How They Did It: Entrepreneurship, Startup Success, and Life Advice from Your Favorite DJs

 

Behind the decks, DJs A-Trak, Mick, and Diplo command the attention and movements of an audience like no other. Their precision towards song selection, transitions, and the mastery when it comes to controlling the vibe of a room, the rise and fall of the BPM, or reaction of a crowd takes years of practice, observation, and skill. Just as they’ve mastered the decks, each of them have approached the same strategy towards additional endeavors. They’ve developed the same entrepreneurship hustle in building their DJ career or brand into investments, own labels, and artist management. Beyond just a turntablist, A-Trak is record producer and label executive of Fools Gold. Mick, formerly Mick Boogie, is an A-list turntablist, speaker, and entrepreneur with major investments in various startup companies such as Anchor, Away, and Localeur. Diplo is a world renowned DJ, author, songwriter, record producer, and label executive of Mad Decent.

This duality in turning your passion into capital can coexist. Whether you’re practicing and crafting your passion or applying yourself in your job, the effort and daily practices you carry are the building blocks to what your future reflects. Just as how A-Trak, Mick, and Diplo control the crowd, they practice more calculation in steering their entrepreneur goals. What we can learn from them goes beyond the lesson of practice makes perfect, but the fundamental approaches in entrepreneurship: knowing your strengths and taking the risk on yourself. After all, DJing isn’t just about playing a crowd’s favorite songs, but hearing something differently and being willing to act as a tastemaker to introduce it to the popular masses.

On Entrepreneurship:

A-TRAK:

“You can get inspiration from something completely different. It’s more about your thought process and the emotions and reactions you catch yourself getting. [This] will lead you to think — ‘What can I do in my field that can provoke?’”

MICK:

“Give [people] what they need, even if they don’t know they need it yet.”

DIPLO:

“Money for me, is just to create bigger and better things. . . A lot of guys in the deejaying world flaunt it, but I don’t see any use in that.”


On Startup Success:

A-TRAK:

“All these things that I’m involved with are fields that [don’t have] any rules. It’s almost encouraged to figure out your own way. I like the fact that I don’t fully know what I’m doing. I don’t have a rule book.”

MICK:

“There’s no magic recipe for business success, but great founders can always figure things out, even in worst-case scenarios.”

DIPLO:

“I think one of the reasons I’ve been successful is that I can see things before other people do.”

Some Life Advice:

A-TRAK:

“Give elbow room for certain mistakes or unplanned moments.”

MICK:

“Learn to trust your gut, but stay agile.”

DIPLO:

“You still have to connect to an audience. You have to make a connection with people.”

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