Thursday, May 25, 2006

7 steps to becoming a clubbing professional

So you have decided to become more professional. You are doing it to build your reputation and reach your aims in the clubbing world.

What practical steps can you take to get there?

These tips are universal. So a budding DJ can use them just as effectively as someone in dance music PR or promoting a club night. They also apply just as much to the part time flyerer as they do to the MD of a major clubbing brand.

Tips to becoming a clubbing professional

  1. Make a plan – They say that failing to plan is planning to fail. You need to know exactly where you want to be and how you want to get there, and for that you need a plan. Planning is a massive subject (and one I have touched on in the past). If you want to get into the nuts and bolts, drop me a line. But for now, just make a plan. Fill it with realistic and achievable goals, then start doing it.
  2. Start a blog – Blogs are great for personal development. They allow you to write down your ideas and get your experience across to others. Professionals with good, well written blogs are seen as experts in their field.
  3. NetworkSchmooze and make friends with everyone you can. Again this is a massive topic, and a very difficult skill to master (I’m rubbish at it). The two key principles are that everyone prefers working with people they know and like and you have to be genuine. Noone likes false smiles.
  4. Get coached – Top sports performers need coached to get the best out of them. Why should you be any different? While a good coach can be hard to find they are worth seeking out by hook or crook. They can focus your mind, develop your weaknesses and help you see the whole picture. Stay tuned for a longer post on coaching.
  5. Coach others – Coaching others is a great way to development. It helps you put your skills into words and shows you to be an expert. Offer your skills out to help others. It might even become a nicely paid sideline if you get results.
  6. Be organised – It sounds obvious, but actually getting stuff done can be very difficult, especially if you are very busy. Get a system and stick with it. If you are a bit geeky like me (I’m looking a DJs particularly here) you will love setting up Getting Thing Done by David Allen. Even if you’re not, a good system is vital.
  7. Play the percentages – I was never great with numbers, but sometimes they simplify things. Take this example about sliding coins to get a difficult task done. It’s all about using numbers to maximise whatever you are doing.

More on professionalism is coming up, so make sure you subscribe for regular updates.

Some of this guide has been adapted from work by Catherine Franz.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Do you need a favour?

Favours make clubland go round. The whole fragmented, nature makes networking essential.

But networking is a fine art. Not all are as skilled at its subtleties as my mate Vince.

So why not get it all out in the open?

Do you work in the clubbing industry and need favours? (Let’s face it, who doesn’t?)

If you do just tell people what you are offering in return.

And where better to do that than a blog? So lets trade skills.

You might be surprised by the response. Start here by dropping me an email or a comment telling me what you want and what you can offer.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

How to be a dance music professional

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be considered a professional?

You probably have. There are no training courses on how to be a professional in dance music. Which is odd considering the number of jobs and the amount of money involved in the industry.

After all, Professionalism is about more than just being paid.

How do you learn? Read on and you will find out the secrets.

What is a dance music professional?

You could be a small time club night promoter or a DJ, have a PR company with a massive list of clients, run a record label or clubbing website or just be desperate for an industry break anywhere.

It doesn’t matter what you do.

In fact, you don’t even need to be paid by the dance music industry to be a professional. There are plenty of DJs, promoters and clubbers who dip their toes in the pool of clubland without a pay packet.

Being a professional needs a combination of skills:
  • Competence – The basic knowledge and ability to do the job is an essential starting point. You can learn this over time.
  • Reputation – This is much harder than the ability to do the job. It’s the perception by others that you are the best. When someone mentions your field, you are one of the first names on their lips. It’s something that needs to be built, nurtured and defended at all costs.
  • Confidence – This skill is one of the most difficult to learn. Confidence comes with inner knowledge of your own unique skills. You also need to be able to show your confidence to others without becoming cocky.
  • Responsibility – It’s hard to get responsibility if you have never had it. But a bulging portfolio of people who rely on you for your skills is vital to the professional.
  • Respect by Peers – Others in the industry need to see you as both a well of resources and a threat. If you are not on the radar for both those reasons, you are not a professional.
  • Trustworthiness – Trust is difficult to get and easy to lose. When you have it you are all powerful, but if you don’t respect it you can kiss your professionalism goodbye.

How do you get all those skills? Subscribe to this blog and in the coming days you will find out.

Friday, May 19, 2006


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Guestlist available

Don't know what this is all about? Read "How to get on the guestlist" for all the information you need.

Club: Native North East Launch Party
Venue: The Cornerhouse, Middlesbrough
Date: Friday 26th May 2006
More Info:

The concept behind the night is to bring back the excitement people felt when they first started clubbing. The underground vibe that you got in the era just before the commercial peak of dance music phenomenon back in the day was half of the fun. The feeling of doing something different and belonging to something you could call your own. These feelings have been pretty much lost in recent times. That’s why Native is here: ensuring that the main ethos of the night is to bring back the party vibe & clubbing family environment that dance music was so synonymous with in its early days!

Room 1 - Cutting edge Tech-trance built up to ferocious Hard Dance
Room 2 – Uplifting, Tough House & Electro

Pic: Tylor Leigh.

If you want to get into this event for free and you are prepared to take pictures and/or write a review then follow the instructions at "How to get on the guestlist"


Guestlist available

Don't know what this is all about? Read "How to get on the guestlist" for all the information you need.

Club: Sander Kleinenberg launches This Is
Venue: Ministry of Sound
Date: Saturday June 3rd 2006
More Info:

Having road tested the concept @ this years WMC, Sander Kleinenberg prepares to introduce This Is to the UK on the 3rd June @ Ministry of Sound. Fully loaded with an array of secret weapons the ones hell put images to, Sander will entertain us, pushing the boundaries of technology, Djing both audio and video via live DVD mixing.

In the Bar ISSST bring their leading underground electro party with main meddlers Kevin Griffiths, Bobby M and the Swedish house music prodigy John Dahlback, for a night of high-octane entertainment set to an aural backdrop of sleazy electro-techno-acid-house.

If you want to get into this event for free and you are prepared to take pictures and/or write a review then follow the instructions at "How to get on the guestlist"


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Blogs are better for music promotion than MySpace

MySpace should be a no-brainer to spreading the word in the music industry. It’s got squillions of users, most of which are music fans.

That’s why a great deal of clubs, dance music artists and promoters have a MySpace profile. It’s easy to setup and attracts a bunch of ‘friends’ that you can market to.

It’s a free mailing list isn’t it?

Jewel certainly treated it like that when she sent out a bulletin to her fans, including Mack Collier giving away some posters as a promo.

Mack wasn’t impressed. Here was the reply:

Instead of offering $2 posters(eight!), why not give away 100 copies of GOODBYE ALICE IN WONDERLAND to 100 bloggers? And as an added bonus, when those CDs arrive to those 100 bloggers, have them all be SIGNED and INSCRIBED to the person.

How much positive publicity to you think that move would get Jewel and GAIW in the blogosphere? A ton and a half.

How much positive publicity do you think giving away 8 $2 posters is going to get Jewel? Most if not ALL of the people that will go to the trouble to apply for the poster, already have Jewel in their Top 8 anyway.

Which move, giving away 100 signed copies of GAIW to 100 bloggers, or giving away 8 $2 posters on MySpace, is going to generate more publicity for Jewel and GAIW...and ultimately more sales of GAIW?

We both know which will cost more, giving away 100 CDs. It will also require Jewel to set aside 10 mins or so to sign them. But it, unlike giving away 8 posters, will lead to sales.

Isn't that the name of the marketing game here?

It is indeed. Blogs are better marketing tools than sites like MySpace because bloggers are more influential.

Want to know more about using blogs to market dance music? Subscribe for regular updates.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The manifesto for a new clubbing industry

Being different is good. In sales terms, it’s all about having USPs. In personal terms it’s about standing out from the crowd.

How hard is it to do?

In the world of clubbing and dance music it seems to be very hard indeed.

You could use record labels, DJs or club nights as an example but lets use clubbing websites as a case study (after all, I know most about that).

There is massive number of clubbing websites in the UK alone. Some are big, some are small. Without a doubt, all of them are completely interchangeable in terms of content.

Listings, photos, reviews, flyers via email and adverts via text message. It’s a stream of sameness (and often badly written sameness).

Not unique at all.

Clubbers love of clubbing means that poor quality is accepted. After all, they are getting the information about nights and music, even if there is a lot of ‘noise’ in the process.

This needs to end.

This list of demands is my thinking behind how we can do it. While it applies to the web, it can just as easily be transferred to other areas of clubbing and dance music.

The manifesto for a new clubbing industry

Respect - Not everyone into dance music is a crazy madcap clubber hell bent on drug taking. Clubbers will be respected whatever they are hell bent on.

Personalisation - Clubbers will get the content they want on their own terms. We can get the information we want, when we want it.

Privacy - Clubbers will only get information via email or text when they ask for it. All our lives are busy. Interruptions are not welcome.

Community - Clubbers will be able to interact with themselves freely and the people who run clubland directly.

Unique - Clubland is a unique and exciting place to be. The clubbing industry will be just as unique and exciting. In every aspect.

This can happen. We in the industry can make it happen because it will make us more money and be more fun along the way.

Will it happen?

If you work in the industry I’m interested in your comments, especially if you work in clubbing PR, for a record label or as a DJ. Get in touch or add a comment.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What clubbing can learn from cleaning

To be more specific – what club promoters should avoid when designing flyers.

John Dodds tells us the tale of a badly designed flyer for a cleaning company:

...the company have turned off all the people who's worldview is skewed against marketing bullshit and yet has failed to expand on its hook for those who were enticed.
John is right. More so than ever, everyone’s bullshit radar is finely tuned. So while club flyers have traditionally been more about good design and information, they also need to sell as much as an advert for a cleaning company pushed through a letterbox.

So what is the lesson the clubbing industry can learn from cleaners?

Perhaps the answer is to leave it to the experts. Promoters may know how to promote but do they know design, or do they know how to write good marketing copy?

But that leads to more problems. Do you ask a designer or a copywriter to help you? Or do you fork out for both?

How many promoters can realistically do that?

The most effective method is to stop relying on flyers to spread the word. While they have an important place, there are plenty more targeted and permission based methods.

Including using blogging.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The reason for this clubbing industry blog

Blogging has a bad reputation in business. It’s still uncommon to find business blogs, especially clubbing industry blogs.

Mike Sigers may have part of the reason why:

Business people can’t see the profit in blogging.

Mike attacks Bob Bly’s theory on why that is. Quite rightly too. But that still doesn't change the fact that there are not enough business blogs and there are no clubbing business blogs of note.

What we need to be asking is not: "How can we make this guy sound like an out-of-date idiot?"

Which is what Mike did in a very skilled way.

The question is: "What can we do to prove the power of blogging to guys like Bob?"

It seems the message is not getting through and blogging is still seen by many in business (especially the clubbing business) as the place for rambling about pet cats (damn you MySpace). Clubbing blogs are not seen as ways to make money, or even advertise.

Bob is just an example of the work we have to do.

We still have a long way to go.

Stick with this blog by subscribing and maybe we can get there.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Is it worth advertising online?

Critics say that advertising online is a waste of time. Is this a valid argument? Does nobody click banner ads or read spam email?, a US technology site, have a nice (if horribly dry) report of the state of online advertising. It’s a positive report in general, but can we apply it to our little UK clubbing corner of the web?

Yes, with certain caveats.

The facts are that more traditional online adverts are becoming less relevant. Banner adverts and pop-ups are blocked, spam is bounced.

That doesn’t mean the medium is flawed. It means we have to get more creative when advertising online.

Building communities, reputation monitoring, creating a buzz and great content is the new online advertising. While banners and opted in email are a big part of that so are rss feeds, podcasts and blogs.

It’s why, at Gurn, we don’t like selling banners on their own, we like selling solutions that get results.

Are you embracing this? Do you still stick with traditional offline methods? Would you like to know more?

I’d love to hear your opinion.

Link via Andy Beal

My biggest money making secret

There is a secret that has helped me make money. Want to be in on it?

If you are a club promoter or a label owner, you should be considering it.

The secret is Copyblogger and his latest series "Building Your Fan Club" is set to be a big part of how to make a club night or a record label a success (or any other business for that matter).

I have been agreeing with Copyblogger Brian since before I knew I was. So, maybe it’s not so much of a secret.

But who cares as long as you are rich, right?

Related Posts

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Clubbing photo tips

If you take photos for us at Gurn you get to go clubbing for free. Not a bad deal in itself, but if you are going to do something you may as well do it right. Why not take even better clubbing photos?

I'm no expert on taking photos, but I know a man who is. Take a look at the new Digital Photography School blog for tips and tricks and you could be showing off your new found skills in the clubbing picture gallery.

Interested? Get in touch.

Related Posts

Monday, May 08, 2006

Organising yourself and Getting Things Done

Do you ever find the amount of "stuff" in your life getting out of control? Are you sometimes so overloaded with work that you become paralysed into doing nothing?

It's perhaps not a problem for many promoters, certainly not ones I have met, but if you do there is an answer that I have tried and works very well.

For example, ever since getting back from my holiday I have not been able to motivate myself properly and my list of things to-do just keeps piling up. (If I owe you an email… sorry.)

That just makes me even less motivated.

Recognise the symptoms?

Lucky for us both the answer is: Getting Things Done by David Allen.

It’s a system for dealing with things that need doing when it all goes a bit crazy. I have been using it for months to great effect.

Trouble is, even when you are highly organised, you still need to actually do the things: That’s where I have been struggling recently (and the apology for not getting back to you is the subtext of this post if you hadn’t already noticed).

But that’s because I have not been following the system closely enough. So, buy the book, read the blogs (start here) and get organised.

Lets face it, the clubbing industry could do with being better at that.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Guestlist available

Don't know what this is all about? Read "How to get on the guestlist" for all the information you need.


Club: The Priory Hawaiian Ball with Phil Kieran
Venue: Marquee @ CCFC
Date: Sat 13th May 2006
More Info: The Priory's season of summer parties starts with our Summer Ball - a one-off special event in a 450 capacity marquee on Cambridge City FC's pitch!

line up: Phil Kieran, Pete Lever, Sam I Am, The Fish, Mr Burns

If you want to get into this event for free and you are prepared to take pictures and/or write a review then follow the instructions at "How to get on the guestlist"


Guestlist available

Don't know what this is all about? Read "How to get on the guestlist" for all the information you need.

Club: Josh Wink - MoS Sessions Launch Party
Venue: Ministry of Sound
Date: Sat May 13th 2006
More Info: Josh Wink, Yousef, Benny Rodrigues, Marc Hughes, Eden Collective

If you want to get into this event for free and you are prepared to take pictures and/or write a review then follow the instructions at "How to get on the guestlist"


Thursday, May 04, 2006

How to give people what they want

People don’t buy what they need. They buy what they want.

Not sure if you agree?
Coca-Cola sold 500 million cans of soda yesterday. I think a consumer can find a cold beverage somewhere if they really need to… Nobody's going to lose any sleep, no one's going to get dehydrated.

People only buy Coke because they want to and people will only buy records, club tickets or banner adverts because they want to. The rest is justification.

So how do we give people what they want?

It’s a pretty big question, one hopefully you will gradually get the answer to if you subscribe to this blog.

Until then, lets talk about one part of the equation:

Give people what they want by telling them stories

You have to have a great (6x great) product or service in the first place, but once you have that, start telling a story.

It’s part of how Coke sells billions of cans.

It’s a big part of how word of mouth works.

So get started with this guide to telling a great story from Seth Godin.

Then setup a clubbing blog to tell it and encourage your fans/regulars to do the same.

Just one little hint though. Don’t rely on MySpace to do it. Everyone’s already doing that. You want your story to stand out.

Related Posts

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

5 reasons books are great at promotion

Clubbing, dance music and literature. You wouldn’t put them together naturally (a few have tried with varied success).

Which is probably the reason you should consider a book as a marketing tool if you work in the clubbing industry.

It doesn't matter if you do PR, marketing, promote a big dance music label, a small night in Sheffield or are trying to become s superstar DJ. It’s not hard or expensive to self publish, and you are enough of an expert in your field to do it.

Jim Logan, a marketer who knows what works, thinks real, hard copy stuff is simply more convenient. Which is good enough reason in itself.

But if that wasn’t enough:

Love – You can hold a book in your hand and it feels special: More than a flyer or a lanyard. People will love a book. Like vinyl, a book is highly keepable and will be treasured. It’s turning your brand into a Lovemark.

Passion – What better way to show the world (and the people you want to sell stuff to) that you are so passionate about what you do that you can write a whole book about it?

Reputation – People who have written books on subjects are considered experts. Experts command respect. Other people will turn to you for advice. A book could even have your competition paying you as a consultant.

Uniqueness – Face it, even if all the above is a massive lie, who else in the clubbing industry has written a book? Answer: You and Ministry of Sound. Not a bad list to be on.

A word of warning though. Make sure what’s in the book is up to scratch. Content, after all, is always king.

Need a hand with the writing? Get in touch with me and I'll be happy to contribute.

Related Posts

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Should DJs kill themselves?

We may not be sure what Bill Hicks thought of DJ’s but we do know what he thought of marketers:

By the way, if anyone here is in advertising or marketing, kill yourself. No, this is not a joke: kill yourself.

Maybe he would advise DJs the same because DJs are in marketing.

They are selling records as well as playing them. In choosing one tune over another they are advertising it's merits to a captive audience. That sounds like niche marketing to me.

But maybe Bill would give the DJs a break. After all there is a difference: DJs market by passion.

It’s marketing by a belief in a "product" that is so strong the salesman is actually using it at the time.

Not a bad recommendation. If only all marketing (clubland included) had that level of passion, maybe Bill wouldn’t have been quite as funny.

He probably would have been though.

Related Posts

Monday, May 01, 2006

Guestlist available

Don't know what this is all about? Read "How to get on the guestlist" for all the information you need.

Club: Pure Pete Tong
Venue: Ministry of Sound, London
Date: 20th May 2006
More Info: Pete Tong, DJ Vibe, Mark Knight, Paul Harris, MYNC Project, Damien Wilson

If you want to get into this event for free and you are prepared to take pictures and/or write a review then follow the instructions at "How to get on the guestlist"


Guestlist available

Don't know what this is all about? Read "How to get on the guestlist" for all the information you need.

Club: King Roc Launch Party @ AKA
Venue: The End, London
Date: Sat 20th May 2006
More Info:

If you want to get into this event for free and you are prepared to take pictures and/or write a review then follow the instructions at "How to get on the guestlist"


Guestlist available

Don't know what this is all about? Read "How to get on the guestlist" for all the information you need.

Club: Freelance Hellraiser Album Tour
Venue: see below for venues and dates
Date: see below for venues and dates
More Info:

May 27 2006 - Turnmills, London
Jun 3 2006 - "Good Luck Studio !"@Sosho, London
Jul 1 2006 - "Good Luck Studio !"@Sosho, London
Jul 14 2006 - Arches, Glasgow
Jul 29 2006 - Global Gathering
Aug 5 2006 - "Good Luck Studio !"@Sosho, London
Aug 19 2006 - The Secret Garden, Huntingdon

If you want to get into this event for free and you are prepared to take pictures and/or write a review then follow the instructions at "How to get on the guestlist"