Thoughts on Interfacing with Fellow Performers

Recently I was at a local networking event. The coordinator of the meeting needed a small audio system to introduce a few people and make a few announcements. She was surprised when the restaurant where the meeting was held could not provide her with what she needed. Knowing that I am a DJ she asked me if I had any sound equipment with me. I happened to have a small, old system in the car. I was more than happy to help her out.

I set up the system in a corner and left it there for her to use. Beat up and weathered, it wasn’t pretty, but it worked. As the night went on people from all walks of life passed by without even noticing that it was there. Then, another DJ passed by the system. I could hear him say to his colleague, “Look at that,” insinuating that the set up was amateurish at best. Not knowing that it was mine and only there because it was a last-minute stand in, they proceeded to make fun of my “insignificant” set up. The system that night was plenty powerful and regardless of its condition it was exactly what the lady needed and it got the job done.

This happens all of the time. DJs, like other profession als, compare themselves to their competition. With technology today, there is always something newer, faster, or better available for us to use. But even if we wanted to, we could never buy every- thing the industry has to offer just for the sake of having the newest, coolest items.

All of us look for an edge, but at times this can make us skeptical or lead us to act negatively towards our colleagues and their businesses. Many DJs like to critique their peers’ business practices but some tend to do it only with a negative eye. They love to point out, to anyone who will listen, what they do better, rather than taking a positive approach, acknowledging what’s good about their fellow DJ’s ideas. It’s like they need to justify that their way is best so they can fool themselves into believing that they are a success. Maybe this stems from their own lack of confidence.

Some DJs embellish their success or brag about their accomplishments. Others don’t feel comfortable talking about what they do, or sharing their “trade secrets” at all. However, there is a growing number of DJs who are willing to get out there, “talk shop” with their comrades, and share their ways of doing business. Every human being, no matter how confident they are, is curious about what their peers do and how they do it.

Conventions, seminars and meetings bring DJs together to focus on one thing, their DJ business. These events are where open-minded people get together and embrace the idea of sharing with each other. You would be surprised as to how many DJs, no matter where they are from, have the same concerns and issues that you do. When these events are over most people feel that they received an education or picked up a few good pointers by attending. They often feel rejuvenated and confident as they return to their regular routines.

One thing we should all do is to respect our competition and their ways of doing business. Everyone does things a little differ- ently. Even if we don’t agree on how to do things, as professionals we should want to help each other succeed and learn to trust each other. Every once in a while a DJ has come up to me asking if I had an extra wire or cable available to borrow. I’m always happy to help them out. You may never see that DJ again but you never know when it will be you who needs help.

When you think of it, all of this may seem trivial. But the reality is we all want to be successful. Human instinct can make us paranoid while ambition can give us the drive to achieve our goals. By communicating, getting together or otherwise having relationships with other DJs, you can be assured that you are always on the right track.

By Jim Papa

 Originally published in Mobile Beat issue #166 – link to

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