So many DJs, producers or promoters lie and deceive you into thinking they are God's gift to music. Some consider it just basic marketing, but some people intentionally twist their words or over hype their image just to stand out when they don't actually have the talent to back it up. It is unfortunate that many amazing artists get over looked because they don't like cheapening themselves or wasting money on shady promo. I have seen countless talented musicians with little impact on the public appeal, while some tool with no talent is turning into a star, merely because one spent more time and money on publicity. It is all part of the game to promote yourself, and eventually you will need to beef up your look in the public's eye, but don't do it before you can deliver the goods.
My dad told me something when I got my first car, that seems so obvious now, but at the time stuck in my head. When I first got my car I was so excited to get a new stereo, new rims and a fresh paint job. My dad chuckled and said, "Make sure it runs first". It hadn't even occurred to me that this car was a necessity to get back and forth to work, and without a proper oil change and maintenance, it would just be breaking down on me all the time. I felt like a dumb ass when I realized the first thing I wanted to do was look cool, before I even knew the thing could get me around safely.
One thing DJs do to make them look like they are in high demand is blast on Facebook that they are being booked in a major city across the country, or a huge festival somewhere. This is probably a true statement technically, but the way they word it makes a world of difference. Saying, "I'm being booked in New York", is different than saying, "I happen to be going to New York, and I asked someone to get booked on their lineup, and they said yes, even though they've never heard of me before today. I'm not getting paid, and I'm playing the opening slot." DJs do it all the time. They may have even paid to get on the lineup, or at the least, paid all the expenses to make it out to the festival, including air fare and buying a ticket. Haven't you ever wondered how some mediocre local DJ got booked on a fat lineup in some other state?
Having lot's of facebook fans is one way to cheat too. This is not hard to get at all. Facebook let's you add as many people as you want. They try to limit you, but getting to 5000 fans is not hard over the course of a couple months. If someone has 5,000 fans, but no one is liking or commenting on their statuses, you can tell it is phony. Twitter and Soundcloud does not have a way for you to add fans, but there are services out there that you can pay for followers and track listens. I think it comes out to $100 for 10,000 fans. It is a shady move and eventually there will be ways to track it, and you don't want to be caught when they crack down on it. How embarrassed will you be when over night you drop from 11,000 fans to 1,000. It already happened to major artists when youtube cracked down on record labels, and millions of fake view counts were deleted.
Having lots of professional pics is another way they make you think they are awesome. This is one of the easiest things to do. How hard is it to hire a photographer? Or at least have your buddy with a nice camera take your picture on the Golden Gate Bridge? Seriously, I don't know why we all fall for this, but it is in our nature to assume the guy with professional pics has better music than the guy whose profile pic is from their cell phone. Do your research and actually listen to the music before you hop on the bandwagon, or skip past someone.
Long press write ups with quotes from sources you've never heard of is another method. Next time you are reading a bio, and it says they have been mentioned in "such and such" magazine or website, look it up and see if it is a reputable source or not.
Getting a logo made and plastering it on T-shirts, stickers, or other merchandise, then getting a website to sell it all on is not a bad idea to make extra money and get your name out, but if you don't have shit to show for yourself, you are just a fake ass.
I love it when I hear DJs say, "I played with Skrillex", when all they really did was play the opening set in the side room because they handed out fliers for the promoter. It always makes me laugh. It is ok to say they have played at the same party, or been booked by the same promoter, but if you don't specify your role in the party, it is obvious you are just trying to pull a fast one on everyone.
Sometimes DJs won't put a track listing on their mixes because many people are too dumb to realize they are a DJ, not a producer. Many people have come up to me after a set, saying that my production is amazing. I tell them I'm not really a producer and I wasn't playing my own tracks in the mix. They look at me with dead cow eyes and a befuddled look on their face when I try to explain that not all DJs are producers, and not all producers just spin their own tracks. Many DJs try to capitalize on that very stupidity to boost their own name and fool people into thinking they are producers. Maybe they didn't put a track listing down because they think people will assume they are all just exclusive tracks that only they could obtain, when in reality all their music can be purchased on iTunes.
Sometimes a DJ will have an agent, a manager, or a publicist when they really don't need one yet. This is one way they can boost their fees and make you think they are in high demand. They try to fool promoters who don't know any better. Some try to pull that move on me, as if I am not paying attention.
Don't let any of that shit fool you either. Sometimes you may see a producer with an insane amount of fans, but their music may be awful to you. Trust your instincts and your musical taste, because people can buy fans these days. Also people/fans don't want to be left out, so they may follow someone popular just to fit in, even though they may not actually like the tunes. I myself have instinctually added a big name on soundcloud just based on the fact they have a lot of followers. I may have never even heard their music or name, and by the time I do listen, I may think it is horse shit.
Every tactic I mentioned here is a really good way to promote yourself and get exposure. I don't want you to think that promoting yourself professionally means that you are being fake, because it is essential to your growth. I am merely saying that before you do so, you need to build your skill and actually have some weight behind your name before you go about it or else you will just look like an egotistical douche bag. There are many really good artists that are just too lazy or uninformed to work on the promo and image side of things, but it is equally as important as the quality of their music.