Quality & Traits of a Successful Music Producer and DJ

Author : 6AM
August 26, 2019

Quality & Traits of a Successful Music Producer and DJ

With today’s technology advancements, it’s easy for almost anyone to translate their passion for electronic music into a career.

The myth of the bedroom producer is no longer a myth, and we often hear stories of discovered artists who broke through in the industry after putting in countless hours in the studio, honing their craft and grinding until their hard work paid off. We recently gave some tips on how to increase productivity in your home studio, tackling important subjects such as ergonomic studio set-ups, removing distractions, labeling samples, learning shortcuts and more.

But what makes someone a successful music artist? What traits must one possess to really get the most out of one’s passion for music production and/or DJing? While there are a lot of factors that come into play to make it in the music world, in order to turn passion into a career you must truly want it.

Here are some qualities most successful music artists possess, compiled after tens of hours of interviews with successful international DJs and electronic music producers.

In Their Mind They Have No Other Choice

This is not to say that if they did not make it as a music artist they wouldn’t have another career path to fall on, but is simply stating that their mindset was that of no compromise.

For some it was truly the case that they had no other choice, perhaps because they struggled to get other work or lacked the skills to succeed in other fields. For others it was purely the mentality that they would give their all to make it in the music world and never give up. It also means doing whatever job necessary to make ends meet while putting in incredible amount of hours in the studio.

The bottom line here is that musicians are confident in their talent, have the necessary drive to work hard and believe that they can make it and will persevere until they do so. More of this to follow!

They Are Willing To Work Hard

You have to work hard in this business. Somewhere out there there’s another 18-year-old bedroom producer in a home studio with the same skills and dreams as you, and perhaps even with a little more experience and gear. You have to be willing to out-grind his grind, to put in the necessary hours and to work hard both in the studio and outside the studio to make ends meet.

Do not be lazy. No job is below you if it’s what it takes to keep you in the studio making music and inching yourself closer to your dream one day at a time. If you think that going into music will be an escape from doing any real work you should think again.

They Want To Constantly Educate Themselves

A successful music artist is constantly educating himself on the latest hardware options, plug-ins and software solutions that are applicable to his productions. While it is not necessary to learn every piece of equipment on the market — we in fact suggest becoming an expert in the ones you truly need and are comfortable with rather than dabble in too many — there is still constant education needed to improve oneself and learn new techniques to use in the studio.

Further, a professional musician wears many hats these days. Often times a producer might also be a DJ, a promoter, his own manager, his own booking agent, etc and as you begin to get busier with more gigs it’s important to learn how to wear each of these hats well.

Simply put, it’s important to be able to educate yourself on the many different aspects of professional music-making, and to enjoy this process.

They Will Live Modestly When Needed

Accepting the need of being humble and frugal can be necessary at some point in your music career. Income may be sporadic at first or generally unstable, and it may take years before it’s regular enough so that you can take liberties on certain luxuries.

Until then, a rising music producer understands the need of being frugal and living modestly. He or she learns how to live within their means and is able to figure out solutions for needed cash flow should it be an issue. Teaching workshops or giving music lessons, serving or doing odd jobs for friends and family, anything of the sort could be beneficial to reducing money-induced anxiety and to keep you focused on making music.

The important thing to keep in mind is the certainty that you will make it, and that you will make whatever sacrifice you need to make in order to achieve your goals. Dream big but make your dreams about the music, not about the money or luxury. Once you’re on this path for the right reason, the rest will follow.

They Are Patient And They Persist

We have all heard the saying, “patience is a virtue.” It couldn’t be more true for any aspiring music artist. It took more than a day to build Rome and careers don’t appear overnight for anyone, perhaps least of all for electronic music producers and DJs.

While Lady Luck may appear to smile on some more than others, it took years for most the fastest rising stars to get where they are now. There is no surefire shortcut to musical success, but as long as you take steps every day to better yourself and do more than the day before, you will eventually be one of the best in your business. The key thing is to remain patient, to keep grinding and to realize that your “big break” may not come soon, but will come if you put in the hard work necessary to make it happen. Don’t focus on when you will become successful, rather focus on how to become successful and achieve that goal by working daily on it.

Music Studio

Practice Everyday And Enjoy It

This may seem self-intuitive and a repeated point but it’s not really. We talked about persistence and hard work, but it’s important to stress that they both need to translate to daily commitment of practicing and perfecting your craft, regardless of the genre and style of music you’ve chosen to produce and play.

Enjoy your music and have fun in the studio. Art is a form of communication and as such music a powerful means of expressing feelings, beliefs and emotions. Successful artists find happiness in practicing daily, and translate that joy into successful work in the studio.

They Find People That Support Them

It’s not necessary to be alone to succeed as a musician. Sure, long hours in the studio, weekends spent practicing and holding down side-jobs to allow yourself to keep the grind going sometimes do not leave many hours for interaction with family, friends and other loved ones, but that doesn’t mean that artists do not need people to support them.

Whether it’s a personal type of support or a professional one, artists that end up making their passion into a full-time career surround themselves with a support team. Family, personal friends, amorous relationships and of course a manager, assistant, record label, etc are all examples of sources that can provide positive support that allows an artist to do more with their chosen career path.

They Do Not Burn Bridges Out Of Frustration

It is likely that at some point in any music artist’s career they will experience moments of frustration and anger. The music industry relies heavily on personal contacts and in electronic music/nightlife in particular things can sometimes go wrong. It can happen that people do not live up to their end of the bargain or that they lead you on only to let you down when you were counting on them the most.

The important thing here is to remain stoic and not burn bridges. There may be anger, frustration and sadness, but it’s key to realize that while things may not have worked out now, they could well work out in the future. Leave your connections open for any opportunities that may arise further down the line.

They Surround Themselves With Successful and Talented People

This is important with any career path, and especially so in music. Surrounding yourself with successful and talented people is a key way of finding inspiration and constantly learning from those who have walked the very same path that is now ahead of you.

Granted, it may be hard to befriend a super-successful producer or DJ, but somewhere in your local scene there’s another artist who has been around for a while and has done well for himself — someone who can provide a positive influence to your career through mentorship, advice, lessons, etc. You could find a similar type of connection with someone who isn’t a music artist, but whose work ethic, professionalism and success can still be a source of inspiration and drive for your own career.

Similarly, it’s important to rid yourself of negative influences that may be hindering your career progress. Successful people surround themselves with successful people that enhance their chances of a prosperous life with a successful chosen career.


If you found this article useful, sign up for our newsletter to learn more and to stay up to date with 6AM’s news and features on the world of electronic music.