There is a sense of euphoria that comes with playing music and successfully entertaining a crowd at a club. That is the job of a Disc Jockey (DJ). A successful DJ creates a mood for a party using just their skills in music selection and in the way they deliver each song. In a world where DJing is accessible enough that anyone can download software and call themselves a DJ, it takes something special to stand out and make a career out of it.
1. So how does an ordinary ambitious and passionate bedroom DJ make it?How do I differentiate myself?
Some DJs play popular music while some aim to discover new and unheard music. As an emerging DJ, one needs to establish what kind of music and the places they wish to play at. There are also styles of mixing, one may establish themselves as a megamix DJ much like DJ Kent and DJ PH or House music DJ like Shimza. Take for instance Black Motion and to a larger extent Black Coffee who have performed with live instrumentalists in performing their productions.
2. Do I have to be a producer too?
Being a DJ does not mean that one also has to produce music but it surely does help one’s brand. A decade or two ago, DJs differentiated themselves with their music taste and now any music admirer could shazam a song and immediately download it. Back then music was physical (vinyls and CDs) and only made available for purchased at specific record stores. It took time to get music and since that privilege is no longer possible, DJs have become producers to set themselves apart. A DJ/producer that makes sure that his sets are hard to copy is Da Capo, he usually includes exclusive and unreleased mixes of songs that other DJs cannot and will not find.
3. What is the point of remixes?
Just like music production is important is setting a DJ apart, remixes play a big role in getting one’s name and brand noticed. Remixes are essentially giving an old song, a new lease on life with a stamp of production on it. As an up and coming DJ/producer, it helps if one becomes a remixer of other people’s works but it is always best to have permission to rework. Unofficial remixes are a copyright infringement.
4. How do I build a following?
As an emerging DJ in a very saturated industry, you may want to start your own parties, which may become annual events like Shimza’s One Man Show or Major League Gardens. These movements grow every year, they too had humble beginnings. Also, a local radio station is a great place to start sending mixes of your work. DJ competitions and opening up for bigger DJs is always encouraged. This is preparation for when you score a residency.
5. Trends and genres.
Today, Amapiano, Hip-hop and Gqom are all the hype in clubs these days and in niche venues, deep and afro-tech are growing at a steady pace within house music. With so much to choose from, how does one choose? Well, most DJs have a specific genre that they are drawn to at a particular time and that’s the one they are most successful in. It takes a superstar to master the art of transitioning and successfully playing between the genres.
6. How do I get international bookings?
It’s all in the marketing. If you’ve scored a few remixes and are now working hard to finesse your position in the genre of your choice, you need to then study record labels or social media platforms that release similar music to that of yours. Entice them with your work and establish relationships to release your work in the markets you wish to penetrate. It is also very advisable as a DJ to expose yourself to trends and party scenes around the world to familiarize yourself with where the future of your sound is headed.
7. How do I use the internet to get noticed?
YouTube, SoundCloud and Mixcloud have helped launch many careers. They are still useful today. All you need is consistency, timing and great content.
Believe it or not, all it takes is the right approach and you can collaborate and build a strong discography. Keep reaching out as well.