Wednesday, March 13, 2013
When Should A DJ Stop?
My fiancée asks me pretty regularly "how long do you plan to DJ?" Maybe she wants to know how much longer she has to sleep on her own due to my late nights, how many more records I need to add to our loft, or how many spots I’m going to drag her to so I can watch someone spin. I talked to an internationally renowned, legendary DJ a few years back about this, and his parents made the same point, saying "okay, you've seen the world, you've won awards, when are you going to settle down and get a sustainable career?" This question blows my mind, because some of us will spend a great part of our life working on this craft that we love so much, only to possibly be left behind. What jobs can you apply for at the age of 35 or 40, where listing “DJ” on your resume will land you a management job in the private sector, with an 80k salary and benefits? What are possible "DJ related" careers that you can get into when you feel like you're too old to be in the club? Music Supervisor for TV, Film? Licensing? Teaching? There's a question of stability here. You can be a popular DJ for a few years, and be able to live off of your craft, and be forgotten the next minute, regardless of the fact that you invested 5, 10, 15 years of your life honing these skills. Then what? You’re fifty and just gonna go look for a job? This isn't like spending 10 years going to medical school or honing your craft in an industrial trade. We still see some of our elders doing their thing, from Kool Herc to Danny Krivit to Frankie Knuckles. Some of these cats have 30 years under their belts, and are showing no signs of slowing down. This provides huge inspiration, but, let's face it, these guys are superstars and most of us aren’t (although a lot of us may wish we were or are working toward that goal). So, at what point do you stop trying to book gigs for yourself in the club, weddings, corporate, etc, and maybe just keep it to a hobby level at home? How old is too old? I would love to hear from some of our veterans, who maybe have raised families and established careers through DJ'ing, or who have actually stopped DJ’ing and found peace with moving on. After 16 years of DJ'ing, I feel the same way about stopping as my dad did about retiring from work.