For as long as there have been DJs there have been mix albums. Sure they used to be mix tapes, mix CDs and now you can stream mix ‘tapes’ online, but they are still the definitive way to define your DJ style. A mix album is your way to tell the world that this is the cool music they should be listening to and shaking their asses to. But this is also an excellent way to make a name in the DJ world.
Your bread and butter may be doing club gigs around the world—kudos to you—but you can take it to the next level by dropping a mix album. If you already have a significant following this can propel you forward in your professional DJ career and if you don’t, releasing an album is the perfect platform to raise your profile.
But before you start recording, there are a few things you should know.
It Starts With A List…
Before you do anything towards making your mix album you need to make a track list, a really really long track list. Trust me you want this list to be at least double the amount of tracks you actually plan to use. Planning out an album requires a lot of planning and things will change as you go forward.
Make your life a tad simpler—because making a mix album is never simple—by creating a wish list of tracks. You’ll see in a minute why you need so many, but you also want to have a ton of options in case your concept changes or you find a track you love more.
The primary reason I recommend you creating an ultra long list of tracks is because you will need to get approval from the record labels. If you choose a very narrow track list and half of those tracks are off limits to you—because the label said no—then you will constantly be starting from scratch.
A long list gives you a lot to work with and it will help you cut down the list until you have a reasonable number of tracks. The longer your list, the more options you have when it’s time to start recording.
Another DJ tip I want to give you here is to, as much as you can, use independent labels. They are way more likely to give you approval to use their tracks, plus it will be cheaper when it comes to royalty payments and those dreaded advance payments.
Major labels can cause an up and coming DJ a major headache.
Work Up A Concept…
What are your primary and secondary goals for putting out a DJ mix album? Do you hope to catapult yourself to superstardom or make obscene amounts of money? If so this is so not the avenue for you. First if I’m being honest, chances aren’t good that this first mix album will make you a millionaire, hell not even a thousandaire.
But if your goal is to build a bigger following, punctuate your style as a DJ and get your feet wet as a producer…perfect. This is especially true if this is your first mix album. You want to make sure you nail the concept and execution and temper your expectations.
This album won’t totally transform your career, but it will definitely improve your profile and gain you some new followers.
Find An Artist To Implement Your Concept
Now that you’ve determined your goals and your musical concept, you will need some help to implement said concept…starting with an artist. Yes even in this digital age where we have no tape or CD to hold, you still need amazing cover art to stand out. Find a great artist, with experience doing album covers, to work with and put your vision to paper.
This is also where you can collaborate with others if you choose or seek out other artists that you feel can help you produce the best album possible.
Then comes the hard part; distribution. You need to decide if you will do a digital only release or if you plan on putting out CDs, actual vinyl records or even a tape…but think really hard about the whole retro cassette tape thing because seriously who has a tape deck anymore?
You do have options here, which is good. You probably have a ton of websites for your digital distribution but you will need to find physical manufacturers and distributors, if that is part of your plan. If you want to sell copies at gigs, you’ll need to have the goods.
Look for manufacturers and distributors who can offer you the best deal. You don’t want to go broke getting CDs made up and distributed.
Now that you’ve done all the really hard work, it’s time to do the other hard work. Promoting the hell out of your DJ mix album is an ongoing activity. Start with your social media outlets and then branch out. Ask other DJs and bloggers to help you spread the word, do podcast interviews and if you can, take out an ad in a music industry magazine.
Promotions and marketing never ends, you just have to level it out so most of your day isn’t spent promoting yourself.
Not that you know how to drop your own mix album…it’s time to start thinking about an album of your own unique tracks!
I hope I helped you organize your first mix album. Email in the box below to get access to Free video DJ lessons that will answer all of your questions on how to become a disk jockey!
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