There’s more to music than making music.
There’s more to podcasting than broadcasting a show.
When it comes down to it, both are about running a business and building an audience.
It’s no different for Darren Bruce, executive producer of The DJ Sessions, a Seattle-based podcast and livestream that features electronic music and interviews with DJs who share live mixes on the show.
Darren is driven, no doubt. He’s one of the few people who have been able to bring a truly new and unique concept to podcasting—one that grew from his diehard love of nightlife and music.
“It’s been a wild ride,” Darren reminisced on the 15 years that took him from TV broadcasting to digital media: “We were one of the first video podcasts in the iTunes Store. When we debuted, we took position 48 in the video podcast section, and we saw our downloads go from 1,000 to 10,000 to 50,000 a week… then 75,000… and all the way up. We were seeing 300,000 downloads of our podcast each week, and we quickly went from position 48 to 23.”
With more than 1,800 episodes produced over the last nine years, The DJ Sessions has featured a long list of international artists like BT, Simon Patterson, Jes, and Thievery Corporation, to name a few. The DJ Sessions has also featured hundreds of top-talent local DJs.
How does a dance-music-fan-turned-podcaster reach such heights of success?
Here are Darren’s top tips:
Own your own hashtags … for your brand, your name, your domain name … and push them out on every platform. Darren started on Facebook in 2009 and attributes his growth in part to being an early adopter of the platform—before the changes to the algorithm. Now, Twitter and Instagram are trendier and more impactful thanks to the help of the mighty hashtag—the strongest organic tool on social media.
Darren says, “It’s important to know the power of hashtags. They help posts get visibility, even if there aren’t followers on the account. You can have zero people following you on Twitter and Instagram, but use the right hashtag, and a million people can see your post.”
Show up consistently. Once you build a following by using your hashtags, people start looking to you as a content provider they can trust. When delivering content, you have to be consistent. If you’re going to release a weekly show, choose one day of the week and always release on that day. This way, your audience learns to expect it: they know the hashtags to search for, they know to look for the show at a certain time, and they know that information is going to be there—guaranteed—week after week.
Automate your delivery. When you don’t need to remember, and invest time in, posting at specific, “promised” times of day, you free up time to show up regularly to interact on social media. Automating also ensures you maintain consistency while avoiding burnout.
Darren launched a new website in September 2019 that features current livestreams and past episodes of The DJ Sessions in a much more user-friendly social environment. As he uploads an episode to Apple, Stitcher, iHeart, etc., his website automatically updates, too.
You can go to www.thedjsessions.com to access current episodes of the show, or subscribe through the other mediums and have episodes delivered right to your inbox as they’re uploaded. It’s a seamless process of making the dissemination of episodes automatic, which allows you to work at your own pace while satisfying your followers.
Darren explains, “We can go up to 144 hours of content … that would be 144 shows produced every month! That’s a feat in itself, since it used to be about four hours a week. Now, we’re ramping up to hit that 144, and we could do more if we wanted going forward. It is quite exhilarating to push out that much content as an independently financed and produced nonprofit charitable organization just doing our thing.”
Today, The DJ Sessions is streamed live to multiple other platforms and hosted on several podcast sites. It is a featured partner on Twitch as the video platform’s only regularly scheduled livestreaming DJ show. The series has also been recognized by Apple twice as a “New and Noteworthy” podcast. UStream and Livestream have also listed the series as a “featured” stream on their platforms since its inception.
The DJ Sessions now has a combined livestreaming/podcast audience of more than 90,000 viewers per week.
Darren is as driven today as when he first started immersing himself in the world of electronic music around age 18. He went to nightclubs just to enjoy the music and dance. Even then, he knew he wanted to be an executive producer of his own music show, and as he got to know more and more DJs, he realized his goal: he didn’t want to be “The Darren Bruce DJ Show”—he wanted to bring DJs together to collaborate and work together.
What inspires him to keep going now?
“The dance floor. I don’t dance as much as I used to, but I know how much the dance floor has always meant to me. It’s about hearing music that inspires you to not only shake and move your own body, but to also watch other people share in that experience. It’s powerful. And that’s my motivation—to be a ‘vehicle’ for others to play their music and share that experience with viewers, so they can feel the same way. That just might brighten their day.”
Darren works hard and smart to make The DJ Sessions a benchmark in the music podcast genre. Stay tuned to this industry leader, because he continues to work on bringing new and unique ideas to the forefront. With creative consistency and some help from automation, he’s a force to follow—and he makes it easy to do so.
Do a quick search for #TheDJSessions, and you’ll see for yourself.