Some DJs have a job to do, and that job requires them to keep up with the latest trends in music.
Nobody wants to hire a DJ for their wedding that plays some obscure off-the-wall underground genre. Well, okay, few people want that. The point is, when you choose to pursue your passion in an underground genre, you need to know what you’re getting into… and you probably won’t have much luck being a mobile DJ or getting a residency at a top 40 club.
The “take requests” kind of DJ needs to be a jack of all trades when it comes to popular music styles, because it is their job to please the most regular people.
But what about the weirdos?
Here in the States, everyone expects to be able to drink a cold refreshing beer when they enter a sports bar & grill. So, in order to please the largest amount of people, they carry the most popular beers: Bud Light, Miller Light, Coors Light, and maybe some “specialty” beer like Killian’s or Corona.
Of course, that doesn’t really please everyone, does it? This may please the status quo, but it’s also what is expected of them. It’s difficult to “wow” anyone. Some people, who are really into craft beers, find themselves without any option at all in this scenario.
Wouldn’t they be better off in the specialty bar that had 40 beers to choose from? Or, even more specifically, how about the bar that serves 20 different porters? Or the bar that sells a different rotating craft beer every day?
In this scenario, the craft beer drinker is the “weirdo”… the person who likes what he likes, and can’t get it just anywhere.
The same parallel can be drawn with music, and with the people who play it. As long as you know what you’re signing up for.
When your intent is to delight the weirdos, you have to work harder to find them… they aren’t going to just appear. It requires you to think outside of the box, and to put real work into finding your niche. And this work happens outside of the DJ booth. You need to network. Maybe you need to find other kinds of shows with open-minded individuals, and invite them to your night one-by-one. Maybe you need to look outside the music scene entirely. Maybe you need to start a blog full of articles that resonate with people, so they start paying attention to you. (Sound familiar?)
When you please the overlooked with your weird, obscure, or underground music and approach, those weirdos are much more likely to notice and recommend you. But the point is not to be weird for its own sake… it is to be true to who you are and to what you want to do, and finding ways to make it work.
Yes, it’s much harder. But all great things are exhausting. Do work.