Hi, Doctor Nick! - The Secrets of Getting Started and How to Put on a Concert

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Nick Hook has the knowledge. XLR8R is just the place where it's easiest to observe him dispensing it. He may not be an actual doctor, but he has more than enough wisdom to show up every Thursday morning and answer questions from our readers about music, gear, DJing, travel, production techniques, love, life, and more. Have a question of your own? Drop him a line at doctornick@xlr8r.com and let the good doctor work his magic.

Yooooo. I don't got much to say except that I've been working… a lot. Follow my new assistant Leon on Twitter: @_leonkelly. He's a G.

Hi Doctor Nick,
Four years ago, I realized that I had to create music, even though I had never played an instrument. After that, I didn't practice, but I properly closed the chapter of my life where I was supposed to lead a regular life with a suit (I finished my studies). I'm 23 now, and I moved to a new country to do what feels right—I'm doing a job to pay my rent and making music with my computer. It's the same story as many other people I think, but I was wondering, do you have any tips that could save me (and others like me) some time? You know, things that beginners do before realizing later that they were going in the wrong direction. I don't wanna waste time anymore.

What up?

That's dope. I back that all the way. I'm a late bloomer too. I didn't do anything cool or substantial until i was 24, and I never left the country until like a year after that.

Is time really a concern? I think the thing I would say is just really work hard to learn and be in position for good things to happen. I'm 33 years old and I feel like every year my career is just starting. At the same time, I feel like a 12 year old. Focusing on learning to produce, mixing well, DJing well, having finished stuff, or whatever you see your path being is the most important thing. I think coupling that with going out a lot to find the right group of friends, being a fan of others, and studying who's doing well and why—all that. You never know who might call you up and ask you to fill in for a DJ slot, or come to the studio and help. My work with Azealia Banks is a prime example. I just did a friend a favor one day. A friend called me up and said, "Hey, will you help out this girl I'm working with, she needs to record some vocals." I said, "Sure man. Why not?" I never in my wildest dreams thought it would take me around the world, help her get a record deal and become some sort-of hit. I had no idea. I was just in position as "Oh yo, call Nick, he can help."

When I was 23, I was just living in St. Louis and really had no plans to leave, but I was always out and about. Me and my man Hersh were DJing, digging for records, going out to shows, etc. I was making beats by then and was friends with this band Glassjaw. We loved some of the same shit and when they took a break, Todd—the dude that played guitar—asked me to come up to New York for a week and make some music for fun. It was Game Boy music, we broke up like three weeks later and they went back to their thing. Somehow, I ended up moving to New York four months after that, we signed to Warner Bros., and I'm still in New York. Yeah, I was definitely lucky, but I think being in a position for success is really how it starts. Also, be nice. Have fun. If you're a dick and have an ego, you're gonna fail. Fast.

Good luck my dude.

Hi Nick,
I live in a small-ish town in Connecticut. I want to put on concert at a local bar with a huge outdoor patio, one of the biggest in the state. I've been DJing for a few years, so I have experience getting myself booked at places, but I have no idea how to put on a full concert with multiple well-known performers. What's the best way to get started in booking, convincing the venue, promoting, etc. It's a huge topic, but just want to know how to get started.

Go talk to the bar. See if you can link up with any of their alcohol companies for a sponsor. Put a proposal together. Look who might be sponsoring other stuff in your city. It could be Vitaminwater, Scion, Red Bull, or someone else. Find the local marketting rep. Show them what you want to do.

Figure out how much you want tickets to be if you're gonna charge, how much % you get of liquor sales (if you do that sorta deal with the bar), and estimate how much money all of that is gonna bring in. Then find out who books the artists you like—AM Only, Windish, Agency Group, etc. If you only think you're gonna make 5k, then don't try and book someone who might cost 20k. Also, you need insurance, security, and good sound. Think of EVERYTHING, cuz it all exists and if you don't do everything right, the party might suck. Maybe this year you start small and succeed and next year you keep growing. Make sure you are professional in all this. Being organized, easy to deal with, and composing well-written emails will get you headed in the right direction. The booking agents are pros and they will know quick if you are serious or not. Get all that done and then we can work on promoting next.

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.