For some time now, I’ve discussed the requirements and skills necessary to launch a career in the disc jockeying profession. This week however, my attention has been drawn to discussing and giving few tips that will lead to resounding success in deejaying as long as they are adhered to. Some of these tips are general and can apply to any human endeavour when applied, however, because the disc jockeying profession is one that requires some specialized skillset, some of the tips that will be discussed in this series are very peculiar and streamlined to this profession.
What are the things that successful deejays tend to know that others struggle to work out? Apart from the skills of doing the job, what makes some deejays last the pace while others burn out or get disillusioned? That is the area that I will discuss this week. I’m going to look at the big, overarching things that you will need to get right if you want real, lasting success in this game. If that’s your aim, I hope these points help you to ‘tweak’ your approach and get where you want to go a little more easily. For the purpose of space and so that I don’t bore you with an unnecessarily long article, I will discuss only five (5) tips this week, and in the following week, discuss the remaining five tips in this topic.
The first and one of the most important of them all is:
Good deejays are not born, they are made. Behind every great deejay is a wealth of clubbing, crate-digging, mixing, swapping and general music loving. Don’t forget to develop your taste as you develop your skills. Regardless of how much you’re itching to get behind those wheels, if you have nothing to say musically when you do, you got there too early. So, enjoy the music, learn everything you can about it. You don’t become a music expert overnight, so enjoy the learning period. It’ll all aid you when you finally do get your break.
Individual gigs, club residencies, even whole scenes come and go, but the best of deejays have music collections they spend a lifetime slowly building up. This act of building isn’t glamorous, but great music is the foundations of your career as a disc jockey. When you finally surface as a polished, professional deejay with a crate full of magic, only you will know how you collected those tunes over the years and nobody will be able to take that back from you. You will be unique and confident that you have earned all your collections.
You want to be a deejay? Then this is when you get out there having understood the first two tips discussed above. Nobody ever learnt anything in their bedroom. Even if you can’t get a gig, then help someone else. Do some ‘attache’ with someone who is already getting constant gigs. Help set up the gear at gigs. Offer to do half-hour warm-ups before the club opens. Be inventive – but get out there. That’s where you will learn and get better as a disc jockey.
If you turn up late and scruffy, the impression you give is incapability and disregard for your audience. It’s important to be both reliable and well turned out. By looking and acting like “somebody”, (and I don’t mean being cocky and diva-like (in the case of a female deejay), I just mean well dressed, washed, alert and with a sparkle in your eye). You say: “I’m the person in charge of this party; I’m someone to lead tonight’s fun, trust me and let’s go!”
It’s partly how you dress/appear, but also partly your professionalism. So, be the professional. People remember and prefer to work with ‘pros’.
Putting the hours in is of the utmost importance. Nobody is so gifted that they can just “wing it”, and if you don’t commit to this and work hard, trust me – somebody else will and they’ll grab your spot every time. People who work hard and make a big effort to go the extra mile do stand out at any stage in their career. It’s always a good thing to remind yourself that you can’t take anything you have for granted, that no one is indispensable, not even you.
You can read the series on how to become a deejay here.