Ask A Promoter
In this edition of Ask A Promoter, we took a trip into Hollywood to ask one of the best promoters around, D-Rock, about how he works with DJs in his market and what DJs need to know to be successful. He is well known for good looking crowds and great parties. He was gracious enough to provide some very insightful answers. He is giving DJs a inside look at the promoters perspective on nightclubs. Check it out to find out why so many people are posting #IPartyWithDRock
How do you choose the DJs you use?
To be honest most people think DJ’s are only chosen based on how good they are. Although somewhat true, “good” is a matter of opinion. When we (promoters) get a contract for a nightclub, all the management/owners care about is what bar numbers we’re going to hit that night. Of course they have an idea of the crowd they want, but either way, numbers to them are most important. We are all there to make money. From the minute we wake up, to the night of the club, we get emails about bottle numbers and how many people we’re expecting. This is so they can staff security and employees properly. If we give them wrong numbers, and they over staff, they lose unnecessary money. That is why everyone plays a big part in the night, including the DJs. We choose DJs based on those that play to our demographic and have a following. When I book a DJ, I like booking someone that my people listen to in that scene. I want someone the crowd is familiar with. The more we can stack people in that scene, the better the financial pull for the night. Don’t forget promoters are not only dealing with the owner pressure, we also have competition from other clubs going on that night as well. As far as a good DJ, we consider them “good” based on how well they can rock the crowd, or the keep bottle service clients happy. Although many DJ’s can scratch, blend, and all that good stuff..this doesn’t mean the crowd will enjoy their set. That’s why you’ll notice many DJ’s in a certain scene get booked over and over again, we trust they know how to rock the crowd. If DJs want to get book, they need to get popular in the scene you want to play, shake some hands and get on some radars, and most importantly, know how to play the music in that scene..
What is the most important factor for a DJ to get booked?
Most important factor is probably going to be popularity or contribution to the club. This goes for everyone, (I’m just being honest). Look at all the big DJ’s out there.. Someone like Deorro is a great DJ but he also will get booked more often because he sells tickets and remains relevant. I’m not saying you need to sell numbers like Deorro or bring a party bus, NO, but if you frequent the scene, and have built a name, then it makes it more likely that everyone on the night combined can pull bigger numbers together. You should know your scene, and make yourself known in it. That’s who we book, the known guys that we trust with our crowd.
Would you hire a DJ you didn’t know?
Yes of course, but they would have to be relevant in our scene. For example, many DJ’s know how to play hip hop, but the Hollywood hip hop scene is different when it comes to styles. For example, our closers usually go on at 1am and play hip-hop mainly for bottle service clients. The DJs know what the clients like and they know the hip-hop scene in Hollywood. This scene doesn’t really like trap house. I’ve witnessed DJ’s go into clubs and play a trap house set to the hip-hop Hollywood crowd and they bomb. They’re good DJ’s, but they just didn’t know the scene and what was appropriate for the clientele making us money. In that scene 75% of your bar will come from your bottle poppers. That’s why we play for them. Some DJ’s may think they rocked a few groups of people at the club, but this is a perfect example someone not knowing the scene and where the money comes from.
At the very least, I would want to hire a DJ I have heard of, or knew of because they DJ in the scene at other clubs. This puts us at ease. I have hired DJ’s that didn’t play in our scene, but I asked them to come to my spot and listen to a closing set first to make sure they knew what exactly we were looking for. I hardly do that though, it is nerve racking. Think about it like this, If the music sucks and the DJ is playing Montel Jordan, the bottle poppers will stop buying and leave. Although some people may like that song, if we lose the bottles, I could lose the contract because of low numbers. Then we’re all out of gigs. LOL It’s all related.
How should a DJ approach promoters?
I honestly think they should approach them with just a simple introduction. Shake hands and say what’s up. There is no need to be fake or kiss up. Create a value for yourself and never kiss up or be fake with anyone. If you create a value, they’ll know who you are.
Who are some of your favorites DJs?
This is an interesting question.. Who I like? Or who I like to hire? I hire based on what I think is going to help the club..I do like a few guys I hire. DJ Hunnid (Benjamin Walker) is good at reading the crowd. I could put him in a Hollywood hip hop club, and he’ll rock the crowd. When you play for a Hollywood hip-hop club, you play mainly for the bottle poppers and a little for the girls. However, in a smaller bar, you play mostly for the girls. I mean, of course you play for everyone but if you’re a DJ, you know what I mean. He may not be the best scratcher, but who cares? Most people get annoyed with too much scratching. If I put a crowd in front of him, he rocks them out and keeps them happy.
What separates good DJs from the rest?
As I’ve said before, many DJ’s are good. It’s not a bad DJ versus good DJ issue, It’s a good DJ versus another good DJ that has a following or is known or trusted with the crowd. Even if you are a great DJ, can blend perfectly, and have great transitions a promoter doesn’t have a clue if you know how to mix for his crowd. Another DJ who is in that scene and works a few other spots in that scene is a more well known commodity and is more likely to get hired.
What tips do you have for DJs improve their chances of bookings?
Look…I know that many DJ’s pour their heart into practicing daily..I’m aware of that… I want to point out that many promoters are aware.. I love old school hip hop, if you play me “don’t sweat the technique” it’s on..But if you play this at one of my clubs cause you think it’s good hip hop, then I’m not sure you know what you are doing. When I get a contract to a club, it’s pressure, pressure, pressure..”Do you guys have any tables, how many people are you expecting?” And yes, I know this is not the DJ’s problem…. BUT, There’s a lot of DJ’s out there that actually will help. No, not by necessarily bringing people (although some do bring in heads), but simply by using their notoriety in and around the scene to promote the event. We promoters have a lot pressure on us, so we book based on building a night. Remember, that’s the big picture. If a DJ comes up to me and says he can mix hip hop, and another DJ who I know has mixed clubs like mine in Hollywood, says he’s interested, who do you think I’m going to hire? Or lets say I’m looking for a DJ and DJ Hunnid has a few bottle clients, but there’s another guy I’m considering who is not known by my crowd and doesn’t mix in my scene at other spots. Who should I go with?
Believe me, it’s not just us, the DJ’s have gotten smart and they made the market competitive. This has happened in every field of music. Pasqual Rotela (creator of EDC) hires world class names to pack 200,000 people in at a festival. He markets it as well.. But how well do you think EDC would do if all the DJs were really good, but unknown commodities? Probably not so well. That same concept and type of mentality works in smaller scenes like Hollywood as well. My advice to the DJs is to know you’re demographic and build a name in it and work with the promoters, at least that’s what I think. =)
Stay Up to Date on his latest moves on Instagram
Thank you D-Rock
Your insights will help DJs every where get a better understanding of night life and how they can be better prepared to help themselves be successful
Check out our last edition of Ask A Promoter