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DJ Yoshi’s DJ/Artist Advice The Art of the Pitch

DJ Yoshi’s DJ/Artist Advice Blog

VOLUME III

Selling Yourself

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During the past 17 years of my “career” I’ve been fortunate enough to play for and at some pretty dope events.
From being courtside with the Nets, in the Booth for the NY Jets, hyping up 55,000+ for a Rutgers Football Game on ESPN, or playing at Fashion events around the globe… I have lived a blessed life thus far, but just because I’m satisfied and content doesn’t mean that I’ve lost the drive to strive for more.
I’m grateful to each and every sponsor that has tapped me for services or bestowed me with treats to utilize their products.
Although I’m not considered “an A-List celebrity DJ,” I’ve been able to make a decent and honest living doing what I love to do… and at the end of the day, I can sleep at night knowing that I did it with honest and smart work.

Along the way, I’ve met a ton of DJ’s, artists, producers and those that aspired to be one of the above. The common question asked is:
How Did you get the ___________ deal?(blank being the current deal that I was working on)
If you’re educated or have some common sense, the answer should be easy… but if you want the easy way out, here’s how I’ve been able to do what I’ve done and hopefully will continue to accomplish!

Keep It Real

Keeping it real can go wrong when you involve the outside world, but be true with yourself. The art of the pitch lies in YOU. If you’re an a**, unless you’re an A-Lister, chances are the people you’re pitching to will look the other way. Let’s be real, who wants to work with someone that’s arrogant?
Sit down and write your biggest strengths and weaknesses professionally, personally and mentally. Then have a good friend or 2 good friends do the same for you. At least you know they’re not hating and will be honest because they respect you.
From learning more about yourself and improving on a solid foundation, you can then tackle networking the right way.

Get Over the ME Syndrome

Most people tend to look and envy others. Being in nightlife, I hear questions or comments like: “he’s a herb,” “He/she don’t do things as hard as me,” How the hell can he be DJ’ing at ________ he’s not as good as me?” or my favorite, “I’m the sh** hook me up.”
GET OVER IT people. You may be hot in your market, but how does your popularity of your single market have a regional, national or global impact?
I try to assess this each week whenever we’re looking at who to pitch to, what services to provide, or just going after club, concert and venue bookings in general. Stop focusing on what others are doing, and think: “why are they a commodity?” “What can I do to make my product or show better than others?”
You’ll find longevity in the fact that you can adapt and be on the forefront instead of following.
Sure there are a ton of DJ’s that I look up to: Irie, Vice, Clinton Sparks, DJ Ran, Five, Entice, DJ Scene, DJ SC, etc, but I try to see how they’ve been able to make a long-lasting impact then I adapt it to what I can do as well as cite my limitations. The ME Syndrome is selfish, and can work for bursts, but it’ll be hard to sustain… plus you’ll be filled with nothing but anger, hate, and annoyance… who wants a life like that?

Real vs. Fake Networking

Yes there is false networking. Many times I see people or have had people just throw a business card in someone’s face and say here you go… then walk away. I see club promoters try to schmooze with venue owners and upper management. It’s like a Meat Market at industry events… YES I do visit clubs, venues, labels and hit art, finance and fashion events whenever I can. I do spend a good portion of my life inside a club, and by now you should have a manager that you can trust to do the networking for you. Bookings and bigger events/contracts will eventually be handled with a manager… but I suggest you be hands on.
When presenting your card, don’t just give it and walk away. Spark a conversation about something… anything. Try to see if you have a common ground somewhere. If it’s an art exhibit, ask about a favorite impressionist, a concert: talk about other shows, industry event: just don’t ask the label or title… engage everyone equally. People get promoted every time.
I remember way back when I met this guy named Hen after I got off the elevator at Bad Boy to visit Harve Pierre. Hen-Roc is now the national director of mixshow and club promotions for Bad Boy. During my days at Universal, Sujit Kundu was in Promotions… Now he’s the founder of one of the strongest & most popular DJ/Artist agencies: SKAM Artist.
Key things: never sh** on anyone because they’re an intern… 99% of the time the intern will work harder and smarter with you because they’re looking for their break too. ASK questions so that you can formulate a better conversation at networking events. FOLLOW UP properly. Don’t be a stalker, but reach out and say it was a pleasure to meet you. ALWAYS be ready to network. If you have a following or are somewhat known, don’t ever put on a show outside of your club/stage show. People talk and all it takes is one bad moment to set you back months or even years of work! Be on your best to be treated like the best.

Selling Your Services

IF you’re looking for sponsorship, attempting to get a new residency or even playing a one off at a venue that you’ve never dealt with… you have to SELL yourself.. and even AFTER you get booked, SELL YOURSELF.

I dedicate a total of 20-30 days to football.
There’s an additional 20-30 days for basketball.
We agree to 15-20 private events each year
During the holidays, most of my time is dedicated to fashion, retail and the corporate world (this past year we did 30 events in 40 days).
Prior commitments to sponsors take up 36 days
I ALWAYS take off 3 days minimum each week (I believe in working smarter to get the job done…and why leave the house for a smaller payout unless it’s for promotional purposes that make it worth it? ie: KEY networking events or high publicity events).
That leaves roughly 52 days of open dates to do.
So are you wondering where the rest of the events that fill my calendar come in? -> WE PITCH

I PERSONALLY reach out to nearly 600 venues, festivals, concert promoters, tour agencies, corporate entities, event planners and party promoters yearly to yield an incredible: 5-10% return of interest. From there we’ll maybe book 50-75% of those. so in essence we’re looking at 2-7.5% return. That’s NOT a great way to do things, but from sending out a week of email campaigns to venues, we’ll take it.

Although I have a great management team, social media team and brand marketing, I personally oversee the proposals.
It helps that I took marketing and management classes while I was at Rutgers for my undergrad.
Here’s what people are looking at.
What makes you different from DJ xyz
Why should we spend money on you?
What else do you bring to the table aside from being a DJ
What’s your demographic

I always view each potential sponsor or venue with the look of: I need to gain market share, popularity and use you for what you can bring… in essence, it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. If you can provide for them and prove why you can be of service… they’ll open their budget to work with you.

I’ll be honest that most of what we work with is by referral. I’ve learned to look at things different.. more like a full time business instead of a quick buck. DJ Irie of the Miami Heat once said, why be like every other DJ that reads music magazines when we can be the guys that are featured in Forbes? It was that comment that opened my eyes on how to operate smarter, better, more efficiently. If you put together a great product, showcase or have a personality that people would love to work with, I’ll guarantee that you get calls and emails that come in for events and bookings that will fill up your calendar.
I STILL do free events a few times each month.
pitching your service to a few hundred legit movers and shakers at a corporate event for NBC or the NYSE sounds pretty damn smart now doesn’t it?
I’ll take a loss for a day and a gain for the year if it means DJ’ing and speaking for people that make decisions rather than just keep inside a club for the same patrons.

Following Up

If you’re looking for sponsors, try to give the company 3-6 months advance notice on the event(s) that you’d like sponsored. If that’s not possible, allow for at least 60 days. Companies run on a marketing and advertising budget and have a certain % allotted for various projects. Don’t be scared to follow up or have your manager or business partners inquire about the deals, BUT don’t badger. Be assertive and confident, but don’t be overbearing.

I know that most of these things were common sense…but hopefully I was able to open some eyes and shed some light on what you can do better. Again, I’m not saying that I’m an expert, but whatever works for me MIGHT work for you.
Stay Grinding DJ’s.

*Next Week’s Topic: Dealing With Success: What to do and what to avoid.
**Posting Friday 2.25.13

Comments

  1. Real talk right here Yoshi… I’ve even overlooked some of these points myself. This is a good reminder of things to do and guideline for upcoming DJs that would like to make this their full-time career.

  2. Good info Yoshi, a lot of guys could use these tools.. I’m continuosly working on things myself

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