School is officially back in session (depending on who you ask) and thanks to the current state of the world anyone who is living on campus is most likely confined to their dorm-rooms. This is prime-time for any aspiring DJ to get down and dirty with their DAWs. There is no better time to learn a new craft & (safely) bring those skills to center stage. But those new skills wouldn’t be anything without some well-written advice. This week, I will be talking to you about the Dorm-Room DJ Dogma.
First of all, what the hell is a dogma?
Dogma is defined as “a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.”
Now I wouldn’t consider myself an authority on Dorm-Room’s, DJ’s, or the insane talent that comes with producing music from scratch. But having been in this industry for a few years now, I’ve been able to meet a few people & learn a few things that will help me explain this new dogma.
I sat down and talked with quite a few notable DJs from across the country. Each one of these people has their own experiences & histories that have given them a ton of great insight into the world of Dorm-Room DJs. So let’s get into it, shall we?
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#1: Invest in Your Craft
This should go without saying. If you want to produce a quality result, you’ll want to invest in the best of the best. Don’t just go and download that free software that has “enough” to get you by. If you can swing it, buy Ableton or Logic Pro or any of the professional level DAWs that are out there.
Don’t skimp on the physical set-up either! Now I’m sure a full CDJ system is FAR out of reach of a college student living off of ramen noodles & twinkies. But at least try and get a little bit of your investment towards mid-level DJ equipment. At a minimum, you are going to have to learn how to live mix & if you don’t have the tools to serve your purpose, Phi Zeta Zeta down the street isn’t going to hire you for their rager on Friday.
#2: Practice Every Single Day
If you aren’t planning on practicing, what are you doing reading this? The ONLY way to be better than you were yesterday is to practice. Each day you will get better and better until you feel confident enough to test your skills against a few friends. Maybe then you’ll be an official Dorm-Room DJ.
It is so important to get your reps in. Each day might feel like a challenge but if you can overcome it, you can sleep well knowing that you’re learning something useful. Eventually, you’ll get so good that people will want to hear you play…now isn’t that neat? In comes the frat parties…
#3: Make Sure You Get Paid
If that fraternity wants you to play for them, make sure they’re going to pay you. No, I don’t mean beer. I mean cash, baby! What’s the use in investing your money in new DJ gear when you’re not making it back? There’s this idea about a Dorm-Room DJ that says they aren’t worth being paid. But I promise that Chad can fork over a measly $50 for a 2-hour party set. I’m not saying that you’ll get paid big bucks. But at least you’ll get enough to pay for lunch over the weekend. Or beer. Your choice.
#4: Network, Network, Network!
Wouldn’t it also be nice for that frat to throw in a bonus? Maybe Chad talks to his friend Brad down at Gamma Delta. Chad tells Brad that you’re a dope DJ and he should hire you for their party on Saturday. Now all of a sudden you’ve got a second gig lined up. Good for you!
This process of networking & getting your name out there is one of the most effective ways to grow as an artist. A solid majority of artists that I’ve come to know said that networking was their number 1 means of getting that next gig. It’s all about who you know and how well you know them. Remember that.
#5: Do Not Get Comfortable
You see it time and time again. People get to a place where they feel successful and they IMMEDIATELY stop doing anything new or inventive. They become stagnant and before you know it, they’re back to square one. Who wants to hire the guy that plays the same set? BORING!
Mix it up! Play new tracks, find what’s hot & what’s not, maybe try and make your beat to throw into the hat. Do something that will blow the minds off the people on the dance floor! People LOVE when DJs do something unexpected. So do something that they’ll remember.
#6: Have Fun
I know it’s cliché. But the point of college is to get an education and enjoy your youth. So have fun with it. No matter what you do, or how you do it, just have a good time. Even if you mess up a transition or play the wrong song, just laugh it off & keep pushing on.
Don’t take things too seriously either! If you want to be successful and well-known, you can’t take the little stuff to heart. You’re in college, people aren’t expecting Skrillex or Kygo. Once you graduate & decide that you want to take your skills to the big leagues, that’s when it’s time to buckle down & get real. But until then, don’t sweat it, man.
If you take anything from this week’s post, please know that practice makes perfect. It doesn’t matter what you do, just keep on keeping on. If you follow this new dogma into your college years, you may just be able to officially consider yourself a Dorm-Room DJ.
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