We all have those DJs that we hold in the highest regard. Those elite few who seem to really “get it”, and present their music in such a way that it makes a real impact on us.
Many of these people share common traits, which are likely to contribute to the level of effectiveness and happiness they experience as DJs. My goal today is to put the spotlight on these, in order to help you find success and fulfillment as a DJ.
Below are (what I believe to be) 5 common personality traits shared by the most impactful and effective DJs!
Good DJs have a tendency to be moved or inspired by various types of music, but the greatest DJs are able to recognize how their music (and the overall vibe of a night out) is affecting others.
I would suggest that this is one of the most helpful traits that any DJ could have, because when you combine it with live testing, it forms the very basis of crowd-reading. Great DJs are very situationally aware of what their music is doing to the crowd, and are willing to pivot (change directions) if it’s not working until they find a sound that resonates.
Empathy leads to intuition, which leads to dance floor harmony!
Hate it or love it, the modern DJ has a tendency to wear many hats. Most of us not only play music, but operate as our own PR, promoters, booking agents, web designers, event planners, and so-on.
Time and time again, I’ve observed how “busy bee” DJs tend to be very well-rounded and in tune with their craft. They’ve gained perspective from all sides of the show.
Not only this, but these DJs are a necessity for building a healthy, vibrant scene. When you do good things for those around you, it doesn’t go unnoticed, and more people have a tendency to help you out. This sort of collaborative relationship only serves to push everyone forward, provided that everyone has a positive attitude and is motivated to advance.
Very few flaky or inconsistent DJs have ever gotten anywhere.
I know a handful of reasonably successful artists (much more so than myself), and not a single one of them was an “overnight success”… a term which should almost never be used, if you ask me.
When you decide to go down the path of becoming a DJ, you have to be prepared to fail more often than you win. Such is the case with most things that are pursued as a passion.
Once you’ve accepted that you’re not going to get them all right, and you’re willing to try just as hard next time… you’ll be in a better position to start winning the numbers game.
As they say… “keep on keeping on”.
This one’s important, young grasshoppah… so pay attention.
Patience is a key quality for great DJs… both at a “micro” and a “meta” level. What I mean is, it applies to the DJ’s overall path, as well as to the individual set.
Firstly, patience is an inherent requirement for persistence… so you can’t have #3 without #4!
In the moment, the greatest DJs know when to back off. They know when they should stop building energy, and plateau for a bit. They know that a little bit of holding back now will pay off in the long run.
My least favorite DJ sets involve playing banger, after banger, after banger. Full-on, all the time. This both bores and tires me… and many of your dancers.
If you want to be a great DJ, you need to learn when to fall back, and when to strike!
Go with the flow, man!
The best DJs mate together the overall vibe of the venue, the desires of the crowd, and the mood the DJ is trying to express. This requires a willingness not to compromise, but to present your sound in a way that makes sense to the audience you’re playing to.
There are a lot of things that can affect the vibe of your dance floor, and the overall climate of the dance music scene. The key is finding how to relate to your audience, while still presenting a cohesive “sound”.
What To Do Now…
Number five, adaptability, is crucial in your development as a DJ.
How can you use the first four items on the list (empathy, helpfulness, persistence, and patience) to be a more adaptable DJ?
Example: Empathy helps you relate to different audiences, which makes you willing to branch out, and can lead to more (better) gigs.