Can You Be a DJ Without Being a Producer?

Can You Be a DJ Without Being a Producer?

I was interested in finding out if anybody can be a DJ without producing. Through my findings, these are the results I have found.

So can you be a DJ without being a producer? Many DJs start as producers due to the high technology we have at our fingertips today. Others remain DJ’s. Those who choose to do both have more knowledge under their belts, but it is not necessary to be a producer to be a DJ.

DJs vs. Producers

A producer creates or produces the music. Sure, the producer often doesn’t strum the instruments or harmonize on the song, but she or he works in front of the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) to blend the results that these front-line artists put down, turning the sound ingredients into music that sounds fantastic. A DJ plays music that is already been recorded, even if there is an artistic influence in creating his or her unique sound landscape by selecting the music, combing the tracks, and altering the sound through effects like looping, scratching, or cutting low or high frequencies.

A producer doesn’t perform before an audience. It’s not a face-before-the-crowd type of job. The DJ, on the other hand, is usually hired for a per gig engagement, spinning records and putting his or her imprint on music that’s already been made.

Most DJs that aren’t working out of a studio have to score their own equipment. Many producers are working in an existing studio setting. A DJ can transform into a producer when he or she produces the music. A producer morphs into a DJ when he or she plays the music for an audience. It is becoming more common to find the job of DJ and producer being performed by the same person to ensure his/her artistic vision, create name recognition, and to generate diverse streams of revenue. 

As a general rule, a producer pulls in a higher income than a DJ. Yes, there is an exception to this rule: the earnings of an established DJ with a huge national or, even better, the international following can be greater than the paycheck of a producer who is just beginning his/her career trajectory.  

Higher Standards For Producers

Music producers have to bring out the best sounds from their musicians. Some producers hire singers and musicians and singers to perform the music and then there are the producers are retained by musicians to oversee a recording session. Many producers have training and experience as recording engineers, and they bring additional technical skills to the project like helping with the recording process, polishing the end result, adding effects, and mastering, so that they can aid audio engineers. Many producers find themselves specializing in a musical genre such as EDM (Electronic Dance Music), Rock, Classical, or Jazz; other producers work for a recording studio, assisting the studios’ artists.

Knowledge Is Money

Yes, knowledge is power; knowledge is also money. More knowledge is a useful philosophy for those in the music industry. There are many ways to create income through know-how and marketing your creative work. Some suggestions include:

Use Your Muse: Yes, working DJs make more touring, but producers can earn by selling their music. And producers can possibly see a larger profit if they release music on their own. 

Selling to Other Artists: For those who are into songwriting and producing for signed acts, there is the opportunity of getting into the funds from recording companies that power name EDM talent. 

DIY Record Label: Many of the EDM scene’s name talents started their own record labels. It’s a great way to build your profile, to nurture like-minded artists, and yes, to enjoy a greater share of the profits when the music is released.

The DJ and the Gig Economy: Touring is one of the largest revenue streams for both big and lesser-known DJs. The current industry model for the music industry is constantly being revised, and an album or single might not earn the money that it used to, but if you have a popular song, then you might generate buzz and create name recognition that would make you more in-demand as a DJ. 

In House Talent: Some top DJs turn residencies at clubs into money-making business opportunities. 

Endorsements: Some popular DJs have raked in endorsement deals from companies and earned themselves perks and funds. 

Merch: Everybody needs clothes, T-shirts, stickers, badges, or hats. While artists may have lost dollars to a pirated copy of their musical product, they’ve recouped it through merch. 

Licensing & Publishing: Licensing and publishing allow you to sell music via Beatport and it gives you the chance to have your music in movie and TV soundtracks, video games, or commercials. Getting organized and going through the maze of getting ready for business may not be as glamorous as working to create the sound that fulfills your artistic vision or seeing people in the club enjoying what you lay down, but the money can be pretty sweet. Lesson: Work the creative and the business ends of the industry to maximize the payout. 

To sum up, when it comes to realizing revenue streams, the major players of the music industry such as popular and successful DJs and producers are using all of their skills to make money in many creative ways.

Related Questions:

Do I need to go to college to become a producer? To be a producer, it takes knowledge on a large scaleto operate the equipment. It would be the wisest decision unless the person was born into producing and learned it from someone experienced.

There’s no set education level that a person needs to become a music producer. That said, many colleges offer fantastic music production programs, and the standard level of schooling is usually at the bachelor’s degree level. These four-year programs provide skills in a broad range of topics and courses to help students move ahead in the music business by acquiring the skills necessary to become proficient and knowledgeable about the increasingly sophisticated technology used in the music recording business.

Part of the process of earning a Bachelor’s degree may include producing a full-length recording or working in an internship. Completing a Baccalaureate program could earn you a degree such as a Bachelor of Music with an emphasis in production or a Bachelor of Science in Music Production.

Possible course topics might include:

  • Electronic music
  • Digital audio software
  • Sound editing techniques
  • Recording industry law and ethics

Will my career last longer as a DJ or a Producer? It depends on the talent and knowledge acquired behind each skill. Both are needed in the party and music world.

Over the last decade or so, as more people become more electronically literate, and with the increasingly sophisticated technology and easy internet access to all sorts of sounds, DJs can more easily craft the music that they want to share. 

DJs and producers have very different creative processes; arguably, DJs have a tougher job now, since virtually anyone with a laptop and a connection can get hold of almost all the music from the last century. Or in other words, some would suggest that music streaming apps allow anyone to be a DJ. However, to be that stand-out figure in the club takes a special talent to make it to the world’s largest stages. But even these principal figures in the scene, to some degree, produce music. And even the new school DJs should be bringing something original to the audience.

Today, many top EDM artists have begun their careers producing, and some have never performed as a DJ. They don’t want to, and perhaps they’d find it wasn’t their strength (and, of course, the opposite holds, too, for DJs). So one could suggest that every headliner at a successful music club or a premiere festival today is a producer foremost, and then maybe a DJ.

Even though some, but not all, DJs have crossed over to producing and sound design, being a DJ is still a vocation that offers EDM entertainers artistic fulfillment. If it’s your calling, then go for it! There’s room in the house for people to find their mission in both the DJ and producer position and to blaze an individual and unique path to music industry success.

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