My profession in the world of music as a disco jockey has not been the easiest. Rewind to the initial years of the 21st century, and one will find that my passion for music stems from the roots of dancing in its purest form. I loved to dance, and I also loved to make people around me dance. I started out by dancing for small gigs at churches and other dance festivals. I went on to train children and adults in my locality for genres like hip-hop and breakdance. I taught dance in various schools. For all that I know today, I would have made a great fortune out of dancing alone. When I lost my mother, I had no mental support and morale from my extended family. I was in a dark place in my life. The only feelings I carried in my heart was that of loneliness and betrayal.
An Accident Changed My Life
In 2003, I met with an accident that changed my life in every possible way. After a birthday party at my friend's place, I crashed my bike into an under-constructed railway crossing. Doctors told me that I almost lost my legs that night. I had to quit dancing on the advice of my doctors to save my leg. Dancing was my world, it was the only thing I could master so gracefully and effortlessly. It was my outlet, my stress buster and my best friend. I bid adieu to dance and joined a regular IT job. While it took care of my bills, I realised that this was something that I did not want to do forever. Since I was a dancer for the longest time I could remember, the music felt like home.
If I am the DJ that I am today, it is only because I was left with no choice but to give up my passion and my ability to dance. I learnt the art of music engineering and disco jockey, all by myself. It took me around a year to master the art of playing music through consoles. I would frequent clubs and make friends with professional DJs to learn from them. Fast-forward to a few years, and I can proudly say that I am extremely well versed in being a professional DJ. I joined an international agency known as the Carnival Cruise Line on a contract basis in 2018. I travelled to various places like California, Mexico, Los Angeles, and Florida. I had a wide range of international audiences to cater to in the two years I worked for them. I returned to India in the year 2020 for a two-month break. While one should expect the unexpected, I did not see the coronavirus pandemic coming our way.
Our Profession Heavily Relies On Social Gatherings
Most professions faced hardships during the pandemic. I could not return to the cruise line due to travel restrictions imposed on various countries. From small artists to the most prominent artists, everyone has borne the brunt of the pandemic. Our profession heavily relies on large social gatherings and events where people dance and enjoye themselves. The pandemic ripped us all of these privileges. The only way I could sustain the initial three-month-long lockdown was through whatever I saved from working for the cruise line. I had to accept a paradigm shift from playing live in front of people to playing music online through computer screens.
Nevertheless, the best part about this experience was that I got to learn more. I would play music through platforms like Zoom, using sophisticated sound cards that would ensure the quality of sound remained stable and up-to mark. I had international customers who preferred an Indian DJ to cater to their choice of music. I could now play music for people in different parts of the world at the same time. This would not have been possible had I played live.
This has been positive for me in terms of marketing as well. It is added to my profile that I do live events and online gigs for anywhere in the globe. The tricky part was that of dropping network bandwidth of customers. When this happens, everybody needs to be connected again. As I can only see a few windows on my screen at one time, there was a requirement of somebody that could play the role of monitoring technical issues. You eventually learn the art of multitasking by playing good quality music while ensuring everyone has a good time. I had my wife who supported me through this. She would monitor my audience and ensure everything was happening smoothly in a hassle-free manner, both for me and the crowd I was playing for. I had to do my research on how to ensure good quality sound while playing online. In today's age, many wonderful gadgets come with sound cards and software comfortable to work with.
Before COVID happened, we charged our clients how much we wanted. Clients do not mind picking someone else over you regardless of low performance to save some money. Initially, I struggled a lot. But eventually, I started working around my clients' finances and figured I would have to compromise on my pricing for gigs accordingly. However, I wanted to ensure that if somebody wants me to play for them, it is because of my quality and what I can offer them. I understood that everyone is going through a financial crunch and let my clients have their way. Eventually, as things opened up, I would charge them slightly more than I used to. I do not just limit my profession to playing music for a crowd. I like to entertain my audiences through tasks and events.
If I compare my earnings to pre-COVID times, there is an 80-90 per cent difference. There is no doubt that our sector was probably hit the worst. Regardless, anything that can teach you something new is always highlighted on a positive note. Learning is a struggle, and if you struggle, you get somewhere. Yes, it was a struggle learning how to do different types of events during the lockdown. But, because I struggled and worked hard, it turned out to be a boon for me.
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