So, we’ve covered branding yourself and self-promotion as a DJ on this blog before. But there are a lot of different ways you can take your branding to the next level. Modern DJs don’t just play music; they are master producers, editors, and most importantly, digital musicians. Creating a public persona is just one step in the artistic and marketing journey of a DJ. Audio branding is the next step.
You can create a public image or brand with marketing and visuals. But DJs are in the business of sound. How you sound, what your music is like, and how your audience reacts emotionally are as important as visual marketing. A DJ could have the best visual presentation in the world—they could look cool, have a cool website and eye-catching videos—but if their sound is poor? Well, if their music doesn’t reach their audience, then they might struggle to stand out from the crowd.
Sound is one of the quickest ways to evoke emotion in an audience. Musicians and producers are no strangers to this fact. We can all remember the first time a song moved us, made us cry or laugh, or filled us with rage. Music and sound are powerful and evocative, and as a DJ you can use these emotions to your advantage in your marketing. There are three major techniques DJs can take advantage of to market themselves via audio:
- Overall Sound Branding
- Audio Tags and DJ Drops
- Sound Logos (Also Known as Sonic Branding)
We’ll go into more detail throughout this blog.
Overall Sound Branding – Creating a Unique and Memorable Sound
Most DJs are in more than just the business of mixing other artists’ tracks together. Often, DJs double as music producers. They’ll throw their own spin onto existing tracks or create entirely new sounds. If your DJ career is based primarily on music production, you can utilize specific techniques to brand yourself via your music itself.
There are a couple of producers who make the overall sound of their music part of their “brand.” Imanbek, for example, uses a particular style of synthesizer in his remixes. Listeners can immediately recognize him, even if the song is unfamiliar.. Check out a couple of his songs, you’ll see what I mean:
Aviicii too, did this well. His use of a particular synthesizer and keyboard are instantly recognizable:
Even the artist Skrillex you can pick out of a crowd for his trademark wobble bass that defined the dubstep genre in the early 2010s:
Your genre will define some of your sound profile, but other factors can inform your stylistic choices. Think about what you want your audience to feel when they hear your music. Elated? Euphoric? Zen? Energetic? Tranquil? Think about what kinds of instruments or sounds you could use to evoke those feelings. Then you can experiment with different sounds until you create a signature “brand” to your music that’s instantly identifiable to the listener.
Audio Tags and DJ Drops – A Quick Way to Spread Your Name
Another way DJs can use sound to brand themselves is through audio tags or DJ Drops. You’ve probably heard a DJ at a live show drop a pre-recorded “you’re listening to DJ XYZ” or “make some noise for DJ ABC”. These quick audio bites identify the DJ for listeners and can easily become part of a DJ’s overall brand.
DJ Khaled is a great example of this method. His taglines “DJ Khaled”, “anotha one”, and “we the best” are evident in nearly every song he produces. These tags also extend to other mediums, like collaborations and commercials.
Other music artists do this too. Think Pitbull’s “Mr. Worldwide” slogan, or Jason Derulo crooning his name at the beginning of every song. The sounds might be different, but the goal is the same; identify the artist to the listener even if they’re not listening to the music live.
DJ Drops don’t necessarily have to be your DJ name, either, although that’s the most common. Take DJ Khaled’s examples above. His variety of DJ Drops and audio tags make it so that even when he’s featured in a collaboration, he’s identifiable to the listener without having to draw attention to his name.
You can use just about any phrase as a DJ Drop. Again, think about what kind of feeling you want to evoke in your audience. Go back to your overall image as a DJ, maybe your logo or a particular style you want to emulate. Whatever you choose, feel free to get creative! Then you can record your drops yourself in your voice or have a professional voice-over artist produce them for you. Once you have the drops recorded, you can use them just about anywhere to increase your recognition.
Want some inspiration? You can check out NYE Countdown’s custom DJ Drops in our store.
Sound Logos – How Sonic Branding Can Take Your Production to the Next Level
One of the most under-utilized areas of audio branding is referred to as sonic branding or sound logos. Their name isn’t very well-known, but you’ve definitely heard examples before. The best way to describe a sound logo or sonic brand is as a sound that plays in conjunction with a visual logo to create a lasting image in the viewer’s head of the brand.
Still not sure what I mean?
When you see McDonald’s golden arches, do you find yourself humming the “ba-da-ba-ba-ba” that comes before their “I’m Lovin’ It” tagline?
Or are you excited to hear about the latest crime dramas when you hear the “dun-dun” of Law and Order?
All the above are examples of sound logos used in conjunction with a visual logo. They’re quick sound bites, usually a couple of seconds or less, that evoke an emotion or mood and remind the listener of the visual that goes along with it. Sound logos are so powerful that just hearing them alone after creating the association is enough to have an effect on the listener.
DJs can use sound logos along with their visual logo to create a similar effect that these major brands use. This is where you can get creative. Play around with an animated logo and time a synth swell with your logo fading into the screen. Use an instrumental trill with your logo flashing to get your crowd hyped for your set. The choices are yours but combining your visual logo with sound is a great way to cement your DJ brand into the minds of your listeners. It’s also a fantastic way to stand out from the crowd. Sonic branding is powerful and evocative, and it will make your DJ brand unique.
Your Brand Identity is Calling
Whatever you choose to enhance your DJ brand, audio is a logical way to do it. By putting in a little effort now, you can send your image into the stratosphere with a memorable sound that sets you apart from other DJs. Combine an overall sound profile, DJ Drops or audio tags, and an audio logo along with your visual logo and you’ve got the perfect recipe for some memorable sets. So go forth and create! Maybe you’ll be the next name I hear on the radio.