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10 Principles to Success That Every DJ Needs To Learn

Most DJs starting their careers need a part-time or even a full-time job while they try to make a living in the music industry. It’s a reality that we cannot escape from unless you are extremely rich, don’t need a job and can devote 100% of your time and resources on your DJ aspirations. You may think having a job is a bad thing because it takes time away from doing your DJ stuff. But, as Steven Pressfield states in his classic The War Of Art, all of us are pros in one area: our jobs, so there are things we can take from what we’re already successfully doing in our workday life that defines us as professionals and apply it to your artistic endeavors.

Here is a list of 10 principles mentioned in The War Of Art including some tips on how you can apply to your DJ career.

1. We show up every day. We might do it only because we have to, to keep from getting fired. But we do it. We show up every day. 

-- Consistency is key for your DJ career. It’s not good enough to start something and don't finish it. Likewise, it’s not good enough to upload a set on a yearly basis. When we show up to the studio every day, even if it’s for just 1 hour, your skills will improve. You will learn new DJ tricks. You will finish your track.

2. We show up no matter what. In sickness and in health, come hell or high water, we stagger into the factory. We might do it only so as not to let down our co-workers, or for other, less noble reasons. But we do it. We show up no matter what. -- Sometimes we get sidetracked with other stuff going on with our lives. You have new series to watch on Netflix. You want to sleep in. You have to see what’s going on with people’s lives on Facebook :P It’s really easy to just procrastinate one day, then the next, and when you look back, the whole week/month/year passed by and we haven’t shown up. So, make sure that you set aside time, and show up no matter what. No more excuses.

3) We stay on the job all day. Our minds may wander, but our bodies remain at the wheel. We pick up the phone when it rings, we assist the customer when he seeks our help. We don't go home till the whistle blows. -- If you schedule 1,2,3 no matter how many hours of time to work on music daily, stay there for all those hours. Don’t start producing music, then after 10 minutes go check your Facebook notifications “real quick”. Focus on the job that you are doing it. If you need a break, make sure that it doesn’t involve so many distractions such as social media or watching TV.

4) We are committed over the long haul. Next year we may go to another job, another company, another country. But we'll still be working. Until we hit the lottery, we are part of the labor force. -- It takes time to build a successful career as a DJ. Don’t give up on the first “No" you get from a nightclub owner. Keep working hard and the results will appear over time.

5) The stakes for us are high and real. This is about survival, feeding our families, educating our children. It's about eating. -- You need to take your DJ career seriously if you want to make a living from it.

6) We accept remuneration for our labor. We're not here for fun. We work for money. -- Sometimes this can be a little controversial. But, the truth of the matter is, we cannot make a living from the music industry just from our love for music. We need to treat it as a job. We need to understand the business aspects of the industry. Besides, how are you going to pay your bills and invest in your career if you are working for free? There is nothing wrong about being passionate about music, but make sure that you treat it as you would any other job.

7) We do not overidentify with our jobs. We may take pride in our work, we may stay late and come in on weekends, but we recognize that we are not our job descriptions. The amateur, on the other hand, overidentifies with his avocation, his artistic aspiration. He defines himself by it. He is a musician, a painter, a playwright. -- Do not be overly invested in your works' success and over terrified of its failure. Don't take it so seriously it paralyzes you.

8) We master the technique of our jobs. -- Keep learning everything that you can about your field. Let’s say that you have just decided to be a DJ, make sure to learn to beat match your tracks. Then, move on and learn harmonic mixing. Then learn how to play on different controllers, and so on.

9)We have a sense of humor about our jobs. -- As we mentioned on tip#7, don’t take it so seriously that it paralyzes you. 

10) We receive praise or blame in the real world. -- We have a natural inclination to look for positive feedback. It’s nice to hear good things about our work. We ask our parents what they think about our new track, they love it. We ask our friends, they love it too. Then, we upload on Soundcloud and it’s not that big hit as we expected it to be based on the feedback you got. As you can imagine, the reason for this is: These people love you. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. So, when you need some feedback on your work, make sure that you are getting from professionals. Ask on a community of producers some feedback on your track. Don’t be afraid of some negative feedback. As harsh as some people might be with their comments sometimes, remember: don’t take it personally. It’s about your track, not about you. You will improve from it.

Sources Used:

The War Of Art