By Steven Kirby
Being a DJ may seem like an easy career path for many people. The fact of the matter is there is an endless stream of would be DJ’s who are just as into the music scene as you and me. The only way to get ahead in this game is to be hard working, self-promoting and flexibility is an essential!
Any music is good!
Under no cir*****stances must you turn down any opportunity to play any music to a crowd. This is very important for a couple of reasons. Lots of beginners will refuse point blank to play a different genre to the type of music they are used to. This is a big mistake. Playing any type of music to any crowd is a huge confidence builder. You may mess up now and again but, hey, everyone makes mistakes. At least you will be gaining experience and learning, even if it is to a pub full of drunks on a Friday night. The point being, every little bit of experience is good experience, the more confidence you can build, the less likely you are to make mistakes.
Remember my comments in the first paragraph? “…flexibility is a must!”…This isn’t a reference to your aerobic skills. I am of course talking about your musical abilities. Sticking to one type of genre is all very well for the Tiestos of this world but in the early days of your DJ career you may not be able to pick and choose. Play whatever you think will pay the bills until you become established; everybody has to earn a living.
Learn to use different equipment. There is new music technology becoming available all the time, learn to use it, hire it in if you can’t afford to buy it as long as you can have a go. It’s extremely important that you stay up to date with the latest technology or you will get left behind.
Promoting your music.
It will take hard work and lots of determination. Self-promotion is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for most ‘bedroom DJs’. This is just as important, if not more so, than the music itself. It doesn’t matter how well you play your music, if you cant promote yourself, you may as well smash your decks up now! Self-promotion is easier than ever. There is a whole host of web sites offering free uploads, free downloads, free this and free that. Submit to them all, and get your own site up and running. You would be surprised how easy it is. If you’ve read this far I’m guessing you don’t mind reading to learn, so get reading. Contrary to popular belief, building a web site isn’t hard. It doesn’t have to be flashy, just a few pictures of you, maybe gig pictures. You could have information about your preferred music genre. Getting people to visit the site is the hard part. But if you have submitted all your mixes/music to the free sites then you should have links referring visitors to your site. This might sound like a method likely to fail. Earlier this year (2005) The Arctic Monkeys had a number 1 single in the UK using this method of promotion….As well as offline gigs of course!
DJs are surprisingly well paid. Because you are working for yourself, the fact of the matter is you wont always be busy. The trick is to be sensible. Save a little money to cover the times when there is no work on, this way it wont seem so bad when there is nothing coming in. Treat it as a normal career; you want to develop yourself as well as your prospects. Eventually you could own an agency or something. Set yourself goals to keep yourself motivated. And always keep things legal.
As a DJ you are classed as being self-employed. As with anybody who is self employed your tax is your responsibility. You will get stung if you don’t sort it out. Again, a little reading maybe needed if you are going to sort your own tax out. A quick search in any search engine will reveal lots and lots and lots of sites regarding tax issues so I’m not going to go into it here. An easier approach is to hire an accountant if you can afford it. They are surprisingly cheap and if you shop around a bargain can usually be found.
Reality of the modern DJ.
The harsh reality is that 90% will never make it to the level they dream of. Whether you are a producer or DJ it takes a lot of hard work and determination to succeed in this industry and many people just aren’t up to it.
You have to be able to take the knock backs and accept that you are going to get rejected now and again and hopefully with a lot of hard work and a little luck you will be able to live your dream of working within the music industry.
Steven Kirby is the owner and creator of http://www.onthedex.com
as well as being an established dj for over 12 Years.