Why DJs Are Doing Documentaries Now

2The life of a DJ can certainly seem glamorous, with a lot of time spent out in clubs, listening to great artists, and meeting fun and interesting people, but as with any creative industry, being a DJ also requires a certain amount of self-promotion and marketing.


Guest post by Monika Tudja

Being a DJ can be a sweet life. You get to listen to your favorite artists, spend time in trendy clubs and meet a lot of cool people. Unfortunately, there's also one part of the job that isn't much fun – marketing yourself.

Documentaries Make it Easier for DJs to Earn their Bones

Many DJs have a hard time getting their name out. They have started coming up with some creative marketing strategies. One approach that many are experimenting with is creating their own documentaries.

Lots of people become DJs, because it seems like such a fun gig, but they aren’t prepared for the challenges of drumming up business. David Michael, the editor at Passionate DJ, said that finding new customers can be tough.

“It’s not difficult to start,” David says. “But it is difficult to stand out, and to be exceptional. There is a lot more to becoming a DJ than knowing how to mix one song into another.”

If you want to stand out in this business, sometimes you just have to be bigger than life. Pitching yourself to clubs and wedding planners just doesn't cut it anymore. You need to take advantage of social media to make a name for yourself. Creating documentaries and sharing them on YouTube, Netflix and other platforms can be the way to go.

2These kinds of documentaries aren’t new. An Australian production company created one in 1988. However, they have only recently become popular promotional tools.

A few years ago, vice called DJ Khaled "The best rapper alive." How did he earn this illustrious reputation? Khaled knows how to go big.

This 2014 documentary he made is a great example of that. He spent a couple of weeks in the Bahamas and made a cool video of the experience. He created a more recent documentary that got over 2.5 million YouTube views over the past year.

The new six minute documentary was a silly parody, which really took off with his fans. It started off with his buddy narrating his life. It

“Little is known about his origins, but he was first spotted a McDonalds much like this one here. So let us begin as [Khaled] himself did, here.”

Khaled isn't the only DJ to create a documentary. Steve Aoki created the documentary "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead." DJ Mag said the documentary gave fans the opportunity to learn more about one of their favorite DJs.

“The film has been some three years in the making and was recorded during the making of Aoki's 'Neon Future' double album… The documentary follows Aoki’s journey to play the biggest show of his career and and also focusses on the complex yet loving relationship with his father, the Benihana restaurant tycoon, daredevil athlete and former Olympian Rocky Aoki.

The documentary also features candid interviews with Aoki’s mother and his sister, supermodel Devon Aoki, as well as a host interviews with fellow musicians and contemporaries including Diplo, Tiesto, Afrojack, Laidback Luke, Travis Parker, Pete Tong and Will.i.am.”

Since Khaled and Aoki have had a lot of luck with their documentaries, a lot of others have started making their own. They include:

  • Brian Eno
  • Martin Garrix
  • Flying Lotus

New DJs should take a look at these documentaries if they are thinking of creating their own. They will get a sense of what fans are looking for in them.

Why are More DJs Creating Documentaries?

Khaled and other DJs are creating documentaries because they work. But how do they work? Here are several key benefits:

Stand out in a crowded profession

As David Michael pointed out, the DJ profession has become very competitive in recent years. DJs need to take an "in your face" marketing approach to build a fan base and get new gigs.

Extra income

Documentaries can be a great way to promote a DJ business and earn more gigs. However, there are other ways to monetize your documentary.

If you're a documentaries get a lot of traction, big brands may pay big money to sponsor it. If you publish it on YouTube, you can also get paid if it gets a lot of views. This can be a great way to diversify your revenue during the slow periods.

Build a global fan base

Thirty years ago, DJs typically operated in their own community. They didn’t reach celebrity status until the Internet became mainstream.

Today, many DJs are willing to travel all over the world. This is an exciting lifestyle, but it requires them to really build a fan base beyond the borders of their hometowns. Creating documentaries for Netflix, YouTube and other digital channels is a great way to earn fans around the world. People can even use VPNs to access Netflix from Germany to watch them.

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