How To Prepare For Gigs Post-Covid
Just as the end of the pandemic was beginning to seem as unfathomable as it’s conception, the newly-launched vaccination programme has somewhat renewed our faith in the return of live events.
Musicians can finally dare to dream about getting back on stage, into DJ booths and even (touch wood) playing festival stages this Summer.
In light of all this good news, we caught up with international DJ, producer and label boss Plastician to find out how he’s preparing to play gigs post-pandemic, gleaning advice on how you can do the same.
1. Stay Visible
When the initial lockdown began back in March 2020, even when I thought the lockdown might only last a month or so, I immediately thought about how I was going to maintain visibility online.
Personally, I saw the lockdown as an opportunity to draw on my livestreaming experience. Fortunately, I have decks at home so I was able to set up a camera and make sure people could see me on Twitch at least once a week. I’ve actually ended up streaming three nights a week, earning a DJ Mag Awards nomination for my efforts.
Livestreaming is just one example of things you can do to boost your visibility. Uploading mixes, playlists and photos online will also help you stay on your audience’s radar.
If you manage to build and keep visibility over the lockdown period, you’ll find that when promoters begin to book artists again, you’re more likely to pop into their minds than if you'd disappeared over this period.
2. Diversify Your Content
In order to keep your audience engaged, it helps to diversify the content you’re putting out. Even if you’re a known DJ, you can incorporate other skills and elements of your personality in your online content.
For me, I stream DJ sets, music production and sometimes industry chats. Other times, I’ll do something a bit different like a quiz. Finding interesting ways to touch base with your audience will ensure your content doesn’t become predictable and blend into the background.
3. Be A Promoter
Lockdown has seen the introduction of socially-distanced, outdoor gigs. With the vaccine rolling out, it’s going to be interesting to see how many of these continue and what measures the government will introduce to facilitate indoor events.
A lot of the usual promoters who were booking shows pre-pandemic aren’t active at the moment, with many venues choosing to curate line-ups in-house until gigs get back to normal. This being said, I’d be surprised if everything went back to how it was before.
Post-pandemic, I think we’re going to see surviving promoters become more risk-averse, sticking to surefire ticket sellers when making bookings. However, there’ll also be space for a new wave of promoters. When club doors start to reopen, everything might be a little more DIY.
In such an uncertain climate, I’d recommend thinking about putting on your own shows, even if you’ve never done it before. Think about what it would take for you to put on an event: what capacity you could fill, whether you can think of appropriate venues and who you’d put on your lineup.
It’s also worth remembering that the market value of every DJ will have dramatically decreased after the pandemic, meaning some of the biggest DJs in the world could be available at a fifth or a quarter of their usual price.
Though fronting the cash for a show can seem daunting, there are ways to minimize the risk. Rather than straightforward bookings, I wouldn't be surprised if it became more common for acts to accept a percentage of ticket sales rather than set fees. Such deals offer safety for both the artist and the promoter which could become favourable as the industry gets back on its feet.
4. Build Your Social Profiles
If you look like a risky booking at the moment, you’ll instantly become less of a risk by becoming active on social media, building a platform from which you can advertise your gigs.
Social media has always been an important factor when it comes to how to land DJ gigs but I think more so now than ever.
5. Find New Music
One thing I’ve learnt over the years is not to become complacent about digging for new music, even if you’re not gigging as much. If you play in niche genres like I do, you need to keep up to date with what's going on and constantly find music.
Make time to scour SoundCloud or Bandcamp for hidden gems. Once you find them, have a mix with them and get to know them. If you don’t have access to a professional setup, I’d recommend downloading some free software and DJing on your laptop. It’s too easy to get out of the cycle of finding new music and updating your USB.
At the end of the pandemic, you don’t want to end up playing a set that’s pretty much the same set you were playing this time last year before the clubs closed down. You also don’t want to get out of practice. Brush up your skills by checking out Pirate’s Ultimate DJ Guide.
With so much having changed this year, it’s very unlikely that the clubbing landscape as we knew it will come back intact. This could also have a knock-on effect on the sounds we hear in clubs.
DJing at home, to nobody, I’ve been getting a bit more experimental. There are no rules when you don't come on after someone else, or you don’t have a set time, or a particular venue, or club night. If that comes into play more when we reopen, it's going to be really interesting to see what comes out.