Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Getting on a promo list and staying there

Take it from someone who knows more than most about promo lists - the act of getting on the list is the easy bit. Staying there and building your personal brand in the minds of labels and artists is the toughest job you'll face as an aspiring DJ. But, in a world of illegal downloads making obtaining tracks easier and promo lists smaller along with an increasing sameness of tracks featuring in DJ mixes and DJ charts, getting on a promo list (and in particular the more exclusive ones) is getting harder for everyone.

The fact is a label is looking for a return on the free music they supply via their promo list. With press/blogs it's far more measurable for a label to see what benefit they've gained by giving their music away. With google alerts it's possible to track chart placings or mix inclusions, as long as the DJ has provided a track listing (and at the risk of going over old ground, if you're a DJ using promo music to promote yourself and you're not supplying a track list then what's the fucking point?).

So, let's accept that the promo business is just that. The label is giving you the music in return for feedback in the first instance. But, these days we've all become so accustomed to the "supported by big name DJ and producer XYZ" that it's value is fading fast, leaving the label looking for much more in a prospective promo list members.

In my opinion a good promo list member is measured on much more than just charts or track inclusions in mixes. It's here the circle of business tends to break down on the whole and human nature to look after your own interests alone kicks in. Let's take UM for instance and my Deep House fans page. Both channels serve to promote new music of a fairly select circle of labels and artists. Like many blogs, podcasts and generic user interest sites it generates no revenue for the operator. But, the objective is to boost sales and on the way inevitably listens for a track. You would expect that in return those labels and artists would be eager to hep promote a weekly radio show featuring their new music or a site promoting their new music - wouldn't you? Think again!

The same is true of promo lists - the track is downloaded and the majority give no real return (i.e. don't get charted, played, posted online etc). Which brought me to this blog post/rant about promo lists. 

Getting on the promo list
The bigger the label the greater the number of requests. And contrary to popular belief an email saying "Hi, I love your tunes can you add me to your promo list" is never going to work out for you.

Any label/promotions company is going to want to know more than that - in essence what they'll get in return, without the bull shit about being the best know DJ in… let's say New Zealand. Don't tell lies, cause we all know someone in every country around the world either personally or via Facebook and checking you out is very easy these days! Don't get caught on first base telling lies.

Keep it short and punchy. Tell them why you'd be a great addition to a their promo list - where you play, the size of your audience weekly/monthly, your future plans, something to give them a sense of why you're a valuable addition to the list. It's here being a good house-keeper pays off, being able to see you have a good online brand, good followers, good links to Soundcloud, RA, Beatport charts etc will help as will having mixes with track listing! (I know, I do go on about it).

Don't expect an answer in minutes either - but don't be too shy to follow it up after a week or so. Maybe with your latest mix link featuring one of their tracks or more - show you're potential. 

Once you're on the list
Okay, you've got yourself on the list. The single most important job now is to be noticed. Actually, cancel that. The single most important thing is not to start sharing the promo's between your DJ mates and beginning the spiral of piracy. No matter how much they badger you - you're the person that did the hard work to get on the promo list, so keep it tight.

Back to getting noticed... This starts with your feedback - decent feedback stands out. "Downloading thanks" just isn't enough. And even when you regularly see "Downloading for Dubfire. He'll get back to you if he likes. Thanks" don't kid yourself that's how to be a good promo lister. So, feedback left, download accessed - what next?


Mixes - always a buzz seeing your track used in a mix - but at the risk of repeating myself, make sure there's a track listing. And in the spirit of working together I think you're within you're rights to expect that label to give you a push in return. If they don't ask them - this isn't a one way street you know!

Charts - a tricky one to please everyone with, and there's plenty of debate about what platforms are worthwhile and which aren't. Beatport, Traxsource and the like obviously offer a direct link to sales, while RA is perhaps more often seen.

Social media - it's a fact a of the business these days that Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and all the rest play a part in the business of selling music - and as I've covered before the importance of a strong personal online brand is paramount for all concerned.

In simple terms getting on and staying on a promo list is about being part of the music business - your reputation lives or dies by it. So many other label owners are on those lists they'll quickly spot someone doing it right and welcome your approach. Remember it's a two way thing, work hard to get those tracks noticed by your fans, friends, followers etc and you'll establish yourself as a taste-maker in no time.


  1. You've done a great service here, sir. Thanks for this. I'll be linking to this for ages to come.

    One thing to add: another incentive to leaving good feedback (other than "Downloading, thanks") is that nice, creative quotes will often be used by the label in their own promotional materials and web sites with credit. Not only is this additional exposure for the DJ leaving the feedback, but it will increase the DJ's chances of getting on more promo lists as the other labels do take notice to who is being quoted (and, thus, serviced).

  2. True 8DPromo - it's a real thrill when you're name gets mentioned as a supported by I have to admit!

  3. Good article, like a life lesson that u get at university


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  5. I run a record lable and its in its early stages. Im looking for a list of email that would be interested in getting some house tech and techno free tracks in trade for some good honest feedback. If your keen to join my list please emaile with the word Promo List and i will add you