Electronic music is one of the most popular and lucrative music genres in the world. Top DJs make insane amounts of money, mainly because of the size of the crowds they play in front of. If you’ve always been a fan of electronic music and are thinking about starting a career as a DJ, know that it is very attainable.
You won’t necessarily become the next Tiesto or Deadmau5, but there are many ways that you can make some decent money in the field. All you need is to find a few gigs that will allow you to make a name for yourself and constantly work on your craft and the business of being a DJ. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to do to become a successful electronic music DJ.
Evaluate Your Motivations
The first thing you have to do is check if you have your heart in the right place. You should only consider becoming a DJ if you truly appreciate the music. Your goal should be to present tracks people have never heard before and showcase your musical taste. But it’s mainly about making the audience feel good and giving them a special experience.
If you simply want to make money or look cool, you will fail on all fronts. Hack DJs get found out very quickly, and when you don’t care about your sets, it shows. You will also have trouble getting taken seriously by the industry and either won’t be able to book shows, or be relegated to obscure venues.
Constantly Work on Your Craft
Being passionate about music and DJing will also help you constantly perfect your craft. New DJing tools are being introduced all the time and there are always areas where you can improve. Being passionate is also what will allow you to explore other disciplines like producing. Most of the major DJs we know today got popular either through their production or started producing later on. This provides them with an additional source of income and also allows them to personalize their sets even more.
Work on Your Brand
Branding is also very important in the world of DJing. Acts like Deadmau5, Skrillex, and Marshmallow are all extremely talented, but none of them would be as popular as they are if it wasn’t for their distinctive image and gimmicks. Daft Punk is another example that comes to mind.
DJs have long had an issue with anonymity because they don’t “perform” in the same way a band or vocalist does. Branding is what allows them to show personality and become recognizable. Branding starts with having a solid name, and having a catchy name people will be able to recognize is very important. If you want to know how to find DJ name ideas, you can check out the linked article from Pirate Studios. They interviewed a few DJs with great names and asked them how they came up with them. This could give you a lot of inspiration to find a few DJ name ideas to choose from that will represent you while still being marketable.
Be Ready to Grind
Your first gigs will always be tough as a beginner when you’re a DJ, but they are a great opportunity to learn. This is also when you need to make mistakes. You will have to be ready to do a lot of pro-bono work at the beginning so you can get your name out there as well. You might have to work on private parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and all sorts of events that have nothing to do with a club or arena. This is something all successful DJs had to grow through and something you’ll have to go through as well if you want to build your reputation.
Use Social Media Wisely
Social media is a great tool for DJs who want to build their brand. Instagram and Facebook can be used to show the atmosphere at your concerts, or host live streams. Lots of DJs have been discovered through their live streams and it’s a good way for people to get a sense of your DJing style. YouTube is another very powerful tool that you can use as a DJ. But you shouldn’t focus solely on releasing sets there. You can create custom mixes and post them there, but you can also use the platform to bring your audience behind the scenes. DJs who can show their personality can create a more intimate connection with their fans and your YouTube channel is a great way to do it.
You could take your viewers on your journey to becoming a DJ, for instance. This is a great way to build an audience of people who will feel personally invested in you. You could even give tips for artists who want to get in the industry or share a few DJing/producing tips. All of this will allow you to gain more visibility and build your brand organically.
You Will Need to Build a Solid Team Around You
No international DJ works alone. You need to treat your career as a business, and you need to have business-savvy people around you. A lot of people decide to manage themselves in this industry, but that’s a very bad idea if you’re green. A manager will be able to give you the tools to better navigate the business side and not miss out on important opportunities.
Another critical player that you’ll need in your corner is a booking agent. Without one, you will have a lot of difficulty booking venues in the beginning. Finding a booking agent who has experience working with smaller acts will be better for you. You also have to check their track record of working with electronic music DJs.
Have a Great Website
You will also need to build a professional website if you want to build your brand. In the beginning, you might be able to get by with one of those self-service platforms you’ll find out there, but it’s better to shell out a few extra bucks for something professional. People should be able to get some information about you, but you also need some clear footage of gigs you’ve played with crystal clear sound. This is why finding a videographer will be very important at the beginning. Visuals will sell your act just as much as the music, so make sure that you have someone to tape your first big shows. You will also need to have those videos professionally edited. This might cost a bit more money, but it will be essential if you’re trying to build a portfolio.
Get Involved in the Community
One great thing about being an EDM DJ is that it isn’t as cut-throat as other sectors of the industry. There is camaraderie among DJs, and they rarely work alone. Becoming friends with DJs could get you a spot as an opening act. Having a DJ that is more popular than you vouching for you could also help legitimize your act.
Becoming a DJ is not that difficult if you have the talent and a genuine passion for it. It does require some significant effort, however, and if you aren’t ready to do the legwork, you’ll have a very hard time making it.