Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The importance of being earnest

Seems I've not upset anyone with my last post - or at least they've not posted crazed rants about me anywhere - it's a good sign (I think). This time I'm taking on another little bugbear of mine - DJ Mixes without track listings.

I've often had this conversation with DJ's, some who get it and some that never will. But the importance of telling people what tracks you're playing is a key step to developing your personal brand and will make getting onto promo lists (if you're not already) so much easier. If you're on a promo list, and not doing track lists, then shame on you! Tut tut.

At UM I've always published track listings. It was the whole idea of the shows - promoting the music to the audience. The music I play is the reason people listen, not the mixing thankfully, and if like me your personal profile is small, the music you choose is one way to get people listening and taking note. When UM started the only way to get on the promo lists was to be sure people knew I was playing and reviewing their tunes - it worked out for me so I must have done something right?

I was always one of those people that had an ever growing list of records I wanted to buy, and always had a ragged sheet of paper in my wallet for any potential record hunt. It was like a religion, writing down a track you heard or read a review of in DMC Update and waiting until it came on sale - the buzz of the chase was everything! (or so it seems looking back). And, in my view the people that listen to mixes are the same now as they were then - hunting for tunes they must have!

Things are a little different these days of course, with shopping carts, blogs, reading list features on web browsers and places like Soundcloud allowing you to favorite a track for future listening. The internet has made finding the track easier, both illegally and legally (but that's another rant). And yet, way too many DJ's still don't see the bigger picture of what they need to be doing to play their part in the promotion cycle and by default building their name organically.

If you're one of the many DJ's working your butt off to get on those promo lists and you're not getting anywhere then the first question you should ask is, "Do I publish track listings?". Chances are by doing so you'll quickly see a growth in your worth to promo companies and labels alike. The second question to ask is "What am I offering the label in return for being on their list?".

For me it's simple. People on my own promo list are the ones that add value to the label. That means people I hope will help promote the release either by playing it in clubs, posting mixes including the tracks (and a listing), liking it enough to post about it on social media, blog about it, review it or chart it on one of the various outlets for decent charts. Obviously not everyone is going to like every release but that's the way it goes.

People that do chart, post, review, play and make it know that they do, get promotion from me in return. Which in turns helps widen their own audience and build their profile - with UM Records I try to post all charts, mixes and press coverage every release gets on the page, returning the favour and so the cycle continues - you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours kind of thing. If you're playing my tunes in a mix, regardless of whether it gets 10 listens and 10,000 it's no use to either of us being anonymous.

With the power of Google Alerts anytime one of UM's tracks gets a mention it flags up to me. That means I don't need to rely on  people telling me every time they do something good for the label, although some are superb at doing that it has to be said. And like all marketing, those people that promote themselves better than others quickly stick in your mind as key people and are more attractive to labels and promo companies.

So, going back to the earlier question and the point of this post… "Do I publish track listings?"

For me a mix without a track listing is pretty useless to everyone involved. As a DJ no-one can quickly assess your taste, and if that first track isn't killer I'm unlikely to listen for much longer. As a label I can't help promote you if I don't know you're supporting me. As a promo company I've no way of gauging your value to listing and reporting back to the label on airplay. And given the mass of mixes out there a track listing often gives listeners a reason to check out your mix over another without a listing.

If you're a DJ posting mixes and you want to get your name out there, then a track listing is essential. Which maybe should be a much bigger future post of how to get on promo lists? (anyone keen?).

My final point on this, if you're one of those DJ's hoping that the odd "Track ID?" comment is actually building your audience and encouraging interaction, you're mistaken. If the other 99% of listeners weren't interested in the tracks then were they really listening or didn't get that far?


  1. Couldn't agree more. Bring on the next post man!

  2. absolutely - as someone with one of those really long wish lists of tracks - and one that grows daily - it is really important for the mixes I listen to to have track lists, if I like a track on there I'll want to buy it, with money, some of which will go to the independent label and the artist - and that's a good thing!

  3. great, promo list help would be good aswell

  4. Cheers everyone - seems this posts hit a chord - next up 'How to get on those damn promo lists'!

  5. Amen to people posting track lists. Huge bug bear of mine too and have spent many hours trying to explaining to people why it's so important. At Kahua we have in excess of 300 radio shows and podcasters on the promo list and, quite simply, the people who provide playlists get more music (Richie being a prime example). I wish more could follow Richie's lead - so many times we get people saying "well the show is online each Sunday at 3am, can't you just listen to hear what I play?" Obviously I'd love to tune in to every single radio show 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but it's not realistic.