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Hi, Doctor Nick! - Free Download Etiquette and Getting DJ Gigs When You Live in the Middle of Nowhere

We've flipped the calendar to 2013 at XLR8R, and while the new year is bound to bring some changes, finding Nick Hook anywhere else but right here on Thursday mornings isn't going to be one of them. For the uninitiated, Doctor Nick is a sort of modern-day renaissance man, and each week he fields questions from our audience and doles out wisdom about music, gear, DJing, travel, production techniques, romance, and whatever else our readers are clamoring to know about. Don't believe us? Drop him a note at doctornick@xlr8r.com and find out.

Happy New Year.

Hope it was fun and safe for everyone. I had the pleasure of playing with Onra, Nick Catchdubs, and Samo Sound Boy. They were all dope.

I know we have taken a few weeks off, but we NEED questions. No you = no me, it's as simple as that. doctornick@xlr8r.com!!!!!!!!!!

Since it's the beginning of the year and we all have resolutions in mind, I just wanted to share something I like to do every year: set goals. Open a note on your phone, or get out a piece of paper and a pencil—whatever works for you. Be broad, dream, reach for it all. I think writing it down and looking at it keeps these things on your mind. I always do life goals, musical goals, whatever. I didn't reach all of them last year, but they are still goals this year, and I have new ones. It keeps you thinking forward. Try it.

Anyways, on to the questions. And remember, send more!!!!!!!!

Hi Doctor Nick,
I lived in Leeds, England for two years and got fully into the house/techno scene there after a few years away from clubs. I have always followed and attended local nights of good dance music, but now I find myself living in the middle of nowhere. I literally live 600km from a city in the Australian outback (Kalgoorlie), as I am working in mining. What are the best ways you would say I could get involved in the Perth DJ scene even though I only spend two to three days there a month? Would it be easy to get gigs from afar and how do I go about it?

Hey Jake,

Shout out to mining. Be careful down there.

I guess the key is just to take your time, meet everyone, and see how you fit in. I'd make a mixtape and throw them on some USB keys or CDs to give to people while you are down there. I'm sure you have probably been to the good parties, so toss them to the door person, the DJs, or the club owners. Buying them a drink wouldn't hurt either. Just be gentle with it, you don't wanna turn anyone off. Offer to play early or late and for free. I'd also try and find smaller spots, or underground radio stations you could guest on. You never know who's gonna show up where, so just try and play. Worst-case scenario, you have a mixtape you can put up on SoundCloud and share with fans/friends/blogs/etc.

Good luck my friend.

Hi Doctor Nick,
This is a question about free download etiquette. I've produced a track that sounds great and I want to get it out there. If I send it to labels, is it cool for me to have the track available for download online somewhere (like SoundCloud or a blog)? Or does that essentially defeat the purpose of getting the track signed in the first place? I can see how this could be an issue with regards to distribution. But it would also be an issue with me sharing the love.

I look forward to your words of wisdom.

In the interest of giving the best answer, I humbly defer to my friend Nick Catchdubs from Fool's Gold. Thanks Nick!

Every label wants to be Columbus. So sure, I definitely want first crack at music that is genuinely unreleased (especially if it's being pitched to me as such).

That said, there's no hard and fast rule to signings. We've released tracks picked up off SoundCloud, and we've given official release to songs that have been "out" but were never snagged by another label. Honestly, outside of a couple "first!" internet types, no one cares all that much. If music is genuinely good when it's put up for free, it will still be good when we give it a proper retail release to a wider audience. Most music is still "new" to the vast majority of people out there, and most music sent in for demo consideration isn't getting signed anyway!

In regards to etiquette though, my biggest gripe isn't SoundCloud freebies. It's people sending "personal" emails with 20 different label demo addresses in the cc field. Or those charmers who cap things off with a p.s. to the tune of "other labels are interested in it, but I wanted to offer it to you" - why, so we can sign a social climber?

If being signed is that important to you, you can learn to be patient enough to wait a bit after sending your tunes to labels before offering it up to the public yourself. In the meantime, there's no reason why you can't give away dope tracks that aren't signable in the first place (bootlegs, tracks with crazy samples, etc.). Or throw up a snippet of an original if you're just that anxious. But it's better to breathe.

Be original, make good music, don't be a dick. Repeat steps one through three. You'll be fine, whether you're signed or not.

Hi, Doctor Nick! appears every Thursday on XLR8R. Do you have a question for Doctor Nick? Please submit your inquires to doctornick@xlr8r.com. Nick Hook can help you.

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