I did not have a strategic plan about where I wanted to go as an artist. There have been so many different opportunities that have crossed my path during my career from the beginning until now, and each opportunity that I grabbed formed me into the artist I am.
One of these things was the opportunity to develop my Website, www.tiesto.com, which is not only a place where people can find all of my information, but maybe more importantly, it is also a place where fans can meet each other and talk about everything that Tiësto is about. This community is a loyal fan base that supports me all around the world, a thing that is extremely important for the popularity of an artist.
How did Internet networking help you expand your sound forElements of Life(Ultra, 2007), and how did you stumble on the vocalists for the album?
There is so much undiscovered talent in the world that now has the opportunity to expand worldwide in an easy way through Websites such as MySpace and YouTube. I advise all emerging artists to spread their material across the Web. I have been networking through MySpace for a while now and met Christian Burns that way. A friend of mine told me about Christian, so I took a look at his profile and left him a message. We had some conversations, which eventually resulted in the track “In the Dark,” which is a crossover between electronic and rock music. Christian's voice is perfect for this sound, and he is also a great live singer. I have been touring with Christian for my live show, and you can hardly hear the difference between his live performance and the studio track; he keeps on amazing me.
MySpace is a great place to find collaborators, but there are millions of sites out there — where do you start?
I think that the Internet is so diverse that there are no specific strategies in order to find good collaborations. You just need to be lucky enough to trip across the right people, or you can listen to tips from friends. I have built an extended network of friends and promoters worldwide who often contact me with tips about new talent. That's a really good way to start when you are looking for new artists. These people have a good ear for talent in general since they are in the business, and they know what my sound is all about.
There are an overwhelming amount of sites where an artist can have a presence. Do you have any favorites, or do you try to blanket them all?
I do not try to cover them all because I don't think it's a good idea to spread information just for the sake of spreading it. I definitely believe in quality over quantity. I also think it is important to create one main portal from which everyone can get all the info they need, and for me, this is my own Website, which was built by Link Media; www.linkmedia.com. The only side project I have is MySpace because it's a good tool to reach the North American market. My MySpace has exploded over the past few months. I try to integrate some of the standout information from tiesto.com onto MySpace so that people will be eager to find more background information and go to tiesto.com.
How much time do you spend interacting with people who visit your site?
I have a guy on my team who spends 50 percent of his time on all my Internet-related businesses. I have always been actively involved in my Website, since it's important that the visitors feel that it is more than just an information source. I write personal notes, select pictures, etc. That personal interaction is the added value to the site.
When you're networking online, do you come across a lot of disingenuous people? Is there a good way to tell the good contacts from the shysters?
My Internet networking is mostly to find new singing talent, and therefore it is easy for me to see the difference. If I think a person is talented, then I simply ask them to send over a demo in order for me to check and see if they really are as talented as they claim to be.
How do you feel about illegal distribution of your music online?
We are not extremely active in chasing down illegal MP3 sites, but we did make sure that some are no longer giving away any of my tracks. The problem with doing this is that it costs you a lot of time and money, and when you shut down one then another just takes over. On the other hand, although it's illegal, it also spreads your music all around the world. When I perform in a country where they don't sell any of my CDs in the stores, it often happens that the people still know all of my music and not because they have all downloaded them through sites like iTunes. These illegal sites distribute my music all over the world to people who then want to attend my performances, which is a good thing for me.
Has your team reached out to Internet radio stations to get “airplay?”
Every once in a while I record a promotional mix, which is spread by my team to different radio stations, including Internet radio stations. We have discovered that there is a lot of demand and that there are a lot of stations, so it is important to do research to find out which are the most crucial stations to spread your sound.
What are some mistakes you've seen DJ/producers make while networking and promoting themselves?
If you would like to become a big DJ, then you need to distinguish yourself from the masses. A lot of young DJs make the mistake of trying to copy the methods employed by their influences, but that does not make them special since it is not unique. When networking, young DJ/producers need to find their own path and, more importantly, need to be persistent. Don't quit when your demos are not appreciated because it's all about bumping into the right person at the right time…. Eventually, your talent will be discovered.