Have you ever heard an older DJ talk about carrying crates for another DJ? Back when DJs had to lug hundreds of records to a gig, this was not some strange punishment or hazing ritual, it was actually a very important process of becoming a better DJ. If you were carrying crates it was by choice, as a sign of respect to a DJ who was showing you how to be a better DJ. It was an integral part of the mentoring process. Yes, some people did it just to get into the party, but if you were a DJ, you were there to learn. This was all part of the tradition of passing on knowledge from one DJ to another while simultaneously paying dues to get it.
Today, the need to carry crates is no longer an issue, however the need to pass on knowledge is more important than ever. As new DJs have entered the scene there are many people who think they can wing it and figure out the entire game without talking to other DJs. They don’t know how to approach clients, price accordingly, perform in front of a crowd, or even mix properly. Important lessons and etiquette are lost in the need to be seen or heard at all costs. Most of them won’t last long enough to understand the damage they cause by their tactics. A DJ can cause irreparable harm to their own reputation by not approaching situations properly or learning more about their industry. How can you avoid these pitfalls? By finding a good mentor.
Veteran DJs have been through a lot and have dealt with many experiences that young DJs will inevitably face along the way. They understand how to deal with Clients, Crowds, Promoters and a host of other people and scenarios in the industry. Finding a great one that will advise you will make your path to a successful career much less bumpy. Here are some tips for finding and building with a mentor:
- It Is Never Too Early To Start
You have a long path ahead of you and chances are your Mentor has learned many things that they wish they knew back then. Well guess what? You are still back then, and you can avoid many pitfalls along the way by asking the right questions now.
- Shoot For The Top
If you want to get to a certain level of success, the best way do that is to find people who are at that level and learn how they got there. Now, not everyone necessarily has the time to mentor, but if you start at the top of the chain and work your way back, it will be more efficient than starting with people closer to your own level. Don’t limit yourself.
- Respect Your Mentor’s Time
Understand that successful DJs are often very busy people. They don’t have all day to answer your questions, however, if you are prepared, you can maximize the time you have with them. Try to find time around their schedule where you can set a time to talk and have questions ready. Don’t randomly call and expect to get answers, this can often be seen as annoying. In the modern age people would prefer scheduling a specific time to talk via text or email.
- Mutual Respect
Find people who genuinely want you to succeed and prove to them that you are working hard to do that. Don’t just seek out a mentor based on name value if they don’t have time to invest in you. A strong connection with your mentor will ultimately be more helpful than their status. DJs will often put on their mentee as a fill-in if they believe in them. Make sure your mentor knows that you take this seriously and they will take you seriously.
- Work Work Work
A good DJ will always have gigs come their way they can’t do. Chances are they are being reached out to by an acquaintance that trusts their judgment. If you show you are willing to learn their crowd, and they trust you enough, they might put you on. However, I caution against assuming this will happen or having it as a goal. Veterans have been around long enough to know when people are trying to use them to get gigs. Don’t ask for it, if they trust you it might happen naturally.
- Return The Favor
If someone is taking time to help you in your craft, find a way to help them. Even something as simple as buying them a coffee in your meetings goes a long way. If they need gig help, volunteer to do it. Everyone would rather get help from someone they trust. Introduce them to people who might benefit them or might have business opportunities for them. DJing is very much a networking business and someday you might be in position to put them on, always remember who helped you along the way. Down the line, you might mentor another DJ so remember how important it was for you and return the favor.
Video DJ World Champion