This article will not help you get famous or lead to gigs in front of 10,000 people. It will not help you do more amazing technical feats or impress your girlfriend with mad remixing skills. If either of those are your goals in DJing, please stop reading now. I’m serious – don’t click read more – go check out this article on self promotion instead.
The Music Theory
Music, at its core, is a collection of vibrations. Some vibrations make certain people feel warm and fuzzy while the exact same song might make another person cringe and vomit.
When writing music, you get to carefully pick the exact collection of vibrations that perfectly represents your artististic “fingerprint”. Some people have a similar fingerprint, and love your music, while others simply don’t. The size of a band’s following may be less a reflection of their PR power but simply how many people share a similar taste. Bands that are really authentic seem to collect die hard fans over time that span decades and fads.
Digital DJing is a very powerful extension of this concept. Instead of writing each song from scratch, we can go out and collect music that makes us feel amazing in volume. If a DJ stays true to his core and collects music in that theme, chances are his fans will have similar taste and love all of it too. That my friend, is the simple recipe for a long and happy DJ career- if it comes from the right place.
PICKING THE WINNERS
This is where I am going to diverge strongly from the standard practice of being a popular DJ, and instead offer a path to becoming a happy DJ. Normally, you might be inclined to put together sets based on the following criteria:
- Dancefloor potential
- Popular tracks
- New and fresh tunes
- Rare tracks no one else has
- The latest fad
Instead, what if you picked out a playlist that contained:
- Timeless music that you love from the first listen to the 10,000th
- Tunes that get you personally dancing through the entire set
- Songs you would have on your iPod
- Songs you really want to share with others
If you do a good job of attracting like-minded people to your shows, they will also love your music and everyone will walk away fulfilled. In that context, it doesn’t matter if there are 5 people or 500. You will be a truly happy DJ no matter what the outcome. If you happen to be one of the lucky few that blows up playing a sound they truly love – awesome. Double backflip 360 with cherries on top. If not, no problem, each gig was never a compromise and always fun.
SAGE ADVISE OR SPACE CADET CONCEPT?
This approach certainly will not be for everyone as there is no “right” path for musical bliss. Personally, I came to this conclusion after 15 years of DJing both ways:
Option 1: Playing songs that the people want to hear but I personally hated.
Result: Really bad physical and emotional side effects followed by epic stage 4 burn out.
Option 2: Playing music that I love, while focusing on attracting an audience that shares similar taste.
Result: I’m in love with DJing again.
THE FLIP SIDE
There are some DJs out there playing clubs, bars, weddings and parties where music they may not personally like is absolutely required. I am not suggesting you try to ram your personal taste down the general public’s throat. No, that is a fast track to unemployment. Instead I am suggesting that you might try to build a career or a sound around music you really love. I have a good friend that really, authentically loves great pop music and makes a killing playing mainstream clubs without ever burning out.
If DJing is just a creative and fun way to make money, then who cares – play whatever the club owner wants. If you want to truly love every minute of the journey however, and be a really happy DJ, it might be prudent to stay true to yourself and your passion – whatever that form may be.
LIFE IN A NUTSHELL
This article is a great example of the theory in practice. Some readers will loathe the content and find it annoyingly philosophical.
“Dammit Ean, lay off the hippie feel good kumbaya $h%† and show us how to beatgrid already”.
Others will connect with the concept and may come away with a fresh idea. The magic is that both are totally right – it’s just a matter of perspective and personal taste. Stay tuned for Wednesday’s article, when we will show you how to beatgrid, juggle songs, and become the next Tiësto all in a single paragraph!