By Megan James
Down a dimly lit basement, walls humming from the rapid beats, while revellers swarm to the decks ecstatically thirsty to be entertained, you’ll find the lads of Honeypot, a DJ collaborative taking over Manchester’s student nightlife scene.
With Honeypot’s 1st birthday rapidly approaching, we take a closer look into how two students have managed to become so successful at hosting sell out events in some of Manchester’s top clubbing venues.
Jamie Oliver and Nathaniel Danter started Honeypot after the success of their show on Hive Radio at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Student Union. Their show would play a different genre every week to keep things exciting. After a while the duo decided that their passion for music would be perfect to pour into an event, which they named Honeypot, keeping to the Manchester Bee theme.
By March, the duo had set up their first Honeypot event at The Zombie Shack, an intimate tiki paradise tucked in underneath Manchester’s rumbling Oxford Road station, covered in a blanket of vibrant graffiti. Offering a fiercely individualistic set, switching between genres of bassline, techno and garage, the pair interacted with the crowd making sure they were having a good time. Although it was small as expected, the event was an outstanding success, showing a glimpse of what was yet to come for the two students.
To help Honeypot grow, Jamie and Nathaniel carried on putting on events at various venues in order to see what would generate the largest crowd. They focused on hosting events during university semesters, particularly around times when loans are released, knowing that their biggest market would be students and that the best time to entice students to unfamiliar events is when they have just received a lump sum of money.
Jamie Oliver who goes by the witty DJ name ‘Not the Chef’ at his events, explains why he uses these tactics. He said, “We are a student brand run by students, so our target audience is students as it is a massive market in Manchester. 80,000 students live here, but we do like to be open to anyone.”
“The last event at 256 sold out at 400 capacity. There were people of all different ages, who certainly weren’t all students.”
“It just attracted many different people and that’s what we’re all about, we’re trying to bring together people of all walks of life.”
In order to entice the public to the events in the first place, the duo work with Sam Cant, who has wealth of knowledge in branding and search engine optimisation. This is a valuable gift in such a crowded industry, with the Honeypot Facebook page alone promoting their events, their promotional clothing line, as well as offering easy contact for their customers to get in touch with any queries they might have.
Jamie states, “Social media is our definite number one.”
“We’ve done posters and you know sticker drops before, and they are obviously good for brand recognition, but in general I think people don’t look at posters anymore. If they are walking around or if they are on the bus they are looking at their phone.”
“So I think it’s a far better use of our marketing budget to post something on Facebook advertising.”
“We also run Manchester underground events which is our side project which is a closed community group on Facebook, that people can post anything they want about their own events in Manchester and we really push our own brand on there.”
“With 4,000 members that’s free promotion to post on there as it happens. So yes, social media is definitely our number one. It’s really really important.”
With 1,692 followers, 1,677 likes and numerous five-star reviews on their Honeypot Facebook page, in terms of social media the lads have come a long way in building a loyal customer database in just one year.
With one reviewer stating that they, “Absolutely loved each and every event. Seen it grow right from the beginning with their first event of like 80 people all the way through to now. Top music, helpful event organisers and always a friendly crowd.”
As for creating an atmosphere, the lads have stayed away from big stages, exploding confetti guns and throwing cakes into the crowd, instead settling for a more relaxed intimate vibe. Which is one of their factors, when choosing their next performing venue, they look for low lit small basements, without stages so they can interact with the crowd.
Jamie states, “We stay away from stages because we feel that loses its intimacy, keeping the DJ level with the audience it gives that up close and personal feeling, we like to create a community so that our fans if you can call them that will keep coming back.”
“If everyone is buzzing with the event they will tell their mates about it and say, that Honeypot we should go again to the next one, they might even like the page.”
But in order to stay relevant in such a crowded market, it’s important to put on a show to remember. With internationally famous Sigma’s, Cam Edwards recently stating in an interview, “If you’ve got great tunes then some people will remember you, but if you’ve got a good set and the production is on point then everyone will be talking about it”.
Jamie produces all the visual effects they project at their events himself, stating, “We really like to keep our visuals Honeypot centric, so honey related or bee related just like the Manchester worker bee.”
While Nathaniel focuses on making his own music to give something completely unique to his audience, to keep their customers coming back for more.
They also endorse up and coming DJs, with one of their events at Cubo in Fallowfield last year, revolving around a live head-to-head competition, with the winner being decided by the amount of cheers from the crowd. The winner was then given the opportunity to headline at Honeypot’s next event. This was a great way to encourage new people to come and show their support, as well as offering an exceptional opportunity to other young DJs in the industry.
Jamie said, “We like to think that our support of smaller up and coming DJs is what the scene really wants.”
“They don’t want these big commercial events, they want smaller venues, smaller DJs, and just keeping it fresh really.”
“That’s how we think it’s becoming so popular really it’s just different to the rest.”
At Honeypot’s first event at The Zombie Shack in March of last year, there were only around 40 attendees compared to their most recent event at Fallowfields biggest club 256 at the beginning of February which sold out at 400.
In just under a year the duo has managed to start an event that now has a cult following of not just students but also locals with a passion for young DJ talent. The duo is offering something new and exciting to anyone that will listen, which successful DJs like Sigma say is vital in this industry.
Their passion for their brand and how they are using it to offer new artists a chance, is clearing the stage for those who have a real passion for DJing. And they have no plans to slow down with their next event on 22nd March, heading back to where it all began at The Zombie shack.
Jamie added, “Let’s just say 2018 is the year for Honeypot.”