Grappling With Nerves

Being nervous is a common concern among scratch dj’s, but what’s the biggest culprit behind nervousness? The biggest cause of nervousness, hands down, is the fear of making mistakes. If you’re familiar with the fear of mistakes, which you naturally should be, then you’ve likely dealt with it in a couple ways. You accepted it and moved forward anyway, or you let it prevent you from opportunities you would like to take on. More realistically though, you probably dealt with it in both ways or you wouldn’t be reading this. You moved forward enough to seek answers to the problems that ail you, but you’re still holding yourself back in some way.

There are many situations where becoming nervous about mistakes can affect you. Live performance, training with an instructor and even scratching on your own can all bring up feelings of panic. No one wants to look bad in front of others, not even themselves. The desire to scratch at your best is at the heart of any scratch dj that cares about their skills and how they’re perceived. Thus, the thought of screwing up, even just a little can be quite nerve wracking.

Redefining Mistakes

Let’s face it, mistakes are impossible to avoid so surely avoiding them is not the solution. What you need to understand is that mistakes exist for a reason. And that reason is to give you the chance to become who you truly want to be. If you run from or cower at the mere thought of mistakes, you have ZERO chance of ever getting to the skill level you desire, or experiencing all the great things that come with facing your fear head on. In short, mistakes are all potential learning experiences.

In fact, no amount of researching, teaching, training, coaching or mentoring will ever mean squat if you don’t allow yourself to make mistakes and make them often. I have seen it with many of my students before. They come in with this intense feeling like they need to impress me and then freeze up, struggling even more than they should. Ironically their fear of making mistakes is causing them to make more. It’s not until I introduce to them how important it is to freely make mistakes and the benefit of making them, that they become relaxed and start living up to their full potential.

Don’t Get Upset, Get Excited!

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not encouraging you to think that messing up regularly is something to aspire to. Of course you still want to get to the point where mistakes are minimal and you scratch at a pro level. However, in order to get to that point you have to embrace mistakes wholeheartedly and go out of your way to learn from each and every one of them. If you truly do this, not only will the fear of making mistakes begin to fall away, but your skills will begin improving at a more rapid pace.

So the next time you make a mistake, don’t get frustrated. Get thrilled and ask yourself what you can learn from it. The answer may not be obvious all the time, but it will come to you eventually. Believe me, because you’re going to keep making that mistake until you do. I know because I’ve made a TON of mistakes over the years, but one way or another I found and implemented solutions. Even if it meant seeking help from an outside source, like the training I did with my music mentor Tom Hess.

Cultivating Faith

Believing in your potential to achieve is important. Many people just like you have gone through the same scratch struggles and overcame them, but NONE of them would have done so had they not developed a "Can and WILL do!" mentality. Notice I said "WILL" and not just "Can". Simply believing you can, will yield very little results because it requires no action, but believing you will propels you into action because deep down inside you know that you won’t if you don’t physically tackle the problem at hand.

Don’t Let One Day Spoil a Lifetime

Undoubtedly, if you’re used to viewing mistakes as a negative it will take time to recondition yourself to feel otherwise. So don’t let a so called bad day on the turntables allow you to revert to your old way of thinking. Reread this article multiple times and keep reinforcing the idea that mistakes are your ally. Learn from them and they will reward you with more than you could ever wish for!

How To Get Paid To Play – Monetizing Your Craft


There’s a great divide of artists who are paid to play, those that pay to play and those whom just perform for free their whole careers. I think one of the biggest hurdles for musicians or anyone in a talent based profession is how to get compensated appropriately for your time. Asking for things in general just
seems like a taboo concept to most, but after awhile of doing a job without being taken care of, you really should renegotiate your situation before it gets too late and harder to get out. This goes for models, actors, actresses, photographers, promoters, bands, rappers, dj’s, producers, engineers, writers and
generally anyone who does ‘favors’ or things ‘for trade’. When you open up the doors for people to get something for nothing, or a discount, they can either realize the value in what their getting or they can take it for granted and expect you to give it up for free, over and over again.

Here’s a few ways you can protect your investment (time) and to prevent getting taken advantage of by so-called industry professionals and the likes.

Justify Your Contributions – What you put in is what you get out. If you are actively seen promoting the show you’re on, manage to bring a few new faces out, show up on time with all the right gear, and ready for the transition before and after your set. I’d happily book you again, and would likely give you a bonus that you weren’t expecting as an additional thank you. This also falls in line with getting guestlisted for shows, or receiving free drinks. If you get a free drink, tip at least 2x what you’d normally tip. If your skipping a $20 cover, promote the show beforehand and push some new heads there, as opposed to the very last day 30minutes before it starts, then asking for handouts. Remember, nobody owes you anything… Which brings you to the next point.

Invoices – Always work out your financials upfront. be transparent, and aim to get deposits prior to the show. I normally ask for half before and half upon delivery of services.

This leaves me incentive to finish for the remaining balance, and leaves the client not completely assed out losing 100% if you don’t deliver.

This also protects you if they “made no money’ or ‘overpayed XYZ” and have nothing for you, or want to make a million other excuses up about why they can’t be a standup individual that keeps their word. Also if you don’t deliver, or under deliver you can always give them the $$$ back, or overcompensate to make up for it if something comes up that hinders your delivery/execution/performance.

Their trust is on the line paying you upfront. They are invested, and you should be too. It’s a valuable way to increase your equity in the eyes of whomever is booking you, if you deliver a homerun, you’ll continue to get pitched opportunities.

Another route of getting compensated for your performances is having an itemized list or breakdown. While it may seem a little extreme, it does help the other party understand where you’re coming from.

An example is below:

+ Gas x Time
+ Performance ( think about what you feel your show is worth, take into consideration everything and remember to be realistic. )
* Keep track of your drinking – if a drink is $7-14 and you’re given 10 tickets, that could be $70-140 from the bar sales.
While it’s shady, I’ve seen promoters take into account how many drinks artists have, and take that $ out of their payment.
+ Keep Track of your guest/attendees
– Keep your guestlist minimal – each person you left in free, is a cost to the promoter.
Total Payout=
– Do Be sure to take into account the distance you are going for an opportunity.
– Remember not all that glitters is gold, and not every opportunity is a good one.

– Don’t be afraid to ask for more money.
– Don’t be afraid to reject gigs that are too far or requiring you to go to extreme lengths.

Good communication will help you establish better rapport and a clear line of communication, so your expectations are met and everyone is happy.
Lastly, back to the subject title: Never Pay To Play.

I could go on for days with this but here’s the low down on why you should never do these shows.

Your crowd isn’t engaged, they don’t know nor do they care about anyone on the bill besides you and “possibly’ the headliner who’s decently known. They will  likely buy tickets or pay the cover to support you, but leave shortly after your set. The same thing will happen with the guy performing before you and after  you. If you’re lucky, some people from the last guys set will hang around sipping their overpriced drinks while staring at their phones in the corner. The synergy of pay to play shows is always horrible because there isn’t a cohesive point of interest. It’s like being stuck in a cramped elevator with someone
who smells, but you have to get to the bottom parking garage. You’re not there because you want to be, you’re there because you have to be.

You paid… You bought into a nigerian prince of the industry offering you an island in the sky of Hollywood next to the broken wings of fallen angels beside a cemetary of hopes and dreams. If you pay to play, you’re literally giving yourself an uphill battle because you have to sell X amount of tickets in
order to regain your initial investment, and then even more sales in order to make a profit after you break even. Are you a musician? or a Kirby Vacuum salesman? You shouldn’t have to be going door to door with tickets, that you paid for, that have no cash value.

Even if the headliner is someone you’ve always wanted to perform with or meet in person, it’s still not worth it. Even worse, most people who do these shows like to add to their bios they’ve rocked stages with XYZ and ZXY, mindfully the terms or details aren’t included on the terms in which they played the show. Anyways, I could keep going but the point is made, just don’t do it. Don’t enable the Sean Healy’s of the world to keep producing shows that bring together a socially awkward crowd and giving hope to
artists while taking advantage of them.

You could have all the talent in the world with no money,
or you could have all the money in the world with no talent.

So the bottom line is, the guy/gal with more money, will be able to buy their way ahead. The guy with the talent will gain community and a level of respect that cannot be bought. So that’s it, again, just my opinions – feel free to message me if you’ve got a problem, or leave it in the comment box. I say take
the road of least resistance, keep your guard up, don’t become starstruck, and value your time because it’s the only thing you don’t have the luxury or purchasing.

Good Luck.


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Here’s footage from the Soulection x Beat Junkies collabo at Soulection’s “The Sounds Of Tomorrow” event that a month ago.  This particular footage shows legendary percusionist Eric Bobo of Cypress Hill & our own Rhettmatic aka The Cypress Junkies, going back & forth on the percussion/dj tip.

Bigups to Joe Kay, Andres, SoSuperSam, Kronika, Esta, & the whole Soulection crew for hosting D-Styles, Mr. Choc, Rhettmatic & Bobo at their event.

“Here are highlights from our recent TSOT monthly (L.A.) at The Echoplex w/ special guests Beat Junkies. Legends Eric Bobo and Rhettmatic really brought the energy with the combination of live percussion over Soulection material and forgotten classics.”

Shot by Erik Hurtado / Edited by Eric Coleman & Whest Cornell

Come out to a Soulection show if you get a chance:
More on the Cypress Junkies:

Listen to their full set here:…