Why Great DJs Fail: 6 Examples

Today's article is a guest post by Kilma, a DJ, radio host and writer from Winnipeg, MB.  Check out her awesome blog, Don't Kilma Vibe, and her streaming radio show The Basement Sessions every Saturday night at KilmaMusic.com.

As the founder of Brand Me Silly, a writer for DJ Mag Canada, and radio host of The Basement Sessions, I have a lot of opportunities to work with great artists. Unfortunately, many artists find themselves short of their requirements: too little, too late.

Many artists are entirely misguided on things as simple as updating social media accounts, how to properly operate their own gear, and their understanding of the mental game.

Below are 6 misguided artists, whose mistakes can be learned from.

1. Artists That Do Not Understand Their Brand (Elevator Pitch)

If you had 2 minutes to tell me your identity, your market, and how you differentiate among other artists… what might you say?

Many cannot answer this, and when they do it often sounds bland and similar to what many others might say. Defining your brand, what people think when they hear your name (and the experience they attach to it) speak volumes about your influence. If you haven’t already, now is the time to establish this.

2. Artists That Do Not Have Press-Kits

There was a time where the press-kits were actually a mailed out package with press photos and physical copies of your music, with listed press releases. Nowadays, it can be sent or directly downloaded from a website.

Artists that are looking to release and have signed tunes absolutely need a press-kit. This is what I like to call a “DJ's Resume.”

3. Artists Lacking an Online Presence

You can hate and fight it all you want, but 93% of marketers use an online presence.  46% of consumers turn to social media before making purchasing decisions.  If these numbers don't concern you, they should.  They are rapidly growing and will continue to.

There is no better time to learn about social media, and how you can creatively market yourself, while staying true to your brand.

4. Artists That Become Stuck in Their Old Ways

As mentioned above, the popularity of social media is growing at an alarming rate… and most definitely affects the way we function with one another. While old techniques can be useful, it's good to adapt and find new ways to influence your ever-growing fan base.

Become open and curious about learning and you'll find there are some really cool way to go about things without “selling out.”

5. Artists With a Lack of Knowledge or Openness

It's not just about the marketing and branding, as an understanding about your equipment and musical abilities can make you an expert in your local scene. Having a thirst for knowledge means you are often the “go-to person” when it comes to getting things done in your field.

Don't be afraid if you’re wrong sometimes or make mistakes. It’s your chance to learn and grow. When we are open to the possibilities, the opportunities flow into our life.

6. Artists That Just Aren't In It

Sometimes, people are not mentally “in the game” when it comes to getting work done.

Many successful artists will tell you that they were not in the right frame of mind, motivated, or really utilizing their time when they had it. Now, as a busy entrepreneur, everything they do is somehow involved with their business.

Whether it's taking care of things at home so they are able to be present while at work, or simply educating themselves on a new piece of equipment rather than spend their time watching Netflix. They are focused on the bigger picture.


If you find yourself making these mistakes, take it as an opportunity to do things different. When what you are doing is not working, it's time to try something else. Or, maybe you feel some of these things are working for you. Sometimes we don't see that something is holding us back until it's been years of that repeated behavior.

Be open to the idea that something else might actually propel you into the direction you've been working towards. If you're open to these ideas, you're opening up new opportunities to shine.

Thanks so much to Kilma for the contribution!

What do you think about this list? Can you think of other common mistakes which can result in stunted growth as an artist?  Post them in the comments below!