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9 Dumb Things People Don't Tell You About DJing


4 min read

Mar 26

What People Don't Tell You About DJing

What people don't tell you about DJing iceburg, including music marketing, making money, networking, DJ jobs, and other facts about DJs.

Not Everyone Can Become a DJ

What they don't tell you about DJing is that rhythm can not be taught, you are either born with it or develop the skill over time. That innate sense of tempo is what separates the DJs from the crowd.

For every minute of live performance, there is a world of knowledge required. Then, there's the grind - building your brand, networking, and making money as a musician. You'll need to create content, collaborate, and release music consistently to stay relevant. All the effort you put in will test your patience.

The Work Hours are Brutal

Being a DJ isn't about pressing play and reading the crowd. It's about embracing a lifestyle where "normal working hours'' don't exist. A DJ job involves weekends, late nights, and even holidays. While there are moments of pure joy that you can't get anywhere else, you will be working more often than not.

DJs and producers also act as their own marketing manager, videographer, agent, etc. The path is challenging, but that's what makes every late night and early morning worth it.

Expect to Travel Long Distances for Little Money

As a beginner DJ, your gigs will be spread far and wide. It will often seem like you’re putting more gas in the tank than you’re getting back. Plus, those miles will only lead to growing your network, audience, and skills if you put in the extra effort.

If you are visibly excited, entertaining, and conversational, these small sets are a chance to grow your brand. Word-of-mouth is still the most powerful music marketing tool, so buckle up for the long haul and make an impression.

College DJ performing outside for an excited crowd at night.

There is a 0.001% Chance of Going Pro

Everyone seems to want to DJ these days, drawn by the fame, fun, and music. The truth is, there is likely someone who has been practicing harder for longer than you. DJ Tech Reviews conducted a survey showing that a whopping 35% of DJs have been practicing for over 10 years. Making the jump to the professional level is as tough as going pro in a sport.

You'll Need to Provide Value to Earn Live Gigs

To get noticed, you have to bring something special to the event. It should be a dumb idea NOT to book you for a show. For example, some DJs have custom visuals synchronized with their set. Or special lighting equipment and stage props that come along with the booking.

As a DJ looking to play live shows, you'll need to become a salesman for your brand and act.

Most DJs can’t survive off performance fees

Making enough money from gigs alone is hard, you'll need to find creative ways to make money as a DJ. The best approach is to create your own product or service that aligns with your audience. It's a big challenge meant for those who really love to perform.

Marketing Your Music is a Challenge

You can be excellent at producing music, but that’s just the beginning. Nowadays, your role is not simply "DJ" or "producer"; you’re an influencer, brand, and personality. Acting as your own manager, graphic designer, editor, and more to earn the most impressions on your art.

A DJ in a suit holding a sign that says "Please listen to my new DJ mix out now on soundcloud, link in bio"

Music Marketing is more of a challenge than ever. Entertaining content and visually engaging videos reign supreme. Performance videos, jokes, and remix tracks became main-stream almost overnight. So, if you want to grow, you'll need to create original, innovative content that is shareable.

Industry Trends and Listener Preferences are Always Evolving

Since the music industry is overflowing with talent, new music is released every day. Plus, you likely have limited resources, discoverability issues, and can't keep up with listener habits. To beat the system, you'll need to develop a strong visual brand and use an army of content creation tools.

Like Any Profession, Expect Criticism and Rejection

Music is subjective, and what resonates with one person may not resonate with a promoter.

You might drop a track you love, but get no response from the crowd. Or, you might send a mix to a label and hear nothing back.

They don't know I'm a DJ meme of guy at a party hand drawn

Remember that social media is a double-edged sword. It's great for organic marketing, but your brand and music can face criticism. Not all feedback will be constructive.

Then there's the technical side of things. Sometimes, a set doesn't go as planned or your equipment decides to act up while performing. It happens to everyone and will teach you more about DJing than intentional practice can.

The Lifestyle is Almost as Expensive as the Equipment

Travel isn't cheap, and when you add in the day-to-day items like meals and amenities, expenses can get out of hand. Plus, any DJ equipment you want to own will be an investment. Then when you get it, you might find another online for less.

Beginner DJ controllers can range from $200 to $1,000, unless it's used. Either way, make sure to research the model that you choose. If your goal is to be a club DJ, for example, you'll want to start out with a controller that is rekordbox compatible.

A DJ or music producer setup with FL studio open and 3 monitors, a microphone, headphones, and wooden desk.

The Entertainment Industry is Extremely Lonely

As you climb the latter, and spend more time traveling, loneliness can become an issue. Old friends might not understand your journey, and relationships you once had can fade. But if you reach a certain level of success, the challenge changes.

It won't be just about missing old friends, but questioning if new ones are interested in the real you. The spotlight can feel like isolation, where making meaningful friendships is often overlooked.

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