Digital DJ tips reader Andre writes: “Can a DJ truly specialise in many different genres? Does this affect his/her following? This isn’t referencing the ‘open format’ DJ who may play a mix of genres throughout an evening at a Top 40 club. This question specifically targets someone like myself who likes to play the occasional drum & bass night, deep house night, indie / indietronica night or vintage disco/soul party.”
“Most notable DJs in my area and beyond have a specialisation. Crowds see the DJ booked for an upcoming party and know what they expect to hear at the event, based on their specialisation. Is the DJ sacrificing forward momentum without a specific focus on one main genre?
“Is it wise to narrow the scope of the nights you play to a specific specialisation? Someone like myself loves music in general and I love playing across lots of different genres but not usually within the same night. Am I sacrificing my forward momentum in my craft by not focusing on one genre with a few related sub-genres?”
Digital DJ Tips says:
Great question Andre. Firstly I’d say your music collection, first and foremost, should reflect stuff you genuinely love. A love of music is wider and longer-lived than being a DJ in any particular style, and buying music beyond that you can DJ with means your sound has a chance to develop. (Also, there are many as you call them “open format” DJs who are less Top 40, more highly eclectic – and all the better for it. There’s an art to this type of DJing.)
Secondly I think once people know you for what you do, it’s easier to successfully “switch”: Skream, one of the top dubstep pioneers, has famously swung around to the disco sound, for example; and Carl Cox went from hardcore to techno back in the day, to give you two examples.
Thirdly, there are many DJs who play commercial for a living, but have an “underground” alter-ego; these guys tend to adopt a pseudonym for one or both of the sides of their personality, to keep their “two lives” separate. That can work, too.
Our writer Mike Monday DJed all over the world for 17 years and produced more than 300 tunes over that time too, but despite his success, he says if he’d found and stuck to a sound a little bit more he thinks he could have done even better. However, I’d love to get our readers’ views on this one.
Over to you: How important is it to develop your own sound? Is it possible to DJ more than one style successfully? Have you had any experience of managing two “separate” DJ careers (or more…)? Let us know in the comments!