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© Al Powers,

What it Takes

MUSIC 05/19/15

What it Takes: An Insider’s Perspective

by Neil Moffitt

 *EDITOR’S NOTE: Neil Moffitt is the CEO of Hakkasan Group and has been on the forefront of the nightclub industry and electronic music for three decades. Rolling Stone has named him among the 50 Most Important People in EDM.

I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the world’s most celebrated DJs. Even more fortunately, I’ve been able to call some of them friends. And though their musical tastes, performance styles and backgrounds vary greatly, there are a few things that the most famous DJs have in common.

These commonalities are the key to making it in the business. So when up-and-coming DJs ask what it takes to get there, I can point to a few of the things that have set the most successful individuals apart.

First, you have to love it. Not just the final product, but the entire process. If you love the process of making music, honing your craft, then you’ll be willing to put in the work that it takes to bring your music and your performance to the top tier. This isn’t easy, and it can be far from glamorous. Many highly talented DJs simply don’t have the work ethic required to reach renowned status. That’s a loss for them, and for all of us.

Second, you need to take care of yourself. Think of your body as the vessel for your talent. That means getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising, and keeping yourself physically healthy so you can withstand the rigors of a global performer. Those who think the DJ life is about waking up at 5 p.m., enjoying dinner then spinning through the night have it all wrong. Often, there’s a full day of work involved before you enter the club, so you’ve got to stay well in order to work hard.

Finally, remember that it’s about the music. Put your finger on the pulse of the market. Create music people want to hear. The American market, specifically, is very open minded…but if you’re making the kind of music that only you want to hear, you’ll always have an extremely limited audience (maybe even of just one).

Work hard. Be healthy. Know your business. I know, this process doesn’t sound very glamorous, but when you look at the enormously successful DJs who have followed this path, it’s clear the results most certainly are.