There are some authorities in the pro DJ circuit who are worth listening to. Then you have all-time legends like DJ Jazzy Jeff – an inspiration for millions of aspiring DJs over the years.
Asked to share his thoughts and musings, Jeff made it clear that making it as a DJ is about more than building practical skills alone. You need to know your way around a pro DJ equipment set-up, but you also need to live and breathe DJing as a lifestyle.
If you’re serious about making a career of DJing, here’s what DJ Jazzy Jeff says you need to be doing:
1. Listen to Music Constantly
Frankly, this isn’t something that should need to be said. Unless you’re basically obsessed with music, you can’t expect to make a name for yourself in the music biz. Music should be your passion – something you’re thinking about, making, and enjoying on a continuous basis.
But it’s not enough to restrict yourself to the exact genre of music you’re into. You also need to work continuously on broadening your horizons and build an understanding of why different types of music are popular with different audiences.
2. Share the Experience with Your Friends and Family
You can’t realistically live the DJ lifestyle if everyone around you is excluded, or for that matter, not invited to join the party in the first place. DJ Jazzy Jeff has often spoken of how important music has always been to his family life.
For example, he has a specific family playlist for early mornings before the school run. He’s constantly singing and dancing with his family, and his partner works with him in the recording studio. All his closest friends and family members are part of what he does and therefore share in his successes with the same enthusiasm.
3. Build an Extensive Network
In the music biz, you never know which names in your address book could one day prove pure gold. There’s really no such thing as having a network that is too big or diverse. Be mindful of the fact that today’s smaller and less established producers and promoters could be the major record label execs of the future.
But building an extensive network of contacts isn’t enough. According to Jeff, one of the best things you can do as a DJ is to spend as much time as possible hanging out with other DJs, artists, producers, promoters, and so on. A great way to learn a ton from other pros in the music biz, while at the same time opening a world of doors.
4. Keep Your Ego in Check
Two things here – the first of which is to avoid getting too big for your boots. Following that first potential taste of success, arrogance has a tendency to creep into the mix. Something which, for a lot of aspiring DJs, can mean curtains for their credibility.
Secondly, it’s your duty as part of the DJ community to give something back. If you’re more skilled and successful than most in your niche, why not offer to coach and mentor new DJs? One thing all of the world’s best-loved DJs have in common is the way in which they’re always motivating and encouraging others to follow in their footsteps.
5. Make Your Fans Your Priority
Last up, far too many aspiring DJs overlook the importance of nurturing loyalty. They work hard on getting new fans and followers on board, but make little to no effort to retain their existing fans. This can be a fatal mistake, as those who get on board with what you do at an early stage will almost always be your most loyal listeners. That is if you make the effort to retain them.
Make your fans your priority at all times. Reach out to them, engage with them, listen to their music, express your appreciation, and make them feel like a big deal. Focus more of your time on listener retention, rather than disproportionately prioritizing new listeners.