Chances are high you want to make music a full time career, but right now, DJing is not yet paying the bills. Many DJs maintain two jobs, their daytime gig (to keep the rent paid) and their night time job (the passion). For most people becoming a full-time touring DJ is the ultimate dream, so in the meantime is there a day job that will help you get there?
The Time Factor
Probably the most challenging thing about balancing a growing DJ career with a day job is finding time to do both. To really make it big, a DJ needs to focus on the craft and work like it is your day job. This includes:
• Producing songs
• Going out regularly to meet promoters, club owners and develop contacts
• Staying up late playing gigs
• Hunting for music
• Developing your set
• Traveling for gigs (if the night time thing is going well)
Fitting all this in would require a minimum commitment of 10-30 hours per week. If you have a 70 hour a week day job, then there is little energy left over for a personal life, let alone a second pursuit. For this reason a cut and dry simple job with the following characteristics might be a good choice for your day job.
- Flexible hours
- Consistent hours without overtime
- Leaves you with energy for night time pursuits
“Wow, that sounds like the perfect job!” you might say. “With jobs in such short supply, how am I going to manage to score something like that?” Well, some may have to lower their standards a bit and take something abnormal, while keeping your eye on the prize: transitioning to DJing full time. Here are a few solid careers that seem to be DJ-friendly based on our experience and interviews with double duty DJs:
- Customer Service
- Graphic Design
- Audio Tech at a hotel or venue
- Sound Engineer at a club, live venue or studio
For an amazing list of jobs that regular DJs like you hold, check out this 34 page thread in our forums: www.djtechtools.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12740
Perks of the Job
In a perfect world, your day job would not only make room for the night gig but actually support it and provide some recourses that could help it grow. Things to look for would be:
- chances to build contacts and network that can be leveraged.
- access to skills, or recourses that could help your career.
- a place where you can learn things that can build your DJ career.
- a job where you would regularly interact with all things DJ.
In that vein, here are a few day jobs that could really boost your DJ career:
- Music Label Manager
- Writer for a technology magazine (or writer for DJ technology blog…)
- Working at a pro-audio manufacturing company
- Managing a night club
- Managing the music program at a night club
- Managing the sound system at a night club
- Working the lights at a night club
- Working the door
- Promoting parties
- Graphic design or PR industry
- Event production industry
- Sound system rentals or design
Is It Even Possible?
All too often, people think that it’s nearly impossible to become a well paid, professional DJ. The problem is that most young aspiring DJs look to Tiësto and other big names as the model. In reality, yes, very few will ever achieve international DJ status (this is a short list) but many people have rewarding, well-paid, full-time gigs. Their secret? They are willing to make some compromises and have built a stable network of consistent gigs. I personally have several friends who make a cool 6 figures every year and spend 20-40 hours a week DJing local parties, corporate gigs and yes – a few weddings (gasp) here and there. Is every gig perfect? No. Are they making great money DJing? Yes.
Living The Dream
Before you run off and get a new day job or quit the one you have, let’s throw in a bit of a curve ball.
Ask yourself – do I really want to become a full time DJ?
Five years ago, I was playing 3-4 gigs a week, touring extensively and making some decent money. What was wrong?
- I hated many of my gigs (more pop and less underground)
- My health was poor (many late nights)
- My ears were shot (15 years of over-driven monitors)
- I had lost much of my love for the music
Today, with most of my focus on DJ TechTools – I only play a few select gigs per month and genuinely love each one. My relationship and attitude towards DJing has changed dramatically to the positive. Why? Because I can afford to say NO to gigs, and look at them as fun and not my main income thanks to a perfect “day job”.
Sometimes, maintaining an easy day job that pays the bills and DJing for fun and a little extra money can be the perfect combination. It keeps the music side fun and low stress without turning DJing into just another day job.