It’s tough out there in the creative world. Being the best DJ or producer isn’t enough to make you the most successful, or get you the best gigs, or the most money – which is kind of evident from some of the acts that are massively famous at the moment.

Having talent is undoubtedly non-negotiable, but it won’t get you all the way. You need to be able to sell yourself and your work to the people that matter, and self-promotion is an area where some creative types can fall short.

We reached out to some of the important people behind the scenes in the industry to find out what it takes to get their attention and also what you should and shouldnt be doing to avoid ending up as one of the demos that they ignore, or one of the stories that they laugh about with their colleagues.

Originality and authenticity are key and it turns out it’s true that it’s who you know in this industry, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to go out and meet them. The good news is that going to clubs and partying will actually be good for you career.

Here’s the full verdict from some of the industry peeps that make music careers happen.

Be original, be yourself.

“I obviously get sent music all the time. I always look for music that is unique, different and something that stands out.”
- Matthew Hryniuk - Director/Head Booking Agent, One Hit Agency.

“Be original - forget the race to be second. Be authentic - fake it till you make it is bullshit, audiences can smell a lack of authenticity a mile off. Make YOUR music and trust an audience will find you rather than making music to try and chase an audience.”
- Jeff Drake - Head of A&R, Ministry of Sound

“Put effort into what you’re putting out there. You would rather one amazing set/ demo/track that people actually talk about than 100 that no one takes notice of."
- Tony Plowman - Director, TigerStyle

“I love to be put on the radar of artists that have a vision that is unique together with music that you can just tell is THEM. I tend to be very suspicious of artists who tell me they 'want to be like someone else' as it will never happen.

The most unsuccessful submissions come from artists whose product is a complete rip of someone else's, there is no credibility attached to their profile and they tell me they’re 'ready' to be managed and take it to the next level!”
- Pia Del Mastro - Director, One Plus One Agency

Networking is everything.

“There is no perfect way to approach people who are in a position to help you out, but a personal connection always holds a lot of weight. I’m always more likely to listen to something from a known source or if someone I trust has sent it. That is why you should go out to shows and events and get to know people who are a part of what you want to be a part of, start building those personal relationships. Or be creative.

A good friend of mine who is an A&R was playing a DJ gig interstate and after his set he met some dudes who took him to a house party, shouted him drugs, introduced him to a really cool girl and then right at the end of the night they told him they made music and played him their demo. They got signed.”
Jeff Drake - Head of A&R, Ministry of Sound

“If artists are looking to get their music heard via DJ sets or music releases, it’s essential for them to support their local parties, get to know the promoters/crew and then, when the time is right, show them your production. When you are associated with a local club night from the ground level, key Industry people who are also in that crew can help give you that initial push/support and feed your work to labels and A&R's.

I think sending your demos via email and expecting gigs and opportunities just doesn't work anymore. Networking is key, and the easiest way to network is in the clubs."
- Hugh Foster - Head Of Alternative Electronica, Lucky Entertainment; Bookings Director, Revelry Entertainment; Director, Revelry Agency

“The best way to get your music heard by the right people is have it introduced personally by someone, so you need to network. Be professional and be persistent."
- Tony Plowman - Director, Tigerstyle

Know who you’re talking to.

“When I’m booking a DJ the main thing I look at is whether they frequent my event and have an understanding of what the night is about, what music we play and what’s appropriate.

I’ve been sent so many terrible submissions, from absolute train wreck mixes to people sending me hardstyle demos for a deep house night.”
- Paul Azzopardi - Promoter/Bookings/Touring, Soapbox Agency/Nuffsaid Agency

“Someone sent me an email once asking for me to sign them and mentioned they would love to be on Soapbox Agency, but sent it to One Hit. Maybe they should have changed the agency name when sending it to about 10 different people."
- Matthew Hryniuk - Director/Head Booking Agent, One Hit Agency

Have a career plan.

“I am often really attracted to artists who know what they want and can tell me that. It means they are 100% tuned into their vision, their music and what they want from their career. Stick to it, connect well and be involved in the industry that drives you.”
- Pia Del Mastro - Director, One Plus One Agency 

"From an agent perspective, I look for acts that are writing good records and have a plan for where they are going in their career." 
- Paul Azzopardi - Promoter/Bookings/Touring, Soapbox Agency/Nuffsaid Agency

Be pleasant.

“A good personality to go with their writing skills matters, as they will be touring a lot. Having a personality that attracts fans and builds relationships with venues is key.”
- Paul Azzopardi - Promoter/Bookings/Touring, Soapbox Agency/Nuffsaid Agency

“Don’t be a punish. Make contacts and connect, but don't be that annoying person. Be cool, be grateful of someone who gives you their time. Take the time to get know people rather than being all “I’m a legend and I make the sickest shit and you need to make me massive bro."
- Jeff Drake - Head of A&R, Ministry of Sound 

And you’ll have to put in some work, too.

“Put effort into what you’re putting out there. You would rather one amazing set/ demo/track that people actually talk about than 100 that no one takes notice of."
- Tony Plowman - Director, TigerStyle

“Be patient. Take your time to get things right. It’s not easy so don't expect it to be. An artist who is always trying to rush everything is only ever rushing the demise of their own career. Doing things well and to a very high standard takes time and consideration.”
- Jeff Drake - Head of A&R, Ministry of Sound

Good luck compadres!

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