If you’re willing to work a crowd with just ‘two turntables and a microphone, or you have ever ‘saved anyone’s life from a broken heart, or maybe someone has walked up to you whilst you’re playing music out from your speaker and said: “I just want to dance, because you are making me feel alright! If one of the above scenarios fit you, just maybe you have found your calling and you’ve all the necessary skills to become a professional DJ.
Typically, a DJ’s work revolves around the music industry, playing at clubs, festivals and on the radio. They always play out music that may or might not be theirs, solely to promote dancing and having a great fun-filled time. They play lots of different genres, although most frequently in the Dance and Hip-Hop aspects, but one of the major skills needed for this profession is the ability to select the right tracks that would please the crowds and the ability to mix songs, which means playing two tracks without breaks into one another to provide smooth transitioning music.
The skill of DJing is very much learnt via hard graft and lots of tricks of the trade involves a wide array of skills with music. A very deep knowledge of your chosen genre is crucially important, as is being able to adjust your style to match different audiences. A DJ’s life is one which lots of people envy, but there are lots of people trying to succeed at it and lots of people to also please, so to be a success in this industry you need to be passionate, determined with a work ethic that is next to none.
Salary & benefits
Factually speaking, There isn’t a general average of what DJ’s earn annually as most of them work on a freelance basis, charging for shows and gigs they play in on an individual basis. Any DJ who get lucky enough to secure a spot on a radio station would have a more stable salary and the gigs played in would just be an extra source of income.
The bigger your brand and more famous you are the higher you charge per gig, similarly to live musicians and actors.
Like you’d have noticed, this isn’t the traditional 9 to 5 kind of profession,. Rather in this profession, the working hours tend to be mostly in the evenings, for Club gigs. But on the radio, things can somewhat vary, but world-renowned DJ’s work hard every time. Take for example Charlie Sloth, the BBC Radio 1’s Grime Resident, he does six radio shows weekly on Radio 1 and 1Xtra, and still played in more than a hundred live shows in 2019.
There’s this popular saying among DJs about getting out what you put in, so if you really desire success in this line of work, you would need to work not only hard but consistently too so as to get your name out there.
Like everything else in this line of work, the entry-level into this profession is all about you, if you desire to be successful it in this profession, you need to sharpen your skills until you’re brimming with confidence, and then get on the circuit and begin to play as many gigs as you possibly can, reaching audiences and building a presence.
Try to create that buzz around yourself using your skills and selection, prior to getting a residency at a club and this is one of the most common ways a DJ builds a fan base, but this isn’t a fail-proof method of gaining entrance into the upper echelons of the industry.
Lots of DJs in recent years has also had to delve into producers, this invariably means that they make their own music to play also, and by this singular act they follow a route that is more similar to that of a traditional musician.
Nevertheless, there are DJs out there who don’t follow the traditional part of artists, simply selectors. The likes of Jackmaster have shown it is possible to make it in the industry by just being talented on the decks, and so you can choose which route you wish to attempt, and you can always change along the way.
Training & progression
It is of extreme importance to stay updated with spanking new trends in the music industry as well as continually sharpening your skills, as both will enable you to increase the tightness of your sets and their relevance to all your audiences. Top DJs have been known to mix the old and the new, keeping their audience engaged over lengthy periods of time.
As in lots of industries, the ceiling for improvement is very high, but not guaranteed, you would have to continuously try lots of things and hopefully, you’d get your lucky break which puts your name up there with the best, but if you stay focused, continuously improve and consistently be on the lookout for opportunities, you would be putting yourself in the best possible position.