Who better to learn from when it comes to DJing, than one of the greatest DJs of all time? We hung out with DJ Jazzy Jeff for a long time when we made DJ Jazzy Jeff’s How To DJ Right course, and just being with him gave us real insight into how he lives his day-to-day life, reminding us of some lessons that all DJs would do well to take heed of.
The good thing is, none of them are difficult or will necessarily tie up your time – they’re often just common sense, obvious things we can and should all do if we want to get ahead in this awesome hobby of ours. So here they are:
Jeff’s 5 Easy DJ Lessons
1. Listen to music, like, all the time
If you want to be a DJ, you need to live and breathe music. Sure, we were in Jeff’s studio, so of course music was all around him, but he was constantly talking about the importance of listening to and learning your library even when you’re in bed, having music playing when you’re going about your life, and so on. And we’re talking ALL music, not just DJ music. He has speakers in every single room of his very large home…
2. Involve your family in what you do
Famously, one of Jeff’s sons, Amir, is now a hip-hop artist in his own right. But Jeff’s young kids are also involved in his music – hell, they even have a family playlist to listen to when everyone’s getting ready for the morning school run! Likewise, Jeff’s partner not only works with him running his DJing life, but is constantly popping into the studio, having a little dance, chatting music. If you want to do well as a DJ, it makes sense to involve those closest to you as much as you can.
3. Hang out with other DJs and producers
Jeff’s studio is a bit of a revolving door, with people popping in with ideas, asking for help, borrowing bits of gear, sharing new discoveries… He even shares a story about how when he moved out of the city, he put a lot of pressure on his musician friends to move nearby, too (now, he has several as close neighbours). Jeff even runs a “Playlist Retreat” where he invites a hand-picked guest list of DJs, producers and other VIPs to make music together, at his home.
Being part of a “scene”, especially a local one, gives encouragement, makes the hobby more exciting, and opens doors.
4. Be generous with what you know
Some DJs are famously aloof, standoff-ish, even arrogant. They have egos, and those egos demand that they climb the ladder, jealously guarding and defending every little rung they achieve on their climb to wherever it is they are so determined to get to. Good luck asking for advice from them!
But Jeff’s approach is very different. Jeff is, primarily, a fan. He loves encouraging others to succeed, and enjoys watching DJs do great stuff – and is always happy to help any way he can. A “giving” attitude of abundance brings more back to you than you ever give, and Jeff – probably the world’s number one DJ – is walking proof of that. So share generously. The highs will outweigh the lows.
Read this next: DJ Jazzy Jeff’s 12 Things DJing Has Taught Me
5. Don’t forget your fans
Jeff started DJing in the 80s. He has legions of fans who have grown up with him. He knows they are the reason he is where he is. Why do you think he does livestreams at lunchtime? Because he knows his fans love being able to tune in to their favourite DJ when they’re at work! Why do you think he is happy to play fun, unusual sets that other DJs might not touch, like his recent “yacht rock” set? Because he know his fans, many of whom are now well into middle age, love things like that.
Appealing to your “core audience” (usually people “like you”) doesn’t mean you can’t also appeal to other types of people… but as Jeff has always known, disregarding them is a big error.
Let Jeff Teach You To DJ
DJ Jazzy Jeff’s How To DJ Right is the game-changing DJ course that has taken the DJ world by storm. It is for everyone, even beginners, yet it goes into great depth, revealing all his secrets. If you want to be able to DJ like Jeff, or just want insight into how he does it, it is a fantastic investment.
Watch Jeff explain more about his course here.