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Hot Topic - The DJ Promoter

PAUZE

TRIBE Promoter
The below quote was taken from an article inside "In The Mix", Australia. I thought I would share this on the forum to get some of Triber's ideas. There's a boatload of this crap happening in Toronto. Being booked to a club based on how many people you can bring as opposed to your talent. What ever happened to the promoter just doing their job of promoting?

Back in May, inthemix asked the question, ‘What’s gone wrong with our clubs?’ The response to the five-part feature series provided plenty of food for thought, with ITMers debating the effect of festivals and the decline of weekly clubbing. However, the topic that generated the most passionate responses was the advent of a ‘pay for play’ culture in club-land, with DJs booked not for their abilities but for the length of their guest-list.

The prevailing sentiment in the feedback to our features suggested this trend was breeding good salespeople, not good DJs – which in turn makes our dancefloors less exciting places to be. Is this an indication of a decline in our club culture, or just an unavoidable reaction to these uncertain times?

These questions were again brought to the fore with an inthemix forum thread detailing an email from long-running Sydney trance flagship Sublime to prospective DJs. The email stipulated that each DJ must bring a certain number of paying friends to the club in order to ensure a set.

However, speaking to inthemix for this feature, Home The Venue’s Sophie Page argues that the reaction was disproportionate. “Sublime was hammered on ITM for having quotas, but it was taken somewhat out of context,” she says. “We are all about our DJs promoting the brand, as well as themselves, so we can build something bigger than a local dancefloor. What we did put in place was a bonus pay scheme so we could get some more dollars into their pockets and motivate them to really push themselves further than through a new event on Facebook.”

So, why did these types of schemes become a necessary measure for some clubs? In the opinion of Page (and several other promoters and venue owners we spoke to), there’s just not the same surety of getting loyal heads through the door as there once was. “From our perspective Sublime was a cult; people went there week after week after week becoming part of the furniture,” she asserts of the earlier days. “There are numerous quotes about Sublime being ‘a way of life’. Maybe the drugs were just better then, but there were some patrons who were beyond loyal.”

A by-product of this new climate has been the ‘promoter DJ’; more committed to sending Facebook invites than building a compelling set. Melbourne’s Tyson O’ Brien – who DJs as Generik and runs new weekly night Super Disco – sums up the sentiment of many in the scene. “These kids have never researched labels, tracks, artists,” he tells inthemix. “They simply go to Beatport, download top 10, burn CD, rock out for fame and fortune. It’s all about who has the most Facebook friends and can reach the most potential punters.” When we took the issue to the DJ Booth forum on inthemix, the response was much the same: pulling a crowd has become more important than distinguishing yourself as a selector.

Of course, this chorus of grumbling runs the risk of sounding like a bunch of jaded types refusing to move with the times. However, the long-standing promoters inthemix spoke to believe it’s a genuinely worrying shift for the scene. As Brand Manager for Onelove, John Curtin has seen it first-hand. “Your average 18-year-old wants to play at key Melbourne venues now such as Seven, QBar and Prince,” he says. “Back 10 years ago, these venues had older DJs playing based on their skills. Without saying ‘back in my day’, it used to be a lot more about quality DJs taking patrons on a journey.”

For most DJs doing the rounds of our clubs, it’s often not enough to simply provide your services on the night. A common alternative to the guest-list quota is the ticket allocation. Instead of being paid a fee, DJs are given a bundle of discounted tickets to sell, with the promise they can keep the profits. This then leads to the deluge of Facebook invite-spam that many ITMers attest is the death knell of the local club scene. Is it that unreasonable, though, to expect to DJs to go the extra distance?

“Good DJs are good DJs,” says Darius Bassiray, one half of Rollin Connection, the duo behind respected Melbourne club night Darkbeat. “If they have some promotional ability, then that is an added component to being recognised. We never demand any DJ bring a certain quota to our events – we can’t speak for other promoters, however. Some of the younger kids are more internet savvy, and separate themselves from the rest by their promo appeal – this is great, but if they cannot DJ well, then we do not book them to play for us.”

Chad Gillard of Sydney tastemakers Future Classic has a similar view. “Every promoter hopes that the acts they’re booking will bring in a crowd in support,” he reasons. “It’s a little rough on the DJs, though, to slap them with a required quota. In that type of situation I guess you’d end up with really good salesmen getting to play out the most and the best DJs falling by the wayside.”

So, what has contributed to this new state of affairs in our clubs? Andy Scally, whose Limelite night has been a stalwart of the Perth scene, presents an interesting take on it all. “In the last 12 to 18 months, club-land has suffered from two things: event marketing and the cult of celebrity,” he muses. “It seems sometimes the motivating factor for kids to hit clubs is just to be in the same room as a superstar or because the show has been marketed as a major event. A great example of this is when I hosted will.i.am in October last year – over 1,800 scrambled for tickets to see an artist not known for his DJing at all. Whereas two weeks later, I hosted DJ Hell and was in a world of financial pain with just over 200 payers.”

Sophie Page identifies a similar shift in Sydney: it’s either big internationals or supporting your mates. “These days, perhaps everyone wants to be a groupie, because people are going out to see their friends play rather than seeing – or idolising – a decent local act,” she says. “I’ve heard of some clubs actually kicking people off mid-set because they can’t really DJ, but happily accepting the 40 to 50 people they brought with them. I don’t know why any venue would put someone behind the decks without accepting a demo – it’s mental.”

Of all the identities inthemix interviewed, the general consensus for the future of the club scene was: ‘back to basics’. As Andy Scally puts it: “The up-and-comer must be super keen, but also have the base set of skills needed. They need to listen to the experienced guys and hopefully pick up a couple of tips.” The question remains though: have we gone too far the other way?
Discuss.

Taken from: Is the ?promoter DJ? killing our club scene? on inthemix.com.au
 

Aleks

TRIBE Member
great topic.

this definitely will hit home with Toronto's EDM culture imho




my only input is i'd rather see a dj who has carved out their own unique style over the years at an under attended event rather than a packed dancefloor with a dj playing tracks from beatport's top 10. All about the music for me. Maybe thats why i rarely go out to EDM events in this city lately... :(
 

PAUZE

TRIBE Promoter
I actually have dj's approach me and say "I can bring like 15 to 20 peeps to your event".

Who cares how many you can bring if you're just gonna clear the dancefloor anyhow?

I'm personally about talent, mixing skills. Show me your skills and I will book you. Be unique, find a genre that suits you. Don't just pick off the top 10 Tech-House Tunes, dig. Research your music/artists!
 

Polymorph

TRIBE Member
This goes both ways

While I'll never be shelling out to see some wanky *top-40* techno DJ who otherwise is guaranteed to pack the place with guidos and overly made up broads etc....

I've also been to some shows (one promoted by my ex-girlfriend here) where, hey, the DJ-with-skills was throwing down a decent tech-house/minimal set, but there were only 30 people in attendance...
and soooo....
how many promoters can afford to flush 2-3 grand down the toilet on a regular basis?

Fact is, I've got several DJ/self-promoter types on facebook here (all good ones btw), and yeah, when it comes to their shows, they work the room with it. Which may come across as *spam* to some, but it gots to be done. Which is also why they get booked a lot. Club owners/promoters see them actively working their fan base, and therefore they are a low-risk bet.
 
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WestsideWax

TRIBE Promoter
Something, something Techno, something something substance-over-style, quality over quantity but still have to pay the bills at the end of the night, something something mediocre clubs with middling soundsystems, etc, etc...

Let's just say that there's fickle, hype-today-gone-tomorrow, watered-down, mainstream club culture, and then there are the parties these partiers will never hear about. Chacun à son goût.
 

ian

TRIBE Member
Obviously when taken to the extreme this is a very bad habit and should not be encouraged. However, I will say that when I used to promote, when given the choice between two *equally talented* local DJs, I would certainly be more likely to book the one who also helped me promote the event by spreading the news to their friends, sending an email to their "list" and asking their friends who wanted reduced etc.
 

Polymorph

TRIBE Member
Obviously when taken to the extreme this is a very bad habit and should not be encouraged. However, I will say that when I used to promote, when given the choice between two *equally talented* local DJs, I would certainly be more likely to book the one who also helped me promote the event by spreading the news to their friends, sending an email to their "list" and asking their friends who wanted reduced etc.
You should add ShaydaKiss here as a facebook friend! Boy, does that sweetie ever know how to work the room.
 
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PAUZE

TRIBE Promoter
This has been going on for years and it needs to stop. I remember when I used to get so excited to go out on Fridays and Saturday, even Wednesdays for that matter.

Now if I don't get to see John Doe play on Friday, I can catch him in several other locations Saturday or Sunday.

I feel that there's so much crud out there now, makes me sick when I see half these guys with Traktor throwing down and making it big. Give 'em a couple of vinyls and see where it gets them!
 

Bumbaclat

TRIBE Member
makes me sick when I see half these guys with Traktor throwing down and making it big. Give 'em a couple of vinyls and see where it gets them!
This seems to be the rallying cry of aging DJ's. Who cares if new DJs can't spin vinyl. It's a dying technology.

How about we give a vinyl DJ one of these....



.. a bunch of these people....


... and see how that vinyl DJ does.
 

Polymorph

TRIBE Member
This seems to be the rallying cry of aging DJ's. Who cares if new DJs can't spin vinyl. It's a dying technology.
There is no dying technology. Everything gets recycled.
well, except for cassette tapes. Nobody really gives a shit about those anymore.
But ya, listening to the *vinyl* vs *serrato/ableton/tractor* argument is one big boring pile.
It's what you do with it. fuk
 

PAUZE

TRIBE Promoter
This seems to be the rallying cry of aging DJ's. Who cares if new DJs can't spin vinyl. It's a dying technology.

How about we give a vinyl DJ one of these....



.. a bunch of these people....


... and see how that vinyl DJ does.

Sorry I always get carried away with that, indeed you are right.

And I am one of those whiny old dj's so what?
 

kyfe

TRIBE Member
I think the biggest problem is the fact people still look for outside talent and don't support locals enough. Having promoted and now djing I'd rather not loose cash on booking someone who can't deliver, and the catch is if you book outside talent there is a huge risk of no return. On way to address this is by utilizing local support to build the crowd, this is where the local dj has now turned into the promoter as well.

I can't wait for the day people go out to party again instead of going to hear the dj, on the plus side I have seen a slow change to smaller events and more local talent, hopefully people will remember to support these nights and most importantly have fun
 
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gl*tch

TRIBE Member
the problem for me is that because the market is so saturated you kinda have to do it all yourself just to get a gig: the promo, hustlin', booking etc...and at the end of the day I don't want to be a promoter/talent mgmt agency. I want to create, party, and dance. All this other *stuff* takes time and energy away from indulging in the passion of creation.

my 2cents
 
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diablo

TRIBE Member
the problem for me is that because the market is so saturated you kinda have to do it all yourself just to get a gig: the promo, hustlin', booking etc...and at the end of the day I don't want to be a promoter/talent mgmt agency. I want to create, party, and dance. All this other *stuff* takes time and energy away from indulging in the passion of creation.
Totally.

Part of what made me step back from DJing and putting on nights was the need to always be grinding to get people through the door. It often became more like a shit job than an enjoyable hobby/passion.
 

slim charles

TRIBE Member
blah blah blah blah

Times change and any business that wants to remain viable must change with them. People holding on to the good 'ol days need to let go. Do I agree with the notion of hiring a less-than-talented-dj who brings 50 people to a night over an experienced dj with less 'clout'? I can go both ways, but for the sake of choosing a side, I will side with the former.

Nobody cares that you learned how to mix on belt driven turntables and nobody cares that you used to rock the room at *insert club/rave here*. It's 2010 and technology has caught up to the dj and people are making use of it. I agree that one should really understand the basics of mixing in order to call themselves a dj but this new generation of punters generally don't care about flawless mixing or crate digging or what-have-you.

It's a different time catering to a different generation who has access to unlimited music online. Them understanding going to Play De or Traxx on Thursday afternoons and waiting for a limited pressing is one they'll just never get. I disagree that promoters/dj's become the norm as opposed to the exception however it appears that for the time being, this is the way it is in many cities.

Adapt or move on.
 

Eclectic

TRIBE Member
I think everyone is getting a bit off-topic.

The argument here is "Skill vs Hype".

Sure, if I was a promoter and a DJ with decent floor packing skill brought 100 people as compared to someone with the same skill that couldn't, I would book the former.

The argument starts when people with little to no skill getting gigs based on the size of their friends list over those who have more ability but can't generate numbers as high.

Just because they know more people doesn't make them better. Except in a club owners eyes.

But who's to guarnantee those people the "Hype" DJ brings out will even drink or stick around after their friends set? Nothing.

It's all a risk and you have to roll with the punches.
 

PAUZE

TRIBE Promoter
the problem for me is that because the market is so saturated you kinda have to do it all yourself just to get a gig: the promo, hustlin', booking etc...and at the end of the day I don't want to be a promoter/talent mgmt agency. I want to create, party, and dance. All this other *stuff* takes time and energy away from indulging in the passion of creation.

my 2cents
Great point. After all my promotion shiz I'm destroyed and don't even feel like going out to mingle, fek.
 

PAUZE

TRIBE Promoter
Can we blame the crash of the rave scene back in the day?

I guess we can't get back to the previous way if peeps arent coming through the door eh? If the skilled aren't bringing in shit and the shit aren't bringing in shit.

And I am adapting to the times, but feel really fake doing so. Trying coax people to come out and see me play every week. When times were good, people were coming out to see a promotion company, not only individual djs playing.

And the other thing is, what is the promoter doing these days? Shouldn't their title be changed to financier instead of promoter?
 
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