How I Became A DJ: The Power of ‘Acting as If’

picture of a DJ from behind the DJ booth

You can watch all the ‘’tips & tricks’’ tutorials in the world, although truth-be-told, this won’t help you transition out of your bedroom.

If you truly want to play out in front of real people, you’ll need the right mindset together with the will to take action.

Part 1: What does ‘’Acting As If’’ mean, and how it worked for me

You might be wondering what the hell does ‘’acting as if’’ mean?

Another way to describe it could be: ‘’leveraging the power of self-promotion & word of mouth’’, although it’s not quite as punchy!

For me, it started by simply spreading the word that I’ve ‘’got decks’’, and that I’m a bit of a DJ behind closed doors. I’d invite friends and work colleagues around for drinks on the weekend and put on a bit of a mix.

If you don’t tell people you’re a DJ, then they won’t know!

It was through this ‘acting as if’ mindset that I got to play at a number of smaller parties early on. This ultimately gave me the confidence to call myself a DJ, which in turn led to me getting actual paid gigs.

Here’s how I’d describe the results I got in my first year from simply acting as if:

‘’By doing nothing more than telling people I was a DJ (or at the very least I’d mention I had decks), I found myself spinning the tunes at all sorts of weird & wonderful parties early on.

I did numerous house parties, a friend’s 18th birthday party, a staff Christmas party, and even promoted my own night in central Manchester. This was all within the first 12 months of getting my first set of decks!”

Part 2: What YOU can start doing straight away

First off, you might want to start hanging around with like-minded music lovers and party-goers. Whilst this can introduce a whole new set of problems, mainly drugs and alcohol, we’ll skip over that for now.

Next, assuming you have some basic equipment, you’ll want to tell your immediate group of friends and/or work colleagues that you ‘like to DJ’. You don’t have to make a big deal about it, just put it out there and see who it resonates with.

Even consider creating a list of smaller local venues – ideally where you have some kind of connection or ‘’in road’’ – and strategically visit them on the regular.

What else?

Bring it up in any relevant bars or lounges that you visit if you happen to be traveling overseas for an extended period of time. That’s how I got my first overseas gig!

Get chatty with bar owners/managers at potential venues, dropping it into conversation that you’re a DJ and that you’ll be in the region for a while! If that’s not possible, do the same thing with regulars and the bar staff.

You don’t have to be annoying or cocky about it ….simply mention that you’re a DJ in any appropriate conversations.

Weather it’s locally or overseas, in-person or online – just meet new people. Ideally other DJs and artists!

Opportunities WILL eventually start to present themselves over time if you consistently get yourself out there and start acting as your own PR machine.

Part 3: Acting As If conclusion

Whilst I realise this isn’t a perfect science, I’d suggest that for a lot of you reading this, you’ll be amazed at how opportunities will magically start to present themselves as you start to assume your identity as a DJ! And that can start RIGHT NOW!

Again, it’s a mindset thing: that this is who you are and what you do.

It’s pretty much how I got ALL of my initial ‘practice’ gigs before I had any kind of real experience behind me. In fact, it was this exact mindset that continued to get me bigger and better opportunities as time went on.

People tend to talk themselves out of doing things because of the fear of failure, and because of fear of the unknown. This is exactly why having a healthy amount of self-belief is so important.

Just make sure you’ve been working around the clock on that music collection of yours. That way, at least when an opportunity does come up ….and they will…. you’ll be ready and willing to jump in.

Remember, you’re a DJ now!

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    Ever since I could get into 'proper' nightclubs, I've loved everything about the underground dance scene. The short story is, having always been an avid music collector, I used to DJ at a handful of bars & clubs around Europe through the 2000s - playing out mostly lounge, funky house, and open-format/commercial stuff. I’m also a radio show host and Founder here at The DJ Revolution.

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