DJ mag Top 100 – What does it take to be a top DJ?


The ever controversial DJ mag top 100 DJs was announced this week with Armin Van Buuren back to his winning ways and last years winner David Guetta slipping down to 4th overall in the rankings. You can find the full list here at Coming in second with another strong year was Tiesto followed by young swedish producer Avicci, best known for his crossover hit Levels. Both Tiesto and Avicci will headline Stereosonic festival around Australia in late November/early December (to which I am going). Rounding out the top 5 is ever outspoken canadian producer Deadmau5, who caused a right stir when he labelled Madonna “a fucking idiot” back in March.

The list goes on. Some people will be familiar with names. Some will not. Some people will care, some will not.

So you want to be a successful DJ? it seems though a lot of these guys are very good producers as well and have other strings to their bows. Many, such as Armin Van Buren, do radio shows. They diversify their talents. So i have made up a list of the key ingredients of successful DJ. However it seems that this can be translated to any successful person.

1.They are passionate and irrationally committed: All these guys have a passion for music that runs deeply. They care about it more deeply than anything else. They live and breathe it. In an interview in the documentary A year in the life of Armin Van Buuren, his wife explains he often works 80 or 90 hours per week. They gig weekly. Deadmau5 released an album this year as well as touring with a massive live production. It’s their job yes and they are lucky to do it, but these things don’t happen unless a significant amount of work and energy is exerted. They show a high resistance to the rigors of life on the road.
2.They work hard: Work and life blend in and music becomes all encompassing. The drive comes from within but because there is a purpose attached, their energy in endless. Many of us work but don’t have a vested interest in what we do. If your hanging for your annual leave at work or you have Friday on your mind it might be best to look elsewhere. Often our progress plateaus because we don’t have the inclination to improve in that area. From hard work with a purpose comes great energy and passion.
3.They use the internet: Its pretty common these days but a lot of these guys just excel at marketing and so should you. They pump content out on facebook, twitter and youtube, do radio shows and countless gigs. Tiesto started his own youtube channel this year called “In the Booth”, a behind the scenes look at what he calls his crazy life. He has also released his own app which helps fans get closer to him. All part of bringing down walls and increasing exposure. A lot own or run record labels
4.They are leaders and are not afraid to be different: They lead the pack and are not scared to take risks or do things differently. This is what made David Guetta a massive success from an underground DJ who has been running his own parties in Ibiza with his wife for well over 10 years to an absolute worldwide sensation. His music was different. It has brought him both excessive praise and criticism. He fused RnB with regular synth laden dance music. It is what advice Tiesto gives to up and coming producers.. you have to have something different to set you apart. So don’t be afraid to be different because the those who do usually change the world. The rest are just sheep.
5.They demand perfection: No unfinished or semi finished tracks.
6.They maximise their productivity: which often means missing out on sleep. Well they must in some way when you look at set times. Deadmau5 just locks himself away in a room to finish a track for 24 hours with a crate of coke. Oh the sugar, how does he stay so slim!!
7.They stay true to their ideals and have undying faith to their cause: Now this is the contentious one right? Cause the top DJ in the world should play banging progressive house. Well to me maybe, but everyone is different. Everyone has the right to access music and either listen or not to the music they choose. And its clear, even if it is a popularity contest, that these guys play music that people like and they are passionate about. So i think we should all embrace rather than hate and respect our differences. Is what makes the world tick!!

Success is all about delaying gratification. In order to be successful you are going to have to be willing to batten down for the long haul. Results don’t just happen overnight. Think of all forms of education or trade, sporting desires. Very few people just burst onto the scene. Avicci practised production 9 hours a day for years before he mastered his craft. There are always exceptions to the rule. Rules are there to be broken, but remember if it does not happen instantly know that you have to pay more attention to honing your skills and being prepared for when your chance comes.
Armin Van Buuren was back to his winning ways in this weeks DJ Mag’s Top 100 poll.

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