You’re never too old to start DJing. Chapter & Verse was nearly 40 years old when he first took to the decks, and within three weeks, he was warming up for Meduza!
Despite many doubting him for starting later in life, within just a few years, he is becoming one of the best-known names in tech house with sell-out shows throughout Europe and the Americas.
His monthly Spotify streams top 600k, with his tracks regularly smashing the top 20 Beatport chart. He has collaborated with everyone from Steve Aoki and Dimitri Vegas to Joel Corry on virtually every dance record label going: Toolroom, Hedix, Ultra Records, and the list goes on!
We caught up with Chapter & Verse on our Off The Record podcast to discover how he launched himself into the limelight virtually overnight!
Watch the podcast video below and read on as we reveal the secrets behind this inspiring success story.
From club goer to global sensation!
Until 2018, Barry Pearson, also known as Chapter & Verse, hadn’t even thought about DJing, let alone making it his career!
A lover of dance music, Pearson spent much of his leisure time in clubland.
Having befriended plenty of DJs in his party-going years, he finally decided to give it a go for himself after spending the summer hanging out in Ibiza’s top VIP lounge booths.
It was only a week into his DJ journey that an industry pal decided to hook him up with a warm-up gig for Meduza, which took place a mere three weeks after he had decided to become a DJ!
Pearson later got himself into a studio and started making his own music, a decision that blasted his DJ career into the stratosphere!
With a musical ear and natural ability, despite not even knowing the names of any dance music genres, Pearson was able to churn out tracks like he’d been doing it for years!
To date, Chapter & Verse has featured on over 100 tracks released on the hottest dance record labels.
Here are his pearls of wisdom for anyone wanting to get into the DJ or producer game!
It’s never too late to become a DJ
After spending the summer of 2018 in the presence of some of the biggest DJs in Ibiza, Pearson realised he had what it takes to pursue his dream of working in music.
As a music lover and having observed other DJs killing it in the game for years, he had the confidence to put himself out there and learn how to DJ.
I was away in Ibiza, and we got lucky with the tickets and got a lot of the backstage stuff. I looked at the DJs and thought, these DJs are just bringing energy, which I have an abundance of, so, I’m going to have a whirl at it!
Although it takes a lot of self-belief and courage to start a new career from scratch, Pearson had next-level focus, blocked out all the noise and just gave it his all!
I got a set of decks and started messing about. Everyone laughed at me. Saying, “You know you’re nearly 40? You’re trying to DJ! It’s not that easy!” And I’m saying, “I’m going to do it!”
Despite the stigma around his age, not only did Chapter & Verse achieve his DJ dream, he did it faster than any professional DJ we know!
Learn from the pros
Being somewhat of a social butterfly, Pearson had already met many DJs working in the industry.
This meant, luckily, he had access to some advice and support from professionals, which is invaluable when learning any new skill.
He even befriended our own DJ Lawrence whilst partying in Sheffield, England, who, in true Crossfader style, shared some advice on getting started as a DJ and what equipment to go for!
With a fierce determination to succeed, Pearson took every opportunity to learn DJ skills from his valuable industry contacts.
I asked DJ Manny to come round and teach me how to DJ. He came round for about 20 minutes. He said, “I haven’t got much more time.” I said, “That’s fine, that will do!”
Pearson practised for only a week before being called by an industry friend who had heard he was trying to become a DJ.
My friend called me up and said “Bro, I’m going to try and get you a gig at Code, warming up for Meduza! Can you DJ?” I said, “Yes, I’m great at it.” At that point, I’d been DJing for a week!
I learnt on the DDJ-800 and XDJ-RX2. The first time I had seen a set of CDJ-2000s was in the club with Meduza! I had never seen them before in my life! I didn’t even go from laptop to USB until a week before!
Amazingly, Chapter & Verse had been booked for his first warm-up gig at a big venue, playing before special guest Meduza. On equipment he was totally unfamiliar with!
His natural talent for putting sounds together, the knowledge and skills he had acquired from his DJ friends and heaps of adrenaline meant the gig went great! “Literally, I didn’t miss a beat! I miss more now!”
Are you ready to become a DJ and want to learn from the pros? Check out our FREE Complete DJ Crash Course and follow along with our Crossfader DJ tutors!
Find your own unique sound
Whilst Pearson quickly found success as a DJ, making his own music took his career to the next level and then some!
Chapter & Verse has become a respected artist in the music industry, and his unique tech house sound makes him one of the most in-demand DJs globally.
Many producers become DJs as a way of promoting their own stuff.
But Pearson has a different angle and started producing to have a unique sound as a DJ, rather than DJing to promote his releases.
He has always had a clear vision of how he wants his DJing to sound and is only able to achieve that through his own music.
My plan was this: I wanted to do some big room tech house music that no one else has done and try and get EDM and future house towards tech house and make it as big as Garrix! And I believed it was possible to have what they had then, now.
It’s happening now, all the people that I spoke of are coming to me for music, whether it’s Steve Aoki or Dimitri Vegas, they all come to me, and they all want music. It is possible!
Much like his DJing, Pearson took it upon himself to learn how to produce and so committed to taking weekly lessons in music production to gain the skills he needed to bring his vision to life.
I went to Mastermind Music Studios; that’s where I learnt. I made it my thing to go every week without fail. I’ve always been really consistent at what I do!
It wasn’t long before Chapter & Verse had put together his breakthrough hit Dreams, which was actually composed in a tutorial lesson! He then went about getting the track out there and heard by every record label he could find!
Be persistent and determined
In one of his tweets, Chapter & Verse describes the setbacks he experienced as being like a red rag to a bull!
Although his success came quickly, Pearson put in a huge amount of effort to become Chapter & Verse. Hard work and perseverance is ultimately what got his tracks noticed by the right people.
Pearson recognised that being virtually unknown on the scene meant he had to get his music heard by everyone!
When I made that record, I had nothing! I had 500 followers, nobody knew who I was. I had no shows behind me, I couldn’t get any footage, I had nothing!
With heaps of determination compensating for his lack of exposure, he went about getting his track noticed by every label in the business.
To get my first record signed, I went to Labels Base. Manually copied every record label email address. I started studying the labels, who’s going to play it? Sent the track to around 1,000 labels and took the best offer, which was a €100 buyout.
At the time, I was like, ‘Oh well, fair enough. I’m not in a position to negotiate at all!’
I didn’t even know at that point what a genre was! I just thought, ‘if they don’t like me and they block me, then fair enough, it’s not for you!’
Dreams ended up being picked up by major label Mood Funk and went on to achieve half a million streams. This never would have happened if Pearson had given up after the rejections poured in.
Working in such an over-saturated industry means DJs must take all sorts of rejection in their stride and keep working towards goals no matter what setbacks they face.
This game is about having the conviction and determination. It is scary. But you’ve got to just take the leap and do stuff!
Pearson tells us how he experienced loads of rejection before he finally got somewhere.
Send your demo to the labels, get knocked back, carry on and carry on. Although it does affect me, as I’m only human, I don’t let it affect my progress.
This is a numbers game, 100%. You improve your chances of having a bit of luck if you’re consistent and you work hard!
Support other artists and DJs
There’s no denying that the DJ industry can be tough! With so many people wanting to do this for a living, many DJs feel they constantly have to compete with others who see them as rivals rather than comrades.
Chapter & Verse’s journey has seen him lose some support from others in the industry as his success has grown.
Still, he maintains that the best way forward for any DJ is to be supportive of others and recognise that there’s enough room for everyone.
Not only does your support help the other DJ, but you bring yourself up, too, as you come onto people’s radars, which is always a good thing!
I don’t see anybody else as taking up my space.
I will give anyone a comment, I know it helps people. But it doesn’t just help them, it also helps me because then people will go, “Who is that again?” If you’re in people’s faces, it is impossible for them to ignore you!
Like Chapter & Verse, we also recognise the importance of supporting all DJs. Here at Crossfader, we are as much about creating community as we are a learning platform.
To help keep DJs connected, our exclusive Discord server has boards dedicated to talking about gigs, gear and general DJ banter, plus a private Facebook group to connect directly with us as well as other DJs and industry contacts worldwide.
All DJs of all abilities are welcome to join and ask questions. With no judgement whatsoever. Just mad love and support!
Know your audience
Marketability is a huge factor in a DJ or producer’s success. To get known, you need a sound and style people can associate you with.
Even though that sound may become a little tired to your ears after a while!
When you get to a sound like I did, it becomes boring to you, not to everybody else. Because of that, it’s really hard to stick with what you’re doing and not change.
As a DJ, it’s always important to put yourself in the audience’s shoes and think about what they want to hear. You may think audiences are tired of hearing something, but if dropped in the right way at the right time, it can completely go off!
Lights Go Out is one of Chapter & Verse’s earlier releases. He chose to stop playing it as he found himself getting bored of it. A festival crowd he played it to in Salt Lake City clearly didn’t feel the same way!
The festival was sick with a sick energy. I played Lights Go Out, and, from my view, it was like nobody had heard it before!
Just because you’ve got something that’s old, that you’ve heard a thousand times, doesn’t mean people have heard it!
Although he has a strong signature sound, Chapter & Verse has learnt to balance this with giving his audience what they want to hear. He is constantly working on this as he feels the sound needs to evolve to keep things fresh and exciting.
It’s a question of getting a balance where your sound changes but not completely.
When you do what I do, you’re always treading a thin line between commercial and underground, what’s cool and what’s cheesy.
You’re putting out so much music that you can occasionally go away from what you do, but you’ve got to make sure you stick to your root fanbase and what they want.
Stick to what you do best
Chapter & Verse has always been about staying true to his vision. He makes music that he loves in the hope that people will love it too, and doesn’t compromise his own style or sound, even if others have become successful by doing that.
Try to get to a sound, stick to it and develop that sound. Just because someone is doing better than you doesn’t mean you should change what you’re doing. Try to get your own sound and do your own thing.
While Pearson has big ambitions for Chapter & Verse, he recognises that success only comes with realistic goals. A big part of his achievement is in understanding who he is as an artist and which audiences appreciate what he does.
A big hack in this industry is this: Go get the low-hanging fruit! Don’t bother trying to penetrate markets which are difficult or edgy.
I go to people who are interested in me. If they’re not interested in me, I’m not going to try and change their minds or change what they like.
In a sense, that’s why I’ve got such a good fanbase.
Use social media to your advantage
When it comes to making it big as a DJ today, there is no tool more essential to master than social media!
Whether it be getting noticed by industry professionals, growing a fan base or reaching out and making new contacts, social media puts the power to self-promote at a DJ’s fingertips.
As with every other aspect of Chapter & Verse’s DJ journey, his success at posting on socials ultimately came from his consistency and determination to get noticed!
It’s not a question of the quality of the content, it’s whether it gets shown or not. Do not concern yourself with making perfect visuals, it’s irrelevant. Just get your face in and be consistent!
As well as using social media for self-promotion, Chapter & Verse also uses it to test his upcoming releases and gauge early online responses.
My new track, it’s really going to be a big one, I know by the comments! It’s a good gauge for you to test the waters of something.
I’ve been on Twitch, and if a post goes a hundred-plus, I know it’ll work well on Instagram. And from there, I know if something will work well in the club!
With Instagram Reels, you know straight away, because in 20 minutes, you get 200 likes or you get two or three, and that is the reality of it!
Learn from your mistakes
Chapter & Verse has achieved so much in the short time he has been in the industry, and his journey has seen everything he touches turn to gold! His passion, natural talent and hard work have made it possible for him to do the unthinkable and achieve his dream of becoming a world-renowned DJ / producer at the top of his game.
However, like DJs of all levels of experience, Pearson is still learning new skills and perfecting existing ones as he progresses through his career.
I’m learning as I go along, and I don’t profess to be the world’s finest DJ who’s been doing this for 20 years because I haven’t!
It’s important for all DJs to know that mistakes will happen. Everyone will have a bad set or make a track they’re not proud of. The key is to learn from the mistakes and use them as motivation to kill it on the next performance!
Chapter & Verse found that he wasn’t always prepared with enough music in his early days of DJing.
Sometimes I go places and I play crap. Sometimes I smash it, and sometimes I don’t. When you’re playing live shows, sometimes you do make a mistake, that’s the reality.
Take enough music to where you’re going. A big error I made is not having enough music. Because sometimes things don’t work out and the flow doesn’t go the way you want it to.
If you’ve got enough music and it’s not great, start again. Get another tune and start again from that tune.
Whilst the DJ industry can be tough to break for those starting out, many would think that at Chapter & Verse’s level, things inevitably get easier.
But to this day, Pearson still has to work at securing the gigs he wants and is constantly striving to outdo himself.
People think the bigger you get, the easier it gets. But it’s actually harder because promoters have a choice of people at my level, so it boils down to what song you’ve got out at the time.
You’ve just got to keep trying.
Every day I keep trying, I don’t work less hard than I used to, I work harder!
Start your own success story
The main takeaway from Chapter & Verse’s inspirational story is that it’s never too late to work hard and become successful, no matter your skill level or stage of life.
If you’re an aspiring DJ with hopes of achieving real success, we can help you get there fast!
As a world-leading online DJ school since 2014, Crossfader has helped countless DJs of all abilities to achieve their goals.
Our Complete DJ Package is designed to fast-track your success within 60 days, guaranteed!
Follow the link to learn more about this amazing opportunity, and check out the testimonials from our Crossfader alumni killing it in the game today!