Let’s face it. Being any kind of entrepreneurial artist today means understanding something about marketing and the process of building a reputation. If your game is to be a professional career DJ, you’ll need to own your own category. You’ll need to have your own story. You’ll need to do something to escape obscurity. Here’s how it works when you first start curating and playing good music for others.

Exclude some people

Dope music is the bedrock. Only the dopest, in fact. No room for average stuff where you’re going. When making decisions on what lands in your crate, it’s helpful to choose which audience to exclude. Not everyone must like it. Some people will probably hate it! That’s cool. It’s not for them. But who are the people left over? The answer to that determines the identity of the audience you’re looking to serve.

You don’t need more tracks

So you’d better start collecting. Set a target for yourself. Say, 250 of the best tracks? Contrary to Spotify’s core messaging, you don’t need access to millions of songs. Just 250 good ones. That’s a career. Stop looking further than that. Your access to millions of songs isn’t going to put your name on the map. Your taste in 250 songs will.

First steps

When you’ve got a selection of tracks you’re ready to showcase as your own style, the next stage is to start getting out. Here’s a tip: everyone except Paris Hilton starts DJing for free (link alert: it’s bad). Don’t be shocked to find that you don’t get paid for house parties, your cousin’s birthday, charity shows and the occasional club gig. But always get the benefactor of these events to reciprocate. Someone needs to agree to do 10 mins of video footage and an insta post. Or to announce your name and get a round of applause from the crowd. Or even to put a hat out to “cover the cost of the gear”. Just because it’s yours, doesn’t mean you didn’t pay for it. Have a sense of value about yourself and your gear. Turn down people who fail to respect that.

Your career takes a turn when people start asking you to DJ. Two things have changed. Firstly, you now have leverage. Secondly, who pays the piper calls the tune. In other words, whoever is paying you gets to decide mostly on what you play. That’s how it works. You’ll only confuse people if you try to change that. So use the money it to level up. Now you can afford to market yourself. Better videos and more fans means fewer mobile DJ gigs and more of your own style. Interested in learning more about a career in DJing? Check out the programs offered by DJ Courses Online today.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ