Everyone’s got a dream, and just like any other career, in DJing you can make it happen faster if you know where you’re headed and how you’re going to get there. Yesterday, in 7 Things I Wish I’d Known About DJing At 18, Phil spoke of how successful DJs have a plan. In this article, we’ll dive deeper, and help you come up with a plan.
The 4 Steps…
1. Plan with the end in mind
All of us started DJing because we love music and we love sharing it. For some, their brush with DJing starts and ends as a hobby, and that’s fine. Others want to take it beyond the bedroom and turn it into a side gig that earns on weekends. And then there are those who want to pursue DJing as a full-time career, whether as a professional DJ or someone who tours around the world. What about you: what’s your end game scenario? What is your DJ dream?
Knowing what you’d want to achieve in your DJing is the first step to creating a plan. Think of an end goal, whether that’s playing in Ibiza, running your own mobile DJ business, or spinning for all your office work dos and being “the guy” for all party-related endeavours. Once you’ve thought about your big end goal, break it down into smaller, more manageable goals by thinking backwards and identifying the steps needed for you to get there.
Let’s say your goal is to compete in the DMC World Finals or the Red Bull Thre3style championships. Smaller goals would include learning how to scratch using a DVS, setting aside time to practise turntablism, filming / recording your routines for upload and evaluation, and so on. These small goals can be broken down into even smaller ones if needed.
If you’re having trouble identifying your small goals, know that breaking down your big end goal is a matter of asking the right questions: What skills would you need to learn? Do you need any extra gear? How will you improve your technique? Who do you need to speak with in order to get farther in that scene? Do you need a mentor to help you?
2. Create an ambitious timeline and be guided by it
You won’t become a world-class scratch DJ in a month if you’ve never even tried a baby scratch, but you may just be able to compete in a local scratch competition in a year if that’s part of your plan (and you work your butt off for 365 days). A timeline gives you a deadline – and deadlines make things happen.
The trick for making a challenging timeline is to make it long enough for you to be able to develop whatever skill, network, or gear proficiency you need in order to meet your end goal, but to make it short enough so that it keeps you on your toes. Sure, you can aim to compete, but if you give yourself 10 years in order to do that, then you aren’t pushing yourself.
Make your timeline tight enough so it makes you a bit nervous just thinking about it: this is what will get your behind off your couch and behind the decks.
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars” is a quote that gets thrown around often, and for good reason. Cliche as it may sound, there is some truth to it – failing to hit an audacious goal will still mean you’ve done something significant in the process of achieving it.
3. Knuckle down and get to work
All the planning in the world won’t get you anywhere if no execution takes place. You can have the most detailed step-by-step guide to total world DJ domination, but if you binge on House Of Cards and Downton Abbey reruns when you should be practising, you’re not getting any closer to achieving your dreams.
There is no substitute for putting hand to platter. Part of your plan should be a schedule for key activities you need to do order to accomplish your smaller goals. You should have a practice routine in place, a regular schedule for creating online content for your social profiles, and even time for good ol’ person-to-person connecting.
Networking with people in your industry and scene is just as important as the alone time you spend honing your craft. Give both equal amounts of attention and care.
4. Review your plan regularly
Here’s where folk often stumble: Once you’ve got your plan, make sure that you look at it from time to time – I review my goals every quarter, just like a business, because I treat my DJing as if it’s a small business and I’m an entrepreneur. This lets you check if you’re on the right path or if you’ve strayed, and also helps you maintain a sense of urgency.
Though you may feel like you’ve progressed, you can only know for certain if you’re able to measure how far you’ve come. It’s a satisfying exercise in itself, and it gives you an opportunity to be grateful for what you’ve achieved so far (so it doesn’t feel like you’re fighting an endless, uphill battle) and also gives you a clearer view of what’s to come.
The best way to get lost is to have no idea where you’re headed. This could be the fate of DJs who “wing it” without a clear idea of what their dreams are and how they’ll get to them. Admittedly, I was like this up until I considered my DJing to be an actual career rather than an excuse to party and get sloshed, and I’ve seen results just because I have a plan in place.
Having a plan means you can say no to gigs and things that don’t matter, leaving you with more time and energy to say yes to gigs and things that do.
• IF your dream is to DJ to pro level and play sets just like your favourite club DJs, our Digital DJ Masterclass online training will get you there. It’s currently open for 2017 but will close in the next couple of days, until next year – so now is your chance to find out about it and get on board. Click here for the info.
Do you have a plan for your DJ career? What is your end goal as regards your DJing? Share your dreams with us below.