Being a pro DJ can be every bit as glamorous as it looks. At the same time, it can also be a pain in the backside, and a constant battle to maintain a viable business. All journeys to DJ stardom are different, but in all instances more than justify the effort involved.
Even so, there are some things you only discover after spending a decent amount of time working as a pro DJ; some of which come as pleasant surprises, others more in the form of a rude awakening.
To put the whole thing into context, here are three things you only learn after working for at least a year or so as a professional DJ:
1. Smaller Venues Are More Difficult and Intimidating to Play
Playing your first major event to a huge crowd can be terrifying and exhilarating in equal measures. The more people you’re entertaining, the more pressure you feel to get the job done right. But as time passes, you begin to realise that smaller venues are actually way more intimidating.
At a huge live show, the crowd is a blur, nobody can see you clearly and you can get away with plenty of minor mistakes. When playing up-close-and-personal in front of a smaller crowd, it is a bit like being at a job interview – everything you do is scrutinised to the nth degree. Odd as it may sound, playing a private party with just 50 or so people can actually be scarier than playing in front of 50,000 people at a music festival.
2. You Can’t Rely on Technical Skills Alone
Why are so many DJs who are less talented than you bagging the best slots at the gigs?
Because they’ve got the gift of the gab, and may also have a better PR agent than you; One thing you learn after going pro is how your technical prowess (and even your talent) as a DJ is just one piece of a much bigger puzzle.
Your personality, your promotional strategy, your approach to PR, your networking skills, these are all just as important as your proficiency as a DJ. You could be the most fantastically talented performer in the history of music, but it won’t get you far if you’re also an insufferable jerk.
3. There’s Always Someone So Much Better than You
The professional DJ needs to know how to pull off the perfect balance between supreme confidence and inherent humbleness. You need to present yourself as the master of your craft, but you also need to accept that there will always be DJs out there who are so much better than you.
Far from a cause for demotivation or misery, this should serve as your primary source of motivation. There is no such thing as perfection in the art of DJing, so it is your job to commit yourself to continuous improvement. Always remember that however good you think you are, you could be better – so stop making excuses, get out your DJ equipment and make it happen.