Digital DJ Tips reader Joe Roku writes: “Is it wise to focus on just one style of music to DJ with? I’m an EDM DJ, but also play a lot of other genres such as top 40, urban / hip-hop, and house. I can mix anything, but I really do love EDM, and I’m having a hard time deciding on whether I should just stick to one style of music or continue playing other genres. What are your thoughts on this?”
Digital DJ Tips Says:
This is a difficult choice to make, but one that will ultimately have to be made at some point in any DJ career: should you spread yourself out by playing all sorts of music at all sorts of venues for all sorts of crowds, or should you double down on a specific style, and put all your effort into developing a sound and branding yourself as “that DJ”?
A lot of DJs will want to play all sorts of music because they want to keep their options open. This makes sense: in a way, DJing is a numbers game, and if you’re able to play any kind of music for any type of crowd, it follows that you’re more likely to be booked at more venues, and that’s fine. But you also have to think about what will separate you from everyone else – truthfully, any DJ can play just about any type of music these days, especially now that it’s easier to grab the latest hits across all genres thanks to the internet, or through charts and playlists like the ones found on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.
How do you become memorable, then, instead of just another jobbing DJ on the bill? The solution is that once you’ve “done your dues” and got your hours on the board so to speak, it does make sense to specialise, and the first step towards that is to be clear on the type of music that you want to play, and immerse yourself in it. If you really love EDM and want to DJ it, then go ahead and get in deep. If you’re more of a top 40 / club / urban DJ, focus on that. Are house and techno calling you? Answer it.
The key is to spend more time practising skills, learning techniques, and researching / discovering music that’s pertinent to the genre that you’ve chosen to be a specialist in. This may narrow down your gig options, but you’re also potentially offering much, much more than the next “all singing all dancing” DJ who’s only scratching the surface of a chosen style.
In DJing, as in life, remember this: you will never have it all. Ever. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you can begin to niche down, specialise, and plan your strategy accordingly (I sound so ruthless here!).
Are you a multi-genre DJ, or do you specialise in one or two styles only? Why do you choose to be that instead of the other? Share your thoughts with us below.