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Finding the right DJ-manager partnership is a lot like dating - it takes some trial and error to find that special someone you click with.
As a DJ manager, I've helped many talented DJs over the years in the Open Format Industry but ultimately it is up to them how far the career progresses. I’ve been a proud witness as some relationships led to successful careers and I’ve done my share of consoling when personality differences led to heart-breaking splits.
So, what makes for manager- DJ soulmates vs. troubled flings? The truth is compatibility matters. You can’t force a square peg into a round hole, no matter how promising the talent or connections involved. Thankfully there are some clear qualities both managers and DJs should look for to set the foundation for working relationships that stand the test of time.
In this blog I'll share what I believe that DJs should want from a manager - the traits that indicate someone will be the unwavering coach, ally, and confidant you need to realise your artistic vision. I'll also reveal what I look for in the DJs I work with and why those attributes make my job rewarding.
My goal is to provide some guidance, so more DJs and managers get clear on their core needs and priorities from the start. Music history shows us that a dream team combining the DJs creative genius with the manager's business savvy can lead to legendary careers. But it starts with mutual understanding and well-matched personalities.
Let's break down the ideal DJ manager partnership...
What I Look For In A DJ
When I’m vetting new DJs to potentially add to my agency books once they have got through our extensive recruitment process there’s a checklist of personal qualities and attributes I look for. These have proven over time to set DJs up for long-term success - both working with a manager and sustaining a career independently. Here are the top items on my list:
Humble: Ego has stunted many promising music careers. I look for DJs who are confident in their abilities but also down-to-earth, coachable, and see room for growth. Humility allows space for constructive feedback. Cockiness and entitlement tend to hamper development.
Driven + Can Do Attitude: Making it in music requires relentless drive, initiative, and perseverance through rejections. I need DJS who hold themselves accountable rather than pointing fingers when goals aren’t met. A solutions-focus helps navigate obstacles. Without that inner fire, careers quickly fizzle.
Resilient: The path to music fame rarely follows a straight line. DJs who thrive take failures and criticisms in stride and then bounce back stronger. I look for emotional maturity and the ability to keep setbacks in perspective without internalizing disappointments.
Patient: Most “overnight successes” were years in the making, though, practicing, studio time and more. DJs need to enjoy the process, not just the end goal. I look for patience and the willingness to put in long hours now to reap rewards later.
Grafter: Hard work pays off in music. I look for DJs with a tireless capacity for hustle and determination to put in long hours perfecting their craft and making connections. Waiting around for a big break won't cut it.
Talent/Originality: Raw musical gift can’t fully be taught, but it can be nurtured. Technicality does matter, quality music production and stage presence are also important.
Honest: Trust and transparency are essential between an DJ and a manager. I value straight talkers who communicate and issues or struggles or concerns that they have so we can problem-solve together. Sugar-coating issues helps no one in the long run.
While natural DJ talent excites me these deeper personal attributes move me more. They form the foundation to weather the inevitable ups and downs of a music career and are generally harder to instil if lacking. That said, I'm happy to help DJs who show potential in developing any areas of relative weakness – because even the most talented need help in honing their abilities.
What Should DJs Look For In A Manager?
Just as managers vet the DJs they hire, you as a DJ should perform due diligence in selecting who to entrust with your career.
While flashy promises or industry connections may dazzle in the courting phase, dig deeper. Make sure your DJ manager and agency lines up with the following core competencies:
People Skills: Management is fundamentally about relationships. Assess a potential manager’s communication style, emotional intelligence, and networking abilities. Are they likable with business savvy that opens doors? Can they be both honest with you – yet personable with industry contacts? People want to work with decent humans first, so judge their character.
Business/Financial Skills: DJ Managers can’t succeed on charm alone. Review their track record of generating revenue for past clients through recordings, publishing, live shows, or merchandising and bookings depending what type of the agency they are. Make sure financial practices are ethical and transparent. Probe their operational knowledge across touring, marketing, royalties, licensing, sponsorships, industry knowledge, gig rates and more.
Strong Work Ethic: This demanding industry rewards hustle and grit. Before signing, study how hard a manager pushes themselves and their current DJs. Do they go the extra mile or constantly make excuses? Gauge both effort and effectiveness. Beware over promisers that short on follow-through. Do they do what they say they are going to do?
Dedication: The DJ Manager relationship is profoundly personal. Assess if a potential manager views you as just another revenue stream or if they care about you as a human being. Look for selfless advocates who put a DJs needs first, not self-interests.
Problem-Solving Abilities: + Organisation - Stuff happens - both good and bad. Scrutinize how deftly a manager handles unpredictable curveballs. Can they quickly yet strategically adjust course while keeping you focused on priorities? Rigid thinkers make poor partners. Are they organized.? DJ Managers need to be super organised and quick on their feet.
Patience: Music fame rarely happens overnight. Confirm a manager supports your growth spurts or plateaus, they should demonstrate long-range thinking, not just pressure for immediate results.
Knowledge: This is a complex, evolving industry across recording, publishing, bookings ,touring and more. Make sure your manager continually educates themselves on the latest technologies and best practices to best steer your career. Mentor relationships and industry connections also build knowledge.
Good Priorities: Align philosophically on what success looks like and the pathways to achieve it. Address upfront whether their priorities match yours across areas like artistic development, work ethic and lifestyle considerations etc. Make sure your human needs win over monetary profit .
These are the criteria to look for when evaluating a potential DJ manager. In addition to their track record, having open conversations up front sets the stage for a successful relationship. With the right partner, you can move your career forward with confidence and focus on what you do best – creating an performing great music.