Now, this article is definitely not about a DJ – though DJ Depression would be a great name for an Emo DJ. No. What I’m talking about is that crummy feeling that we all run into from time to time. It’s the one that makes you consider selling your gear, giving up your dream, taking a day job, etc. It’s the inner voice that tells you that you aren’t good enough and makes you question whether you even belong in the game. I truly believe it’s something that most of us go through, and as a full time DJ or artist, I believe that you will continue to go through varying forms of this over the course of your career.
So maybe you’re having a slow month. Maybe you’re scrolling through your social media and noticing how all of your peers are working, but you aren’t. A lot of us get like this when we aren’t booked around holidays. It’s that #fomo that makes you think, why didn’t I get that gig? I could do that. It’s often prompted by the inner voice that pushes us to judge ourselves against others. (I mean, isn’t that the social media culture we are in now, anyway?) Either way, you get into the slump and it suuuuuuuuuuccccccckkkkkkkssss.
So what do you do? As a full time working DJ, for me, these slumps are something that come and go the same way that influx in work comes and goes. And usually there’s a correlation between the two, especially since this is my full-time job. One thing I have learned is that sitting around feeling bad for myself definitely isn’t going to help. Neither is continuing to compare myself and sipping on the hater aid. It keeps me stagnant which keeps me where I am and and it continues to perpetuate itself in a very negative viscous cycle. Which brings me back to what do you do? Here’s a few tips to help push those emo feels away, or at least to help move you through them.
This one is always a favorite go-to. Practice. Practice, and more practice. Lots of times I get so caught up gigging that I don’t spend a lot of time just messing around. It’s in these sacred moments that you’ll be able to find new inspiration in learning a new technique, trying a new blend, playing a new track, or just doing something different. You can find inspiration in creation. If you’re looking for a good resource, check out Cut Class with DJ Angelo and BPM Supreme. Episode 1 can be found Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBQBg5JH8KI
That’s right. Produce something. Now this doesn’t necessarily have to be in Pro Tools or Ableton (but do it that way if you can!) What this could mean for you is producing a new mix, a blog, a video, a social media challenge, etc. Creation is always a great way to transform energy, especially negative energy. One of my favorite depression counters is to put my feelings into a mix. Or a new song. Either way…use music to describe what your feelings would sound like. A lot of times the coolest creations come from this transformation of energy. For an example of a “feelings” mix – check out any of my Rock Sessions mixes on mixcloud. Volume 2 came from a particularly dark place. And looking back on the other side of what I was going through, it was a really cool way to capture that experience. https://www.mixcloud.com/djshannonc/the-rock-sessions-vol-2/. Give it a try. The transformation of energy will truly amaze you!
This one is super important, especially if you’re slower in the bookings department, which often can be the number 1 leading cause of DJ depression. Time to take a look at your EPK. Does it need to be updated? How’s your website? Your Soundcloud/Mixcloud? Have you got any new flyers that need to be made? A new photo shoot to bring some fresh images to your marketing campaign? It’s also a good time to review your previous marketing strategies for impact, as well as brainstorm on new marketing opportunities. Staying in motion will usually help move you through depression, even though it’s one of the more difficult things to do when you’re in a funk. Pick just one thing about your marketing campaign to refresh, and see if it doesn’t help chase some of those blues away. And in the event that it doesn’t, at least you’ll have something productive to come out of your bad mood.
4. Supporting Other Djs. (networking)
This is a great way to not only boost your mood, but also to help create movement in your business. Now, it doesn’t always seem like it at surface level, but trust me, going out and supporting others is one of the most effective ways to bring about more work for yourself. Not only will you being showing support to others, but if you use the time correctly, you can also network, build new connections, and find new people to either collaborate with or to do work for. (I can’t tell you how many bookings I get passed to me from other Djs I’ve collaborated with. Enough that it’s worth mentioning.) Not to mention that going out and supporting others will put you in a different environment which should also help lift your mood. Who knows, you might hear something that inspires you. You know how the song goes…”Last night a DJ Saved My Life…” Definitely worth a shot.
5. Surround yourself with friends.
Whether they are Djs or Not, having a strong support system around you is one of the best things you can do to help push you out of your funk. This can be family. This can be other friends. Either way, don’t be afraid to lean into the people you care for, most especially when you’re feeling vulnerable. A lot of times I get so caught up in gigging that I often get overlooked by friends for invitations, etc. I’ve been assured by several that they just get to a point where they assume I’m always working. I’m telling you this because it might be the same for you too. You might need to reach out and let people know that you’re available so that you can connect. Connection can be a powerful remedy when dealing with any sort of depression. Don’t be afraid to reach out. You might find that it’s exactly what you need.
As I encourage you to push through any feelings of sadness, less than, not good enough, etc that you might be experiencing, I want to remind you that it’s Okay not to be Okay. And in those instances, I especially encourage you to reach out and talk to someone.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
I hope that you find these resources to be helpful. I hope they give you some ideas on how to you can move through your funk and closer to your own happiness. For those reading, Keeping pushing. Keep playing. Depression lies. Don’t let it push it away from what you love. And for those of you in the thick of things, remember, you are not alone.