April 17, 2013 by DJ Elroy
Remember that? If you’re old enough, or been in the scene long enough, you do. Back in the day DJs (like most other musicians) were outcasts. Loners. Geeks.
Well, the truly dedicated ones, anyhow. When I was in high school I knew guys that bought guitars because they were “cool” (and yes, even a few that walked around with guitars but never bothered to learn to play. It was all about IMAGE). They wanted the girls. They wanted the popularity. Much like the punters today will tack “DJ” onto the front of their name and SHAZAM! their social status goes up.
But to truly practice you need to spend time ALONE, learning the craft. DJing is more than picking up a laptop, buying the Top 10 chart from Beatport and pushing the auto-sync button. Even if you’re using a virtual DJ program, you need to take the time to learn it. Make mistakes and learn from them. Improve. Don’t try to jump into shows before you’re ready. And don’t spend all your time coming up with a cool DJ name.
If you’ve played piano or guitar or any other “real” instruments, you know that it takes a lot of hard work before you’re ready. Music theory. Learning chords. Memorizing scales. People practice for years before they’re comfortable playing in front of others.
I’m not saying that DJing is comparable to learning a real instrument. (It’s not). Hell, you don’t even need to be a musician to be a successful DJ. (To be an exceptional jock, to really stand out, you do. But there are plenty of DJs that make a decent living without being much more than mediocre and lucky and knowing enough to put together a few crowd-friendly songs or remixes). But practice smart. Be persistent. Be open to new ideas. And yes, be ready for criticism. Don’t take it personally. Use it to your advantage.
What I’m saying is that the mentality of DJs today has changed from back when I was a newb. Now it’s all about the party, the club, the prestige. Sure, that was part of it before, and it always will be. But not like it is now. Kids today don’t seem to be willing to work to get to the top. They want to take the easy way, the fast way. That’s why there are so many sub-par DJs out there. I can’t tell the difference between a lot of the mixes I hear. So many are unremarkable and forgettable. Don’t put your image first, put your music first. Don’t spend so much time building a brand that you don’t have anything to build it on. Forget social networking for your first year.
All you need to worry about is practice.
And one of the most important parts of becoming a successful artist is EXPERIENCE. You won’t get that partying with your friends. You’ll pick it up in the bedroom, and when you’re ready to take the next step, you’ll pick it up in shitty back-room gigs and warm-up slots. Anyone can play the hits. Anyone can be a fake. But it takes a special mentality to be willing to stick to the art and log your 10,000 hours and pay your dues.
The EDM bubble will soon burst, and when it does maybe the next generation of DJs will go back to being the outcasts and not the superstars. I’ve heard enough from the “fake DJs” and am ready to take the scene back.