We all start somewhere as artists. More often than not, we face the tough prospect of balancing artistic growth with staying financially afloat. Meanwhile, we constantly find clients asking for lower prices and discounts. Unless you're well established, many of your clients starting out nay be working with low budgets.
But money is not the only type of value you can get from performing, NOR SHOULD IT BE. There are many ways to leverage clients with low budgets to grow your own client and/or fan base. The trick is to look for forms of value that stray away from the monetary and into the realm of marketing and filling your client pipeline in the future.
As such, this article is for DJs and Bands who may have low paying opportunities often. After reading it, you will come away with a number of tactics to maximise the value you get out of gigs and build the business behind your artistry more quickly.
A New Mindset
There are a number of diverse ways to take advantage of an event to your benefit from a marketing standpoint. Nearly all of the opportunities fall into the "mutually beneficial category.
As such, the first step is a paradigm shift:
"We are a team. I commit to providing the best service. I constantly seek opportunities to help the organizer, not just as a DJ but as a team member. Only then can I ask for the event organizer's help in return."
If you aren't thinking this way, start. From Jay-z to Hardwell, countless top artists are actually entrepreneurs in disguise. And entrepreneurs live and die by the measure of how useful they are to others.
This applies to you in two ways.
First of all, when you seek to be as useful and helpful to your client as possible, they will, more often than not, start doing the same.
Secondly, between the two ends of the spectrum of helping the client and helping yourself, there's a massive swath of opportunities that advance both parties' goals. This is the definition of partnership and it turns out that there's almost always more mutually beneficial opportunity within the average event project than you may think. Many of the following, concrete tactics fall into this category.
Check out my Private Event marketing page here: https://alexanderpadei.com/private-events It is a great example of proactive engagement. It seeks to provide value to my client even before they decide to book me.
As an artist, it is critical to spread the word about what you have to offer, whether that be more private event performance, upcoming music or other services. You can and should be using an event or gig to build awareness, snag more followers on social media, acquire email sign-ups, sell merchandise and connect with future clients / fans in a variety of other ways.
Here are just a few opportunities to market yourself and extract more value from your event.
- Facebook Event Page Mentions
- Artist name included in event title
- Artist logo included in event banner
- Joint Merchandise (Artist and Event brands combine for limited edition physical merchandise)
- Formal wear (ties, pocket squares, socks)
- Drawstring bags
- Photo Content
- Step and Repeat includes artist logo
- Artist Logo watermark on all photos from event
- Artist name and links mentioned in details of photos in Facebook Album post
- Include artist logo in a Snapchat Filter
- At The Event
- Ask organizers to hand a flyer to everyone who walks in. Offer an exclusive, time sensitive discount on the flyer to attendees of the party (or a referral incentive for the organizers)
- Ask organizers to invite everyone leaving (after hearing your set) to join your mailing list. They could use anything from an iPad (more automatic) to a list held on a clipboard (add the emails to your mailing service, later). Record your live set OR make a mix that you exclusively provide to those who sign up.
- Ask the organizers to email their attendees if they have access to an email list. Offer to exclusively and privately release a DJ mix, record, discount or other piece of content to the attendees.
If you're serious about quickly growing your list of clientele, you need to establish a referral program.
Sometimes referrals get a bad rap because many referral programs don't offer as much or require more effort than they first appear to.
However, if you are committed to providing amazing service as an artist, your new clients will stick with you. If you're new clients are likely to stick with you after experiencing your service, offering strong referral incentives starts to make a lot more sense.
I offer 30% of client revenues for my first gig with a referred client.
"Crazy" you might say. "Too much" you might say. Yes, it's generous. But generosity begets generosity. When you commit to excellence and usefulness as a private event artist, such generosity can reap much more than that first gig.
So, your main challenge becomes acquiring new clients, not keeping them.
Bottom line: If your potential client is low on cash but high on connections, tell them that you can discount them heavily for their upcoming event if they help you book another client. Many of the marketing opportunities I mentioned in the previous section can be paired or incentivized by a referral program, as well.
Discount size depends on the size of the client and the efforts they put in to close the sale for you.
Note: Discounts to can be a useful alternative to a referral fee. The only difference: One provides savings to the potential future client (and makes "today's" event organizer look good) while the other provides financial value to "today's" client. Depending on their goals, use one or the other. Generally for low budget clients, however, it's likely they will prefer an influx of cash over passing that value on to others.
If you don't have a post-event review form, go make one on Google Forms, right now.
If you don't know what questions to ask, you can google queries such as "Private Event musician satisfaction form example" for guidance.
You need to track customer satisfaction as a part of your commitment to excellence and growth. Also, you should include a request to make their review public on a "customer satisfaction" web page on your website.
Beyond being a critical growth and learning tool in your arsenal examples of satisfied clients go a long way in selling future clients with less effort on your part. Remember, serious event planner will ask for references. Sometimes, they'll even CONTACT those references (who would have thought?) and ask their opinion of your services. Having that ready can save you hours and hours of back and forth.
Creating Your Own Opportunities
Notice that many of the above recommendations require proactive effort on your part to create value.
Whether you have a professional team around you or not, you need to have the infrastructure around you to create a wide variety of marketing value.
It's one thing to ask the organizers to hand out a graphic. It's another thing (in a bad way) to ask them to do all the graphic design work. On the other hand, it's yet another thing (in a GOOD way) to offer to make a promo video or photo, design a Snapchat filter, or offer an exclusive discount to event attendees for future performances.
You may not know how to do any of these things and/or not have the team in place. That's easily remedied. Here are a number of online resources that help you provide value as a marketer and designer by simplifying, outsourcing or otherwise hand-holding throughout the process.
Fiverr - Great for outsourcing various digital marketing and other business needs. Edit a video or design a Snapchat filter among (many) other things. I wrote an article on how to leverage this https://alexanderpadei.com/home/blog/every-student-dj-and-entrepreneur-in-boston-should-use-fiverr
Canva - An amazing graphic design interface. Use it to make flyers, social media graphics, invitations and a lot more, very easily. They also have a massive community, Youtube videos and other learning tools
Bandzoogle - Build a website quickly, easily and cheaply. Great for artists, but I have used it to build websites for recurring party series'.
(Note, I made my website with this, along with my consultancy website and a number of other artists)
Paint.net - Paint.net is paint on steroids. It basically does everything that Photoshop does. There's even a plugin that allows it to read PSD (photoshop) files.
Visual Watermark - Cheap software that allows you to bulk watermark photos. I use this EXTENSIVELY
iMovie or Windows Movie Maker - Free Video Editing softwares for Mac and PC respectively.
Filmora - Cheap but effective professional Video Editing software (if you want to get more serious)
Mix and match these resources to edit photos, create graphics, and much, much more. Taking that work off of an organizers hands can open up new opportunities to get your brand out there. Generally, the more angles, the better!
Be useful. Be proactive. Keep learning new creative skills and/or building a marketing infrastructure around you. You get more out of your gigs and events and start moving forward more quickly.
Alexander Padei is a Boston-based recording artist, entrepreneur, marketing consultant and DJ and MC, as well as a recent Harvard Grad. His musical influences and DJ sets span genres and generations making him one of the most versatile DJs in the Boston area.
Feel free to reach out to him for DJ, Producing, Marketing, Design and Event advice via firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Liked the article? Disagree? Write a comment below. Let everyone know what your experience has been trying to develope your business and become more useful as an artist or entrepreneur!)