Whether you’re a DJ, producer, or something in between, one of the best ways to get better and get noticed is by entering competitions. Not only can you win a bunch of awesome DJ gear, but you often get the chance at a release on a notable label, or a new gig that could mean big things. Artists like James Zabiela and Doorly got their start doing remix contests, and countless others are catching their own breaks right now. Here’s our guide to finding and entering online contests, as well as some great tips from contest winners, including Madeon!
WHERE TO FIND DJ + REMIX CONTESTS
Contests for DJs and producers are tracked very keenly around the web by people just like yourself. The best ways to find the perfect contest for you to enter is by consulting an aggregator that contest organizers submit to, or by checking out notable sites that are known for hosting their own.
Protip: Instead of visiting all of these sites every few weeks, try adding them to an RSS reader like Feedly to automatically know when there’s a new contest listed. The more time you’ve got to work on your entry, the bigger of an advantage you’ll have against the competition!
Womstreet is a great site that lists not only major remix contests, but more performance-based opportunities, like opening for DJs in your local town.
RemixComps will have just about any contest you’re looking for, but you’ll have to go into it knowing what you’re looking for. It aggregates a huge amount of content, so it’s easy to get lost.
Talenthouse is a repository for “upper-echelon” remix work: they typically host “collaborative” work, meaning that not all of their entries are remix contests, but many are interesting opportunities to collaborate or produce for interesting artists.
FindRemix is a straightforward blog-like aggregator that finds remixes but does not categorize. The remixes themselves are interesting and of a decent quality, but the site design does unfortunately leave something to be desired.
INDIVIDUAL SITES + CONTESTS:
Beatport Play is of course the mammoth subdivision of Beatport that handles remix competitions for artists of varying electronic genres. In the last year, their number of users has skyrocketed, making these contests some of the most competitive in the industry.
Indaba is a remix contest website that typically handles non-electronic music fare, and the remixes are much more varied. The voting system on Indaba is also less closed, so an element of spamming typically gets involved quickly.
Mixcloud regularly hosts a number of competitions that focus (naturally) on a longer mix or mixtape format. This is a must-stop site for DJs who aren’t in the production game.
The DMC World Championship is one of the most well-known DJ championships out there – and while it’s too late to enter this year’s competition, they host an online video-based element of their famous DJ championships each year. Check out some of the entrants and previous winners and start planning your routine for next year’s competition now!
MAKING YOUR ENTRY STAND OUT
We decided for this article it would be clutch to check in with Madeon, who prior to his Pop Culture video saw success winning an Image Line FL Studio contest to remix a David Latour song, as well as winning Pendulum’s “The Island” remix competition. He had four “general but genuine” points of advice to share on making your remix entry stand out:
• Find a competition featuring a song you’re really excited about working on.
• Make sure the competition is fairly judging music and skill, not promotion techniques.
• Try to write something in a unique style, disregard the trend.
• Avoid being too close to the original song, don’t use all of the stems.
We also asked Singularity, the winner of both the Beatport “In Time” contest and the EDC Insomniac Discovery project, to give those entering remix competitions some advice – here’s what he had to say:
“If you’re remixing a vocal track, try and only use the acapella. Don’t try to make a ‘remix,’ per se. Instead, your goal should be to create a whole new song around the acapella that’s hopefully better than the original. [...] If the sound quality isn’t there, you won’t win. You could have the greatest ideas and chords, but if it’s not clean, it won’t matter.”
Some more tips from the DJTT Staff:
- Try to match your style and genre to contests of the same style and genre. This isn’t necessarily to say that if you work outside the box you won’t get noticed or appreciated. However, remember that the label that will be releasing your winning remix has a brand to stick to. While your liquid DnB track may be immaculately crafted, if you’re entering into a competition for a release on a trip-hop-electronica-deep-house label, it’s unlikely that they’ll end up wanting your remix.
- If the competition involves mixing a set, remember that song selection is key: you’re not just trying to play good music, like you might ordinarily, you want to play the right music. Create a sonic soundscape with your mix; think carefully about the arc of the mix, the climaxes, where effects can spruce it up and where they should be left alone.
- If you don’t have something of a fan base, it’s advisable to work briefly on building one up before you enter a remix contest. While most contests have numerous safeguards against the winning remix simply being the most popular, it helps immensely to have a strong fan base behind you that can be mobilized to listen and vote for your track.
Read More: How To Make a Great DJ Performance Video
CONTEST WINS THAT HAVE LAUNCHED CAREERS
For just a bit more inspiration we decided to include some of our favorite entries that have won big and helped to launch a major career for the winner:
Candyland got their big break by winning back-to-back Beatport remix contests – here’s their winning mix of Skrillex’s Make it Bun Dem from last year:
Madeon‘s big contest win was in for a contest to remix Pendulum’s “The Island”. Here’s the finished piece:
Doorly won a competition in 2007 to open for Fatboy Slim and Armand Van Helden at the Southern Fried Records party in Brighton, England by putting together this mix:
ONCE YOU’VE SUBMITTED
The best thing to do once your track is submitted – let it be! Put a posting out there to your fans and friends, but leave it at that. Even a cursory look at any of the remix contests online reveals that they’re completely saturated with anonymous users spamming links to their tracks – or in many cases, buying plays, likes, and traffic to the entry. As Madeon mentioned in his advice above, find contests that aren’t judged on promotional skill, but instead skill at the actual art of DJing or producing itself – and let your entry do the talking.
This article written in collaboration with our editorial intern, Nick, who happened to just win a DJ contest last week.