The original URL is here: http://djrobswift.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4755
Today, a student from the Scratch DJ Academy emailed me wanting advice on what he could do to become a professional DJ. Inspired by the tone of his email I responded with some tips I think all aspiring DJs should consider. Thus, I'm sharing my answers with you, the next generation of DJs/Turntablists. I hope this helps you guys!
Karim: Other than practicing all the time which I guess is needed to get really good at anything, what else do you think is necessary?
Rob: With technology being what it is today, anyone can walk into a Guitar Center, buy DJ software and become a make shift DJ in a matter of one day. Because of this Karim, you must realize you have a lot of competition out there. Not only are you competing to etch your name among established DJs like myself, you also must figure out a way to stand out amongst the 100s of new up and comers that exist with every new day. My advice to you with regards to "what else" I think is necessary is really learn how to inject more of your personality into your sets. Learn how to brand yourself through your music. One of the main reasons why I've gone on to form a career as a DJ is because I successfully developed a signature style. NO ONE OUT THERE SOUNDS LIKE ME! Therefore, promoters know when they book me to DJ a club, they're getting DJ Rob Swift, a DJ who's branded himself as unique and different from the rest. From my presentation, to my look in front of the turntables. When I'm in front of a crowd. My audience knows that although I may hop on the turntables after 1,2,3,4,5 or even 10 DJs in one night, the way I will relate to them through music will be different than any one else.
Think of DJing like fast food. You're probably asking yourself what I mean by that, right? Well hear me out. You know how pretty much all Diner food taste the same? If you walk inside any Diner across this country and open a menu, they all serve pretty much the same food: Burgers, Cheeseburger Deluxes, 2 Eggs any Style with Hash Browns or Homefries, etc. Now, when you walk into a McDonalds you noticed something different. Whether it's the design of their restaurants or the way their fries taste. You can't walk into a Diner and have order a Big Mac. You can only get a Big Mac at McDonalds. You can't walk inside of a Diner and order a Whopper. You can only get a Whopper at Burger King. You can't walk into a Diner and expect their Fried Chicken to taste like KFCs. You want some "Finger Licken' Good Chicken" you must go to Kentucky Fried Chicken.
You see my point? Figure out a way separate yourself (be it the way you play music, the style of music you play or how you present your music) from the rest of mundane DJs that exist out there. You do that and you'll etch yourself in the minds of music lovers all over the world. That's what I did!
Karim, you should definitely consider figuring out way to expose yourself to music goers too. Entering DJ Battles was huge for my career. It was a way to show people I existed and I was able to rank myself amongst other established DJs in the scene as well as newcomers. With each battle, my reputation grew because I was able to make a mark on a bunch of people at one time. Sign yourself up for battles such as the DMC or RED BULL DJ Competition. You should even join local battles you may hear about. Anything that will help get your name out beyond just your friends!
Karim: Also, in terms of practicing, how many hours did you used to practice per day/week? Should I be working to become a specialist in one area (ex. genre of music or equipment used) or become more of a generalist?
Rob: Practice as much as you can. The more time you spend in front of your equipment the better you get. It's just that simple. As for becoming "a specialist in one area", I've always personally felt you can be "the best" or "a master" in one area of DJing but it doesn't mean you'll have longevity. Being a "generalist" isn't an adequate word to use in my opinion. I say be well rounded. Make your style every style. You're abilities should be limitless. I've made my debut on to the DJ scene in March of 1991 at the North East DMC DJ Battle. 20 years later, I'm still here, more relevant on the scene than I ever was because I've prided myself on being able to do it all. You put me on stage in front of an audience ready for me to cut it up, no problem. Throw me on in front of a crowd on New Years Eve that wants to shake their asses and party, I got that covered. Shit, I'm confident I could even DJ your parents 30th wedding anniversary. My style is to do be able to do it all. When your limitless, you have infinite potential to grow within your craft.
Good luck to you Karim!