5 Tips To Help You Level Up Your Career
From leaving school, all I wanted to do was DJ. When I say I spent all my free time practising, I mean ALL my spare time.
It was a dream that I was focused on making a reality, and I was doing everything I could to prepare myself for my first club gig.
I was constantly building my music library, organising myself and my equipment, going out and getting inspiration from DJs I looked up to and most importantly… Making connections with other DJs, promoters and managers in the club scene.
At Crossfader, you’ll hear us talk a lot about goals, but I can’t emphasis enough the importance of this. By writing down a simple list of DJing goals, it really helps to give you the visual focus of keeping on track.
My goals included all the nights I wanted to be playing at, what equipment I wanted to buy and other techniques I wanted to try to enhance my skills.
Within a couple of years, I had crossed everything off the list and doubled the amount of residencies I had. Going from a couple of warm up sets to 6 main set residencies.
I want to share with you 5 the things that really helped get me to the next level!
1. Be Different:
Standing out from the crowd is a must. I had a lot of DJs that inspired me. I would look at their performances and see what worked.
Copying will never do you favours, but taking inspiration from what worked for them and adapting and trying new things will.
For example, other DJs in my city would be making mixtapes with titles like ‘Summer Hip Hop Vibes Volume 1’, and they would all have similar artwork and similar tracklists but mixed differently.
Not wanting to follow the crowd, I decided to make something that was totally unique. I would make mixes of the popular music but combined with the music that represented me as a DJ.
I would do things like add crazy intros to the mixes with audio clips from viral videos at the time. I was giving the listener something to relate to / laugh at. And thet loved it!
Then, I would make some artwork that would stand out from the rest. Think about it: you’ve got 10 DJs in a room, 9 of which are all doing similar things, and 1 is doing something in their own style. Who are you going to check out?
2. Be Creative:
Doing things like creating different artwork for your mixes shows creativity. An example of how you can be creative in your sets is by playing with two genres that shouldn’t work together, but do.
Wild cards like this in your set keep people entertained, and the possibilities are endless!
In my mixes & DJ sets, I would try and drop tracks that people wouldn’t expect.
Find things that are in a similar BPM but a totally different genre.
For example, if I were mixing Drum & Bass tracks at 170+ BPM, I’d drop in a track like Aha – Take On Me for 30 seconds. It sounds cheesy, but it’s a similar BPM; it would catch the crowd off guard but they would cheer and sing for those 30 seconds!
Then I’d switch it back to Drum & Bass. Don’t try and be too cool to play wild cards; people will remember you for it!
3. Be Adaptable:
Being adaptable has opened up a lot of opportunities for me and has been key throughout my career.
You become much more appealing to club promoters if you can dip in and out of different genres, take the event in different directions and keep everyone in the crowd happy.
If you are one of these DJs who has never tried mixing between genres, go for it. It forces you to get more creative, and I guarantee you will pick up some new mixing techniques along the way!
I know Jamie mentioned this the other week, but adapting to use the microphone in your sets will allow you to interact with the crowd and get people hyped for what comes next. It’s a tool that every DJ should try.
4. Be Reliable:
You want to be the DJ that promoters can rely on. I’ve seen DJs lose residencies over being late too many times or just not showing up!
Get organised with the promoter or manager prior to the event. Know where you need to be, what time you need to be there and show up!
Believe it or not, opportunities can come from being reliable. I’ve had promoters call me at midnight saying that their DJ hasn’t shown up or has called in sick and they need someone to fill in.
Being the DJ who can show up when needed is a great way to build strong relationships with promoters & managers. It could result in you working with them for many years to come.
5. Be Professional:
In the DJ world, you are guaranteed to come across people who have huge egos and are just not nice people to be around. Don’t be one of those people; you’re never too good for a certain gig, you’re not above other people.
Ultimately, we are all people just trying to have fun, be creative and entertain an audience.
All it takes to be professional is being polite and friendly. Be someone that you would want to work with. I could make a huge list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to being professional but summed up, don’t be a d*ck.
I hope this has inspired you. When it comes to setting goals, keep it simple. Think about what you can do now and how these changes will lead to you being a step closer to making your dreams a reality. Simple actions can have significant outcomes.
We’ve created this printable Goals sheet to help you on your way to success. Check out our example and fill in yours based on what’s important to you and where you want to be.
Stick it on the fridge, your laptop, or somewhere you’re going to look at it daily. This way, it will always be in the forefront of your mind!
Tune of the Week:
For anyone who’s ever been to Warehouse Project, this one’s for you. Huge Synths, Slamming 909s and a catchy vocal. Real peak time slammer! I can’t get enough of it and I think you will love it too.
Fallen Angel- KETTAMA
What I’m (always) Watching:
This is one of my favourite all-time Boiler Room sets. Whenever I need inspiration to get me DJing, I always return to this video. The whole set is full of energy from start to finish. If you have yet to hear of J. Espinosa get to know! He is one of the best!
We’re here to support you!
We hope these tips have pointed you in the right direction. Even with this knowledge, be prepared to make plenty of mistakes and fail a few times. It’s all part of the journey and will give you valuable experience that will make you a better DJ. Ultimately though, success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s about putting in the time and dedication to achieve your goals.
But there are ways to speed things along! As well as our Complete DJ Package, designed to help you achieve your DJ dreams fast, we offer a range of comprehensive beginner courses to take your skills to the next level!