Can an Introvert Be a DJ: What I’ve Learned DJing as an Introvert

me with a t-shirt "imagine when i listen to music"

I’m SUPER excited to release this article for all the introverts out there striving to DJ.

This article covers over 15 key topics – including:

  • DJing in front of people
  • Benefits of figuring out early you’re an introvert
  • Networking as an introvert
  • Dealing with social anxiety
  • Practical tips you can implement tomorrow
  • Lots of personal experiences

That negative stigma about introverts lives because people don’t know, which can be fixed, and it is what we are seeking to improve here.

So without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Can an Introvert Be a DJ?

There is this societal prejudice toward introversion in the DJing world, and that needs to change.

And I think it’s particularly damaging when you’re young – not confident, under stress, and with a wish to fit in society. 

Yes, an introvert can become a DJ and perform live. Many famous DJs are introverts, which doesn’t stop them from fulfilling their dreams. An introvert is likely to enjoy time alone and thus spend more time practicing and finding new tunes, which results in better performance.

You could have a more difficult time getting recognized and landing jobs since it is mostly a social process, but success in any field doesn’t come easy.

Things like getting in touch with promoters, other DJs, and audiences involved in the culture online, form a significant part of getting noticed as an artist.

The good news is that many in the music are introverted and acknowledge someone they can associate with and be themselves around. 

So be yourself, don’t try to overthink your behavior, and you’ll draw people you’ll feel relaxed with. 

That stands for being a DJ, but also for dealing with your introverted personality in general. You learn to form it and give it a spot in your life that works.

Being an Introvert Can Be the Reason to Go Into DJing

It’s ironic, but behind the decks playing the sets, you’re the focus of attention, but you are likewise the quiet person in the back who sets the scene for the crowd to enjoy themselves. So it’s not actually about you.

Sometimes being introverted makes you feel like you don’t have a purpose in a frame with people. You might think you’re just an extra. 

DJing helps with that as then you’re on the mission, you’re the life of the gathering, and you’re what’s pushing it.

I have personally seen people’s understanding of the introvert as a loner, unenergetic, unfriendly.

Maybe if there were more general respect and recognition for an inwardly observing person, there would be less demand to engage in external activities that cause this pressure. 

Introverted people only enjoy being alone, and favor doing things themselves. They prefer not to talk and keep their emotions inward.

My dad is extroverted. If he isn’t the center of attention, he isn’t having joy. My mother is introverted, and I take a lot of traits after her.

She fancies being by herself, doesn’t like chatting too much, and is comfortable at home watching TV or reading.

And she’s a spokesperson! But as soon as she finishes her work, she gets right back into the shell.

She will speak you to death if she has to (trust me) but favors not to and will go out of the way to not do it.

Benefits of Figuring Out Early You’re an Introvert (Avicii Parallel)

After watching Avicii: True Stories – a 2017 documentary about that phenomenal DJ and producer who took his own life, I was amazed. 

Seeing him have his discovery about Carl Jung and his introverted nature, I figured he was around 26 when he learned what an introvert he was.

How was he supposed to recognize that? He became a superstar before he could learn about introverts, let alone welcome it.

Avicii was circled by people who felt differently, and not even in a hateful manner. Extroverted inclinations are just as normal.

He was paid and embraced by the crowds to do what led him to this pressure. The friends and partners depended on it.

He was assured that he would (and did) accomplish fame if he did this event or that event – just one more. The outcomes were tangible and actual. Which adolescent is going to say no?

And that’s why it’s great that you figured out early that you’re an introvert.

As an outcome, he lived in this state of tension and fear and gave himself tirelessly for years at this insane fast rate (700+ events?!).

Thus I think the pressure on his spirit and the destruction of his soul also arrived at an absurd fate rate, to the point of no recovery.

It’s not that we’re embarrassed that we’re introverts, but it’s feeling awful when others put negative energy towards us.

A Lot of DJs Are Introverts

And many great artists are introverts in real life. 

The only problem is that you have to balance your work time with your free time. And that can be complicated if you get really popular.

But it is possible, particularly if you’re aware from the get-go that work is work and not real life. If you are satisfied enough with yourself, you will not need continuous public support when you’re not performing.

In an interview for Popspoken, when asked how he maintains his introverted image in the electronic music scene fuelled by extroversion, a masked German DJ and producer Claptone responded:

“I uncovered the path to my success when I applied myself directly to the music and put everything else on mute. The most incredible opportunities present themselves when you focus on the untouched core of your desire. Everything else is background noise.”

When asked if he’s an introvert or extrovert, one of the leading British house and techno artists, Patrick Topping, for The Skinny said:

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“If I had to pick, I’d say introvert, but I can still be pretty outgoing. I don’t think you have to be outgoing at all to be a DJ. There are lots of quieter guys than me, who are massive DJs, it’s essentially about the music, isn’t it!”

Another great DJ that comes to my mind that’s introverted is Richard David James, aka Aphex Twin. Not so many records of him, the only sound is analog and is in his sets.

Yet we can enjoy some of the most significant gems of the latest electronic records made by him, just because of the fact he is so introverted. 

“I’m not sure what people think of me – I’d imagine that I come across as being friendly, always smiling – but actually, I can be quite introverted.” – said British DJ Daley Padley, also known as Hot Since 82, in his interview for Mixmag.

For him, the best way to express himself adequately is through music, and what he has to say is entirely complicated, yet fascinating, like his inner world. We all can hear it.

To add to all the names given, one of my favorite singers was extraordinarily introverted and shy, but he was simply a different person when he was on the stage. I’m thinking about Freddy Mercury, the singer of one of the best bands ever – Queen.

DJing in Front of the Audience Isn’t the Hardest Part

I never had difficulty with public speaking, but my biggest horror is being a social butterfly at a gathering of 50 strangers.

My grandfather (on his mother’s side) was a violinist in a grand orchestra. He had all the self-belief in the world and mastered his art. 

But when he had to play that last note, suddenly he would start sweating and get very anxious because he would know that’s when the social butterfly starts. And there’s plenty of it with a symphony that large.

Many musicians are greatly introverted. Composing music is solitary and introspective work. So, typically, characters who are drawn to it will frequently be introverts.

A DJ doesn’t have to be that communicative. Of course, you’re delighting thousands of folks, but you’re up there, and they’re your crowd.

I think it’s more about the arrangement of a social event that makes introverts exhausted than the number of people included.

DJing is an excellent opportunity for introverted, socially awkward, shy, or lacking the courage to step out of their shell.

As for “making it” as a DJ, think out what sort of DJ you are, and what you’re in it for, and strive to be the best as you possibly can.

Don’t try to be a commercial DJ, playing any party that will have you and hating the tracks you’re expected to play if your soul isn’t into it.

Correspondingly, don’t follow what is modern right now and try to DJ like someone else. If you’re in it for the passion, then play that genre that you love.

Both are good: commercially tended or artistically tended as long as you’re fair about your character and why you do what you do.

Practice Makes You Confident

Being introverted doesn’t automatically mean you can’t be confident. You gain trust in yourself by doing something great and trusting your abilities around that knowledge.

I’m an introvert, and I have no difficulty performing in front of people and being the center of attention. You can prepare yourself to be social and friendly.

You just have to push yourself into these situations. But to be clear, it doesn’t change the fact that you like to be reserved and you’ll keep coming back to that state of mind.

All you can do is continue doing it and getting exposure and keep trying to progress until you’ve entered a point where you are happy with your skills, and the confidence grows.

Everyone feels worried/anxious/lacks confidence at some period, and if they say otherwise, they’re lying.

If you’re playing somewhere unknown or with perceived value to you, you’re going to get that reaction again, no matter what stage you’re at in your career. 

Just know it’s natural. It gets more comfortable, but it’s normal and will never entirely go away.

DJing is about your craft, track selection, and flow. You can’t be too shy to reveal that side of you. 

As long as you are confident in your capabilities, other people’s opinions shouldn’t be relevant to you. 

That takes away 80% of the stress leading up to a set. If you question your skills, you are already handicapping yourself.

DJing, in many aspects, is a very lonely act, even though it includes the audience. 

Think of it as a performance rather than a straight one-on-one interaction, the crowd is there to have a great time, and you are there to provide that to them.

How to Find the Courage to Perform in Front of a Crowd

Become two people. It’s why so many DJs have alter-egos – to separate the you that you want the audience to see and the real you. 

Choose a name, persona, and anything else you need to display the character you want to be. 

Bear in mind everyone at their work or in different situations does this. Some people smile and serve customers. Some have a “phone voice.”

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You have the business “you” and the home “you”. It’s all the same human coping strategy. 

It’s just a more apparent scale when performing. People are focused on you. You’re the center of attention.

No rule says artists have to act like themselves behind the decks.

Take David Bowie, for instance – he was shy and had social anxiety, and yet had Ziggy Stardust, Halloween Jack, Thin White Duke, etc., and was one of the most popular, thriving performers of all time.

You’re on stage. Act, perform, it doesn’t have to be “you.”

This DJ side of you / persona can be switched on, the front goes up, the show goes on, and you’re there to party and entertain and give the audience their few hours of escapism. 

Without disassociating yourself from your performance, you won’t get through some times in your life.

This leads me to…

People Only Care About the Music You’re About

One of my first discoveries as a DJ is that till you get certain fame, most people really don’t mind the DJ. 

You’re essentially just giving them background music. It can look like a bit of a kick to the pride, but it can likewise be quite liberating – you don’t have to be afraid about screwing up. 

The only way to do wrong is to blast the sound system, but as long as you continue mixing, it’s still a party. 

The DJ isn’t a central point. The event is. You could have a tough night, but so what? All musicians do, especially when they’re newbies.

All these are elements of the practice side of this craft. You need to prepare and hone your mixing, but you also need to show DJing skills around people.

These guys are out to see their mates and have fun. Maybe the audience wants to listen to only the classics they love. They might want to be exposed to new tunes. 

But by and large, they came to have a good time, and your duty is to provide that experience to them. 

They only care about the tunes you care about. And that’s where you reveal yourself.

Connecting With the Audience as an Introvert

Some might say that “it’s all about engaging your crowd,” but the thing is it’s all about following the crowd with energy in the room – with your music.

And that doesn’t have to include socializing. It’s more of a dependent engagement. Chatting with random folks and “networking” is a different type of interpersonal engagement unlike playing for the masses.

You can be the biggest introvert in the room and still dig that type of engagement, but speaking with people in a loud atmosphere is sometimes very draining.

The skill is to give the listeners what they need to have a party, not engage them in a personal manner (unless you want to). It’s two distinct traits.

Networking – Introvert’s Nightmare

Even having the best abilities, the best flow, transitions, and making perfect sets won’t get bookings unless people hear about it.

Social media is close to overloading point with producers and DJs, particularly since COVID-19, so it’s not easy to get noticed.

I’d suggest finding a group of people who are arranging parties in your area that match the style you play and establishing communication with them. If you make yourself heard, they may give you a chance at the start of the event.

Conversely, get several like-minded personalities together and reach bars/clubs to put on events. Once you’ve got some gigs in your resume, promoters will be more inclined to consider you.

Please don’t take it as the only way to get forward, but it’s what I found worked best for me. I’m sure that DJs have used all kinds of different methods of gaining traction.

Whenever you need to reach the audience, make calls to agents, visit clubs, or perform, just play the role. 

Ultimately, it will become second nature that you won’t need to pretend, but it’s an efficient way of arranging everything until then.

Simply put, fake it till you make it. You become what you practice.

Number One Tip for Talking With People at Parties

There are plenty of tips and tricks for going to events as an introvert, but if you have face time with someone you just met, this could be the solution you were looking for.

Question about something they fancy, then ask them to describe it, why they like it, and introduce you to it if they had a chance.

The trick then is to listen and be interested. The hard bit is when you find the subject boring, but you can generally counter that perception by getting your brain to attempt and understand why the person likes it and what they get out of it.

Don’t be dismissive; listen to their concrete thinking as to why you would fancy it. A simple question to bring up is the song currently playing and what genre they love.

Don’t Use Drugs

Or alcohol, to help you with networking. Those who advised you that aren’t looking out for their health nor thinking long-term.

Drinking leads to more anxiety in the future. Think about going to a mafia loan shark to pay off your bank debt. Yes, you could pay off the debt that day, but you’ll have even more serious problems down the road.

You want them to get to appreciate the true you. You can go about networking in a manner that can feel great for you. 

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My recommendation is to plan and do your research before you start communicating with someone. If in-person or phone calls feel scary, try with emails or DM’s first.

Practical Tips You Can Implement Tomorrow

First of all, begin describing yourself as a DJ.

Or a bedroom DJ. You may not be a great DJ or a skilled DJ, but you’re still a DJ. And as you carry yourself as one, you’ll gain other people’s recognition for that. 

Don’t overpromote yourself, and don’t choose any events you’re not ready for. 

Try organizing or playing at a home party with buddies. That’s less pressure and an excellent way to start gaining the feel of DJing. That’s the best way to experiment with your talents in front of people.

Here is some advice for the DJ identity element:

Describe yourself as an “online DJ.” Folks who are not into DJing at all (casuals) will question what that implies, and you can say that you publish new mixes frequently. 

And trust me or not, 80% of them will want to hear what you have and will actually think it’s awesome.

That is a tremendous confidence booster. If you’re talking with a DJ, he’ll understand that “online DJ” means “bedroom DJ,” and he can even help you if you’re still in the early stages of this craft.

Just look at your “career” from a marketing point of view and try to make it seem as cool as possible without pretending. Quickly you will feel 30% more confident, I promise you!

Focus on the Music

It is essential to control your expectations. Try not to get too annoyed if people don’t get the tracks you love or appear to react more to music that seems catered to the audience that doesn’t know music.

Instead, concentrate on moving people with music and utilizing that as a way for social connection. 

That is to say, don’t try to use mixing as a trap that tempts them into your world; apply it as a pathway into their world. 

As an introvert, it is crucial to understand that although you fancy spending time within your mind, people aren’t trying up to get in there with you.

My friend gradually defeated this performance anxiety by not worrying anymore. But that is too obscure of a descriptor. 

In a nutshell, he doesn’t think about anxiety but instead focuses on the tunes and the people. 

How he did it:

1) He published his mixes online and got feedback. People informed him they loved his sets, and the comments were positive. 

Getting your mixes out there is excellent for self-promotion. It’s a bit nerve-wracking at first, but later you don’t worry about a thing.

2) He deejayed for his mates. He began at his house with two best friends (including me) and mixed for us. Then he moved up to small house parties, and then he moved up to somewhat bigger house parties and then continued moving up and up.

Building of being confidence with more massive crowds helps a lot.

What If You’re Dealing With Social Anxiety

I used to have critical social anxiety, whether I was in the presence of people or normally chatting with people. I fought with that for years. 

For the longest time, I took this as a thing that I could not improve. 

That narrowed my life experience, and I think I have missed out on relating to some wonderful people. 

What eventually helped was adjusting my nutrition and starting DJing.

DJing is excellent for somebody with social anxiety because you’re first practicing at home, then when you perform for friends or family, it still feels comfortable because it’s nothing new to you.

But what truly created the difference for me was when I started online therapy for my social anxiety. 

You only talk with certified therapists, get counseling at home in your free time, your info is kept secret, and you can change therapists at any time.  And it’s even more affordable than traditional in-person therapy.

I turned my life around 180 degrees.

Through loads of self-reflection, DJing, and a lot of help from compassionate therapists and my buddies and family, I started to fight my social anxiety and communicate with more people.

Keep Your Routines Outside of DJing Stable

The real solution for DJing is the preparation and acceptance of the situation. 

Do everything possible to be prepared. Have everything set up how you want it, and have a couple of general setlists that you can follow as a guide if needed.

Also, make sure your sleep schedule is on point for the rest of the week before you perform.

The more you fight the anxiety, the worse it gets. Choose to accept it and power through. 

The more sets you do, the better you’ll feel each time. Fight the anxiety by focusing on your love for the bass!

In the beginning, no matter what you do, the next time you step up behind the decks, you’ll feel the anxiety creep in. But that’s it. 

Go up there knowing that, and it’s not going to surprise you. It is what it is, and don’t let it keep you from something you are passionate about. 

Implement these few things:

  • Exercise & good diet
  • Cardio – running/long walks (helps a lot)
  • Keep anxiety meds in your bag just in case things get out of hand. You might never need them, but having that bottle with you helps keep your head straight

Tray Fiddy

Tray has come to terms with the fact he will probably never be a famous DJ.... but that hasn't stopped him from mixing and researching audio equipment. Tray has over 12 years of experience DJing at home and events.

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