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Five Things We Learnt at IMS College, Malta

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The third IMS College ran over the weekend (14th-16th September) in Malta.

For those that aren’t familiar with the set-up – IMS College is run by the International Music Summit and its set-up to as a learning space for DJs, producers with panels and discussions.

The two-day college has a learn by day and party by night set-up with big names playing in venues over the whole island – the culmination at the massive UNO Malta with elrow bringing their impressive brand of crazy to town.

I really enjoyed the set-up at IMS College, it’s a smaller, more relaxed affair and I enjoyed more panels than other events. The panels included Beatport’s ‘How to Start a label, ‘Publishing 101’ with Mark Lawrence & Ultra’s Paul Arnold, Mixmag’s Jaguar Bingham hosted ‘The Future of Dance Music’, ‘Tools of the Trade’ – a discussion about which tools you need as a DJ in 2018, ‘Staying Healthy in the scene’ and a panel about building a local fanbase which featured Manu Gonzales, Mambo Brothers, Carl Bee and more.

The other main aspect of IMS College is being based in Malta – it was my first visit to the country and it was thoroughly enjoyable, the contrast between built-up areas and sleepy fishing coves was a delight – it really is a stunning country and the flights are cheap. Some other bonuses for our English fans are they drive on the correct side of the road and have English plugs – all wins in my book.

I’d really advise it for any DJs that want to learn from heads of industry and want to get further ahead in this industry.

I’ve broken down my 5 biggest takeaways from the 2 days for you.

1. The first one is a big one from the ‘Publishing 101’ panel, Mark spoke about not waiting to have a track signed to a label before you register it for publishing, manage your own publishing and you can start earning from your tracks as they are being played.

Once the publisher has your track they can look for sync deals for the track across adverts, tv shows, films and even apps now. These deals could earn you more than the record sales or could springboard your track to a wider market and generate bigger sales.

Publishers also have more contacts at bigger labels and can help you get more traction with labels by working with a good publisher.

2. Manu Gonzalez said, “when you sign a track to a label it’s only the start, you have to keep working and strive for the next”. You have to keep your work consistency high and really set your goals and keep pushing forward.

3. From the Beatport ‘How to Start a label’ panel – there are 25,000 new tracks which are uploaded to Beatport every week. It’s a jungle out there. So really understand your marketplace and where you fit into the eco-system at Beatport.

The label needs to have a look and feel and most importantly a sonic signature. Your branding can change over the years, but the sound remains the same.

4. From the two days, make sure you consider your brand as a DJ, how you look online, how your press images look, what does your logo look like – these are all big things in 2018 and also make sure you invest in your brand to grow it.

Engaged fans are better than big numbers of fans, so reward your fans – use social tools to find out who interacts with your content the most and regular and reward them by sending new free downloads, videos, news first and really value them.

5. From the ‘tools of the trade’ panel, make sure you use video content, get videos of your tracks being played, use live streaming for your DJ sets and some promoters prefer a live mix to a studio mix as it gauges how you play live – out of a controlled environment at home.

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