Never discount the power of being in the right place at the right time
When I started out I was 14 DJing at parties. I’d charge R200 per gig, and pay my dad R100 to ‘rent’ his sound system and pay back equipment that he’d bought for me. I had R100 left to buy music.
Even then, everything I earned went back into the business. As I grew older, I started going to clubs, always paying attention to the latest acts and introducing myself to managers and club owners.
My big break came because I was at a big club in Midrand when the DJ didn’t pitch. I had all my gear in my car (I always did), and the manager asked if I could fill in. After that, I finally started securing gigs myself, and the rest is history.
I set up my business in 2005
I’ll only be an in-demand DJ for so long, and I need to think about what comes next. Euphonik Productions is therefore about much more than just the artist.
I pay myself a salary, and everything goes through the business, from endorsements to albums, gigs and even events. I understand how events should work and what goes into them, so this is a big area that the business focuses on, and has nothing to do with me as an artist.
It also means we have multiple revenue streams, as I could be playing in one venue, but an event is taking place simultaneously with artists who we’ve hired. I’m leveraging off my brand now to build a sustainable business for the future.
I’m all about seizing the moment
I believe you need to be constantly staying on top of trends. One of the things I noticed for example, was that whenever we did under-18 parties, everyone was wearing Superga footwear.
I approached the brand and pitched an idea about co-branded sneakers. My philosophy is to catch them while they’re young, and they’ll support you later. I’m also a big believer in brands leveraging off each other. If there’s a synergy, find it and make it work for you and the consumer.
I like to watch other industries and find solutions that aren’t the norm in my own
For example, big brands buy billboards at the airport, so why don’t we? As DJs, we’re always waiting for someone else to promote us, but we never promote ourselves.
I’ve purchased billboard space at the airport out of my own pocket to build personal brand awareness. The ROI is hard to track, but I’m determined to do everything I can to grow my image.
We haven’t always gotten everything right
I’ve lost R800 000 on events in the past because we were still learning and we made mistakes. The trick is to take those losses, learn the mistakes, and never do them again.
I’ve also realised how important it is to ask questions. You can’t make mistakes if they’ve happened before and you’ve asked the right people
You don’t always get things right the first time
For example, based on the popularity of skopas (popcorn snacks sold on the side of the road), I launched Yank Snacks with a partner. We produce high-quality skopas called disco pops and launched them at schools.
Everyone liked the taste of the product, but we’d essentially taken a cheap product and made it a premium offering with a price tag to match. It didn’t work. We’ve realised we need to take a popular snack and create a new market, not try and sell a more expensive version to an existing market.
Always test your offering before you invest too much in it
On the other hand, I’ve been selling a T-shirt range through Facebook for two years and it’s doing well. It was a great low-cost way of testing the concept, and now we’ve launched a store in Braamfontein.
Related: The Anatomy of John Vlismas
My mantra is love what you do and do what you love
It might sound like a cliché, but I’ve turned down deals and offers that were only about the money. If your gut says no and you do it anyway, it’s hard to get over the experience, but if your gut says yes and it was a mistake, I can reconcile with the fact that that was clearly a lesson I was meant to learn.