Transitioning from being a DJ to being a musical artist is no easy feat, yet, for someone like Afro B, it seems to be second nature. Does this mean it could be the same for others?

Earlier this year, Afro B joined Drake to perform “Drobga (Joanna)” at the O2 Arena. The crowd sang along, word-for-word, proving Afro B has something special with his song. Since then, he has garnered the attention of Drake’s audience, extending to the US.

His success begs the question: can a DJ become an artist or are the two just worlds apart?

DJs vs Artists

While DJs are certainly creative, most people would not classify them as “musical artists.” But both work exclusively in the music scene, so what’s the difference?

According to Merriam-Webster, a DJ is “one who plays recorded music for dancing at a nightclub or party.” On the other hand, a musical artist is the person who records and performs that music.

No one can deny that DJs have a special talent and an appreciation for the music they select. Inherently, however, they aren’t “artists” as we know it. A DJ does not have to be a musician to find success as a DJ any more than a musician must be a DJ to find success as a musician.

Some may be perfectly content to hype crowds up by curating other artists’ music, and there is no doubt that this is a viable option. With Afro B’s current success, however, he proves that DJs can create original music – and, perhaps more importantly, create music that other people enjoy.

Afro B as Both

Afro B got his musical start as a DJ, but he was always creating his own music. In an interview with Vibe, he claimed, “I was the DJ making music, now I’m the artist that can DJ.” Though he began his musical journey curating music from others for people to dance to, he is now the creator of that music. And the people? They’re vibing.

However, Afro B didn’t just decide to one day become an artist: it was always there. As he notes to Vibe, he grew up listening to African music and even performed in church. It was only natural that he would one day move away from the DJ booth and venture to the front of the stage, microphone in hand.

His experience as both DJ and artist allow him something special: given his time as a DJ, Afro B knows what gets the people moving. As a result, he has no problem making music that the people want to hear.

Can a DJ Find Success as an Artist?

With Afro B’s success, surely other DJs are asking themselves if they can do it too. Do they have what it takes? Do they have that artistic spirit?

There were three things Afro B had that eased his transition into becoming an artist

  1. The ability connect with an audience live
  2. A clear idea of the type of artist he wanted to be
  3. Knowledge of how to create music people actually wanted to hear

These three ingredients were and continue to be pivotal to his success.

Being clear about his sound and the type of music he wanted to make is exactly what allowed Afro B to carve out his own lane.

It is possible for Djs to do it all. After all, as Afro B has proved, they already have the creativity to curate music for other people to vibe to. Because of this, they know what the general public wants to hear, putting them in the perfect position to create original music for those very people.

Really, if you love music and want to put your heart and soul to it, don’t hold back. All it takes is a dream, some passion, and a bit of hard work.

If you feel like there’s no hope, just take a look at Afro B. He made the jump from DJ to artist and found success. Why don’t not give it a shot? Who knows – you could be the next artist we talk about at IndustryMe.

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From Dj to artist: can you really do both? Lessons learned from Afro b