print the photo from social media, instead, they will need the original, full-resolution version.
So make sure you always know where it is, and can easily forward it as soon as someone asks you to.
Have a Press Pack Ready to Go
Similar to the promo shots above, this is another element that I would consider essential when branding yourself as a DJ.
A press pack is essentially your bio (usually in PDF format) and images compressed into one easily digestible folder. It is another way to encourage journalists and writers to give you media coverage.
It is also something that you can spend a bit of time on upfront to get right and then just attach to any email where you’re corresponding with websites, journalists, or promoters. The more information you give someone then the easier you make it for them to promote you.
A mistake that a lot of DJs make is making their press back to boring i.e just a block of text on a page. This does nothing to catch anyone’s eye, and will often just get filed with the other thousand press packs they have been sent that week.
Therefore, I recommend actually going a step further and putting a bit of design effort into your document.
Alongside your bio, you can include things like your logo, your promo shots of you, gig photos, and any other design assets that you have.
Below is the promo/press pack I created for my DJ duo as an example. You will see it includes all of the elements I’ve mentioned as well as aspects of the visuals we used in our gigs.
It clearly shows we went far beyond what people normally expect from DJs.
If you don’t have the skills to create something like this in Photoshop you still have a couple of options, either:
- Spend a bit of time doing YouTube tutorials and using something like Canva
- Or go to Fiverr.com and find a designer to help you relatively cheaply
Takeaways: Press Pack
- Your press pack can be created upfront and then included in every email you send regarding DJing
- Press packs encourage people to give you press coverage
- The more information you give a writer or promoter the easier it is for them to promote you
- Designing your press pack to stand out will get you noticed, as most people do not put in the effort
- Hiring a designer on Fiverr or using Canva can help you create a price pack relatively cheap
- If you have a bio written you can simply copy and paste this into your press pack
When Someone Shows Interest BE ALL OVER IT
This is one area that surprises me when it comes to DJs (and promoters), and that is just how bad they are at communicating. Which is especially bad if someone has shown an interest in them.
This often makes people their own worst enemy when it comes to creating and pushing their DJ brand.
To give a real-world example…
As a journalist, I went to meet with a promoter who ran some of the biggest regular events in the area. And we had a great discussion about regularly featuring their events in our magazine and website.
However… in the weeks and months following that meeting, the promoter was simply terrible at providing info or images any time I requested them by email.
In fact, many requests went completely unanswered. Which meant they missed an opportunity for widespread and free promotion.
So, I cannot stress this point enough…
Be all over it when someone expresses an interest in your DJ brand.
Make sure you are checking and responding to emails and social media posts. Also, remember that people have short attention spans. So the sooner you can reply, the more chance of building a relationship and getting gigs or press coverage.
In the age of hyper-connectivity, I would say it is just simply not good enough to have requests go unanswered. And you will be doing more harm than good.
After all, you never know if you miss an email or fail to respond then that promoter may have booked you for 10s of gigs in the future.
So, regardless of how irrelevant an inquiry may seem, still reply and show courtesy to that person who has shown an interest in you. You never know where that relationship may lead…
Takeaways: When Someone Shows An Interest
- Many DJs and promoters are terrible at communication. Don’t be one of them.
- Have your DJ brand assets easily accessible (promo shots and press pack) so that you can respond as quickly as possible.
- Respond to all queries, whether email or social media message.
- You never know where a relationship might lead. So be courteous to everyone.
- This is the biggest single mistake I have seen in all of my time as a journalist, DJ, and promoter.
Develop an Aesthetic
Ask yourself this question…
How many DJ/Producers out there are producing tunes just as good, if not better, than Deadmau5 or Marshmello?
The answer is probably thousands upon thousands.
But the truth is that Deadmau5 and Marshmello both created strong aesthetics, with masks that helped them stand out and be memorable. Long before Deadmau5 became a household name he would have been known as “that DJ with the mouse head”.
So in this instance, it’s worth noting that, when done well, gimmicks can work.
But you don’t necessarily need to go through to the length of having an over-the-top mask during your DJ sets.
Instead, just make sure that you have a consistent style and aesthetic across your DJ brand and ties everything together.
So not only ensure consistency across all your platforms, websites, and social media but also how you present yourself in person. So dress well and be friendly and courteous to everyone you meet. If you are erratic or messy looking then a promoter might not book you again because of the impression you gave off.
Make sure that you are aware of how you come across both online and in person. Of course, always be true to yourself and dress in a way that feels comfortable to you, but just be aware of the impact your aesthetic can have in influencing people.
To give you a real-world example of this…
A champion DJ from my hometown of Brighton used to do this to great effect. While his skills in the city and UK were unparalleled at the time, he was very careful in how he presented himself.
What I mean by this is, he would make a point of wearing incredibly brightly colored t-shirts for every show he did. This made him stand out, not only on stage but also after his set while he was mingling in the club.
And it served one of two purposes:
- Other promoters or DJs would be easily able to spot him, they could then engage him and network about future bookings or collaborations
- Also, and I suspect this is the main reason he did it, it also meant the opposite sex could easily pick him out in a crowd. And he would often see him surrounded by girls after his show.
Needless to say, that DJ does all right for both bookings.
Takeaways: Develop an Aesthetic for You DJ Brand
- Have a consistent aesthetic across your online presence and in person.
- How you present yourself will influence how people treat you or if they want to book you.
- Think about how you dress for your gigs.
- Gimmicks can work as well.
Push Your Brand Everywhere
This point is really tying together everything I’ve discussed above when it comes to your name and logo etc. What I mean by this is ensuring consistency.
So, if you are releasing a mix and create a cover image for that mix, make sure your name and logo are on there. Likewise, if you are creating a video, either long-form or a short social media post then add your logo in the corner.
The key to successful branding as a DJ is repetition.
The more times that someone sees your logo then the more recognizable it becomes. The same applies to your name.
The more often someone sees it, then the more impact it will have when they see a gig poster i.e your name will jump out.
Sonic Branding… Because Branding Isn’t Only Visual
You should also have what is known as ‘Sonic Branding’. This is, in essence, a short audio clip that includes your DJ name.
Then whenever you create a mix or do a podcast, for example, you can sprinkle it two or three times throughout the mix. This further helps get your name out there and make it more recognizable.
You can also have a few different versions of your Sonic branding.
In the radio world, these are called ‘stings’ and you will be familiar with them from radio or podcasts. Whenever you hear a short transition that states the radio frequency, for example, that is a Sting.
So create your own and use it at every available opportunity, without being annoying to your listeners of course.
There are a few things you can do to ensure your brand is everywhere it should be:
- As mentioned, add your logo to every image you put out.
- Ask promoters to add your logo to any posters and flyers.
- When releasing mixes create a cover image and again add your logo.
- When releasing a mix as a video then do a simple animation of your logo and loop that for the entire length.
- Consider having visuals made for gigs that have a projector available (or if you have your own).
- The visuals can be fairly simple loops of your name and logo.
- This does a good job of burning your name and DJ brand into the minds of the audience. It also goes to make you more recognizable when they bump into you online.
Takeaways: Pushing Your DJ Brand
- Remember that every gig and social post is an opportunity to push your brand.
- Use your logo as a watermark and put it on all images and videos.
- Request that promoters use your logo on posters and flyers.
- Consider using visuals during your set to further imprint your name and logo on the audience.
- The key to successful branding is getting the brand in front of your target audience at every available opportunity.
- Create a sonic branding sting and use it liberally in your mixes and podcasts.
Branding Yourself as a DJ Using a Website
As talked about above, having a website is an essential part of your online presence and establishing yourself as a credible DJ brand.
Your DJ website does not need to be overly complicated, nor does it have to be expensive.
How to Get a Free DJ Website
You can actually create free websites using things like Wix or Squarespace. This will take you no longer than a day or two to get something up and running. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials that mean you will not need any outside help for a fully professional web developer.
How to Get a Fully Professional DJ Website For Cheap
You can also have a website that uses the same platform i.e WordPress, that all of the most professional, big-name DJs use. The most affordable way is to use a company like Bluehost, which costs only $6 a month. Again there are plenty of YouTube tutorials that mean you can build it yourself without outside help.
So don’t worry about the website being overly complicated or expensive. It is something you can get going yourself, relatively easily and inexpensively.
Also remember, you can always change and update your website as your career progresses. So the important thing is just to get started with it to help establish your credibility.
Takeaways: Branding Yourself With a DJ Website
- DJ websites do not need to be complicated.
- Websites are not difficult or expensive to create.
- You can create a website yourself for free.
- Creating a professional website on the same framework as professional DJs can be really cheap using BlueHost.
If you have any questions about building your website and drop me a message through the contact form. This is something I also do in my professional life so I’ll be able to help you in any way you need.
Conclusion How Do I Brand Yourself as a DJ
As you will have seen from above, there are many different factors that go into creating your DJ brand. And it can seem like there is a lot to think about.
However, the majority of the steps, like creating a logo or building a website, are things that can be done upfront. Then, once you have consistency across your online presence, you just need to use social media as it’s intended i.e create content that your audience likes and feels natural to you.
Then, and this is vital, always be sure to engage on your socials and website. Whether it is your audience, promoters, or anyone else that shows an interest in you as a DJ.
Creating a DJ brand is way more about consistency than anything else. This is why it is important to have a cohesive look across your website, social accounts, and any posts.
You’ll also want to get your brand in front of your audience at every available opportunity.
The more you can get people seeing your name and hearing your mixes, then the more chance you have of getting bookings and publicity.
When answering, how do I brand myself as a DJ? Always remember that when it comes to branding, reputation and consistency is key. That is how all the big-name DJs got to where they are, and that means you can to…