Being a career DJ is a different game to having a good time behind the decks on the weekend. DJs that are making a name for themselves have a few things in common. Here are a few things to remember if you’re into the name game.
Have good relationships with local producers. Play their stuff. Let them know that you’re playing their stuff. If they don’t reciprocate by retweeting or reposting your Instagram posts, move on to someone who does. A like is not the same as a repost. Status should matter very little early on in the game. It’s not just the quality of the music that gets you the heat anymore. It’s the overall brand presence of the artist and the DJ that create the perception that a song is good. The goal is repetition, to be known as the person who plays that fresh song that people like. You have to find good producers in your circle and form relationships with them.
Tell your story
You’re pretty good with tech tools already. You’re a DJ. So use YouTube, Steemit or Twitch to open up the field to newcomers. Share your journey. Even if you’re only a few steps into the game, start putting up videos sharing the new stuff you’ve learned. It’s about community. It’s about being humble enough to judge people by how interested they are in your stuff, not by their follower numbers. Even the best do masterclass workshops and stage and studio tours. Not everyone who is into DJing wants a career. Some just want to learn. Don’t be above teaching to build your audience.
Look for alternatives
The time-honored craft of crate digging is where all of a DJ’s power lies. You have a choice: follow the status quo and earn money (less satisfying) or find your unique voice (less prestige up front). If you’re after option two, it’s not enough to copy what’s trending on Beatport and call it your own. Renewable energy is only as clean as the source. A DJ’s collection is only as unique as the source. You need to find your own supply and filter out the gems, even if it means getting on a plane.
In order to make anything work in the long term, you need to remain inspired. This means papering the walls of your mind with the material that gets you going. DJing and clubbing documentaries are a good place to start. Put one on in the background while you’re at home and see if the lifestyle is for you. Above all, keep learning! Check out the DJ courses on offer here at DJ Courses Online. Keep spinning!
John Bartmann is a DJ and music producer.