One of the recurring themes on this blog is how to operate within, and interact with, a local scene in a small town. There are two reasons for this. The first is that it's the situation which I'm familiar with, being someone involved with my scene in my own small town. The other is because it is a topic largely ignored by other internet resources in the DJing niche.
It may be fair to say that, in some respects, small local scenes are simply a miniaturized version of their big-brother counterparts (in places like New York, Miami, or Berlin). However, there is one difference. Smaller scenes are much more fragile. It only takes one or two lines drawn in the sand before your scene will segment itself into oblivion.
There is one surefire factor, the presence of which causes the destruction of a small music scene faster than any other.
Your ego is your worst enemy, especially when it comes to a small market. I would go as far as to say that it is the fastest way to cause it's destruction.
There's nothing wrong with knowing where you've come from, being aware of your achievements, knowing your strengths, and acknowledging the time that you've put in to your craft and to your scene.
But that's not ego. Ego is a “me-first” attitude. The problem with the “me-first” attitude is that it's met with “ugh, that guy again” resistance.
When “me-first” and “ugh, you” collide, you have just created a segmented market of them vs. us.
In a small scene, over half of your audience is probably other DJs. This is good because you can relate with those in your scene on a different level, but bad because it only takes one or two stuck-up divas to cut your audience in half for good.
Being on a constant cycle of self-inflation does not cause you to be held in higher regard… it merely burns bridges.
If you've been reading on PDJ for a while, you have seen me talk about ways to make yourself valuable to both your audience, and those you work/network with. Having a self-serving, arrogant attitude is like building a brick wall that prevents you from doing such.
Let's be clear. I'm not talking about confidence, conviction, boldness, or true self-worth. What I'm saying is that confidence and humility is a killer combination when it comes to highly charged communities full of impassioned people, such as small music scenes.
The funny thing is, by operating with a sense of conviction and focusing on providing value to those surrounding you, people will automatically hold you in high-regard as a stand-up person… a go-getter who is approachable and ready to work with other like-minded people to make good things happen.
If you are at all involved in your local scene, I bet you can't throw a stone without hitting someone who has a huge sense of entitlement (earned or otherwise!). These DJs don't realize that, not only are they unfairly inflating themselves, but they are also belittling their own audience… the reason they have reached any level of success in the first place!
“To have self-respect is to have neither too high nor too low an opinion of oneself. It is to value one's integrity, to be capable of shame if one fails to live up to one's own opinion of what one should do and how one should be. Self-respect is the foundation of respect for others. One of the most unfortunate effects of bigotry is that it tends to lower the self-esteem of the group that is its target. It's difficult to maintain self-respect if the society around one continually expresses its contempt for you and its belief that you are inferior to them.”
Let me leave you with one final thought. What is the source of the inflated ego? Typically, it's either fear, frustration, or a combination of both.
As humans, we are born as tender and fragile creatures. Throughout life, our experiences help us discover various coping mechanisms to deal with the emotional harm that's hurled towards us on a daily basis. A big ego is a way for someone to reinforce their own self worth… a false sense of confidence that acts as a barrier of emotional entry.
The purpose of this post is not to rant and complain about people whose life experiences have taught them to operate this way. I'm simply saying that if this describes you, you will probably get a lot farther if you learn how to let go, and work with others in search of a common goal.
As a nice side effect, you will likely discover that you've encountered a level of internal peace that you never realized you were missing.