How To Brand Yourself: 12 ACTION STEPS for DJs & music producers

How to brand yourself 12 ACTION STEPS for DJs & music producers

Overview

In this post, I’ll walk you through our 12 action steps on how to brand yourself as a DJ – things that can mostly be actioned either for free or very inexpensively.

It’s not just for DJs, either. Any music producer or musician that’s interested in personal branding will surely find it useful.

Once you fully understand the concept of personal branding, you’ll realise it’s not necessarily about marketing, self-promotion or big budgets — rather, it’s about YOU!

Here’s a quick definition of what it means to develop your personal brand:

Developing your personal brand as a DJ (or artist) is about taking what you’ve already got – your skills and personality, etc – and packaging it up into something more marketable in a way that makes sense to potential fans and employers. It’s basically how you’re perceived whenever someone interacts with you (that’s your brand) – whether in person or online.

An important note to DJs

This post doesn’t just apply to DJs that aspire to ‘go professional’. It’s actually for ANY DJ that takes their online presence seriously, which can also include amateurs and hobbyist DJs, regardless of style or genre focus.

Related post: How To Choose a DJ Name.

At the same time, many of the action steps are not necessarily intended for brand-new DJs. At the very least, you should have some kind of identity as a DJ before even thinking about branding.

Related Post: 3 Fundamental Truths About GREAT DJs.



What’s a personal brand?

Think of your personal brand as an extension of your personality. It’s literally who you are and what you stand for.

A simple real-world example when it comes to how we’re perceived online is when you apply for a job these days.

A potential employer will likely search your name on the web—checking on social media (or LinkedIn in the business world), your website if you have one—and they’ll create a perception of you in a matter of seconds.

As they dig further, they might read some of your comments, see what your hobbies are, look at photos, read your Facebook bio if you have one, and even make a subconscious judgement of who you are based on your profile image.

It’s exactly THIS ‘bigger picture’ (or perception) that others create of you, that on the surface at least, is essentially your personal brand.

DJ branding example -- picture of DJ producer Richie Hawtin in the studio
Apart from thinking about techno and music production, whenever I see or hear or see anything about Richie Hawtin, I automatically think of words like ‘’latest tech’’ and ‘’innovation’’ (Image: Richie Hawtin on Facebook).
example of DJ Branding - picture of DJ producer Richie Hawtin playing live
DJ branding isn’t all about ‘paid’ marketing campaigns – it’s about being yourself.

Why DJs should create a personal brand

When you create a personal brand (which is actually just developing and improving what you already have), you’re lifting yourself up out of the noise, separating yourself from the ocean of ‘’other’’ DJs.

The media will be more likely to approach you for things like interviews and guest mixes, even if it’s just a small radio station or podcaster. From their perspective, you’ll be viewed upon as someone ‘’worth their time’’, appearing more like a leader in your musical niche.

Not only that, you’ll also be able to charge more for your services – putting yourself in a stronger position to negotiate rather than being at the mercy of the person hiring you.

We’re basically turning you into a product in the eyes of potential fans, promoters and venue owners, etc. — making it as easy as possible for people to remember you. (Don’t worry, I don’t mean like some cheese-ball EDM DJ, either!).

Anyone that’s remotely serious about their online presence needs to build a brand these days. It’s not just businesses. And whether you’re a DJ, a DJ/Producer, or any other musical artist; you’re giving yourself a much better chance of notoriety and success if you start getting into the mindset that you’re a BRAND.

Should you use your real name or a DJ alias?

Unless you already have a DJ name that you’re happy with, one of the first things you’ll want to think about is what to call yourself.

You basically have 3 options, which we’ll take a look at:

Option 1: Just use your real name.

Option 2: Create a ‘shortening’ or variation of your real name.

Option 3: Create a completely new alias (a stage name).

For a deeper dive into how to choose a DJ name, be sure to check out this post next!

There’s a number of benefits to using an alias/stage name

Whilst there are some people who love the idea of having their real name ‘up in lights’ (or at least have no issues with it), others prefer to keep things separate by using an alias.

And although it’s not that difficult for someone to find out your real name these days, it still has many benefits.

If you do become popular (or even famous), having an alias will at least create a divide between your personal life and you as a DJ/artist.

Not only that, it’s also a ‘’get out clause’’ (of sorts) in case you decide to completely change direction at some point, which does happen. And whilst it’s something you’ll want to prevent, you can always create another alias.

What about using your real name?

You can, of course, just stick with your real name. Just think of Seth Troxler, Eric Prydz, or even the mighty Carl Cox!

example of DJ Branding - picture of DJ Carl Cox playing live
Pictured: DJ Carl Cox playing live.

Certainly if you’re a beginner DJ that’s still finding your feet, I’d definitely stick with your real name just now rather than getting distracted and procrastinating about creating an alias.

Remember, you can still build a perfectly good personal brand using your own name (Carl Cox being the perfect example!), although at the same time if your name is difficult to spell or hard to pronounce, you might want to think about it.

Obviously Carl Cox didn’t have that problem!

The Eric Prydz example

DJ branding example - Eric Prydz playing live
Pictured: Eric Prydz performing at Hollywood Palladium in 2014

You might need multiple aliases

If we look at Eric Prydz as an example. His techno alias (or brand) is Cirez D, and his music production alias is Pryda. Then he has his overarching parent brand, which is of course his real name, Eric Prydz!

The idea of having multiple aliases is to NOT group everything together, otherwise people will get confused…

If Eric just smushed everything together under the one parent brand of Eric Prydz, what are his fans meant to expect when they hear the name ”Eric Prydz”? A live show? A techno DJ set perhaps? Or are they thinking about his music productions?

He created separate brands because it provides CLARITY for his fans – and because it’s not necessarily the same group of people engaging with every aspect of what he does.

Now, of course, I’m not suggesting you should go out and create multiple aliases. I’m simply saying that your brand should preferably be known for ONE thing only – and that you should communicate that one thing as simple as possible to any potential fans/employers.

Simply put: Don’t try to be ‘’everything’’ to ‘’everybody’’!


How to brand yourself: 12 ACTION STEPS for DJs & music producers

Regardless of whether you’re using your real name or an alias, here are 12 things you can start working on straight away.

As I mentioned at the start, most of the points can be actioned either for free or very inexpensively!

Let’s get stuck in…

Picture of a DJ playing live (how to brand yourself as a DJ)

#1: Research other DJs for inspiration and ideas

All the big-name DJs have distinctive and consistent ‘looks’ and ‘feels’ about them in ALL their interactions with the media and the public.

It’s not just about having a cool logo, it’s about the full package; from the comments they make, interviews they do, and of course the vibe they bring to their gigs – both visually and musically.

It’s all consistent with their ‘brand persona’. Not just how it looks, but also how it makes you feel.

Action step: Pick a couple of your favourite industry icons and see how they brand themselves. Bring up their social media pages and personal websites and have a little dig…

Read their bio’s. If they have a radio show on Mixcloud or SoundCloud then listen to their opening dialogue/intro music. Check out their previous gigs on YouTube where they’ve had the opportunity to ‘visually’ push their brand.

A few good examples would be Eric Prydz, Carl Cox, Deadmau5 and Richie Hawtin.

Think about what kind of message they’re sending out to their fans?

How does their brand/content make you feel?

What exact words would you use to describe each brand? (…maybe make a list).

Notice how they all OOZE authenticity! Remember this from earlier: Think of your personal brand as an extension of your personality. It’s literally who you are and what you stand for.’

This exercise is about getting inspired by the best in the industry. You might even get some good ideas that you can use (and make unique) for your brand.

#2: Figure out what YOUR brand will ‘look like’

Sit down and spend some time figuring out what your brands’ persona might look like. To do this, try to answer these questions below as best you can.

I’d recommend copy/pasting the questions into a document and writing your answers next to them.

  • What type of DJ best defines you? (A Club DJ, a DJ/producer, scratch DJ, mobile DJ, wedding, etc.).
  • What genres or sub-genres do you represent? (Or, what genres do you prefer to mix?).
  • What are your areas of specialization / key strengths? (…this could be a good knowledge of tech, gear setup, marketing, scratching, people skills, social media… literally anything remotely relevant to the project).
  • What makes you different from other DJs in your niche?
  • What do you stand for as a person, and what values are important to you?
  • How do you want people to perceive you?
  • What are your aspirations as a DJ/brand?
  • Where do you see yourself in 12 months or two years from now?
  • Who are your role models in the industry? (Note: It’s perfectly fine to occasionally talk about them in your content. It’s part of your ‘story’).
  • How would you define your typical target audience/fan base? (Again, write this down. What are they into? How old are they? Where do they live? Where do they hang out online, etc?).

You could even brainstorm a list of words that you want people to feel when they see or engage with your brand (like in point no.1).

It could be words like ‘exciting’, ‘inspirational’, ‘dark’, ‘serious’, ‘underground’, ‘sexy’ — it could be anything at all.

Write all your ideas down on paper and then think about which ones are most consistent with your personality and who you are – whether in real life or behind the decks.

Don’t hold back, it’s just brainstorming.

#3: Gather together any relevant photos or media

Go back through your photos (or even video) archives and pick out ones that compliment you and your brand. It can be just about anything that relates to your musical or DJing past.

This will be your hand-picked collection of media to go on any social media pages, your personal website, or anywhere else. As with all of this stuff, you might want to put them in a separate folder somewhere.

What we’re trying to do here is further build a STORY around your brand, making it easier for people to paint a mental picture of who you are!

#4: Create a DJ or artist bio

If you don’t already have a DJ/artist bio, you’ll definitely need to create something, and you can always expand and improve on it later.

Without some kind of bio you’re not going to be taken seriously. It’s also a great opportunity to quickly communicate your story with the world, whilst giving an insight into what fans, employers and journalists can expect from you as a DJ.

Here are some rough guidelines to follow, although it really depends in what context you plan on using it for. A professional DJ bio could include:

  • A catchy headline that adds clarity to what follows
  • Something about your background
  • Something about your musical inspirations and/or mentors
  • A description of your musical niche/style
  • Any of your relevant achievements
  • What you’re currently working on and/or what your plans are for the future
  • A call to action at the end: a link to your website or preferred social media page, or even just an email address for bookings/enquiries

Depending on what you need it for, it’s good to have two versions:

  • Short version (aprox 75-100 words)
  • Full version (aprox 100-300 words)

Even if you’re not a strong writer, I’d still suggest drafting something up and then perhaps getting a friend to edit it (ideally someone with industry knowledge). If you really can’t find someone that fits the bill then consider hiring someone on Upwork.

Whilst this all sounds very serious and rigid, I’d honestly just start by throwing together a draft. Don’t overthink it, and just focus on being direct and authentic! For more help, maybe jump on SoundCloud or Beatport and read a handful of bios from random DJs and DJ/producers.

#5: Get some professional photos taken

This is a vital part of the puzzle if you want to stand out and shouldn’t be skipped over. These photos will (in part) dictate people’s perception of you when they interact with your brand for the first time.

Ideally, you’ll have a friend or a family member with a professional camera who likes photography. If not, you’ll have to shop around online (just search for ‘’professional photography” and see what results you get based on your location).

You should have more than enough information on your brand’s persona by now to put together a short brief!

These photos are going to be absolute gold for using on your website, social media, event flyers, profile pictures and any other important marketing collateral.

Just doing this alone is going to drastically improve people’s perception of your brand.

If you want some inspiration and ideas for the kind of photos I’m referring to, simply Google the name of a popular DJ and click on ‘’images”.

#6: Pick ONE social media platform and get started

Once you know where your target audience (or at least that demographic) is hanging out online, you should focus on getting good with that one platform.

This could be in addition to a dedicated artist page on Facebook, which is still a bit of a necessity.

The important thing is to not procrastinate and just start putting out content, at least a couple of times a week if you can. This way you can start working on some trial & error – getting a feel for the type of content that works for your personal brand.

Just remember, you don’t have to be on every social network to be effective. You’ll only end up spreading yourself too thin and doing nothing ‘’well’’ if you fall into that trap!

Making a DJ logo is going to be essential for use on your website, flyers and social media, etc. You don’t necessarily need a symbol to get started, you can simply create a design for your name using typography only.

So how do you make a DJ logo?

First, you’ll need a font that’s unique to your brand. There are a number of different sites you can use – sites like FontBundles and MyFonts. Just be aware, if you use a free font (more sites include Fontsly and Google Fonts), chances are it will only be for ‘personal use’ rather than ‘commercial use’.

If you’re a serious business entity (and you want everything legally airtight), you’ll want a font you can use commercially. Also, a free font will likely be less unique than a paid one.

Once you’ve found a font you like, you’ll need to get a typography logo created, which can simply be your DJ name written in whatever font you’ve chosen.

If you don’t have a graphic designer buddy to help you with this (and if you can’t do it yourself on a site like Canva), you can always hire someone to do it for you — on websites like Fiverr and 99designs.

Pro Tip: Fiverr will be much cheaper for just a typography logo. If you sign up (for free) and type in ‘’logo typography’’ you can get someone to do it for about $20!

Here are some famous DJ logos for inspiration:

famous DJ logos, DJ typography logos (Ultra Music Festival 2019)
Previous lineup taken from Ultra Music Festival in 2019 (famous DJ logos in typography)

#8 Create a dedicated DJ/artist website

Not only is creating a website cheaper and easier than ever before, but more importantly, it gives you a centre point for potential clients to book you. Think ‘CarlCox.com’ if you were using your own name, or ‘Skrillex.com’ as a stage name example.

The quickest & easiest way is to use a specialist website builder for DJs – sites like Vibecast and SoundJam. You could also try Bandzoogle, which offer a similar solution for all kinds of musical artists.

Even if you’re not ready to create a website yet (and assuming you’ve decided on a DJ name), be sure to lock away the ‘.com’ domain address as soon as possible. You can do this on websites like HostGator and Namecheap.

At a minimum, a good DJ/artist website should include:

  • Your logo (your DJ name in typography will do, although it can include a symbol if you want)
  • An about/bio page
  • A clear way for people to get in touch with you (like a contact page)
  • A clear option for people to enter their email address (which you can then manage through platforms like Aweber.
  • Links to your social media pages.

#9: Create an email account that syncs with your brand/domain name

Once you’ve reserved your website domain (the ‘.com’ address), you’ll want to create a corresponding email address to go with it.

It’s probably easiest to do that with the same company you just bought a domain name from since you’ve already signed up.

If you’ve got this far, well done. Now you’re really starting to create some consistency around your brand!

#10: Do I need to trademark my DJ name?

If you’ve come this far, at the very least, you should have already locked away all the main social media site URLs that you might possibly use for your DJ name, and also secured (purchased) the ‘’.com’’ domain address.

If you’ve done both of those things, then legally speaking (whilst I’m definitely not a lawyer), it’s going to be hard for anyone else to prove they were using that name first.

The second precaution (only applicable if you’ve actually been playing out and using the name), is to keep evidence of payment from your gigs.

You’ll want to keep the earliest examples possible when you started using the name, keeping at least one for every country you get paid in. This is proof you were the first to use it in the marketplace in case anyone tries to make a copyright claim against you.

With all that said, if DJ’ing is your livelihood, then I’d definitely consider getting your name & logo trademarked. At least in your country of residence.

How does that work?

Where I live, you need to apply through IP Australia, although you’ll have to check with the equivalent website/government body based on whatever country you’re in. For the international option, it starts to get a little complicated, and so I’d only consider this if you’ll be ‘billing’ internationally.

IP Australia suggests that the easiest international trademark option is to go through WIPO. But again, I’d check with the equivalent government body website based on the country you’re in.

#11: Put out content, consistently

Once you’ve done the hard work of creating your brand framework, you now have to keep your fans engaged with relevant, valuable content on a regular basis. If you don’t, they’ll quickly forget about you and move on to something else.

Sharing something 4-5 times per week is probably a good target to aim for, although it can be much more than that, say on Twitter for example. In addition to your own content (such as your mix show or personal stuff), it’s likely you’ll have to ‘curate’ other people’s content to make up the shortfall.

‘Content curation’ simply means sharing other people’s content and adding your spin or commentary to it — which is basically what everybody does on social media!

Of course, though, you’ll need to share things relevant to your brand, posting things for their benefit more often than not. Whilst it’ll depend on the personality of you and your brand, funny videos and industry-relevant articles are just a couple of ideas.

Just remember, people are generally more interested in how you make them feel about themselves, so just be careful not to talk about yourself too much, and post content that your target audience will directly relate to.

#12: Get business cards

There are plenty of websites out there for printing stuff and creating business cards… MOO.com is one.

Just remember that the style and THEME of your business cards should also sync with your brand’s identity… of course.


Conclusion

Now, obviously I’m not saying that everyone reading this should take action on everything we’ve spoken about, although I’d hope that most of you can take at least a few things away from this and start implementing them straight away!

Understand that you already have a personal brand; which is why it’s something you can gradually work on and improve as you go, and without the need for a massive budget!

Just make sure you figure out exactly what it is you’re looking to achieve before making any big decisions. Good luck!

Don’t forget to check out my post on how to choose a DJ name. It goes hand-in-hand with this one!

Affiliate Disclosure: To help fund the website, some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you choose to make a purchase we’ll make a small commission from it. This NEVER costs you any extra as a result.

Images courtesy of Rukes.com and Carl Cox / Richie Hawtin on Facebook.

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    Ever since I could get into 'proper' nightclubs, I've loved everything about the underground dance scene. Having always been an avid music collector, the short story is, I used to DJ at a handful of bars & clubs around Europe through the 2000s - playing out mostly lounge, funky house, and open-format/commercial stuff. I’m also the Founder & Chief Editor here at The DJ Revolution.

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