This will be a series of occasional articles designed to assist artists and DJs in their pursuit of a career in the music industry. Very often young artists and even not so young artist have difficulty preparing themselves for presentation in terms of their live performances, interviews and public interactions. This quite naturally extends to their approach to industry executives. We will strive in these article to give concrete ideas, solutions and resources to help give direction to all who desire and require it. Artist development is and has been dead for quite some time. Long gone are the days when labels would literally groom an artist. Artists were taught what it means to be one and how to engage themselves as such, from dressing and appearance to performance. Much of these things will have the sound of cliche as many are all things that have been heard before…. just not followed. We will begin at the very beginning.
Learn your craft:
How many of you have heard this? All I’m sure, and on multiple occasions. Many however in their rush to “get out there”, be seen on the circuit or in the marketplace to begin their careers and start to raise their visibility on their purported road to stardom, this is the first casualty. There are different shortcuts that can be taken…. this however is not one of them. Whether you be a DJ or artist you have to practice. Long and hard. When I got my first pair of official turntables I practiced for four years before I went out and started charging people for my services. I have been called by many promoters over the years to judge various artist showcases. These are events thats are put on at clubs, lounges or bars where artists perform in a competition for cash or other prize packages. Let me stop here to differentiate between artist showcases and “open mics”.
Open mics are just what they imply, an open microphone where anyone with talent and nerve (usually more of the latter than the former) can get on stage and have at it. Its more for fun and often a little goofy (think karaoke without the screen). While there may be a small cost associated with open mics, artist showcases are more serious affairs. The cost to participate can range from fifty to a few hundred dollars so why would anyone spend the money to enter this type of situation unprepared? That’s just what I’ve seen. Folks that obviously weren’t ready at this stage of their development for this level. It can be voice, delivery, appearance, the choice of song or the elusive quality of stage presence that they are lacking. Lets take the choice of material. Independent artists that I have seen often don’t pick their best material to perform in front of a crowd. They perform the song(s) that they are “feeling” or that have the hardest bars. That should be saved for a battle rap league. Instead thought should be given to which songs can the audience quickly latch on to that have engaging lyrics and yes, a catchy hook. As a unknown artist this is very important as an audience can lose interest quickly. Artists that had potential but were in over their heads at the moment became quickly discouraged at gave up the pursuit of the dream at that very moment. All of this falls under learning your craft, it is just as important for an artist to be able to judge the audience that he/she is performing for as it is for a DJ to read the crowd that they are playing for.
Every artist and DJ with few exceptions wants to make money from what they love doing. This is of course the ultimate career goal. If you feel that you are above the showcase level and ready for bigger and better things like paid shows, please take heed. Every artist I see on social media these days has a number or info if you want to book them for shows or features. After goggling these folks and maybe hearing some of their material it becomes easy to see that that is entirely unwarranted. Charging and expecting payment for a service rendered enters someone into the world of a professional, they have left amateur status. As such its is important and shows respect to both the client and the craft itself when the artist or performer is well versed and seasoned in their chose profession in order to give the customer what they are really paying for and that is a great time and great memories. Before any of that like it or not you have to “pay dues”.
This could come in the form of performing at home or at family gatherings, friends parties, basement jams, local functions, open mics or anywhere the opportunity presents itself. Don’t be afraid to spend the time, energy and effort alone that it takes to get good at anything. It takes practice.
written by DJ Sincere DJ Sincere is the founder of Drtybsmnt Multimedia, mobile/mixtape DJ, syndicated radio host and columnist