Propaganda: the world's biggest rock party | Features | MN2S

Over the last decade, Propaganda has grown from a humble student night to become the world’s biggest rock ‘n’ roll and indie party. Taking place in venues across the world from the UK to Ibiza, Brazil to Australia, their weekly parties are bolstered by festival takeovers, one-offs and tours. With over 20,000 attending their parties across the globe every week, it’s a formidable operation. We got the lowdown from the founder Dan and found out more about Propaganda’s future.

How did Propaganda come into existence?

I started Propaganda when I was 20 while a student at Bristol University. I had never DJed before I went to University, although I had previously played drums in a band. I launched Propaganda using £300 from my student loan. At the start I used to do everything for the night, from all the flyering and promotion to DJing the whole night. I really struggled to come up with a name for the night but my best mate was a history student and had a lecture on Propaganda that day, and as soon as he suggested it as a name it just felt right.

Did you have grand designs for it from the off or was it a very natural evolution?

When I started Propaganda I never imagined DJing and promoting could be a full-time job. Now running Propaganda is not only my full time job but 25 other people’s and 250 people work part-time promoting the event around the world. I started the event in a 200-capacity nightclub in Bristol and over the years it has grown to the UK’s biggest club night with the event running weekly in around 20 cities. We also have events in Australia, Brazil and we’re about to launch our first event in America. Every week around 20,000 people come to Propaganda.

Propaganda – Your Rock n Roll Party from Propaganda TV on Vimeo.

How did it grow to the point where it’s at now?

Due to the success of Propaganda in Bristol, after I graduated from University I gradually started to launch more club nights near to Bristol, and over the years we got further and further from the city until we eventually launched in Australia!

How about the international parties? What are the logistics of branching out into new countries?

We work really closely with promoters in other countries to allow the international events to happen, we’ve got some great partners around the world. However I also take a very hands-on approach to our international events. I spent time in Australia establishing our event in Sydney and DJed at the launch of it as well as at our launch in Sao Paulo. I’ve been working on our launch in America for several years and I’ll be extremely proud when Propaganda eventually launches there later this year.

What’s your approach to programming the music at the parties? Do you try and educate as well as entertain?

Propaganda is essentially an indie and alternative club night. We very much see it as a rock ‘n’ roll party where anyone can come to it and have a good time regardless of what music they’re into. I think people are often surprised when they come to Propaganda by just how much of the music they know. I think when it comes to indie music people always want to be able to sing along to the songs so we always try and make the music as recognisable as possible, especially in the middle of the night. However there’s also room to educate earlier in the night; while people are getting their first drinks we tend to play the newer releases and the new bands we love.

Propaganda Sydney at The World Bar from Propaganda TV on Vimeo.

Who have been some of your most popular guests over the years?

When I look back to the guests we’ve had over the years I can’t believe how many people have played for us and what an eclectic line-up we’ve had. Ed Sheeran performed live at the night, Mumford & Sons, James Corden, Ellie Goulding and even Calvin Harris has DJed for us, along with other bands including The Libertines, Two Door Cinema Club, The Vaccines and Vampire Weekend.

What challenges are there when it comes to promoting nights aimed at students? How do you go about it?

I think it’s a very challenging market at the moment. There’s so much competition with different types of entertainment and when student fees tripled to £9k a year it really affected students’ attitudes to going out and clubbing. However, we’ve still been successful in a difficult market by ensuring that we keep Propaganda fresh and providing the best experience for people when they come out. I think people want to go to somewhere they know will be busy and they’re less inclined to take chances on new events, and as people know they will always have a good night at Propaganda, it’s ensured our continued success in a difficult climate.

Propaganda at Reading Festival 2014 with Frank Turner & DJ Dan from Propaganda TV on Vimeo.

What’s your approach to social media?

I think it’s really important to stay on top of social media, it’s always constantly changing and is such a crucial tool to promote. However I still also believe in using the traditional promotional methods as well as social media. We still spend a lot on physical promotion as well as promoting via social media, as I feel it’s really important to embrace as many different promotional techniques as possible.

What are your plans for the future?

At the moment we’re really focused on launching in America. We’re also really committed to supporting new bands and new music and are in the process of setting up a Propaganda record label to help connect new bands with the people who come to Propaganda. Autumn is also a really crucial time for Propaganda and I’m currently booking our special guest DJ line-up for it. We’ve also got some really exciting things happening over the summer as I’m playing an 11 hour DJ set at Glastonbury with some of our other DJs at the Silent Disco, and we’re also hosting a Propaganda on site at Reading and Leeds Festival!

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