There are many reasons why people decide to promote a DJ event. Whatever your reason is, the chances are that you don’t want to lose your money in the process (unless you have lots of money to give away, in which case, please get in touch!)
I have promoted DJ events in several different countries and the process that I follow (which has been tweaked and updated with every event) has worked well in each country, so I can safely say that these tips work internationally.
Planning the event
Planning the DJ event is the most crucial part, as it is during this period that you will lay all of the foundations to give your event the biggest chance of succeeding. If you make a mistake, it could mean the difference between success and failure.
I always ask myself the following questions during the planning stage:
Is there a need for the event?
This is the first thing that I consider when planning a DJ event. Remember, you should never create a solution when there isn’t a problem.
If you are planning to host the event in your home city then you should already have a good idea of which music styles are popular. If you aren’t too sure which music styles are popular or you are planning to host the event in a different city, you will need to carry out some research to familiarise yourself.
If there are already established DJ events that are similar to the one you are planning, this might not necessarily be a bad thing. This means that there is definitely a market for this kind of event and you will simply need to create a unique selling point (USP) that will differentiate your event from the others.
Which venue should the event be held in?
It is unlikely that the well-known venues in any city will accept proposals from external promoters for the busy nights of the week. They will already have a musical identity which is known to their regular crowd and they are already making good money – so why would they want to share that money with a promoter?
On the other hand, it is also not worth approaching the venues which are not well-known and are maybe hard to find. The chances are that they have hardly any organic footfall, so for your event to be a success, you will need to attract 100% of the attendees.
In my experience, most cities around the world have a number of venues which are known for hosting events that are run by independent promoters. While the music style is likely to differ with each event, each venue will have a following of people who look for events with particular music styles. If your event fits their musical taste, it is likely that you will attract a number of guests before your paid advertising campaign has even started.
What date should the event be held on?
Once you have confirmed that there is a need for the DJ event and have an agreement with a venue, you need to look at potential dates on which to host it.
If your research has confirmed that other promoters are running similar events on a regular basis, it probably isn’t a good idea to schedule your event on the same night (unless you have a large event budget and are planning to bring a famous headline DJ).
If it is available, I find that it is better to host an event on the weekend when most people have just been paid. While some people party every weekend, a lot of people only venture out once in a month and usually pick the weekend just after they have received their salary. If this particular weekend isn’t available, opt for the next weekend if possible to increase your chances of hosting a successful night.
Another factor to consider is popular dates in the calendar. If your event was to clash with a big national or international festival or fall on the same weekend as a national holiday, it could affect your attendance numbers.
It is impossible to avoid every competitor as there is always something happening somewhere, but it is important to pick your battles wisely.
Organising the event
Once you know that the event is happening, where it is happening and when it is happening, it is time to start organising it. There are several important factors that go into organising the event and I like to make sure that I have the following checked off:
Do I have the correct team in place?
I have promoted several DJ events on my own in the past and, although they were all successful, they could have been better had I shared the workload with others.
- Venue owner/manager
This is the one team member who you cannot choose yourself. More often than not they will be on the same page as you and will support you as you are both trying to achieve the same goal – a successful night. However, there are times that they don’t really care about the outcome and can waste a lot of your time.
- Graphic/web designer
You may have a friend who knows their way around some image editing software and it can be tempting to call in a favour in order to save money. Unless you are paying someone to do something for you, you will never be at the top of their list of priorities and this quickly becomes a problem when you have a deadline to meet. My advice here is to pay a professional to deliver your artwork in a timely manner.
Capturing footage at your event is critical for the promotion of future events. There may be times when you have no choice other than to use stock footage, but there is nothing quite as engaging as authentic footage from a previous event.
While it is possible for anyone to roam around the venue taking photos and videos with a smartphone, the likelihood is that the outcome will look amateur.
Again, I suggest paying someone who knows what they are doing to attend the event and obtain some high-quality footage for you.
- Advertising/marketing specialist
I have always taken care of the advertising/marketing myself and I wasted a lot of money in the past as I didn’t fully understand what I was doing. Since then, I have become certified by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Google and Hubspot and it is surprising how much further your money can go and what improved results you can achieve when you know what you are doing.
It is free to become Google certified and, if you don’t have the budget to employ someone to manage your advertising/marketing campaign, I recommend completing this course as it will give you a solid foundation of understanding.
Who is the headline DJ going to be?
You don’t have to book a big-name DJ to headline your event, and doing so doesn’t always guarantee that it will be successful.
A local DJ with a good following could ensure that your event is well attended and may also lead to opportunities for you to play at other events in or out of the city.
Having said that, if you do decide to bring a headline DJ and you choose them wisely, the chances are that people will take your event more seriously and be more likely to pay a higher entry fee in order to see their idol.
There have been times when I have booked a big-name DJ for the launch night of an event, but more often than not I give the event some time to grow organically before bringing expensive headliners.
Are there too many DJs on the line-up?
This may just be a pet hate of mine, but when I see an event advertised with far too many DJs listed on the line-up, it makes me want to avoid it at all costs.
In the past, I have seen flyers for 6 or 7-hour events in venues with 2 rooms with over 30 DJs scheduled to play. A quick calculation tells me that if the set times are divided equally, each DJ will have less than 30 minutes on the decks.
This tactic is used by some promoters who think that if they book 30 DJs and each one of those DJs brings 10 friends, they will guarantee that 300+ people will attend their event. While I am sure that this does work successfully in some cases, I wouldn’t recommend building your event on this kind of business model. You will be unable to keep that amount of DJs satisfied on a long-term basis and once they stop wanting to play at your event, the crowd will stop coming.
If you create a good event with good music and generate a good atmosphere with good people, you will start to build a regular following.
Are all of the DJs right for this event?
One of the most common reasons for people deciding to promote their own event is because they want to gain some experience behind the decks.
While it is tempting to automatically include yourself and some of your friends on the line-up, you need to think about what is best for the overall success of the event.
If you have booked a headline act, can the DJs playing before be trusted with the warm-up duties? Do they have experience of opening for headliners and know how to build the atmosphere in anticipation of the main act?
When your money and reputation is at stake, you need to make sure that you get everything right.
Promoting the event
Once you are sure that you have the correct team in place, it is time to start promoting the event. You can book the best DJ in the world but if no-one knows they are performing, the venue will be empty.
The following are just a few of the simple tactics that you can employ to help generate a buzz about the event and get it shared around different social media channels:
Selling advance tickets is a good way of estimating what the interest level will be for your event. I recommend offering early bird tickets at a discounted price which will enable you to recoup the financial outlay on the headliner ahead of the event. You can then offer a second release of tickets which will allow you to charge more on the night of the event. If the advance tickets sell fast, this can also be promoted within your marketing communications.
Efficient social media usage
Studies show that you have an average of 3 seconds to gain viewer’s attention on social media, so your photos and videos needs to be captivating. Once you have their attention, you have a few more precious seconds in which to deliver your message:
The viewer needs to know:
- Who is playing (headliner)
- When they are playing (which date)
- Where they are playing (which venue)
- Who else is playing (support acts)
- How much it will cost (entry)
- Are there any USPs (special drink deals, free entry for girls etc)
Some viewers prefer videos while others prefer images. It is with this in mind that you should ensure that your promotional campaign is a mixture of both formats to ensure maximum exposure of your event.
Teaser videos from headliner(s)
If you have booked a well-known headliner for your event, it is expected that they will record some teaser videos ahead of their performance to help generate interest in the event.
Moreover, people love to consume content nowadays, so you can also release teaser videos from some of the other DJs on the line-up.
Remember though that people expect to be engaged by the content that they view, so select the DJs whose videos are more likely to leave a lasting impression among your potential audience.
This tactic has been used for a long time, but to this day it still gets results.
At the lower end of the scale, you can simply give away some free tickets to the event or offer an exclusive meet and greet with the headline DJ.
At the other end of the scale, you can reach out to potential sponsors to see if they would like to donate a prize in return for being associated with the event. The bigger the event and the more well-known the headliner is, the more chance you have of securing some excellent prizes that will help maximise the exposure of your event.
Press releases | Event blogs | Nightlife channels
You may think that the publications which publish articles about the biggest and best events charge a fortune for their services. Think again – they don’t!
Online competition is fierce, so everyone is looking for good quality content to post in order to help them reach their own targets.
If your headliner is well-known or if you are starting an event that has never been seen in your city before, newspapers, bloggers and social media channels will be lining up in order to get the scoop. They will secure an exclusive piece of content for their followers and you could end up reaching more people for free than your marketing budget would have enabled you to do.
During the event
This is your event and no-one else will care about it quite as much as what you will, so you need to take ownership of it.
Try to ensure that everyone is welcomed
A lot of clubs will have their own door policy where they may restrict the entry of some people. If you allow this to happen during your event, your brand will become tarnished.
Make sure that you or your most trusted team member keep an eye on the door during the course of the night. While the manager may have agreed that you will be able to choose who is and isn’t allowed entry to the event, that message may not always get communicated to the door staff, so be prepared to step in if required.
Network as much as possible
Everybody likes to feel special, so try to dedicate as much time as you can with the people who have turned out to support your event. While you are talking with these people, you should carry out some basic market research to find out:
- How people learned about the event?
- What they like about the event?
- What they don’t like about the event?
- What are their thoughts about the venue?
- Would they come back again?
This is also a great time to obtain the contact details of people (email address, telephone number, social media information).
If you have some branded gifts to give away, you should do it during the event rather than after, as there will be more chance of your brand appearing in the photos and videos from the event.
After the event
Once the event is over and you have fully recovered, you need to stay in the minds of the people that attended until the next event. You can achieve this by:
Posting photos of the event
If you hired a professional photographer, you should have a large number of high-quality photos from the event. My advice is to post an album containing 50% of the images from the event and then drip-feed the remaining photos out over the coming weeks.
Releasing several after-movies
Video editing can be more time consuming than photo editing, so people will expect to wait a while for the release of the video footage.
Try to release the first after-movie within a week or two of the event and, depending on how far away your next event is, stagger the releases of the following video(s) so they are equally spaced out.
Uploading live recordings of the event
Recording the audio from the event is very important as you can allow people to re-live the sets over and over again, which again keeps your brand fresh in their minds until the next event.
Promoting your own event can be a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun. For me personally, the reward is always greater than the effort.
It is very hard to create a successful event with a very small budget, so if you cannot afford to fund it on your own, ask your friends or some like-minded people to get involved with you.
If you have any tips for promoting an event that I have missed off, please let me know in the comments and I will be sure to update this article after each future event that I promote too.