We have all seen it, we may have been guilty of it ourselves in the past or it may just not bother you at all, but there is some rules that should not be broken to ensure you have a long and lasting music career if you are truly serious about the industry. Below is 10 ways to well and truly destroy and chance of having a fulfilling career, they are by no means a definitive list, I am sure there can be plenty more, but for now, lets just stick to the basics.
1. Making mixes that are full of faults
A mix represents who you are, your level of skill and you will be rightly judged on that mix by your peers, fans and industry. If you create a mix that has clashing beats, is just full of Beatport top 10 hits and has no thought to it, it will tarnish you forever. Think of it as a CV. Take your time to construct a mix, be adventurous, creative and listen to others, understand track selection, key matching and creating a journey.
2. Paying for likes, followers, plays, downloads etc.
Stop it right now! Do you really think promoters, industry and your fans are idiots? You will be found out and publically shamed and instantly outcasted. There is no easy way to gain followers, it takes hard work, determination, networking and years to build a fanbase, but at least they will be real. Without real fans, you are not a real DJ, period!
3. Being wasted when playing
Ok, we all like a drink or 2, but arriving to your gig wasted on alcohol or drugs only shows that not only are you unprofessional, you actually have no respect for fans, the promoter or club. You actually are just a dick! Keep that for later, even better, party on afterwards with your mates away from the event. Why not spend that time talking to punters, the promoter, staff etc, build a relationship with them. It looks much better than rolling your eyes in the back of your head and drooling on the bar.
4. Don’t be a wanker
Nobody likes someone who is full of themselves, someone who prances around a club, thinking they own the place, late to gigs, doesn’t help the promoter to push the event, to important to speak to fans, expects royal treatment etc. You will quickly develop a reputation and find nobody replies to your emails or calls. Stop it, let’s break it down for you. You are only someone who plays somebody else’s music (good or bad) you are not curing cancer, so stop thinking you are God.
5. Not having a professional web presence
Ok, so you are no Bill Gates, you struggle to send an email at the best of time, but the facts stand, without a digital presence today, you will find it extremely difficult to go anywhere in the industry. Spending years to hone your craft in producing or DJing is fine, but spending time on learning Facebook, twitter, soundcloud features, functions and basic marketing will help you more in the long run than mixing on 4 decks. If you don’t know how to do it, there is plenty of self help guides online – one word – Google!
6. Get a proper press pack
Writing a bio yourself can be difficult, it is almost like writing a personals ad, but the trick is, not to be self serving, grandiose and full of yourself. Saying you rock the house, guarantee to fill the floor etc will do you no good and 9 times out of 10, will be ignored or deleted. There is no need to over hype yourself, a (good) promoter is more interested in you as a person, your style and your music. Having a good press image is essential. Stay away from cliché shots, such as headphones on, standing by a wall with graffiti. You do not have to spend a lot of money to get some simple shots that can be used by the promoter / club in marketing. Invest in yourself and other will want to invest in you.
7. Being lazy
Relying on promoters, press, agents, clubs, labels etc to promote you is simply lazy. It is essential for you to consistently network, attend conferences, reply to your fans, update your pages, engage with the industry and be in control of your profile. You wouldn’t allow someone to write your music or create your mixes, so why do you think you can hand one of the most important aspects of your career over to someone else to do it for you?
8. Having a constant negative attitude
We are all guilty of having a rant or 2 online, but don’t do it daily! Be positive, helpful and constructive. Share new music, support fellow artists or promoters. Stay away from stupid debates as vinyl vs digital or constantly bashing EDM. We get it, it is not music you like, but no need to bang on about it everyday. Create a positive outlook for the industry and you will find it will open new doors.
9. Learn what to play and when
The art of DJing is not all about stringing 2 records together, it is about learning to read a crowd, understanding the complexities of a track, melodies and keys and translating that to the dancefloor. It is something that you cannot buy, it is an essential skill that sadly is being lost on new generations. Learn how to warm up a room, don’t bang it out early and don’t play a track by an artist who you are warming up for. Try going out and listening to other DJs who really know how to warm up a room. Watch and listen, observe the subtle changes in the music and dancefloor. It is an essential and well respected skill to learn
10. Don’t pay to play
This is a contentious issue across the industry right now, but one that needs to be stamped out immediately. I understand that it is hard to get your foot in the door and the lure of being able to play at a well known club for the task of selling 20+ tickets seems easy, but you are actually pigeon holing yourself only as a DJ who gets gigs because you sell tickets. It is noticed in the industry, you can’t sugar coat it. By doing this, you are feeding the system that continues to breed this bad behaviour from clubs and promoters. Aquila London Event is the worst for this, asking DJs to pay a deposit to play. Some great advice given to me many many years ago, was that if you want a gig, then why not do your own night? If you can pull 20 – 30 mates to a club to sell them tickets, why not get them down to your local for free and actually have a good time?
It is never easy starting off in the industry, but selling your soul and respect to a promoter consistently by doing their job, is not the way to set yourself up for a long and successful career. As I mentioned at the beginning, this is by no means an exhaustive list of right or wrongs, but merely 10 essential things to be mindful of if you wish to have a long and lasting music career. Please feel free to add more in the comments section.