When you’re trying to get your music heard, DJs can seem like the ultimate gatekeepers. In some ways they are, but remind yourself that they’re not mythical creatures, but rather humans just like you. The key to getting in front of them and convincing them to play your music is a matter of catching them in the right place and delivering the right message.
Before you start reaching out, create media kits in digital and physical formats. Both versions should have a one-sheet with the most important information about your band, like name, description of the type of music you play, a one line unique bio, and website. If you need help figuring out the details of your one-sheet, check out this post: How to Get Music Bloggers To Reply To Your Email. For the digital version, you’ll want to include a streaming link to one or two of your best songs. It’s usually a no-no to give your music out in any other form than a link, but you’ll also want to make CDs or USBs with a few songs as well. You’ll give these out when you meet DJs face to face as something more tangible than a piece of paper. We also suggest signing up for DropTrack to make sharing your music with DJs the easiest. They can download your music in the high-quality WAV format they need for club sound systems, and they’ll give feedback and support in real-time.
Before you go buck wild stalking club DJs and radio DJs all over the world, remember to start small. Internet radio, college stations, and local radio stations are going to be a heck of a lot easier to get in touch with than trying to get a hold of Ryan Seacrest or Zane Lowe.
Track them down in person
But not in a scary way! Radio stations often set up at events to help promote themselves. It’s super easy to find out where they’ll be because they announce it over and over on the radio. Keep track of where your best bet radio DJs will make appearances and show up with your media kit.
Find ‘em in the club
Check to see if the person you’re after holds their own performances. If so, find a good time to approach him or her, introduce yourself, and offer your media kit. If your favorite radio DJ doesn’t do anything live, check out who is in charge of getting the crowd moving at local clubs and strike up a friendship. Play your cards right, and you may hear your name and track coming over the speakers on a packed Friday night.
At your live shows
In between bands, comb the audience. If you know who you’re looking for, sidle over and introduce yourself. Have a media kit ready and hand it over if the DJ seems receptive. The good news is that you’re already catching them at a time when they’re most receptive to your music; if they weren’t into the type of music you’re putting out, they wouldn’t be there.
Old school snail mail
Stock up on stamps and get ready to Google. Make a list of the radio stations that favor the genre of music you play and find the name of the music director and address of the station. Mail your media kit, including a CD or USB with a few of your tracks. Again, this is more to get attention than actually expecting they’ll go to the trouble to pop it in a computer. You’ll make sure they have preferred links when you follow up with an email.
Skip the DJ altogether
Or rather, go straight to a digital DJ by submitting your music to Pandora. Make sure you have an account, then go through the steps to submit your album for consideration. Pandora’s Curation team will listen and decide if it’s right for their service. They’ll let you know about their decision, either way, so you’re not wondering forever.
Finally, no matter which route you take (although we suggest taking all of them) be sure to follow up, follow up, follow up. This is where your digital media kit comes into play. Send an email referencing where you crossed paths, so they get a reminder of who you are, then repeat all the information you already gave them, but provide streaming links. Of course we also suggest signing up for DropTrack to help keep all your messages organized, and get more insight into who’s actually listening to your music. If you don’t hear back right away, send another email to see if they’ve had a chance to listen. Just like it takes time and many trials to write a song, it’ll be the same for getting your music out.