Ten Secrets of Pro DJs
Ten Secrets of Pro DJs
To become a professional DJ you need to overcome many hurdles. If you want to make the leap from amateur to pro DJ you first need to learn how to DJ properly, such as with our DJ course, but the learning doesn’t stop there. Finding DJ gigs, performing, promoting and career growth are the next steps in your journey.
Luckily we help all our DJ course students by teaching them how to DJ professionally and by organising their first DJ gigs. We’ll even be there at the gigs to make sure everything goes smoothly. However, if you’re not able to attend our DJ course (perhaps because you live in another country) you can use this blog to help you thrive as a professional DJ. Here are our top ten secrets of pro DJs!
Pro DJ Secret #1 - Learn the fast way
The first and most crucial step is to learn how to DJ professionally. By taking a professional DJ course at an established DJ Academy like us or London Sound Academy you’ll learn first-hand how to DJ the correct way.
When you attend a DJ Academy you’ll also meet other DJs and producers and learn from their experiences. By learning how to become a professional DJ you will avoid the common mistakes DJs who try to teach themselves will make.
You’ll also save time, learn how to DJ faster and be ready to perform and earn money quicker.
However, not all DJ courses and DJ academies are equal. We recommend that you spend time researching the academies in your area and read the reviews. It’s also important to see how long they have been established and what success stories they have.
Our professional DJ course is taught one-to-one so students have the flexibility to choose their tutor. Currently, there are sixteen professional DJ tutors to choose from at LSA and more at our regional DJ Gym branches. Lessons are available seven days a week and students can choose their own lesson schedule. Not only is it more flexible, but it means you’ll learn how to DJ professionally at an accelerated speed. You’ll get results fast.
Learning how to DJ with 1-2-1 lessons is always faster and you’ll learn in far more detail.
We were founded in 2008 and have the highest customer review ratings of any DJ Academy in Europe. If you want to become a professional DJ join our Pro DJ Course in London, Manchester or Birmingham learn with us. If you want to learn remotely from the comfort of your own home click here for online DJ lessons.
Pro DJ Secret #2 - Personal Branding
All Pro DJs realise that they are more than an individual, they are a business entity. DJs are self employed and must operate like a business. The aim is to make profit in order to pay yourself and to reinvest. If you're a new DJ but you're not very good at business you need to learn, and learn fast.
Some of the most successful DJs are the most entrepreneurial ones. Pro DJs will often employ multiple interconnecting business strategies and side hustles in order to keep the money flowing in.
One of the must critical aspects of business as a DJ is realising you are in fact a personal brand.
What is a personal Brand?
A Personal Brand is simply you, as a brand. A brand is a set of ideals related to a particular business and can include imagery, content and philosophy. Branding is the language you use to communicate your message and make your message stand out. It's more than just a logo.
Many brands start by outlining what their brand is about and then make sure all their activities adhere to these parameters.
Customers, fans in your case, want to know what product they are buying into. They crave for consistency and they want something special.
Luckily, just being a person you are already unique in that sense but how can you amplify this uniqueness? What is your superpower and what is your appeal?
You may need to conduct some research by looking at other electronic artists who are breaking into the industry and see what USP (unique Selling Point) they are using. Use this information to inform your choices. It's best to not look at older acts, look for fresh acts breaking into the mainstream for up-to-date ideas.
Now that you have an idea of what other acts are using as their USP you need to brainstorm some ideas. Make sure you're not just copying what other people are already doing. What works for them may not work for you and also might already be out of fashion.
You need to find a niche which is unexplored. Often these niches come with colonising new technologies, new sounds or new looks. Dig deep and find a USP of your own.
Now that you have a USP you need a look, something unique but consistent. You can develop a look and style with the choice of clothes you wear, the text and graphics you use in your content and the lighting and moods you utilise in your photos and videos. Make sure you have a theme and keep it consistent. You might even want to develop a colour palette and only use those select colours. In addition, you should find a cool font and stick to it.
Now you've got a USP and a look you need a philosophy. This is entirely personal of course but don't underestimate its power to attract followers. Many DJs will align themselves with political causes or identity politics. For example; LGBTQI, equality movements, body positivity, health and mental health or positive political causes.
DJs have a unique position to influence their audience, how can you use this to promote positive causes?
Once you have created a personal brand you need to communicate it visa social media so get yourself accounts on Youtube, TikTok, Instagram etc.
Pro DJ Secret #3 - Get an EPK
As a DJ you are self employed and it's highly unlikely you'll find a managing agent or booker when you start out. You are responsible for sourcing your own DJ gigs.
You'll need to connect with promoters and present yourself in a professional manner. The industry norm for this is called an EPK (Electronic Press Kit).
It sounds complicated but it's really just a well designed PDF that introduces yourself as an artist. It will include key information, photos and will communicate your USP.
In addition to the EPK you will often send high-resolution press photos (portraits of yourself) both in the studio and in action performing.
The EPK will also contain a DJ biography, discography (for producers) and also links to your various social media profiles.
Pro DJ Secret #4 - DJ Photoshoot
One of the most valuable assets for any DJ is a series of professional high-resolution portraits. Having a professional photographer take your pictures is a huge step-up from just taking photos with your phone. Photographers will have years of experience with lighting and shooting techniques to show you at your absolute best.
It's critical when approaching promoters for gigs that you include a press photo because it's a clear example of your professionalism. Their inbox is probably flooded with applications from amateurs with low quality photos so this is an easy win for you.
Your press photos will also be used in blogs and magazines especially with interviews. If you have a great photo a music journalist is far more likely to write about you. Make their job easy with an iconic image!
Make sure that you have a large range of photos including portrait, landscape, close ups and full body shots. You'll also need photos with large empty spaces next to you which text can be over-layed onto within a magazine article.
Professional DJs will often do multiple photoshoots during the year. Headline DJs will be doing it every month.
These photos also make high-quality content that clearly shows your level of professionalism. The better the quality the better your reputation within the industry. We highly recommend that you invest time and money into a photoshoot with a professional DJ photographer such as Thomas Hensher.
Pro DJ Secret #5 - Make Use of Free Tools
There are many free DJ tools available for DJs ranging from free software to exclusive downloads. We've created a blog just about free DJ tools and you can view that blog by clicking here. Make sure you are aware of all the tools DJs can use to further their career goals and utilise the free ones.
The Best Free Tools For DJs
Pro DJ Secret #6 - Make Yourself More Valuable
One of the best things in business is to learn how to make yourself more valuable. This means you can do less gigs for more money and have ample time to focus on your craft. Here are some ways that professional DJs make themselves more valuable.
1. They push their skill level higher than the average. There are many DJs nowadays and in order to stand out from the crowd you need to display an exceptional skill level. One such strategy is to display clear videos of you performing using advanced DJ skills such as vinyl mixing, multiple deck mixing, combo FX routines, turntablism and live DJing. If you want to take your DJ skills to the next level and compete check out the LSA Elite DJ Course by clicking here.
2. Scarcity breeds value. Don't dilute yourself by gigging too much. If you're a rare booking or have an air of mystery about yourself you can actually attract more interest. It's a bit like reverse phycology, if you're harder to get the value goes up.
3. Have a mail out, text out database or large following. Ultimately, promoters want to book you and sell enough tickets to cover the cost and make a profit on top. You can help them achieve this by having a large fan base. If you're very organised and build a mailing list you will actually be able to use this as leverage when negotiating your DJ fee. DJs with larger followings and large marketing lists get bigger pay cheques.
4. Have a USP. As mentioned above in the section about personal branding you need to have a clear USP to drive interested and interaction.
Pro DJ Secret #7 - They Get More Gigs
You'll often look at professional DJs and wonder, how do they get so many DJ gigs?
There is no easy shortcut to finding more DJ gigs and professional DJs know this. You need to accept that you will be rejected for 95% of your efforts.
Rejection is part of the game and frankly if you're not being rejected a lot you're not making enough requests!
It's a numbers game. Amateur DJs often give up on the first hurdle, they send maybe ten requests and get no response or just one responce that isn't to their liking. Then they give up. Don't fall into this trap.
What if you contacted 1000 promoters? Even with a small percentage of offers you'd have a range of potential gigs to choose from and be able to choose the best ones. 1000 proposals seems like a lot but if you spent just 30 days for this process it's only 33 a day. If you dedicate 8 hours a day to your DJ career this is only roughly four an hour. You can also make the process quicker by copying some of the text and having a great EPK.
You may only need to do this big push once, after you've got gigs coming in the word will spread, you'll get more contacts and the gigs will start to come to you. Make a big effort when you're starting out and go beyond what most people would attempt.
Pro DJ Secret #8 - Your Network is your Net Worth
The saying 'Your Network is your Net Worth' has never been truer for DJs. As a self employed DJ you are responsible for finding your own DJ bookings and opportunities. This opportunities will arise when you start networking.
You will have to take a proactive approach and actively outreach to individuals and businesses that may help you further your career objectives.
Here are some strategies you can employ to help expand your network.
- Attend music conferences with an electronic NFC business card
- Attend events and actively talk to other music industry professionals
- Outreach to new promoters and agents by email and social media messaging
- Ask your contacts for their contacts! Have you heard of the six degrees of separation?
- Keep a record of all your contacts, make a contacts book and keep notes on each person
- Utilise LinkedIn and other professional networks and social media platforms and actively reach out to new people
- Think outside of the box when approaching companies and labels. Click here for inspiration.
Pro DJ Secret #9 - Learn How To Produce
Look at every headline DJ playing big clubs and festivals, what do they all have in common? They are all releasing popular music.
Music production is the most essential skill a DJ can learn to help them progress their DJ career. Many DJs actually don't notice this and waste years, sometimes decades, trying to grow their DJ career fruitlessly.
You need to learn how to produce if you want to make it as a DJ.
The return on time invested into learning how to produces is worth the effort. However, like with DJing, learning how to produce is not enough. You need to make high quality, creative and forward-thinking music that becomes popular.
The first step is to learn how to produce. As time is your most valuable resource the best option is to take a one-to-one music production course at one of our studios or online. Click here to view our music production courses in London, click here for Manchester, click here for Birmingham, click here for online worldwide tuition.
One-to-one tuition is the fastest and most detailed way to learn how to produce your own original tracks and remixes. Yes, you can learn these skills in colleges and universities in groups and large classes but overall it will be more expensive, less detailed and take you longer. Group lessons are also not tailored to your individual style of music. Having a dedicated 1-2-1 mentor will help you massively.
Once you have learnt how to produce and perfected your style you should now consider releasing the music and promoting it. Being signed to a record label is the easiest way to do this, you can simply outsource the work to them. Attracting a good record label can be hard however but you can always self-release on platforms like Distrokid.
Pro DJ Secret #10 - Learn How To Say No
One of the lessons that comes with experience and a general level of confidence is knowing your selfworth and learning how to say no. As an active DJ you will be presented with many opportunities but not all of these will benefit you. Make sure you assess each opportunity with your career goals in mind, do they help you achieve your goals, or are you working to line someone else's pocket at your expense?
Often, saying no to certain DJ gigs is the best thing to do. Perhaps they are not paying you and in reality costing you money and time. Time is your most valuable resource! Only take free gigs if you need the experience or the connection. It's normal for beginner DJs to take free gigs but once you're more established it's best to turn them down and focus on getting paid work.
Free gigs not only cost you time and money but make you a less valuable booking overall. Remember the lesson above about scarcity? Make sure you bear this in mind when accepting gigs. Far better to turn some down and become a more valuable asset to a promoter than spread brand thinly. One way of making this happen is limiting the number of gigs you take in a single city.
Sometimes the time you spend on free gigs is actually better spent elsewhere. You'll have more return on investment on time spent learning how to produce than doing free gigs.
Another reason to avoid free gigs and warm-up gigs is that your position on the flyer will often be far lower than bigger acts, this is perhaps negative PR. Think carefully before you say yes to an opportunity presented to you.
We hope you enjoyed this blog revealing the top ten secrets of professional DJs! Knowledge is power so take on board all of this advice and help further your own DJ career! This is by no means all the secrets of course so try and befriend older or more experienced DJs and find out some industry secrets on your own. Most of all we hope that you enjoy the journey of building your DJ career with our help.
Don't hesitate to contact us if you're looking for DJ skills, DJ gigs and help learning how to produce!