Last week I suggested that DJs need to stop griping about what they get paid and understand that doing what so many others dream of doing, they need to accept the reality of an ultra-competitive marketplace.
This week I’d like to take on something related, which is jealousy of those who are succeeding.
There is often a lot of jealousy directed towards artists who support themselves with their art, which I think is kind of ridiculous. If you have a gift, why shouldn’t you be able to support yourself doing what you love to do?
I quit my stable income (teaching ESL) almost 2 years ago to try to make it just with music. Of course my friends and many people have shown support for this but I also know there is also overall more resentment towards me because of my perceived success.
Some people seem to feel like no one should make money from the scene, like that’s some kind of rip-off or not what it’s about. Sometimes people hear what my fee is and think wow, must be nice. Doubtless as it goes up more will suppose that I’m not underground anymore or think my life is an easy one.
But if you want to know the truth, if you factor in all the time behind the scenes including researching gigs, outreach to promoters, dealing with rejection, silence, and wild goose chases that lead to nothing, communication with promoters, negotiation, inviting friends to an event I’m playing, posting about the event on social media, content creation, blogging, video blogging, more posting on social media, shopping for music, organizing playlists for gigs, booking travel, traveling to gigs, playing the actual set, recording the set, posting the set, and more…
If you factor all that in and divide my pay into hourly, you will find I made at least twice as much teaching English and didn’t have nearly the stress of barely supporting my family, having an inconsistent income that nearly drove me underwater financially, not to mention no more benefits or retirement savings.
The point is, it’s not easy to make it with music, and it’s a huge risk and stress to give up stable income to pursue music for a living. So if you’re going to be jealous maybe save that for the very few djs making enough that life is not a struggle – and even then, realize that in most cases struggle came before success.
We are all prone to jealous feelings, for me personally I sometimes get jealous of producers who get booked to dj based on their productions and don’t really dj well. But I also know that I am on my own journey and I made my own choices. I choose to put my energy into DJing and creating events because I get a lot of enjoyment out of both, and am relatively successful at both. It’s my choice that I did not go the production route. So other than this column for point of example,, you won’t hear me expressing these jealous feelings.
I sometimes get jealous of younger djs that rise quickly on what I think is more hype than talent, or “trust fund” djs and promoters who are able to throw money towards quicker success, while I have none of that and always have to take things one step at a time. At the end of the day, it’s irrelevant because I am who I am and I’m on my own unique path.
Everybody has feelings of jealousy, these feelings are natural. People look at me and have the same feelings no doubt. We can always look up and see people more successful than us, or down and see people less successful. We cannot really eliminate the natural human tendency to be jealous of others, but we can definitely control our reaction, how we choose to act based on that jealousy.
So aside from acknowledging our feelings to those above and below us on the totem pole, the best place to look is forward at the work that needs to be done to get to where we want to be.
We are about to start a New Year so it’s a good time to take a deep breath and renew our perspective and goals.
Rather than making posts (which I read all the time) about wah wah how come nobody books me and wah wah how come I don’t get paid more – let’s focus on the positive, on getting things done that justify more gigs or higher pay, or whatever our goals are.
As an organizer I can tell you I am much more attracted to djs that post about the cool things they are doing now, a new mix, a positive perspective, than about how nobody books them anymore, highlighting their jealousy instead of their journey.