In today’s music climate it is a struggle. That being said, you create your own destiny as a DJ. Many of us have put years, hell, decades into our craft. We’ve spent endless hours digging up records to bring them to the public. When most people are out doing something else, we’re digging through someone’s garbage, or yard sale, or dingy basement, or dead relative’s possession’s to get that next record. We’re on vacation telling our wives or significant other: “Oh look, they have records, I’ll only be a minute”. It is a daily habit (hopefully healthy) that is constantly on our mind. We’re dedicated to our art, and many of us get some sort of compensation for it. Whether it be currency, or recognition, or a little bit of both, it’s nice to see your hard work pay off. However, most of the time, it isn’t enough. Real world and real life problems, wants and needs have to be prioritized. A lot of us don’t have the management that a notable artist or DJ has. We have to work a full time job, DJ on the side full time too. But, you’re not just a DJ today. It’s not like it used to be where you just DJed. You’re promoter, booker, DJ, social media expert, and manager among many others. It’s like that woman in In Living Color who doesn’t have just one job. A lot of us multi-task. It’s just how the game has shaped up. You’ve got to hustle. I’ve been hustling pretty much since I started DJing. With the exception of being on tour full time for about 5 years, I always hustled. Even when I was off of tour I still worked in between months out on the road. Fast forward 11 years later and the hustle is still going. It’s not always a picnic either. A steady gig can be going well and then get pulled right out from under you. You may count on something, but let’s be real here: Don’t count on anything. Take it in small time blocks because unless you sign that contract for a year residency in Vegas, nothing is in stone forever. Keep the side hustle going on. That’s what I do. I do as many DJ gigs as I can, but always have an iron in the fire somewhere else too. Whether it’s consulting, freelance writing, or a small, part time job, the hustle has to keep going. To quote a notable DJ: “We all do this for the love, and most of us work full time jobs outside of DJing so we can keep on doing it.” That may not hold true for all, but it holds true for many. We’re working class DJs. But put in enough of the time and effort and people will recognize that. It may just be someone telling you that “your reggae set reminds me of my youth in the UK”, or “I really love your selection tonight”, but at the end of the night when you’re counting your money it’s a cherry on top. FYI, both of those statements were said to me last night, I didn’t just make them up.
“It’s not always a picnic either. A steady gig can be going well and then get pulled right out from under you. You may count on something, but let’s be real here: Don’t count on anything.”
The passion for the music, the records, and doing what we love does come with does a price. Hell, even some top DJs will tell you that. It’s time consuming, and with everyone and their sister being a DJ today, you have to work extra hard. The promoter’s little brother’s cousin’s girlfriend will undercut you and cruise in with four ipods, an ipad, and kill it with the latest Future dubstepgrindcoretrance remix by that guy, you know that guy right? Get this, she’ll just do it for drinks! Club owners don’t see DJing as an art, they just see dollar signs. They will boot you out at the first sign of a (insert popular Top 40 track here) remix that gets people moving. But that should only motivate you more. If that’s the case, that bar or club isn’t for you. It’s all happened to us. However, use that as the impetus to do your own thing, create your own image. You need to do what works for you. I’m proud of the lane I created, the community of good people I surround myself with throughout the globe here at FleaMarket Funk, the gigs I get, and who I’ve become. You should be too. Hard work is not for everyone, but it is what is needed in today’s DJ climate. Perseverance is the key. Staying in the game is not as easy as it may appear on the outside. If you want something bad enough, if you are passionate and dedicate your life to what you love, you will get to where you want to go. Easier said then done, I know. You will need to do several things at once to make it happen. Failure is an option, I am here to tell you. If you fail, and I’ve done a lot of dud nights, gigs that didn’t work out in the past, you just keep going. You work harder, you make your own destiny. You tweek what you have and make it better. You find that formula to success. You can do it. The hustle is real people, don’t forget it.