No, we don’t mean how to stay a professional DJ – that’s easy, just find DJ gigs and spin some tunes! We’re talking about how to maintain a professional demeanor in an industry that is often considered hedonistic, frivolous and fun-filled.
If you take a look at the serious pros, still gigging and touring after all these years, they’ve got one thing in common. Think about John Digweed, Sasha, Hawtin, Villalobos, The Chemical Brothers and so on. They all treat their careers as if they were exactly that – a career. If you maintain the attitude of a bedroom or loungeroom DJ or a purely party person then there’s a good chance that you’ll stay that way. Let’s take a peek at how to stay professional while honing your DJ career.
If you had a desk job, imagine if you arrived late every morning and left early every evening. There’s a high probability that you probably wouldn’t remain in the job for long. Also, imagine if you were rude to your colleagues, gossiped about the boss, and took long lunches every day – not exactly promotion material is it?
You need to have the same attitude to your DJ career. Arrive early for your set, giving you ample time to meet the promoter, check out the venue, listen to the opening sets and network a little. Leave that little bit after you’ve finished playing. Stick around and have a dance and generate some goodwill among the crowd – things like that stand out.
Also, do what you commit to and always under-promise and over-deliver.
Another hot tip is to avoid the alcohol while you’re mixing. One or two drinks is fine but a drunk selector isn’t a good look. Save it for after your set!
Get Your Paperwork Right
Often, unless you’re gigging with an agency or promotion company, being a professional DJ means that you’re running your own small business. This means all the associated red tape that comes with the territory. You’re responsible for filing tax returns, declaring your income to the government, paying your own super contributions and ensuring everything is above board. While cash payments may be tempting, you’ll thank yourself down the line if you invoice and accept legitimate payments.
Most entrepreneurs talk about scheduling – checking emails a certain time of day, setting aside time for social media, time for meetings, time for returning calls and time for yourself. As a pro DJ, you need to do the same. Set aside time to practice. After all, you don’t want to get rusty. Set aside time for self-promotion, and time for maintaining your equipment. And also, make sure you have breaks to eat and sleep and connect with friends – because after all, that’s important too!