Industry Tips from Talent Buyer and Artist Manager Will Runzel
Given today’s technology, there is little debate that almost anyone can learn how to DJ within a matter of weeks. So what separates permanent house party DJs from those taking to the stages of HARD, Ultra, and EDC? A decent repertoire, re-blogged remixes, and affable personality are musts, but without a support team that can place press releases and remixes in the inboxes that matter, all those artistic endeavors could be for naught. Slander and Bixel Boys are two acts who had massive festival opportunities in 2014, and both share a major asset: general manager William Runzel. His success extends off the stage.
Anyone that followed New York Fashion Week probably saw the photo of Skrillex performing while Diplo and Madonna looked on. When the photo hit socials, millions of music obsessives also took notice of the #FREELIFE shirt Skrillex was rocking: a shirt that Runzel sent to the Grammy-winning producer ahead of the week’s events. The photo opportunity was a massive PR boom for Bixel Boys, but more importantly, it was great exposure for the charitable sales of the apparel. According to a recent Facebook post, the duo sold more than 2,800 shirts, with all of the proceeds going to support Camp Kesem.
So that we can all become more productive members of the dance music community, I reached out to Runzel hoping he could offer some quick tips. He did even better, sharing 20 tips for future professionals that he had to learn the hard way.
Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got into the Music Industry (That I Know Now)
1) No one wants to “hop on a call” unless the reasons for such are strictly outlined.
2) Always offer someone something before asking them for anything.
3) Never pitch acts to agents or bloggers unless you have a solid relationship; both parties enjoy thinking they found an act/song first. Once you pitch them, it loses its allure. (Once you have a relationship based on success and trust, this will change.)
4) If you go to a lunch or dinner meeting with someone you can learn from (no matter how broke you are), always insist (at least once) on taking care of the entire bill.
5) Seek people out who you can learn from or who can help you and offer to buy them lunch and bring a notepad and a list of questions you want answered (make sure to ask them if they mind if you “pick their brain”).
6) Offer free labor in exchange for knowledge and connections. Always be an intern first; generally, if you get a paid gig as your first work in music, it is likely a dead-end job with no upward mobility.
7) Organize people you meet either on Facebook or in your address book, and do so diligently.
8) Infrastructure and organization are key. You can jet ahead by being organized — because generally speaking, no one else will be.
9) The one thing under your complete control is how hard you work. Make sure to outwork everyone — just make sure you are efficient with your time.
10) When networking at events, make sure to never be visibly intoxicated in any way. Keep in mind that if you work in music, this pertains to pretty much every single “event.”
11) Be humble to a fault.
12) Treat everyone with respect, no matter how high they are on the totem poll.
13) Respond urgently to urgent things and respond within 48 hours to everything (that includes weekends) at bare minimum. If you work for a fast paced company I suggest checking your email every 3 hours and trying to respond swiftly to everything – it shows you care and are passionate about your projects, even if unnecessary. Oh, and, as often as you can, work weekends (sorry). Use that time to plan out your week and clean your email inbox.
14) Always be polite, especially in emails. Make sure to be overly polite.
15) Have your peers re-read important emails to make sure you are coming off the way you intend to.
16) Remember that your career will most likely be upwards of 30 years and that the community in which you work is extremely small. Make no enemies, burn no bridges.
17) Always swallow your pride and be the bigger person when the shit hits the fan.
18) Music is 100% subjective.
19) Be a good person and good things will happen to you.
20) Success is not about luck or strategy; it’s about capitalizing on your opportunities and efficiently outworking your competition.
Follow Hashtag | JukeLife to stay up to date on all the talents that Runzel is helping break.
Check out the next volume of The Drop for a detailed history of outrun and more EDM indulgence.