This interview has been paraphrased for consistency and clarity.
Joey: Dannic, how are you?
Dannic: Good! I’m currently in the studio preparing an EP and some new stuff for Miami. It’s been two years since I last played Ultra Music Festival, so I’m excited to showcase new music.
Joey: How do you prepare for such a big event like Ultra?
Dannic: We planned for a new Dannic sound in March. We realized that after four years, it was time to rebrand a bit and refresh the Dannic style. It’s hard for people to get to know the new updated sound with just one single, so we decided to do a three-track EP.
Joey: What’s the process like to get a show at Ultra? Do they approach you?
Dannic: That’s an interesting question. Nowadays, it’s especially harder to get booked for bigger festivals, mainly because artists or labels now usually host the stages or “islands.” For instance, Martin Garrix has his own label STMPD. Whenever they have a stage hosted at a festival, it’s obvious that he’s going to invite all his friends from STMPD instead of me. This happened to me at Tomorrowland. They had less EDM stages, so my only option was to play at the Nervo stage since it was the most fitting. I had to reach out to Nervo myself and ask if they had any spots left.
To be super honest, it’s getting harder and harder if you’re not locked or releasing on a particular label. For Ultra, Revealed is hosting a stage because it’s their ten year anniversary, and since I used to be on Revealed, they invited me to play. It’s not that Ultra booked me – of course, they had to approve my name – but I still needed a strong network.
Joey: I think that’s a crucial topic to discuss because the new kids on the block might believe that things happen for you automatically since you’ve already had so much success.
Dannic: Back in the days, when I was more popular and was playing the main stages, it didn’t affect me. Now I have to work hard and prove that I’m worth it. It’s more a political and strategic game nowadays then it’s about the music or the branding.
Of course, I did very well, and I’m very blessed with my career thus far. But it’s not like I can lean back, relax, and stop working. I think there’s still a gigantic gap between the top 15 DJ’s in the world, and the rest. In certain areas, I’m a ticket seller, but not like Steve Aoki or Hardwell. That gap is getting bigger and bigger.
When we started in 2011-2013, the EDM bubble was really big. I always tell people the door has closed, and I’m right behind the door. For instance, after Hardwell played our collaboration at Ultra, my bookings and brand blew up. It was crazy and all eyes were on me. Nowadays, if I do a collaboration with, for instance, Garrix, everyone’s like, yeah, cool. It’s not that important anymore. You have to work harder and do better.
Joey: What have you done as an artist to deal with these changes in the industry?
Dannic: We’re continually evolving and rebranding. These days marketing is more important than ever, primarily because of social media. People are used to fast and accessible content – they want it to be easily digestible. For example, on your Instagram stories, you have to make sure that there’s a good balance between promoting your stuff but also showing your personality.
Joey: People are tired of seeing stage photos with fireworks and lasers. They know you’re a DJ and want to build a deeper connection with you. At the same time, you have to consider that everything is also a matter of seconds when you’re creating content.
Dannic: I have more than 500K followers on Instagram, but if I post something, the reach isn’t even 10%. Also, funny enough, the top comment every time I post something with a track is like, “what’s the track title?” Meanwhile, that track has been out for maybe six weeks, and I’ve posted about it almost every day. It just gives you an example of how important it is to keep informing people without being too pushy.
Joey: What’s the most important thing you focus on as an artist?
Dannic: I’m continually trying to keep my music fresh and exciting. The hardest part is finally finding your sound but trying to evolve within that sound. My goal is not to have amazing streams on Spotify, because I’m a club DJ. For me, it’s essential that I have DJ support and that my tracks go well in the charts of the DJs rather than the number of views on YouTube.
Joey: How many days do you spend working on music every week?
Dannic: I would say two, which is not enough. However, while I’m on tour, I’m usually the most creative. At the beginning of my career, when I just started getting more bookings, I would get stressed about finishing tracks. At first, you have six or seven tracks lined up already for release, but then you start to play more shows and become less productive. I noticed that my creative flow was completely gone when I forced myself.
Joey: In my opinion, you can’t force yourself to be creative, but you can put yourself in specific environments where you can get inspiration. For example, I liked watching Tomorrowland after movies or artist documentaries to get my creative juices flowing. The important thing is for artists to discover what triggers them into being more productive.
Do you feel like the last couple of years was a process for you as well when it comes down to personal development?
Dannic: Yeah, it’s an ongoing process. The hardest part of doing this is balancing social and work. I’ve been doing this for seven years, so that’s seven years of having to skip weekends, birthday parties, and visiting friends. When I was younger, I wanted to do everything since my ultimate dream was coming true. Now, I see my parents getting older, and I have less time to spend with everyone, so I now have to prioritize certain events over others—for example, my mother’s birthday over a big festival.
In terms of structure, I usually take Mondays off as my “DJ weekend.” It’s essential to take a break since 24/7 I’m dealing with time zones, different managers, emails, and phone calls. When I’m in the studio, I usually switch off my phone. I also just bought a whiteboard so that I wouldn’t get distracted by my phone. Another important thing is that I don’t work more than eight hours in the studio day. There’s only so much you can do on an individual level every day.
Joey: What’s the most important thing that you learned over the years?
Dannic: Make choices on your intuition but also seek help when you can. One of my bad habits is that I want to do everything. The most important thing is knowing when you need to let go and trusting people in this industry. Having amazing people around you is a significant part of your success.
Joey: How many people are on your team?
Dannic: Around 12. There are people on my management team, helping with social media, booking agencies, publishing companies, etc. I do want to say that even if you have a big team, in the end, it comes down to you. No one will be more passionate about your career than yourself.
Joey: Thank you so much for all the great advice. It’s very rare for artists in your position to be so open and honest.
Dannic: My pleasure!