Would you let your child pursue a full time career as a DJ or Singer in the dance music industry? Where is the line drawn when that parental support turns from encouragement to straight up delusion?

Every second of every day, a DJ, artist, musician, whatever, is pounding away at their Facebook messenger, plugging their next single, spamming their new mix, maybe even trying to genuinely network. Sometimes, and maybe it’s hard to believe for some, but some of us are having conversations online that reach a little further, albeit still within the topical realms of the dance music world we live in. One such innocuous conversation with Timmy Vegas of Soul Central one night, led to this article.

Timmy is a self-taught piano man, responsible for replaying those infamous keys on the Soul Central take on the seminal classic Strings Of Life. His son, aged 13, is classically trained and really is a whizz on the old ivories. I asked Timmy whether, considering all the experience he has had and all the knowledge he has gathered, from a career spanning well over twenty five years, including national chart exposure with the aforementioned Strings Of Life: Would you want your son to have a full time job in the dance industry? Timmy answered with a resounding NO stating that the industry is oversaturated and that he would want his son to have a different profession and to maybe have the piano playing as a secondary form of income, if of course, he chose to continue to keep it up in later life.”

Would you let your child pursue a full time career as a DJ or Singer in the dance music industry? Even if you are not a small part of the sprawling fabric of the industry, it’s pretty fair to say you are well aware of the fact that everyone these days is a DJ or a singer. The last stat shows there are more of those combined than there are iPhones in the world. OK, there are no stats on how many DJs and singers are out there, but my made up stat is probably not far off! So the core question leads towards the fact that, would you be happy to let your son or daughter follow a dream, knowing of the pitfalls ahead? Potential lambs to the slaughter.

The majority answer I obtained from friends I asked, was definitely airing on the ‘Allow them to follow their dreams’ and that you can’t discourage your children from following their aspirations. Various people answered this hypothetically, as they don’t even have kids, but that’s fair enough, as you can have a good idea of what you want to do as a parent, without actually having them. However the reality could be that your kid is still chasing that dream and living at home with you at thirty five, waiting for that one hit that would catapult them to stardom, all the while they can’t really even afford to pay you rent. Would you be as happy supporting that dream even then?

Where is the line drawn when that parental support turns from encouragement to straight up delusion? We’ve all seen that reality show act that embarrass themselves, whilst we all laugh at them and the parents harp on backstage about how great they are and that they’ll come back next year ‘better and stronger’. This behaviour is just the same as that pushy Dad, who is living his football days vicariously through his son. The kid shivering his nuts off on a cold winter’s morning, when he’d prefer to be in bed, doing anything but play football. There is a direct correlation between this type of parenting.

Let’s take the parental slant out of it and just focus on the DREAM. ‘You’re never going to make it unless you think big’. ‘Nothing great ever came easy’ (although some may argue that and maybe cite someone like Martin Garrix perhaps?) and all the rest of those quotes that get stuck over a dreamy picture and stuck up on Instagram. You do realise the world we live in today, right? All the positivity in the world cannot cover up the atrocities that affect many on a day to day basis. If you want to stick your head in the sand, then that’s cool by me. Positivity does indeed seem to breed positivity though, so let’s go with the fact that the kid just keeps chasing the dream. How do you set them up to follow that path in the right way, rather than stumble along blindly? Graham Sahara, long time Pacha Ibiza resident said;

“I’d explain the trials and tribulations I have experienced. If they were 100% keen, then I’d be their manager and use every contact I have to try and make them a success”.

Failure can indeed maketh the man. If you look at any legends across any business or profession, you’ll find CEOs and Managing Directors that have made mistakes, lost money, maybe not signed a record that went on to be a smash. Many moons ago Calvin Harris sent a demo off to Simon Dunmore at Defected Records and the big boss man sent a ‘thanks, but no thanks’ letter (yes, an actual letter!) in return. The rest of course is history. A good case in point for success for both parties, irrespective of the knock back and failure to sign the future highest earning DJ in the world. The higher profile stories are easier to find and help spur on the future wave of talent. But what of the thousands of DJs and Singers that give it a whirl, then grow up have a kid, buy a house, all that stuff and then ditch off the dream and go and get a ‘proper job’. Do you think that these people never really had the true desire to make it?

One argument could be that many industries are over saturated. There will be wave upon wave of young people wanting to get in to the marketing world, fashion, the list can go on. The majority of those high interest industries require degrees, work experience and hard graft to make it. There is an unhealthy belief in the dance industry that you just need to have a hit record and you’ve made it. You’ve not made it. You’ve taken a giant step. You need to keep that up. Can you keep that up? As a parent, would you really want your child to have such an uncertain and potentially stressful future? Dale Hooks, one of Belfast’s most prominent DJs, offered up this pearl of wisdom “I’d tell them to do well in school, get a job first, let the music be a bit on the side, then when the parties over, they’ll always have that job to fall back on” citing Judge Jules as a great example of this.

Ed Case who had his fair share of success in the UK Garage days added a slant of realism on things;

“there are no sure things in music. Especially creating it these days. The only people making money are people who don’t have talent and charge you for a service. Shame the industry has changed…there are the few who break through but to do so you need to spend a fortune.”

Maybe you’ll have an endless pit of money and/or fantastic contacts to support your child’s dream, much like Max Vangeli or Danny Avila? The reality is that it may well be a struggle, so remember to be strong and support that creative flair, maybe just get them a large cup of reality juice to go with that happy meal you regularly buy them?

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About the Author

Resident DJ for Kinky Malinki for over 15 years. Trainer enthusiast, goalkeeper and collector of too much stuff. Have been dipping my toe in to the world of writing for quite some time having written for Azuli Records in the past, along with doing Kinky Malinki’s press work and writing a sneaker spread for an urban lifestyle magazine called 24/7 Live Listings. I’ve always go too much to say, especially when it comes to the dance industry, so what better way than to channel it in to articles for Decoded Magazine.