How to Be a Successful DJ Pt. 1
First, I need you to answer 2 very important questions.
1) Do you really want to be a successful dj? (think hard about this)
2) Are you prepared to put the time and energy into something that will probably take several years to produce results?
If yes, then continue. If no, then you just saved yourself a lot of time.
First a slight disclaimer. No one can truly promise to give you the secret to success in any field. What we can do though, is pass on some tried and true methods that may help you get there…
What does successful mean to you? Name 2 djs that you want to be like.
This will help define what you are shooting for and focus your goals into a targeted direction. While the term “success” is largely a personal concept, Djs can be broken down into 3 broad tiers of financial success. You may want to consider which of the following 3 you want to reach.
1. getting paid to dj at some parties but keeping a “day” job
2. scrape together a living as a full time dj
3. become a famous dj that gets flown around the world to play for big money
there are a lot of shades of grey between these steps but in general they represent 3 different lifestyles and I recommend you decide which lifestyle you really want to live.
We are completely confident in stating that anyone can achieve 1 and 2 if they are really prepared to put in the work required. #3 is a special exception because it usually involves a lot of variables that can be out of your control. That’s not to say that it wont happen, as anything is truly possible, but no one can teach you how to get there. We can however show you some basic steps that will help you achieve #1 and #2 and possibly set a course for #3. The following steps are for early on in your career, after you get started we will take it further with some more advanced material.
Step 1: Pick Your Hero’s
Based on the questions above, where do you really want to take this thing? Who are 5 people that have ended up where you want to go?
Step 2: Study Them
The people that are where you want to be have spent years getting there. Do yourself a favor and try to learn a thing or 2 from their mistakes. If at all possible try to track a trajectory of their career and see what major moves or events caused them to arrive at success. Study their website, their agent, their cards, their mixes and promotional material. We are not advocating copying here, but you can spend 2 months observing or 2 years re-learning what others already know.
Step 3: Get to know them
If at all possible you need to start associating with the people that are on your hero list. Contacting them and asking questions is encouraged but actually spending time with people that have achieved success in your field is 100x times better. Surrounding yourself with djs that are actually working is going to do a number of positive things.
1) expanding your reality, and locking in the idea that success really is possible
2) increasing your chances by putting you in the spot light when last minute gigs and opportunities pop up.
3) learn by osmosis. Habits are very contagious.
Step 4. Tell everyone you know
Its amazing how many gigs the people you casually know might be able to provide- if only they knew you were a dj. Dont hide your aspirations- flaunt them. Pass out CDs, flyers, invites, cards to everyone you know and never expect them to make the connection. Ask each person a straightforward question like: Hey do you know anyone in the club business? Those warm contacts that are only a few degrees of separation away will be the best way to get your foot in the door early on.
How to Be a Successful DJ Pt. 2 (The First Gigs) takes you through how manage those first gigs, leave an amazing impression and get asked back on the regular.
How To Be a Successful DJ Part 3: Production includes an interview with funky tech-house producer/DJ/label owner Claude VonStroke about the strong correlation between producing your own floor-filling tracks and getting to the next level as a DJ.