Good Vibes Only: Finding your value as an electronic artist

The clue is in the name… Good Vibes Only is a super upbeat project founded by DJ Lady Eliza that’s equipping female DJs with entrepreneurship and business skills. 

When booking artists for her events, Eliza noticed a big difference in the ways men and women approached things.  “While the guys were ready with their press kits at a moment’s notice, it seemed like the girls were way less organised”. An EPK – or electronic press kit – consists of a bio, some photos, links to the artist’s music, social media feeds, and perhaps a logo, and/or links to some notable press releases/ write ups. Other important elements for a successful, entrepreneurial DJ are a short, snappy ‘elevator pitch’ for you and your sound, a coherent and well-maintained social media presence, and good old business cards. As DJ/ Producer Saya from I Am the Music told me during our interview for In the Key of She “You need to leave that person you’ve just impressed with a lasting reminder of you in their hand not in their head – or you’ll just get forgotten!”

DJ Lady Eliza in the mix

The idea of being a ‘business’ when you’re a DJ or music producer is something we should talk more openly about, says Good Vibes Only. It’s nothing to be ashamed of – and Eliza in particular is living proof of this. Having quit a stressful job in the IT industry as a business development manager, she’s now a full-time DJ living in the French Alps. She also puts on the Homegrown Music Stage at Wilkestock festival, is a yoga teacher and when Covid restrictions lift, will be running music production and wellness retreats in gorgeous sunny locations. This lady is most definitely living her best life.  

Valuing yourself, and then selling that value is a big part of the ‘entrepreneurship’ problem for creative people. This is especially so for women, who continually undersell themselves in business contexts because they are less likely to be encouraged to negotiate good salaries in the same way men are. And when they do assert themselves in workplace negotiations, they face a back lash. I’ve had a few exchanges with music industry folks about female value recently. The first was with a friend whose project is finally taking off and earning her a living. She told me “It’s funny – as soon as I started valuing myself, and charging more for what I offer, people seemed to question that less, and be happier to pay”. Another was a post on the wonderful 2% Rising Facebook group that I’ll let speak for itself here… 

Exchange between members of the 2% Rising Facebook group. Reproduced with permission

Perhaps less positively, but no less interesting was an email I had from a prominent underground festival explaining that the reason they lacked a diverse line-up was because womxn are charging fees that are unaffordable when compared to their male counterparts at the same level in the industry. I’m not sure what I make of that statement yet because on the one hand ‘Yay! Go Girls!’ but on the other, I know what at least three of these womxn have been offered by this festival in the past and let’s just say they ain’t getting rich quick any time soon on that money (e.g., you’d pay more to a plumber). 

Being confident in your own value is not helped by the fact that despite generating £111.7 billion to the UK economy, the creative industries are rife with expectations that you will work (very hard) for free, to get ‘exposure’, at least in your early days.  And given how heavily dependent on networks the industry is, there is huge pressure to provide mates’ rates for almost everyone, regardless of how established you become as our 2% Rising member found out the hard way. This kind of free labour trades on people’s love of what they do and is exacerbated by social media and the ‘culture of free’ on the internet. It connects to the issue of income inequality and class too – not everyone can afford to work for free, no matter how great the opportunity, and those who can are creating a norm that further excludes those from more disadvantaged backgrounds. Often those people are disproportionately people of colour, making their struggle even greater. This is why Eliza is so passionate about helping artists realise, cherish and then sell their worth. 

Art and commerce are a combination that can provoke strong views. Artists are often resistant to ideas of their art being commercially attractive, believing that true art should be unsullied by ‘dirty old money’. Ideas of the artist in their attic hovel, suffering for the sake of their craft, yet driven to create still live on in the popular imagination, and can mean that making money from pursuing an artistic life is seen as just a little bit grubby. Artists seek ‘patrons’, not ‘customers’, they create from their souls – not to order. It’s interesting that the creator support app ‘Patreon’ is called that, come to think of it. 

And it’s that perception, Good Vibes Only is out to change.  Even if making money from your music is not what’s driving you, knowing the latest thinking about branding, marketing, strategy and relationship management can help you grow your following, and get your music noticed, played, and shared. To get involved, head over to the Facebook page to join the Good Vibes Only community, and be notified of upcoming events, find out more about DJ Lady Eliza, and listen to her Hustle podcasts. And to find out more about those amazing production and wellness retreats, check out the info on the Good Vibes Only website. 

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