We can all agree that being a DJ is probably the best job in the world. The only complaint these guys (and girls) tell Glow about is their lack of sleep. But that’s what cross country and trans-Atlantic flights are for, right?

So how does one make it? Good question.

#1 – Start ASAP:

Anyone who’s big into DJing and/or producing probably had either musical parents or a passion for the arts at a young age. The same goes for sports. Earl Woods was a golf instructor. He put a club in Tiger’s hands before the kid could walk. Mozart’s dad was an orchestral leader, composer and instructor. Wolfgang was composing (with daddy’s help) by the age of 5.

#2 – Practice Makes Perfect:

If you want to be successful in any field you’ve got to practice. Talent is overrated, practicing one’s craft to the point of perfection is not. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone without being overwhelmed is important. Pushing further the next time is paramount. Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they never get it wrong. And it’s never fun.

#3 – Network:

Establish relationships with those who are already successful. If your creative side is nurtured (#1) and you practice your ass off (#2), the best will recognize your potential. Figure out how to display your talents to those who matter. Once you have a product that is unique and eye-opening/ear-catching, hit some people up and see what they think. Be persistent (but not annoying!)

#4 – Show Prowess (bravery in battle):

It’s hard enough to get the ear of a professional DJ/producer… even with Facebook and Twitter. It’s even more difficult getting them to listen to your music. And when they do listen they’ll probably reject it. Don’t be discouraged. Instead of quitting, ask for constructive criticism. Practice more. It will not be fun. Growth hurts. Success comes from struggle. If it were easy to attain everyone would have it.

#5 – Never Stop Working:

Nick Rockwell (Bad Boy Bill’s touring opener) explained it. Pete Moutso (Glow’s Music Director) said it. Sean Tyas did it. Joe from Bullitt Bookings pushes it. Pleasurekraft is going through it now. Everyone knows it. At this point in dance music there are two kinds of DJs. Local residents and touring stars. If you want to go on tour and make a career out of dance music you must produce. No one wants to book a DJ they’ve never heard of. People hear your name through production.

Tiesto, Paul van Dyk and Armin van Buuren are the only DJs to be named #1 in the world in the past 9 years. Why? They produced the most classic anthems of all time. Their names ring out. They were booked throughout the world and more people learned their names. They are exceptional DJs no doubt; but the best DJ in the world is probably some kid who sits in his bedroom and spins four hours a day. But no one has ever heard of him (or her).

The reason those three are who they are is because they produce gold.

#6 – More Networking

It’s not what you know in this life, it’s who you know. There are many local DJs in the DMV area who do quite well for themselves. You see them opening every week at Glow. You see them out at Eden, Ultrabar, Barcode, Current, Midtown, Ibiza, U-Hall, ESL, Marvin, District, etc. They are where they are because of practice and spectacular networking on a local level. To make it locally, you need to be social.

    :: Remember ::

Social media outlets have been saturated by people with illusions of grandeur. How does one separate him/herself? A lot of it happens by great timing. Be cool (like the movie). Relax. Don’t directly promote yourself. Hang out, get to know people and let them discover your skills on their own.

It’s widely accepted that significant success comes at the 10-15 year mark. Think about how long basketball and football players have been at it. Since the age of 5 or 10… by the time they’re 20-25 they’re blossoming in the pros.

What’s next? The answer is simple. Inhale, exhale, repeat process. And be chill about it.

3 Responses to “How to 'Make It' as a DJ”

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  1. DJ Twizm says:

    I beg to differ on number 5. There are MANY famous dj’s that have never produced a track in their life..too many to name. if u would like, i will list them in a response. lol. There are alot who get noticed for their turntablism, mash ups, etc. or, use other producers and/or receive dubplates. I am in no means trying to be an ass or disrespectful in my disagreement, just stating the facts. : ) However, I will agree that it is a hell of a lot easier to make it big as a producer. u must express a unique talent or be phenomenal to make it JUST as a dj.

  2. All excellent points here. However, after gigging as a DJ for 7 years, I noticed this model is some what broken and could be streamlines a bit.

    The concept of networking or emailing soundcloud mixes to venue owners/influencers is archaic and ineffective for the most part. A lot of DJs don’t know how to network, when they do they come off egotistical and cocky. Plus majority of venues/club requests are ignored because:

    1. They don’t have the time
    2. resources to keep up with these requests
    4. The talent hasn’t build enough traction or skill to perform at that venue

    Most venues do not include any scouting initiatives for upcoming talent who are growing. That’s because management is busy dealing with everyday operations and focus little time on booking local talent. Plus their inboxes are ALWAYS flooded with cold-email requests from other djs (my inbox is flooded too), not to mention walk-up requests. That’s a big problem for the talent and the venue is missing out on all the draw that talent might bring!

    It’s easy for clubs to ignore all these pitches/demo cds/cold-emails and go with the guy who played the week before. Clubs like any other business like to work with people who they trust, but how can you earn the trust and prove that you are a capable talent without the tools, knowledge or the right connections to make an effective pitch?

    The kissing ass, CD passing, networking and buying drinks to promoters game must be disrupted and substituted with a working one. A model that connects awesome talent with huge potential to the decision makers of these venues. We are currently testing this new model with club owners and local talent (starting in the east coast/USA).

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