Achieving success in DJing or music production is not about following a set path, it’s about setting goals that matter to you, and feeling part of something you love. Nowadays, you have to “choose your own story” because – while the objective metrics of success still apply – there are tons more ways to “make it” in DJing.
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To get signed to a record label, to get a manager, a publisher and an agent, to get the tours and the press interviews and the fame, you HAVE to have built momentum around yourself – that’s how you’ll get noticed by these people. No one becomes successful without being recognised for a body of work – even anonymous artists like Banksy are where they are because of what they’ve created in spite of their anonymity, not because of it.
These tips will give you new ideas as to how to create momentum and propel yourself towards success this year.
5 Tips To Get Ahead In DJing In 2023
1. Produce relevant, thoughtful content
As a DJ, producing relevant and thoughtful content is crucial for marketing yourself and building a loyal fan base. I’m talking about mixes, productions, remixes, writing, posting glimpses of your life to stories… do stuff that counts. In today’s digital age, it’s not enough to just have a great sound – you also need to have a strong online presence. This means creating engaging and interesting content that showcases your unique style and personality.
By producing relevant content, you can showcase your skills and expertise to potential fans and clients. This could include sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses of your creative process, showcasing your latest tracks or mixes, or sharing your thoughts and insights on the latest trends in the DJ world.
In addition to being relevant, your content should also be thoughtful and thought-provoking. This means taking the time to consider your audience and what they might be interested in, and creating content that resonates with them. For example, you could share personal stories or experiences that relate to your music, or offer tips and advice for aspiring DJs.
Make it the heart of what you do, and make it regular, like clockwork. No excuses, because even though we aren’t living in a meritocracy, if you don’t work hard you don’t get anywhere. When I arrive at work at Digital DJ Tips every morning, I turn on the studio and have it ready to record within seconds, at any time. I can make quick YouTube Shorts, reviews, go live, whatever. I’ve made it part of my routine for over a decade. Make creating content (any kind of content) part of yours, too.
2. Go out and meet other people
It’s important to not only focus on building your online presence, but also to go out and meet other people in the industry and in your scene locally. Building connections and networking with other DJs, music professionals, and industry insiders is an incredibly valuable part of marketing yourself and advancing your career. So even if all of your friends are way past going out every night, you have to find a way to get yourself out there at least every now and then.
Read this next: Why Old School Networking Is A Killer Trick for Smart DJs
One of the biggest benefits of meeting other people in the industry is the opportunity to collaborate and create DJ partnerships or even to make new music together. By working with other DJs, you can expand your creative horizons, learn new skills, and create music that you may not have been able to create on your own.
In addition to the creative benefits, networking with other DJs can also help you gain exposure and build your reputation. By meeting and connecting with other professionals, you can share your music with a wider audience and potentially open up new opportunities for gigs and shows. Remember: People only book DJs they already like and know. Sending out mixtapes, for instance, will never get you far if you’ve had no personal contact with those people.
3. Practise your “elevator pitch”
Who are you? What do you do? What are you working on right now? If you can’t tell people this, and do it in such a way that you make them want to listen and feel interested, how can you expect any type of success? Start thinking about these questions and write down a concise answer that you can easily memorise and repeat verbatim to anyone who asks.
It’s often called an “elevator pitch” – a brief and compelling introduction to yourself and your music that you can use in various situations. This is essential for marketing yourself and building your reputation, as it allows you to quickly and effectively introduce yourself to potential fans and clients.
Your elevator pitch should be concise, engaging, and memorable. It should highlight your unique style and strengths as a DJ, and explain why you stand out from the crowd. For example, you could mention your biggest achievements or milestones, or discuss the genre or style of music that you specialise in (although remember, this final point is of little interest to venue owners – they want to know you can do the job reliably, and that you work hard).
Practising your elevator pitch is also important, as it will help you feel more confident and prepared when introducing yourself to others. You can practise with friends, family, or other DJs, and get feedback on how to improve and refine your pitch.
4. Treat your fans like the VIPs that they are
Without fans, you’ll never make it. So make your fans feel like they’re the most important people in the world. Answer every comment, preferably with a question to get a conversation going! Facilitate discussions with your fans by being their gateway to each other, especially in the beginning. Help them, share knowledge, be open and generous to your audience.
You build a following from the inside outwards, one person at a time, and it’s how everyone of great significance has done it. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook simply as a service for the people in his college dorm, remember, and worked out from there. By treating your fans (and at first, that means friends and family who dig what you do) with respect, appreciation, and gratitude, you can build a strong and loyal fan base that will support you and your music for years to come.
Make sure you’re responsive and accessible. This means answering followers’ questions, comments, and messages in a timely and professional manner, and being open and transparent in your communication with them. By being responsive and accessible, you can build trust and credibility with your fans, and show them that you value their support and feedback. Follow them back. Do stuff for them. Pennies make pounds when it comes to “social capital”.
5. Stop fretting about what to post on socials
Make steps one to four above the subjects of your social media posts, Instagram Stories, TikTok vids and so on, and your content will practically make itself. So here’s your content plan (ie what to talk about): 1. Your work, 2. People you admire, 3. What you’re up to right now, 4. Your fans and what they’re doing / thinking / sharing. Make new stuff, share stuff you dig, reply to those who engage.
Sure, work out what post types to create (text, image, video, audio), when to post them (preferably when your audience is awake / active online), and spend a bit of time making things look nice. But you’ll be surprised to know that these things are nowhere near as important as you might think compared to the importance of doing the work, prioritising living, breathing real-world connections, and giving genuine attention and respect to everyone who reaches out to you in whatever way and for whatever reason.
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Your fans and followers want to see the real you, not a carefully curated and polished version of yourself. Also, the best content is often spontaneous and unplanned. So instead of trying to plan and strategise every post, try to be spontaneous and respond to what’s happening in the moment. This could mean sharing your thoughts and reactions to a new track, or offering your perspective on a current event or trend in the DJ world.
The internet continues to level the playing field, and more than ever this is a “DIY” culture – you can be a one-person business, and achieve awesome feats. There’s actually never been a better time to become a great DJ or DJ/producer, and there have never been so many opportunities, so you owe it to yourself to try! And remember that success in DJing, like a lot of great things, means you’re playing for the long game.
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Have you got closer to your DJing goals this year? Why or why not? What do you think needs to be done in order for you to progress? Let us know in the comments.