Establishing and nurturing a community is one of the most important aspects of being a creator. It requires hard work and dedication to provide experiences that your fans truly connect with but the journey can be incredibly satisfying when your efforts pay off and your fanbase begins to grow. Everyone’s method is different but there are valuable lessons to be learned from DJs and artists who’ve stood the test of time.
John Digweed is one such example. The DJ, producer, radio host and record label boss first picked up a set of decks at the age of 15 and never looked back, decades later of hard work and passion, he is recognised as one of the world’s most prolific and celebrated selectors. He has built a formidable fanbase on Mixcloud with his weekly Transitions radio show - playing everything from Techno to Ambient - and his Bunker Sessions live streams which he started during lockdown. In 2023, he eclipsed over 300,000 followers on the platform, but he hasn’t lost sight of what brought him to this point.
In this article, we sit down with John to discuss his journey with Mixcloud and the knowledge he’s found while building a relationship with his fans.
Congratulations on reaching 300k Mixcloud followers! What would you say has been behind the growth of your Mixcloud audience?
John Digweed: I think it’s important to say everyone starts with zero followers. When Mixcloud launched I jumped on the opportunity for fans to listen to my show online legally. Before Mixcloud it was a bit of a wild west how people accessed Transitions if they weren’t listening on any of the FM stations that broadcasted it at the time. Being consistent and uploading the show every week at the same time, while developing not just what plays on the show but how the show looks creatively are my two biggest tips.
Transitions has been broadcast for many years now - what continues to fuel your creativity and passion for radio?
Radio has always been an important part of my career. I was doing radio for a long time in London on Kiss 100 before Transitions started. The simple answer is I still absolutely love making the show, from discovering music to always getting reactions from listeners all over the world.
Radio allows me to share music and talk about it passionately, most of the time with music I wouldn’t get to play in my club sets. It’s an enormous team effort with my producer to do a weekend radio show so you have to absolutely love radio to take it on properly.
Has your fanbase influenced your creativity over the years?
My fanbase is very important, particularly when it comes to what I play on Transitions. I really try to switch things up musically; one week I could do a show full of Ambient tracks and another week it could be banging Techno. I always try to read every email and message that comes in.
Are there other lessons you’ve learned about your community while amassing 300k followers?
Firstly, how loyal the community is. If I make a mistake - and mistakes do happen - I can be sure I’ll wake up to everyone calling me out on it instantly. I’ve also learnt how important the show is and what I do. The Bunker Sessions happened over lockdown and it seemed to resonate so much with everyone listening and I’m still getting comments about how they helped people through such a difficult time. I was delighted with the response when I explained clearly how important it was for our producer community that everyone gets paid fairly.
I truly appreciate that not everyone wants to or can afford to pay to hear the show and it will always be free to listen to, but I hope I’ve given paying subscribers good value for money so far.
What advice would you give to a young DJ starting out on Mixcloud looking to grow their fanbase?
Be consistent. Upload at the same time every week and never miss a show. Be frequent - weekly is best - and don’t be a perfectionist.
In all your years of DJing and producing, what are some lessons you’ve abided by throughout your career?
I think it's always important to play from the heart; if you love what you play and produce it shows way more and you enjoy it so much more. Being original with your sound is key for you to have a long career, as you want to be known as someone who people want to come and listen to because of what you do. Don’t be afraid to take risks with your production or DJ sets.
"It’s important to say everyone starts with zero followers."
You’ve seen many musical movements come and go. Is there an era of music that stays close to your heart?
I like to think that all the music I’ve played generally stands the test of time and I generally play music I love, not what is currently in fashion. We often pull out live sets from the archive for the show and even I get surprised by how current they still sound.
Are there any special plans for your Mixcloud community this year that you can share?
We have Transitions 1000 coming up in the autumn so keep an eye on our plans soon. It’s crazy to even think the show has been going for that long and it’s still growing and we definitely want to celebrate this moment. We’ll make sure to include the whole community.
What is one piece of equipment every DJ should have in their collection?
A good eye mask, Imodium and all of your music backed up.
Check out John's 2023 Coachella set with Sasha here.
Check out more musical deep dives on Campus.