6 Critical Business Lessons I Learned from 5 years of Professional DJ’ing

For those who know me, before I dived into startups and marketing I was a full time DJ. I still do it quite regularly, and whilst it might seem somewhat unrelated to startups or technology, it actually taught me a lot of critical things that translated into business! Here's the most important lessons I learned as a DJ.

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1. Give the market what it wants.

One of my favourite quotes is by Seth Godin who said ‘Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers’ One of the MOST important things in business is solving someone else's problem, and scratching their itch. It doesn't matter how much YOU like something, you can't force people to enjoy something they don't want. For example, playing dubstep and trap music at 9pm in a bar. Or playing underground tracks when you're in a club full of 18 year olds who want top 40 hits. 9 times out of 10 that's not going to work - regardless of how much you might enjoy it. It's like trying to sell hideous shoes to a mainstream market just because you think they're great. Give the people what they want! 

2. Read a situation / read a room.

Whilst you might know your customers well, things are always changing. Whether it's market trends, new products, up and coming music artists or just a full moon - things can always change and you must adapt. Sometimes in DJ ing you'll be playing the same set as last week which smashed it - but this time the club feels flat. Reading a room is critical in DJ’ing so you can keep the customers happy, and the same goes for business. If you are stubborn and stick to what you think is ‘right’ you will shoot yourself in the foot. This is especially true in marketing: never ASSUME you know what's right... let the market tell you! The market knows all!

3. Always be networking.

This goes for any industry, whether it's a startup, DJ’ing, property investing, comic book collecting or anything else. You should always be networking, being friendly and meeting new people. You NEVER know who you might meet!

4. One is better than zero: you never know who's watching.

Gary Vee coined the quote ‘One is better than zero’ and it's a ripper. In his context, it refers to putting out quality content regardless of how many followers, viewers or customers you have. The reason is, you never know who is watching. You might have 50 views on a video, but 1 of them might have a dad who's an investor in what you're doing, or one of a million other possible opportunities. In DJ’ing, you should ALWAYS play an awesome set and do the best you can, whether there's 1 person in the room or 1000. One of the best DJ opportunities and relationships of my entertainment life came when I was approached by a general manager of a nightclub (now a very close friend) who I had never even heard of, and he told me he’d been keeping an eye on me for 6 months. 6 months! And I had no idea! That relationship led to a management role in a nightclub, over 30 sets in one of the biggest clubs in Thailand, regular residencies, and a lifelong friendship. My point exactly.

On that note, as a DJ you should go above and beyond to impress the manager or owner of the venue you're playing at. Don't be stuck up - it will come back to bite you!

5. Be MARKETABLE!

DJ'ing is not just about playing music, it's about entertaining. You need to present yourself well, from the music, to your energy, to your outfits. If your outfit looks terrible or sloppy, you're publicly telling the world that you don't care about your appearance - and that makes you look lazy and uninteresting, as if you don't even want to be there.

The business side of this is to have a sharp profile - from your websites and social media to your business cards and physical presentation. When people see your business they should be impressed, and it should make them want to find our more. Be professional, be interesting and be marketable!

6. Put out content.

Look... if you're in business in 2016 / 2017 and you're still not putting out content, you're seriously dropping the ball. It's NOT that hard to do, and no matter what your industry is, whether it's DJ'ing, marketing or selling fridges - EVERY SINGLE BUSINESS HAS CONTENT THEY SHOULD PUT OUT. As a DJ you can put out mixtapes, put out your favourite tracks, write articles, record videos, share posts, tell stories, start using social media! It is the most amazing and cost effective marketing tool in the HISTORY of the earth, and you cannot ignore it just because you 'don't want to' or 'don't know how'. Figure it out!

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Regardless of what industry you're in, these six things are incredibly important. You might not be a DJ or even in business, but embrace your own journey because you will learn meaningful life lessons throughout whatever it is you're doing. Hopefully you get some value out of these, and I wish you the best on your own path!

MITCH HILLS
@mitchills


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