It's a safe bet that most people reading XLR8R are serious music fans, but we also know that a sizable portion of our audience consists of aspiring artists—guys and girls who are toiling away in their bedrooms and spinning records or piecing together beats of their own. That said, there's more to being an artist these days than just making hot tunes. The music world is a complicated place, and there aren't many folks out there who are willing to lend newbies a hand and answer some simple questions about how the game works. That's why someone like Nick Hook is so damn valuable. Every Thursday, he pops in here to shed a little light on the murky topics that our readers want to know about. He's down to help, whether the questions are about music, gear, production, DJing, travel, romance, food, or anything else. Drop him a line at email@example.com and you just might learn something.
Yo. Hi. I'm in a coffee shop. I've been eight million places and my crib is a mess. I also started a new project today.
SF was amazing. I played the best show, with the best crowd, alongside HudMo, Cashmere Cat, Jacques Greene, Om Unit, DJ Dials, French Fries, and more. I wish I could do that everyday. SBTRKT killed it in Brooklyn last week. I also played this ill party where the promoter gave me a bag of mushrooms for free the second I met him. God bless.
I'm back in NYC now and it feels really good. Anyways, I'm gonna get right to it cuz this shop closes soon and I gotta go back to work.
Hi Doctor Nick,
I know you've stressed the perils of emailing tracks to random people. Being in "music journalism" myself, I sure know the pains of getting endless bad self-promo emails. Could you talk a bit about what approach to take when it's time to be proactive? I've been producing for a long while now, and my friends are really supportive, but it's time to try and stir some things up outside that circle. I live in Arizona, so there's not really a lot of cool networking events at my disposal.
Also, being a female, it feels almost impossible to find other girl producers who aren't "above me" to try and connect with. Do you have any suggestions?
I guess it's all relative to decide when it's time to be proactive.
Looking back on things for myself, I think, "Why the hell did I send out those tracks to those people? They suck." The thing is, if you are ready to send music, by all means send it, but don't take it personally when person X, Y, or Z doesn't write you back. Also, don't really pressure them for their opinion. Sometimes it takes a lot of energy to tell someone that you don't like their stuff, and it's almost not even your job to do that.
I get promos everyday from people I don't know or that got my email, and I put them all in the same folder: "DJ Promo." Sometimes I don't listen to ANY, even my closest friends' stuff, and then sometimes I listen to only my friends' stuff, and then one day I might have a bunch of free time and I'll scan thru ALL of them. It's a lot for anyone to wade through, but if your tunes are at least getting into someone's inbox, it could lead to good results.
To be honest. I just went through this. I made a tune with a friend. We finished it. We were super happy with it. I asked if I could send it to X dude and my friend said yes. Mr. X has a dope label, one that's well respected in house and all that. One month goes by. No response. None. I figured, "Why not follow up?" So I emailed Mr. X and said, "Hey, did you hear that track?" He was like, "No. Send it again." I sent it again. Another whole month went by. Then, just last week, I was in California and I was playing it for another friend. He really loved it. We were going to the airport and I got a tweet: "What is up with this song???" And I was like, "How did you hear that?!!?!??!" The guy that tweeted me sent me a link to a mix that X cat did and our track was not only there in the tracklisting, but the credits said "FORTHCOMING ON XXXX LABEL." I was like, "Wow. I guess he got it, and I guess he heard it, and I guess he liked it." That was awesome and I'm super happy about it, but before all of that happened, I was literally like, " Well, I guess he's not feeling it." So yeah, you should definitely follow up, but be gentle, and if they aren't down, who gives a fuck?
I think sometimes those crickets are what motivates you. It's that "Fuck everyone, my shit is better than yours" chip on your shoulder.
As far as the girl producers, I'm not sure to be honest. What's different in reaching out to a girl than a dude? I think you should take the same approach. Just get tasteful and try to make it happen. Good luck my dear.
Hi Doctor Nick,
When it comes to the deep scene, more often than not, UK artists do come here to Chicago; artists like Dusky, Bicep, Scuba, Disclosure, and many more will head to clubs like The Mid and Smart Bar. It's all awesome and exciting, but the problem is that I'm only 18, and the closest I can get to listening to electronic music live is at festivals. To be quite frank, those events really only cater to the mainstream poppy sound, which can be fine, but only in small doses for me.
I'm also a producer and an aspiring DJ and I feel like my age could stop me from actually doing any gigs. Do you think there's a way around this or is the age-old answer of "Wait until you're older" going to have to take place?
This is a no brainer. Get a fake ID. Go sweep some floors at the club so you can hang. Tell them you are the DJ. Tell them you are with Nick Hook. Get a friend that's 30 and people will think that since you hang around him, you must be at least 21.
Don't wait. This whole thing is a hustle, and figuring it out is the key.
I was out drinking in clubs and playing in bands when I was 16 cuz my best friend was like 31. Then I got a fake ID from my dude with his social security card too. When I turned 21, dudes were super mad at me cuz I had tricked them, but I had already been exposed to so much by then.
I actually think your strongest move to get let in without any of that trickery is to have your talent outweigh your age and start getting booked to play places. Then they HAVE to let you in. Most of the time when you are DJing, you just say, "Hey, I'm DJing," and the security guard gives you a pound and lets you in. So yeah, finish up those tracks and get on some slots at the Smart Bar. All of the sudden, everyone will know you and you'll be walking right in there.
Aite. I'm off.
Hi, Doctor Nick! appears every Thursday on XLR8R. Do you have a question for Doctor Nick? Please submit your inquires to firstname.lastname@example.org. Nick Hook can help you.