How to become a Famous DJ: Don’t Fake The Funk

From TV celebrities to your best friend from high school, everyone seems to be trying to make it big as a DJ, but it’s not easy to move from Hometown Hero to international artist. The question is, how do you get your name on the roster for the next big festival? How do you go from being an opener to a headliner? I decided to do a little investigatory work in order to find out exactly what you need to do in order to be a star and here is what some of my favourite DJs and producers shared with me:

Tim Livingstone of Skiitour:

“Someone told me when I was starting out that if you wanted to start being booked outside of your hometown, you’ve got to stop playing in your hometown. You have to be willing to travel great distances for gigs that don’t really even pay for your gas money.”


Krafty Kuts:

“Mixing acapellas and learning to scratch are great additions to your set. Make sure you have an intro track or make your own one. Let people know that you are on the decks. Make sure you plan a quality set full of battle weapons to cover all angles, just in case the DJ before you plays loads of the tunes you might have played. Watch other DJs you respect and learn form their skills and experience to become a better DJ. Social media is a big part of a DJ’s life now and keeping up to date on all aspects are extremely important. Let your fans know about your new music and forthcoming releases. Try and engage on Facebook live with your studio work, ideas on the decks and travels.”

Basement Freaks:

“Dedicate yourself  to your passion and find where it takes you. Follow your dreams. This summer I took the chance and in a period without many gigs I spent my entire income upgrading my studio with programs and plugins and producing my 4th album. Just be yourself and don’t fake the funk or your nose is gonna grow baby.  As with everything else, learn from what you do and from what others do (you need to keep your eyes open) and always strive to get better and better, free your mind and your ass will follow.”


“It really helps to have someone who is well connected to represent you like a booking agent but it’s not always affordable or even available for most people. It’s not essential either. Producing and releasing your own music regularly really helps build your profile. Be sure to send out-of-town promoters early promos of your new tracks too. This helps keep your name fresh in their head so that when they are looking to throw a party, they will remember you. Release mixtapes semi regularly with all of the freshest music you’ve got so promoters know what they’re going to get if they book you. Posting show promotion is really important in growing your brand. Post photos from big events you played so that other promoters can see how hard you rocked that party and maybe they will book you.”


JPod the Beat Chef:

“Growing your artist profile can be challenging these days. The best way, if one is so inclined and talented, is to focus on producing because nothing spreads a name better than making music. However, producing can be a huge and intimidating challenge. One can always focus on edits of existing songs as that is much easier and still allows a name attached to something to spread. Since most DJs don’t have the time or talent to be exceptional producers I think the only option to grow a profile outside of their home town is to play exceptionally well to their slot. Time and time again inexperienced DJs focus on bangers and when they get a chance to open for a bigger artist they often try to smash it out thinking that this is their chance. However, it is a disservice to everyone when this happens and promoters notice. Playing appropriate music for one’s slot will be noticed and rewarded. People talk and opportunities elsewhere will likely present themselves.”

The Gaff:

“My suggestions to other artists who want to be booked outside of their hometown is to be a part of a great local music scene. Then find how you want to contribute. Find your niche, and develop it well, with a great style. If it’s great enough, you’re being true to yourself and your passion, then others will notice your gift. Also, open up for shows, or promote shows! Bring your favorite artists to your city. Then practice, practice, practice. Don’t give up your day job. Contribute meaningfully. Invest in art & culture.”


“Persistence and consistency is key. It isn’t easy. Work at your craft every day. Learn, improve. Reach out to artists and labels you admire. Social media is overwhelming these days with information, misinformation and egos coming at you from every direction. If you’re meant to be an artist – you’ll do it at any cost. Don’t spend your money frivolously. Keep your ego in check when you’re hot and stay focussed when you’re not. Also, stay healthy, think long-term and don’t party too hard.”

DJ Soo of Wood’n’Soo:

“Work on your craft every day.  Sitting around waiting to be inspired just leads to complacency.  Even if you’re not feeling creative, do something productive having to do with your music whether it’s organizing tracks or samples or even just cleaning up your workspace. Being “good” or talented at what you do only gets you so far.  You need to work on the business and marketing side of things to really push past these days. Being good will help, but someone who is both talented and business savvy will go further than someone who is just talented. Worry more about yourself rather than what others are doing, in the sense of being concerned or angry that so and so is getting booked more than you. It’s better to put the energy into improving yourself than in being pissed about other people.  There will always be someone with more fans, getting paid more, with a better timeslot, with more opportunities. Never rest on your laurels – it’s very tempting to “take a break” after finishing a track or EP or stagnate in your DJ skill development because you can “already rock a party” or something, but self-improvement will not only further your own development, but can keep you motivated.”


Thank you to all the artists that helped to highlight the vast amount of things you can do in order to step out of your local scenes. However you choose to beef up your resume, the most important advice is to work hard and be persistent because when you put your heart and soul into something, people are bound to take notice.


Kalisi Luv

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: