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DJing is one of the most desirable careers, not only among musicians but among people who live for an exciting lifestyle and who love music.
But starting a career as a DJ can be really difficult, not only because it’s desirable, but because DJing is difficult and it can take time to build skills that are good enough to start a career.
Another difficulty can be catching a break and finding gigs, and there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to find work as a DJ even if you’re very talented.
However there are many things you can do to kickstart your career as a DJ, and in this guide, we’re going to look at some of the best things you can do to propel yourself into the limelight.
Choose Your Style And Build Your Catalog
The first and most important thing to do as a DJ is to decide how you want to work and what medium you’re going to work within.
As music has evolved over the years more and more ways of listening to music have grown, and while DJs would have once had to build a collection of vinyls or CDs to mix and experiment with, it’s possible to download music and experiment with it in various ways currently, from using digital mixing software to using expensive physical decks and old school vinyl.
Your job is to choose what you’d like to work with. Would you prefer the hands-on feeling of working with vinyl records? Do you have the space to store these and transport them for your gigs? Would CD’s be a better option?
Can you afford to collect music in these formats, or would digital recordings be a more economical option, as well as a convenient space saver?
Try to meditate on these issues and decide on what’s best for you as an artist, as they are serious concerns that will shape your whole approach to DJing and will have a lot of knock-on effects on your later options and opportunities.
Study Successful DJs
Studying DJs who are successful is the best way to learn tips and tricks as well as ideas for how to mix your music.
There are many aspects to this, from looking into the equipment DJs use, to how they promote themselves before shows, how they mix the music, and how they add flair and showmanship to their performances.
Immerse yourself in the history and culture of DJing and look for inspiration, as DJing is itself the art of reimagining existing works, bending and shaping music that already exists, and making something new and exciting.
It’s impossible to do this without a deep knowledge of both music and how DJs operate, from how to structure a set, to what effects and changes can take a mix to the next level.
You won’t be able to start a career as a DJ without practice. Many DJs start out in their bedroom, mixing music on very simple systems and building their understanding of music and their knowledge of how to change it and work with it.
Learning how your equipment works is the bare minimum you need, in reality you should be also practicing your improvisation as well as your showmanship, developing ideas for how to create a great mix and how to put on a show.
You can graduate to playing for your friends or at parties once you’re confident enough, as this can be a great way to develop your skills and confidence as well as build your reputation and start spreading your sound to listeners.
Start Attending Gigs
Attend gigs as a fan, but also start trying to book gigs as a performer too! Contact promoters, agents, and clubs and ask them to consider giving you a slot to build your confidence further and demonstrate your skills to people who will be able to pay you for your work.
This is the first step on the ladder to serious self-promotion too and can give you the chance to build your own fan base and start seriously projecting your style and skills.
Build Your Profile
Once you build momentum, it’s time to consider seeking an agent and working on your wider profile by using social media to release music and expand your reach.
All of this can be done simultaneously and increases the chances of you becoming well known and attracting attention to your music and from other clubs and festivals who will be monitoring popular and rising acts with the hope of snapping up their talent and signing it to their own agency.
Alternatively, you can remain independent and work on continuing to build your profile and managing your career solo, although this can be very difficult.
Be unapologetic about promoting yourself. Use any connections you have, be they friends or coworkers, use social media, release music online, even consider using controversy and viral marketing techniques to build your image and assert yourself.
There are many temptations and difficulties that threaten the success of budding DJs, from the allure of the party lifestyle to the delicate balancing act of performing, promoting, and supporting yourself.
One skill set all DJs have however is excellent multi-tasking, so even though managing all these different aspects of your career can feel overwhelming and thankless, stick to your task and believe in yourself!
If you work hard and stay focused on what’s important to you musically and professionally , your career as a DJ has a great chance of becoming a successful reality!