We’re constantly force-fed a diet of images of DJing success. Huge crowds at massive festivals, massive DJ names, world-class everything. But the reality is that we mostly live in smaller towns and cities, and hope for something to happen, even if it’s not going to make the front page of the internet. Here’s how to embrace a career in DJing by focusing on smaller, more personal events.
One thing all small-towners crave is news from the big city. Getting out of town and returning is a great way to create scarcity with your act and raise your status as a performer. Small town events should be all about bringing the glitz and glam of bigger places to a local level. Spend more time in the nearest big city. Crash on friends’ couches if you need to. Do what it takes to join a lineup at an event night. It doesn’t even need to be very big or successful for your small-towners back home to take notice. It just has to be somewhere else. Use the city to make the money and the town to find the local fans.
Time your trends
Music and DJ trends follow a fairly predictable diffusion pattern. When something big or newsworthy starts happening, it will take time for it to travel from the big cities to the small towns. For example, let’s say people in London start dressing up like strawberries at DJ festivals. People all over the world notice. A local business might start manufacturing strawberry accessories and consumes. Now’s the time to throw a strawberry party! If you’re too early, the costumes will cost too much. If you’re too late, the trend will have moved on. That’s how it works. Watch out for these patterns, and time your activity to hit the sweet spot.
Keep it personal
The reality of small town DJs is that people know you, and each other. So if you’re trying to scoop up the handful of local clubbers, keep your dealings personal. People don’t want to buy pre-sale tickets online if they can just rather give you the cash on the day. People don’t want an arrogant attitude from someone they played with in the woods while growing up. Make it known to your small-town audience that you aren’t one of those DJs who thinks they’re superior just because they’re from a more happening place.
So you’re from a small town and you’re into DJing. Cool. You’ll need all the help you can get. But you’ll also need to believe in yourself. Invite friends around to mess around with your cool new piece of gear. Keep people involved and active in your career as a DJ. Invite the village to join in your adventure.
John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ