At the tender age of just 21-years-old Martin Garrix has gone from bedroom producer to amassing over 1.8 billion views on his Youtube channel and scaling the electronic world — proof that you can do a lot with very little.
Now that Garrix is firmly established as the world’s number one DJ, he recently sat down with the Huffington Post at the recent Web Summit in Lisbon to talk about how he’s managed to scale his music career from a one-man-band to a business that employs 20 people just to handle his bookings.
Here are Garrix’s top tips on building a musical empire.
1. Don’t go in with the goal of being the world’s number one DJ — because you’ll probably fail
Garrix admits that when he began releasing music on Youtube he had no idea it might turn into a job, let alone set him on a path to becoming the world’s number one DJ. “It started as a hobby, me making music in my bedroom, I didn’t even have the intention to turn it into a business. Then I started releasing my music, people started getting involved, and so I needed a manager, someone who was just helping me, guiding me, pushing me into the right directions and handling all the business stuff for me.”
2. Surround yourself with an amazing team of people
Whilst Garrix has had some ups and downs when it comes to labels, over the last five year’s he’s amassed a team that he truly believes in and since then everything has pretty much turned into gold for the fresh-faced DJ and producer. “I didn’t create the right team in the first month. It took me five years to find the right people and collect them. I was very young when I came into this industry. I got screwed on my previous label, but you learn from every experience. I was like, ‘Ok, I am not going to sign, I’ll start my own label.”
3. Family involvement and support is really important to lead a normal life
When Garrix says his team is a family affair, he really means it — he employs his Dad who works for him 6 days a week. “My parents are super involved with my schedule and with the tour. I love doing shows; if it was up to me, I’d do 300 shows a year, but my family and team will look at me and say, ‘That is too rough.’ I have a whole team now, focusing on the booking side, and on all the traveling. I think we have 20 people just on the booking side. The moment I burn out, it’s done.”
4. Only work with people you have a personal connection with
Garrix is really picky about who he works with, and if there isn’t a personal connection he won’t work with them. “I can’t work with someone if I don’t connect with that person. What I feel is that the whole team is full of good, fun people, and good energy; they love what they do, and they are super talented.”
5. Communication and honest feedback is crucial
Even though DJ’ing nowadays is almost idiot-proof thanks to the sync button. Garrix and his team have a team briefing after every show so they can deliver crucial feedback. “We have a weekly call, it’s about an hour to two hours, depending on how much we have to discuss. I tell them how I feel, what I think, and they give me updates on all the things happening, and what they’ve been working on. I am like, ‘This show was amazing, but this could be better.’ I feel like we learn from everything we do, Every time [I perform], we film the whole show, and afterwards with the team we sit and make notes, such as, ‘Wait, this is wrong—‘The light should be green, it’s purple there,’ or ‘the visual was off time,’ and so on.”
6. Loneliness can be an artist’s worst enemy on tour
Garrix admitted he used to get lonely whilst on tour during the early years of his career. “The loneliest I’ve ever been on tour was when I started, because I hadn’t had the budget to bring people with me. I FaceTimed a lot. My favorite thing on tour is still my phone, because I can connect with home. But now, luckily, I don’t remember the last time I felt lonely, because I bring my childhood friends and family with me. They make this journey a little bit more normal.”