In this week’s episode, I join my friend David Michael on Episode 64 and it’s all about the issues and concerns which women often experience as DJs, or in the “EDM Industry”.
In this week’s episode, I join my friend David Michael on Episode 64 and it’s all about the issues and concerns which women often experience as DJs, or in the “EDM Industry”.
I’ll be the first one to say it, freejaying simple does not work when you do not know how to run your business in the first place. In this video I explain why. And YES, I know some of you are going to tell me, “But Kilma, I’ve been able to network and gain some SERIOUSLY awesome paying gigs through it. That’s awesome, but I’m NOT talking about YOU. I’m talking about people that freejay 3, 5, 10 years into their career and STILL aren’t able to make a living off of what they are doing because they are dealing with some of the very things I outline in this video.
If YOU know a FREEJAY that is making the mistakes I chat about here, SHARE this video. Get the word out, because when we all work together and set our standards higher it forces business owners to take our business MORE seriously.
There is room for EVERYONE!
Have you ever gone to the gym with a goal in mind. Maybe you wanted to gain strength, increase muscle mass and or mobility. Naturally as you’re working out and altering your diet you shed some pounds. It’s not your main goal, but it’s a part of the process. You become more lean while gaining muscle mass. But if you headed into the gym without a real goal in mind and you kept telling people, “I’m not here to lose weight.” Suddenly your focus is lost. Instead of planning for what you’re trying to accomplish you repeat a message to yourself and others that sets you up for failure. So how does this relate to the dj world? It’s the comments we make to ourselves about why we AREN’T doing this thing we so passionately love. Instead of actually focusing on WHY WE ARE DOING IT and what we hope to gain, we keep repeating what becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. It’s the top 3 things clients tell me when I ask them why they do what they love and what they hope to gain from it.
Gaining money is like losing weight at the gym. It’s a by product of doing what you love. But when we keep putting it out into the universe that we are not looking to gain money from our passion, we subconsciously sabotage ourselves. We walk into a venue to push our event idea and we tell the bar owner, “I’m not looking to make money from this event.” You’ve just told them, “I don’t value myself and what I do enough to charge my worth.” You’ve also sometimes told them that YOU are not a good investment because they will likely lose money working with you.
Solution: This is where you can change the conversation to, “My goal to put on a memorable weekly night that people look forward to and bring their friends out each week.” Suddenly your focus is on creating a quality event that you are passion about. Gaining money just happens to be the extra benefit.
This is another way people without realizing… lower their standards. Why aim high, when you can aim low and say, “I wasn’t looking to become some big hot shot by doing this anyways.” Perfect you’ve accomplished your goal and you didn’t even have to put out a mixtape. Maybe the idea is that you wanted to come off humble. I get that. But these are the same people that end up wondering why they can get a quality out of town gig or label to consider their music.
Solution: Get specific about your goals. Maybe you want to be well known in your industry for a certain type of music or skill you have. Maybe you want to be the go-to-person in your field for industry reviews on various production programs and products. Notoriety like money are a natural outcome when you focus on those BIGGER GOALS of your passion.
It’s a seemingly innocent statement but it dismisses all of the other wonderful things that come with this career. The issue being that sometimes we detach ourselves and don’t see the value in creating meaningful relationships because we could just sit in our basement making music never talking to people. And if that’s what you’d like to do, that is fine. But there is so much beautiful music that would have never touched our ears had the inspiring musicians behind that sound not want to share that with the world.
The Idea: It’s the people you meet, the vibe and the feelings you experience, how much you learn and grow with music. You don’t travel around the world to play music for “the music.” It doesn’t have feelings. Sure it can create different feelings for each individual but generally we want the entire experience that comes with music and how it moves us and the people around us.
Some look at it as the laws of attraction. If you continuously focus on what you don’t want, you subconsciously bring it into your life. But when you find a target, whether you know how you’ll reach your designation or not… you’ve got a goal in mind, something to visualize and plan for!
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I was in a meeting the other day where a client was telling me when measuring their success they often compared themselves to locals. They also felt that because of this, they were always just a bit behind the leading talent in their city. With the goal in mind of becoming #1 in their field, they wanted to know how to get ahead of their competition. My answer, “Look at the BIGGER PICTURE.” I challenged them to set larger goals and start looking at people in their field that were far most successful globally. Reason being is that if their local “mentor” did not aspire to accomplish as much, they would always be following just behind. But if they looked at someone much farther in their career they could gain great information and even achieve MORE in a shorter period of time. How and why, you ask?
Having a residency in the top club in your home town sounds pretty awesome. But being the artist touring to all to top clubs in cities around the world… now that’s pretty bad ass. If the leading DJ in your city isn’t focused on that and you’re “following the leader” suddenly that isn’t even a goal of yours. Maybe instead of focusing on winning the attention of that local club owner, you are working on creating your own sound that gains you notoriety on a larger scale. This is also wonderful if there is not a huge pull for your niche locally. You can stay true to your craft while being able to gain success in what you love.
When that BIG GOAL seems so totally out of this world, the smaller goals become easier to achieve. For example if your goal was to play your favorite yearly event, but you changed your focus on gaining attention to big name labels and started releasing quality music, a local promoter may have caught wind of your work. They may now be asking you to open for a headlining act at that popular showcase and speaking in a workshop about production.
When you look locally you are limiting yourself and two things tend to happen. One – You can accidentally come off like a copycat by following the top dog. Two – You miss opportunity to learn MORE. They only know as much as they have achieved, right? Switching your focus often inspires us to think outside the box and it becomes easier to set ourselves apart and an open mind to try something different.
4. You See Your Worth And Value It
A funny thing happens when someone invests in their future. They start to value their time far more. This may mean charging your worth to being more cautious about how you spend your energy & time and who you spend it with. If you make room in your life for quality people and things you love, life becomes this beautiful and amazing experience!
Some even look OUTSIDE the globe. Chris Hemmsworth actually talks about this in his book and in many of his speeches. About when our reality is that big something is actually possible, we go for it. But when we limit ourselves… well it’s our own damn fault! So get out there my DJ friends and DREAM BIG, pan and execute DAILY!
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It’s 3 in the afternoon and I’ve just been tagged in the comments section in a video of a topless female DJ. The notifications are blowing up in my feed as I go to click the link. When I view the video I see that the woman is dancing around sexy, dry humping the turntables, maybe the gear is turned on… maybe not. The caption, “This is why female DJs struggle.” As I sit there reading the comments (which are either putting down this woman or talking about what sexual things they’d like to do to her) I can feel myself getting worked up.
I start thinking about every hurtful comment, anonymous email and belittling face to face conversations I’ve had. I think about the threats, harassment and straight up misogyny I’ve had to experience in my 10 + years in the industry. I then think to myself, “Are you fucking kidding me?” Seriously. Of all the struggles I’ve dealt with in my years as a DJ, a woman rocking out to a her DJ set topless or not has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the struggles we as women deal with in this world. And the fact that these guys think SHE or women like her are the reason people have a hard time respecting women, says so much to me about how they already view women in the first place.
Whether hostile or benevolent it comes right back down to the discrimination of women in this industry and boy oh boy, has it had a HUGE impact on us to this day. Quite literally my “biggest struggle” has been dealing with misogynistic men. Some men only wanted to book me because I was a “girl.” Other men refused to book me because I was a woman. Men that straight up went out of their way to try and ruin my reputation with rumors of things that had never unfolded, simply because I chose to stay professional. Or because I stood up for myself and fought for my rights. This story is familiar to many women. A business owner that showed up on time, prepared and got business done right. Regardless of her efforts would have to deal with some sort of unprofessional treatment or comment in regards to her gender or clothing.
When I was going through the thick of it, I started reaching out to other women. I knew I wouldn’t be alone in my experience but I did not truly understand to what extent this was happening. Women spoke of how discrimination not only affect their careers but their safety. Some admitted the denial they’d been in for years about what was going on and how they were conditioned to think this was their fault. It seemed there was a lot of brainwashing going on. In one breath they were told that they in fact were being treated as equals, followed by instructions on how to dress and promote themselves in order to be taken seriously. There were other women that were straight up told NOT to acknowledge the issues going on… because it would look, “unprofessional” on their end and they wouldn’t want to seem, “overly sensitive.” Sound familiar?
Sure enough the ones that spoke out had there asses handed to them… repeatedly. They were literally being made examples of for calling out the sexist behavior happening to them, sometimes daily. We are STILL seeing this TODAY! Slowly as time went on more and more women started to speak out about their experience. Some in private, some more publicly. Some even chose to start or become apart of various women’s only groups of artists; in support of one another’s experience. Many sadly told, “Well, maybe you are bringing this drama into your life.” and even that they were segregating themselves by making these all female rosters. Heck even women they trusted often dismissed their experience stating, “I’ve never had this happen to me… are you sure it’s not just YOU?” But like I mentioned many are in denial. As we would HOPE our sisters wouldn’t have to experience these things, there seemed to be a negative attitude by some women towards their own sisters for calling out this behavior.
Some men that thought they had good intentions, were making benevolent sexist remarks. Ranging from, “You’re pretty good for a girl…” to “It must be sooooo easy getting gigs as a woman.” It made me wonder about what experience the men had. Did they tell one another, “You’re waaaaaaaaaay better than this dude.” And, “I like how you just wear T-Shirts and pants instead of dressing up in a tuxedo for attention like that other dude.” Likely, no! Maybe some comments about how they think it’s wicked that they use vinyl or still use their ear to beat match, but not comments about their gender or appearance. (Not typically at least.)
To this day I don’t look at women and think, “You are the reason some men don’t respect me.” I’ve seen plenty of topless male DJs, drunk and disorderly at festivals without a scene afterwards. Nobody shaming them the next day on facebook or comments about how he’d been messing around with a couple of different women at the party. No judgement about how he was inappropriately hitting on the talent, either. It’s clear discrimination is live and well in our industry. The standards we put on these women often do not apply for the men. Clearly the issue is not what she wears or does, but how we view her differently because she is female. It puts a microscope on how she promotes her brand as she pleases yet makes no comment on sexual advertising using a woman to promote someone else’s brand.
If a person feels so out of control that they are unable to handle themselves around a woman they find attractive, who’s the real threat? The woman in question or the person that can’t help themselves? Who’s responsibility for their actions. The person that did and said those things, or the person that wore something that made them think that behavior was okay in the first place. When do we stop blaming others for our actions and start taking responsibility for ourselves? The threat women deal with is not other women. It’s how some people view women in general and what actions follow that idea.
To those that can see this is a BIGGER more deep-seated issue, I ask you to educate your friends. We can create awareness as women and share our stories but in order for this change to happen we need progress on everyone’s end. We need this conversation to become one that not only women speaking of their experience have, but the caring and supportive men around them share.
If you’d like to get in the conversation join us tonight Sept.12 on Disc Jockey News TV at 8:00 pm CST to our live episode. Myself and two other women in the industry speak about our personal experience.
Do you want to be taken seriously as an artist?
Do you want to be successful and well known in your industry?
Do you want to do what you love and have the time to actually do it?
If you’ve answered yes to 1 or more of these questions then you need to take the next few minutes to watch this video. Because negotiating wages is not something we learned in school but it’s a life skill that will help you many spaces in your life.
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So you’ve just come back from festival season and you realized there were a few things you wish you’d done differently. If these aren’t already on your list, write em’ down for next year! These are all the things you should have learned this year during the festival season.
How often do you get to run into loads of different artists, promoters and other industry professionals all in one place and NOT on facebook? Genuine interactions! Real conversations with tone of voice and facial expression. The raw and uncut versions of these people. This is your chance not only to introduce yourself but find out what other people are up to and what’s happening in their lives outside of music. You might want to note who parties a little, “too hard” if it’s someone you were previously thinking about working with.
Whether it’s resting, eating well, drinking that aqua and watching your intact of the party hard favorites, nothing is worst then having “too good” of a time the first night and feeling completely drained for the rest of the three day long weekend. You’ll need that energy if you want to network with the industry peeps and make a last positive impression! (Well, it’ll sure help!)
We aren’t just talking gear here but lodging and food. I can’t tell you how many times even just volunteers of festivals have found themselves dehydrated, hungry and tired because the details of the accommodations weren’t worked out ahead of time. Mean while the promoter is running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off because he/she forgot to hire someone to delicate tasks. Know what you are getting yourself into in advance so that you are prepared both mentally and physically.
You’ll always run into those artists that say they didn’t get paid, the proper gear wasn’t supplied or they didn’t even find out if it was a paid gig until AFTER they spent all the money getting out there. Contracts are meant to protect BOTH people involved. They say, “I know my shiz and I will be prepared and on time!” As well as, “Here is my worth!” I dive a bit more into that here if you’re wondering why you should use you contract next year.
It’s moments before we drop our first track and we realize we can’t even plug our headphones into the damn mixer because that pesky gold headphone jack has run off with an rca cable somewhere tropical. Whether it’s an extra usb or auto cd it seems these small things can really make us go bonkers when we don’t back it up.
Do you want to stand apart from the rest of the djs, then bringing along something for people to remember you by will be key. Maybe it’s a mixtape, stickers, or even a swanky business card with a link to your website. Heck, maybe you got your EPK on a USB with some new music and you gift it to one of the headliners a label owner, and tell them to check out on the plane ride home.
When you’re going to a festival it’s not uncommon for an artist to want to unwind and by all means we want you to enjoy yourself. Just keep in mind that professionally touring djs sometimes are so crazy busy on tour that there literally only have minutes before and after their dj gig and then they are being zipped off to their next gig. It’s worth the investment to do these little extra things for yourself while you still DO have the time to network and meet people. If you think you might need help reshaping your brand’s image and running your dj business more professional, I’d love to hear MORE about your goals. Let’s chat!
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