Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Musings & lessons on being a dj/promoter

When I started seriously collecting records back in 1995, I could have never foreseen where I would end up. I just wanted to play the records I loved for people that would hopefully appreciate them. I didn't care about branding myself, marketing myself, trying to sell myself to clubs, or anything that today's young deejays are doing. I just wanted to skratch, beat juggle, and play music that wasn't being heard anywhere else.

As a naive young kid, I didn't know how the business worked. I was wide-eyed and optimistic and I thought that I was special. I wasn't. I was unique. I offered different music, but I was NOT special. I still remember my first weekly. It was a Monday night Hip Hop night at Shanahan's in Lafayette on the McKinley Street strip. I submitted a cassette mixtape to get the gig. That goes to show you how long ago this was. I didn't really promote the night, and it lasted about 6 months. Although many more gigs would follow, I'll always remember that one. It was my first and I'll never duplicate that feeling.

My longest running event was "Bucknutty's Skatepark Hip Hop/B-Boy Jam". What was born from a few friends needing to get together to practice dancing turned into an 8 year long monthly b-boy/graffiti/deejay/MC showcase. We drew b-boys, graff writers, and deejays from Arizona to Atlanta. This was where we tried out all of the Mad Cajun battle routines and later the team turntable routines that my crew became known for. We worked in conjunction with the Kubuki Crew to keep this event running strong, and we all share the credit for this event's success.

Fast forward to today, and I've embraced my role as an event promoter, organizer, deejay, and friend to music. This brings me to some lessons I've learned along the way.

The Skratch Man's Rules of Thumb:

1. Know your friends, enemies & frienemies. This is of utmost importance, you've gotta know who's with you, who's working against you, and who's pretending to be down.

2. Respect the OGs. Always pay homage to those who came before you. Always.

3. Recognize the real, expose the fakes.

4. "If you aren't excited about the music/scene/event, don't expect anyone else to be either."

5. Be considerate, courteous, and respectful. If someone sends a message, respond. If someone calls, return their call.

6. All business correspondence should be done through email. Be upfront. In lieu of contracts, this is the best way of recording and documenting agreements between multiple parties.

7. Message boards are valuable resources. Personally I don't take advantage of this as much. (Sorry Geo's board & skratchworx... I'm getting back on soon.)

8. Work with your competitors your create a network which feeds off of itself. Don't intentionally book something if one of the homies is throwing a party. Try your best to let everyone know in advance what you have coming up and vice versa. Conflicting dates sometimes can't be avoided, but try your best to know who's throwing parties especially if out of town talent is involved.

9. Know names. Get to know as many people as possible in your scene. Be grateful to everyone who shows up to your parties.

10. All gigs are successful, even the ones that aren't. In the grand scheme of things its all what you extract from the experience. If you got to & from the gig safely, your turntables worked, & you got to play some records... SUCCESS!! Even if 10 people showed up you were still there, YOU ROCKED IT. That's all that matters.

These are some of the things I've learned in my 15 year journey. I try my best to adhere to these little guidelines. I'm not perfect and sometimes I can be a little harsh, but we're only human, right?

There's room for everyone in this music scene. Support local business, art, music, and expression. Push the boundaries, introduce new things, do more, reach more people. If you don't do it, who will? Spread the love!!!

You can catch up with me on http://www.facebook.com/TonySkratchere and follow me on twitter @tony5kratchere