The secret to becoming a famous DJ/Producer in 6 weeks when starting from scratch
In this post I will tell you the secret to becoming a massive DJ or electronic music producer that NO ONE IS TELLING YOU ABOUT. It’s actually quite simple.
This post is specifically for those people who have never really made music or DJed an event before, but who still want to reap the benefits of being exorbitantly successful.
Alright, are you ready for the secret? Here it is:
The secret to becoming a famous DJ/Producer in 6 weeks when starting from scratch is…
(Unless you have oodles of cash on hand and a network of people already in the scene that can hook you up with marketers, ghost producers, an audience of hungry fans…)
Because it’s unrealistic to press fast forward
The reason that an average person can’t dive headfirst into a career in music entertainment without skills and a wealthy person can is due to availability of the resources to compensate for the lack of skill or audience. In short: you don’t have to learn the skills if you can pay everyone on the planet to do it for you (there are exceptions though).
6 weeks of practice and planning
For the rest of us, here is a far more down-to-earth 6-week guide to getting started in electronic music:
Week 1: Get the tools and mess around with them
Are you going to be DJing? You’ll need to acquire some sort of controller or turntable (which usually comes with software). You can download the software without the hardware, but it doesn’t translate over to the physical world as nicely when you need to actually do some DJing with your hands. It’s best to start with the right tools.
Are you going to be producing? You’ll need to grab a copy of a digital audio workstation (DAW) software application. I use Ableton Live, but there are other popular choices like Pro Tools, FL Studio, Reason, and Cubase.
Take your tools and try them out without guidance. Let your brain get used to how the software/hardware feels. Think about what you want to happen and try to make it happen. You’ll probably feel frustrated at first because you don’t know the “landscape” but this is a normal part of the process.
Week 2: Make something from start to finish
In your first week you probably got a handle on the tools that you will be using. In your second week, you should make a full song (3 minutes of music) or DJ mix (30 minutes, perhaps) and immediately put it online (Soundcloud, YouTube, Facebook, whatever) so that a couple of your friends can critique it. Extra points if one of your friends is already making music or being a DJ.
Yeah, it will definitely suck. There’s a pretty good chance that it will suck a lot less than you expected, though.
Take careful consideration of your feedback. What this will do is give you focus points for next week…
Weeks 3 and 4: Use tutorials to work on focus points
At this point, you should start looking for guidance to help you through the things that stood out to those people who gave you feedback.
Perhaps you are choosing some songs in your DJ set that don’t transition well together. Why is that? Google “dj song transition basics”. Go on YouTube and learn about EQing your tracks so they blend better. Whatever you think you need to know, the info is out there.
For music production, you might have gotten feedback like “your drums need work” or “this mix is really quiet”. There are TONS of tutorials on the tools you may not have touched yet like compressors and limiters and EQ. Start learning more about the tools and watch other producers make music to see what types of things they are doing. You may not understand it all but it will start to make more sense as you practice.
Oh, and as you get educated, make more stuff. You should probably have two more songs/mixes done by the end of Week 4. Send them to your friends for feedback. Always. Get. Feedback.
Week 5: Think about your branding
At this point, you are in the habit of working on your skills and getting feedback. if you want to show these skills to the world, you’ll need to create a couple of outlets for people to find you, and you’ll need to create a personal brand to let people recognize you in the crowd of other people doing the same thing.
Branding is super hard. People get college degrees in branding, and companies hire whole teams to get branding right. Branding can make or break a business and their future opportunities. Luckily for you, no one knows who you are yet so you don’t have to nail it.
However, you need to pick a DJ/producer name that you are 100% sure that you won’t change anytime soon. If it’s your own name, it might be easier. Some people prefer to make something up. Whatever you do, consistency will be your strongest asset as you build an audience and changing the name makes things confusing. Fans really don’t care that much about band names unless they are offensive or overly long. I like to think about how silly the name “Apple” really is despite how successful they are. It’s an arbitrary object, like naming your company “Octopus” or “Elbow”.
Once you have that name, set up a page on Mixcloud, Soundcloud, Facebook, YouTube, Bandcamp, or whatever (or a combination of these). Basically, it will be a place to post your sets/songs for the world to see. Upload a cool photo and banner. Tell your friends that it exists. Try not to spam.
Week 6: Drop everything and do other stuff that isn’t music
Stop producing, stop mixing, stop listening to electronic music.
Read a book, do your laundry, hang out with friends and see a movie, eat at a restaurant you haven’t been to yet, get some exercise, listen to Norwegian folk music on Spotify, write a blog post on Medium (how meta!), play fetch with your cat, clean your kitchen, go to your actual day job and enjoy it.
If you are serious about having a career in music production or DJing (the kind that involves making your own way and not commercial music, like making theme songs for disney or DJing a wedding), then you’re going to be in for a long haul. Remember to take a break from the work and enjoy life. There is no guarantee that you will have that golden opportunity come your way, as with all things.
If you never get the chance to perform for a living, will all of the work be a waste of time? The answer to that is pretty important. Replace “perform for a living” with “get married” or “exercise” and you’ll see how it works.
For the future
Keep up the cycle of practice and feedback until you feel comfortable showing that music to strangers. Ask around for ways to get DJ or performance gigs in your local area and give it a try. You will definitely be an opener, but it will be a nice way to test your nerves and get some feedback from people you don’t know. Again, don’t spam. Exposure naturally takes time.
And that’s it really. Now that you’re rolling, you have a compass to follow. Create, learn, iterate. Be humble and thoughtful. Enjoy the ride while you’re on it.