As a DJ or musician, it can be daunting to ask your fans for money for the service you’re providing. But it can allow you to make the most of your passion. DJs ShoNuff (pictured left above), Ceejay (pictured centre above) and Theo (pictured right above) are living proof of this. Each with their own loyal followings on Mixcloud, Texas-based ShoNuff and UK-based husband and wife Theo and Ceejay have dedicated themselves to making their fans feel special. This has allowed them to successfully make use of Mixcloud’s tipping feature to make growing revenue on their respective channels.

Theo and Ceejay have been DJing for over 50 years combined, while ShoNuff has been spinning for over 10 years, meaning they know a thing or two about moving the crowd. In this article, they share their gems on how to earn money, encourage your community to tip and reward your fans’ loyalty.

Don’t be afraid to ask for tips

DJ Theo: “You have to educate your audience about spending money to watch something that can be free. But you can’t coerce them. You have to show them that you’re worth it. You have to show them the value.”

DJ ShoNuff: “I use OBS Studio and there's a text area where I will say something like, “tips are appreciated.” About every 30 minutes or so I may say something on the microphone and viewers can see that message glowing in the corner 24/7. My mom always said to me, ‘“closed mouths don't get fed,” so you have to say something. Don't feel like you're begging for tips and when it comes, it comes.”

Cater to your audience

DJ ShoNuff: “I use my analytics on Mixcloud. I think that's an awesome tool that many creators need to take advantage of. Where I’m based in America, I can cover American hours and I can cover UK hours. Right now, everybody in America is at work. So I'm getting Amazon workers with their earbuds tuned in. I'm getting a lot of UK friends in the evening when they’re getting off work. They want music too so it's all about timing. Take advantage of analytics and time zones.”

Enjoy the company you keep

DJ Theo: “We have a lot of laughs on our channel. People tend to crack jokes in the chat and because I can see it, so many times people have said, “I can see that one made you laugh” because I will start laughing as I'm looking at it. That instant response they get is what I feel is our most valuable tool.”

DJ CeeJay: “We've got this thing called ‘Global Shots:’ we call shots online, basically. So whether you want to drink alcohol, whether it's a cup of tea, we’re inclusive of everything. Then we do a countdown. Everybody knows when you come into Beats in Motion or Rekordbox Obsessions on a Saturday night, you're going to have global shots and everybody loves that. Last weekend, I had a video from a lady that watches with her husband. They're having a boogie on the couch with us on the actual TV for their Saturday night! They're having a whole family affair listening to our music. It's those small moments when you're in people's houses and they’ve invited you in there and they’re just loving it.”

DJ ShoNuff:  “I've learned to pre-record my shows, stream them and literally focus on the users that are in the lobby. I've found that my subscribers and tips have all gone up just from getting on the microphone and engaging with anybody that comes in.” 

Guarantee a smooth-running live stream

DJ Theo: “In my opinion, as a creator, you have to present something so polished that the person looking at you goes, “Wow, I've been watching for several hours, there are no dropping frames, it looks like they're in a nightclub.” It’s these small things that make up the full package. Just ask yourself if you were the viewer, “What am I seeing? Is this where I'm going to hang out for three or four hours?” Our fans can see we spend money on it and we present it as professional as can be.”

DJ CeeJay: “Professionalism doesn't cost a thing. If you get £50 on a Saturday night, that £50 can get you a slightly higher quality webcam or a smoke machine. If you build on these things you will get to the point where you’re making £100 or £200 because what you’re presenting to people is worth watching.”

DJ Theo: “Up and coming streamers also have to understand that you can make an effort to make your setup look polished with no money. Just by cleaning it up and giving the viewer something decent to look at. I sit there and go to myself, “Okay, this person is playing good music” but they’ve got a 19:6 ratio screen and they’re small in the corner and they've got an animation playing. You can't even make up what's on their face. They’re shy but they fail to think about the concept that you want to engage with the person you're seeing. You will be surprised at how you can make something look a million bucks with a shoestring budget, especially when it comes to visuals.”

DJ ShoNuff: “Sound quality is essential. There are so many ways to get great sound quality, and DJs are not taking advantage of that. Mixcloud even advertises 320 kilobytes per second audio. I know a lot of people are excited, they want to get their music out, and they just want people to hear it. But if you just take that extra 15 to 30 minutes and edit some of your shows to get the sound quality, you will notice a tremendous difference in your followers and people sticking with you.”

Promotion, Promotion, Promotion

DJ CeeJay: “I do all my posting on Instagram. I do a lot of live videos and I sometimes snapshot what I'm doing while I'm playing live [on Mixcloud]. Being a female DJ, it’s a little bit different because it obviously isn't the norm to see a female DJ out there. So when the thumbnail comes across on Mixcloud, a lot of people click on it because they’re probably thinking, “can she actually do what she says she can do?” I get quite a few new followers from that.”

DJ Theo: “I don’t do a lot of Instagram. I educate my followers, and I sort of - for a lack of a better term - guilt trip them as to why I don't want them to be where they are. I'll use Instagram, for example; I will drop a two or three minute little mix on Instagram knowing that the person on Instagram’s gonna see it and then I just cut that feed. Dragging them from one platform to another is the toughest job a creator has. When they do come over and they’ve taken the effort I reward them by making it all about them. Greeting and shouting them out. Once you do that, you make them feel special, that they are not just a viewer, they’re a human being and they can engage with you.”

DJ ShoNuff: “I pay for ads, I use Meta, I’ve paid for Google ads as well. There are tools inside of Mixcloud, where you can connect to Twitter and Twitch. I use literally every resource or tool that I can to get the word out. I'm a very big advocate for Mixcloud Posts, I even create the flyers using an app called PosterMyWall. I create all my flyers and logos there, and I create special flyers for the Mixcloud Post. They’re very important yet another tool that you can use to get the best out of Mixcloud.”

Give your show a clear theme and schedule

DJ CeeJay: “Let people know what you're doing, and create that vibe for people. A lot of the channels you go on, you don't know if you're expecting a bit of Deep House or UKG this weekend. You never know what to feel.” 

DJ Theo: “The only thing that we’ve really done was from our launch, if we say we're starting at five, we're starting at five. When that clock hits five, our stream goes live. Our flyers are informative. You look at our flyers and it clearly states the time and the day, which is consistent every week. But it also states, we're doing Deep House, Funky House, Jackin House, Classic House, etc. I think having a clear message for your audience and your potential audience is a very important thing.”

Trust The Process

DJ ShoNuff: “Patience is critical during this process of gaining subscribers and loyal supporters.”

Check out more musical deep dives on Campus, including this deep dive into growing your livestream community with USA-based DJ King Shine.