DJing and the “Tiers”

In my opinion there are many different tiers of working djs… in this blog I will review them all with you. I am going to follow the outline from the top down so we can all at least agree on the starting point. At the top we have the big boys…Hardwell, Afrojack, Calvin Harris, Alesso, Aoki, etc… this cannot be argued. All of the names listed are producers as well that have tracks on their own record labels. They can provide you with an entire set of music that was strictly produced by themselves. Often times they will remix each other’s music as well. Underneath these DJs is anyone that has a tremendous following and gets gigs CONSISTENTLY! They may hold residencies at some of the biggest clubs in the world. I am located in NYC so the names of these clubs would be Marquee, Lavo, TAO, Webster Hall, etc… when I say a large following I mean hundreds of thousands of views, plays, likes or follows. All gained generically of course! (This means NOT purchased) The next tier would consist of the radio DJs. The name speaks for itself but generally these are the disc jockeys whose names and voices we are all familiar with because they are on our favorite FM stations. You can usually hear them promoting where they will be that weekend and because of the reach of the major stations, they are on a platform that is much larger than any word of mouth or Facebook ad can compete with. Moving onto the next tier you will find the Dj that rolls with a crew or group of promoters. This is the unlikeable crowd :)… The reason being you are only good to them if you show up to their events. These people have burned many bridges over the years and more or less do not value friendships unless you are out consistently supporting them. Many times they think their 💩 don’t stink! Often times a promoter or even a Dj Will try and cut a deal with you giving you an opening or closing time slot and a guest list at the door where you have to achieve a certain number of people. And let’s face it, if that’s your thing, cool…I understand in order to get what you want you must bring value, but I’m not the type of guy to ask people come out to hear me play so it’s just not my thing. Underneath this level of DJ is where I would classify myself. Many of my listeners understand that I am a full-time teacher and djing will always take a backseat to that. However, people in my tier often times have more talent than the guy who can open from 10-11PM and bring 20 of their 25 year old friends that still live at home with their parents with no bills. I honestly love the tier that I’m at right now. I hold a residency at a great bar and at the same time I am creating mashups and bootlegs for my own sets. Other djs on this tier may Dj other types of events including but not limited to weddings, communions, sweet 16s, engagement parties, etc… there is a ton of money to be made on this tier and it’s all about word of mouth and marketing. The second tier from the bottom is what I referred to as the hustler tier. These are DJs that are looking for work and believe they have the ability to perform but cannot get booked. This tier can be extremely frustrating and I speak from experience. Most DJs spend a certain period of time in this tier. From here I will go to the lowest tier of all which is the bedroom Dj. This Dj has no gigs, doesn’t play in front of anyone but has some equipment that they love to mess around on. Very important to note that every single DJ no matter what level you are on starts here. All of the different levels or tiers as I have referred to them as are achieveable. This entire profession is a game and you just have to know how to play it. To achieve the top-tier you can actually go to a ghost producer for a track (Someone that will produce a song for you in exchange for $) and if your parents have enough money in the bank, purchase your track over and over again until you get on the top 10 on – this will get you noticed and you can skip over all the other tiers and than become famous for throwing cakes into people’s faces (Aoki) No matter how far it is you aspire to go, the passion of music should always drive you. The one thing I warn you of is that this profession is addicting! It’s just something about moving the crowds and hearing the roars over either a transition or a remix that cannot be explained…If you are a Dj, you know what I’m talking about…If you’re not, don’t say I didn’t warn you! Until next time! -Dj Canale