DJ Badger:  The News and the Journal

Entry One Hundred Ninety-Seven.
Saturday, 2016.03.19, 7:57 PM CST.

The kind of promoter I aim to be.
Current Mood:  Hopeful and a bit excited for the future.
Current Scent:  A*Men Pure Coffee by Thierry Mugler.

Well, it's been a decent weekend so far, and life has been really interesting as of late.  On this particular evening, I am planning on going out to the first "Sanctum" event being held by my esteemed colleague Axis at Nitro Lounge.  I'm not involved, but it's got a great DJ lineup and I'm looking forward to it.

I now organize and DJ at two monthly events (Pop in a Blender at Lot No. 6 and Nitro/Gen at Nitro Lounge), as well as a few annual events (An Old School Techno Night, An Old School House Night, and PROG51).  The Tulsa promotions/DJ landscape is certainly changing, and I am proud to be a part of it.

On the non-DJ front, my sons are now four and almost nine years old.  I'm still hitting the gym, but not as often as I used to.  I rarely feel like I have any "spare time," but when I occasionally do, I find myself recording mixes for my Mixcloud page, playing video games, or watching stuff on Netflix.

It is sometimes tough to keep the balance between my "family life" and my creative pursuits, but I am gradually "growing into" this strange part of life in which I am able to pursue my passions a bit more freely.  I still feel a great deal of stress in life, but there are more numerous times these days in which I feel genuinely successful.

This is a rather unusual blog entry; I started writing it around the middle of last year, shortly after I took over the organizational/promotional duties for the ResurXtion events.  Over the last several months, as certain things have happened not only in my life but in the Tulsa DJ scene in general, this essay has grown and mutated and evolved... and I'm finally ready to post it.



I've been extremely fortunate to work alongside a lot of great DJs over the years:  DJ TMJ (off and on since the mid-1990s!), DJ Sea (Sean Kibble), Jessy James, Axis, Khayyim, Robbo, Lynn K, Sokmonkey, Bone!!, Xylo Sesame, Demko, and many others.

I've also worked with a number of local promoters, some of whom were included in the list of DJs above.  Over the time that I've done so, I have had primarily positive experiences, and I've learned something from all of them.

Although I have been organizing my own Tulsa-based events (not counting house parties and the times I've been hired as a mobile DJ) for over ten years at this point, I still consider myself a fairly "inexperienced" promoter.  I'm far more experienced as a DJ than a promoter, and at this point I'm only really interested in promoting DJ shows, not live concerts.

Over the years, I've learned a lot about what (I think) makes a great promoter, and I've also seen some traits that I felt could have been improved.  I'm by no means an expert, and I've still got a lot to learn.

So, if you're a DJ and you ever wonder whether or not you would ever want to work with me, or if you're someone in the "scene" and you're wondering whether or not you should feel comfortable attending my events, here are my eleven primary personal rules regarding what kind of promoter that I aim to be:


1)  My #1 goal is to have fun - not to make a living from this.
I have a day job to take care of the "making a living" part.  I'm not swimming in a sea of money, but I'm able to "make it by" without DJing at all, and I'm not looking to change that.  When it comes to DJing and promoting, money is important - very important -
but my main goal is to throw the most entertaining parties that I can so that everyone, both onstage and in the crowd, is having a good time.


2)  I will never forget where I came from.
I was born in Tulsa, and I have always lived in the general Tulsa area.  I moved back into Tulsa proper in 1999.  I love this city.  I'm not the biggest fan of the city government, and it would be nice to have a little less road construction happening at any given time... but I love Tulsa.  This is my home.

I grew up listening to Tulsa radio.  When I was younger, I bought music from Mohawk Music, and Buttons, and Starship.  I listened to K-107 when I was a kid, and when I found out about Tulsa's KTOW progressive radio in the late 1980s, I switched over to that.  I even DJed in the early 1990s as part one of the most infamous alternative music crews in the Tulsa area, "The Edge of Insanity" (which later became known as the "EOI Network."

When I go out to eat, I want my pizza from Mario's.  I want my Mexican food from La Hacienda or Elote.  I want my Chinese food from Sezchuan Express, or Keo if I'm feeling especially fancy.  I want my cheese fries (no bacon, please) from the Brook.  Feel like coffee?  I'd rather go to the Gypsy than a Starbucks any day of the proverbial week.

Tulsa isn't perfect... but it's a part of me, and I am fortunate enough to be a part of it.


3)  Uniqueness and innovation are imperative.
I have never been a very "go with the flow" type of person.  Even in my high school days, I was rather odd... mainly because I wanted to be.  The status quo in my school were mainly listening to either country music or Guns + Roses.  I was the weird kid in black listening to Depeche Mode and the Smiths and the Cure and Nine Inch Nails.

So, when I put on my events, I'm usually going to try to do something that's at least a little bit different than what you can find elsewhere.

For instance... I probably shouldn't tell you this, but anyone can put on a retro night.  It takes skill to have a good retro night.  The basics are easy - you get some old tunes and you play them, hopefully in a manner that people will hopefully enjoy.

I specialize in retro nights, but I aim to make them different than most, with light shows that often include rare vintage light fixtures and DJing that usually includes mixing from real vinyl records.  I'm never going to walk in and just start punching keys on a laptop to play a few MP3s for people.  (I'll hire "laptop DJs" for my events, though, if I like and respect their work.)

It is not enough for me to just "throw a party."  I have to offer something at least a little different.  If people are spending their valuable time and money to come to an event of mine, they deserve something genuinely special.  That's what I aim to give them.


4)  I will show the utmost respect to my performers.
If you're working for me at a paid event (not a charity or other freebie event), then YOU'RE GETTING PAID, unless you outright refuse.  You'll know at least a close ballpark estimate of what you're being paid (usually the exact amount) long before you ever set foot behind the decks.  Whether it's a paid event or not, then you're going to be treated with plenty of respect.  I'll never ask anyone to do something "for the exposure."  "Exposure" doesn't pay the bills, and any promoter worth his/her salt knows that.

Although I often have a definite clear "vision" of how I want an event to go, I also am open to discussions and differing opinions from my fellow DJs.  It's a team effort, and when you're working with me for the night, we're on the same team.

The DJ industry is oversaturated with clueless newbies, and I only select DJs in whom I have a sufficient level of confidence.  I won't hire "just anyone" to work at my events; yeah, it's supposed to be enjoyable work, but it's not "amateur hour" either.

I'm a professional... but I don't walk around with a stick up my butt.   It's important to me that people are having fun.  Unless I'm stressed out (which, granted, does happen from time to time), I'm usually cracking jokes and doing everything I can to make people - including the DJs - feel welcome. 

So, all things considered, I guess that DJs are supposed to feel somewhat "privileged" to be able to get to work with someone like me.  Whatever.  In reality, I feel the other way around.  I feel geeked when I ask someone like DJ Axis if he wants to work together again and he says "yes."  I am excited when I can reach out to DJs like Sokmonkey, Bone!!, and Morbidkitty in Oklahoma City and have them agree to perform with me.  Knowing that I have solid, established, professional DJs who actually want to work with me makes me really feel privileged... and it tells me that I just might be doing something right.

If any DJs who work with me ever think that I'm not doing something right - if they feel like I could improve somehow, or they want to give me tips and input - as long as they're being civil about it and we're able to talk through things, I'm more than happy to address things and do what I can do make things better.

I want to be continue to be known as someone with whom DJs enjoy working, and with whom they would want to work with again afterward.  That's a big deal to me.


5)  I will never physically assault my performers.
This ties in pretty closely with the whole "respecting my performers" thing, but it warrants its own entry on this list.

I wish I didn't even have a reason to mention this, and it sounds like it would be common sense... but, unfortunately, due to a recent incident in the Tulsa music scene (with which I was, thankfully, not involved), it is apparently worth mentioning.  I haven't been in a physical fight in a pretty good while.  Even if I disagree with someone vehemently, I think that it's always better to solve disagreements with my words, not with my fists or with weapons.

That being said:  If I'm attacked, you'd better believe that I'll defend myself, and the attacker will not be too happy with the outcome.   If someone I care about is attacked, I'll be jumping in to help them.  Luckily, I haven't been in either position in a very long time.

The main thing here is this:  No DJ should ever be afraid that a promoter could abruptly flip out and attack him/her.  That is never going to be an issue for those who work with me.


6)  I will focus on positivity and progress, not juvenile drama.
I used to be one for "scene drama," and I dipped my toe into it a time or two in the past... but I outgrew it years ago.  I would much rather concentrate on putting on the best parties that I can than focusing on woe-is-me negativity.

I accept that life is never perfect, and I can get moody from time to time, but I'm not one to throw public, angst-filled tantrums like some kind of spoiled twelve-year-old when I don't get my way.  Scene drama just isn't my thing; it wastes valuable energy and concentration that I'd much rather apply in a positive manner toward the success of my events.


7)  If my name's on the poster, then I'm putting in my share of the work.
The first club promoter with whom I ever worked (nobody you would know, I can practically assure you) told me, outright, when his first turn in the DJ rotation came around, that he was skipping his first turn in the rotation because he wanted to "socialize."  When his next turn in the rotation came around, he played a whopping two songs and then asked me to continue DJing instead of him because the vibrations from the stage were [allegedly] messing with his vinyl emulation software... so he just couldn't even attempt to go on.  He didn't try to perform for the rest of the night.

I will never treat my co-DJs that way.  If I'm advertised on the promotional materials as one of the DJs for the evening, then you'd better believe that I'm going to be putting in the work just like the rest, unless I have a serious emergency situation arise.


8)  I will never get plastered at an event that I'm promoting.
I'm a bit of a "control freak" when it comes to my own performances.  As my friends know, I don't mind a drink now and then.  If someone I've hired to DJ at one of my club events has a drink or two, I've got no problem with that.

However, moderation is key.

You will never see me "hammered," "trashed," or "wasted" when I am hosting or when I perform as a DJ in a professional setting.  (Heck, you probably won't even see me in that condition even if I'm DJing at a friend's birthday party or any other "non-professonal" event.)  I don't like the idea of compromising my performance in such a manner, and in order for me to give my audiences the best experiences that I can, I need to keep a clear head.  I owe that much to those people who are taking the time out of their lives to come to my events.


9)  I want to be known as a true, honest professional.
The art of DJing is one of the absolute cornerstones of my life.  I've been doing it for over twenty-six years, and it's more than a hobby to me... it is a passion.  It's like something in my bloodstream that I can't shake off.

Thus, my professional reputation in the DJ industry is massively important to me.  It's not something that I'm willing to jeopardize.

Both as a DJ and a promoter, I want people to have a great time, but I also want my performers as well as my audiences to see me as someone reliable that they can genuinely respect.

I'm a real human being.  I pride myself as a professional, but you might occasionally hear me drop a "cuss word," or two, or a baker's dozen - depending on where I am and who's around me at the time.  :)  I will occasionally say things, in person or online, that aren't 100% agreeable... and I'll be happy to get into mature discussions about those things if you disagree.

And, being human, I will make mistakes - oh, I know that I'll make mistakes - but I'll be mature enough to own up to them.


10)  I will try really, really hard to not spam the hell out of people.
If I'm promoting an event, then I have to get the word out.  If people don't know about an event, they probably aren't going to just stumble into it.  So, I have to tell my fans as well as my friends about my forthcoming events.  I can't apologize for that; it's the nature of promotion.  Heck, that's pretty much the very definition of promotion.

However, there are certain things I try to avoid.  I will try, really hard, not to try to put my flyers/posters up on your Facebook over and over and over and over within the course of a day.  You might see me post about an event several times within the week before the event, and you might see me get on a roll and post a bunch of music videos or other items that are associated on an event page within the course of a day, but I will at least try to keep it interesting and not wallpaper your newsfeed with a dozen pictures of the same poster design.


Also, you'll see me tag people who are directly involved with an event.  If I hire DJ Sokmonkey for an event, then he's probably going to get tagged, so that Sokmonkey fans can (gasp!) know about his forthcoming performance.  That just goes with the territory when it comes to promotion.

Here's one thing I won't do:  You WILL NOT EVER see me tag dozens of people in an event post on Facebook just to force their attention.  That is - pardon my proverbial French here - a bullshit tactic.  Tagging sixty or eighty or a hundred people in a promotional post, without their permission, is not only annoying to those people (since now they're all having to click through a notification), but if they still have their settings set to the Facebook defaults, then that means that the sleazeball promoter will now be using those people's Facebook pages, without their consent, to spam their friends for the promoter's event.  When I see promoters doing that, I usually don't go to their events - and I usually unfollow them on Facebook.

And, yeah, as a not-so-esteemed colleague of mine once told me - and I'm paraphrasing here - "...but they can turn it off or tell me to stop tagging them."  People shouldn't have to do so.  Luckily, that's a tactic that real professionals don't do, because it's so incredibly desperate-looking, and - again - it's widely regarded as a bullshit tactic.


11)  I will always be thankful.
If I'm hosting an event, odds are that you're going to see me off-stage, between sets, walking around talking to people.  Of course, I'll be chatting with friends, but don't be too surprised, even if you and I have never met, if I come up and personally thank you for showing up.

My audiences are essential to my success as a promoter and as a DJ.  As I posted in my last blog entry, I feel insanely lucky to have the fans that I have, and I will always be extremely grateful for those people who choose to join me at my events.


So, there you go.  Those are the essential goals that I have insofar as promotion is concerned.

If you are a DJ who has been at it a while (one year of DJ experience at the very least), if you know your stuff as far as music history is concerned, if you haven't stolen/illegally copied your music library like some kind of cheap dickhead, and if you have had some genuine local club exposure (not 100% necessary, but very helpful)... and if you don't act like a douchebag, a prima donna, or a violent meathead, then I might be interested in working with you at some point.  The easiest way to contact me is via my Facebook page.

Many thanks to everyone involved with my events, from the venue owners and staff to the DJs to the audiences.  I couldn't do what I do without your support.