2nd Annual Million-Dollar Ideas

DJ Culture

Not long ago, DJs were nothing more than shadows in the backs of clubs, hoping for some free beer and spending cash in exchange for a long night of spinning records. But in the '90s, the market for quality DJs exploded, feeding a throng of ravers and club kids who created a multimillion-dollar industry devoted to DJ culture-including clothes, start-up record labels and record stores. "DJs are [ravers'] heroes," says Mike Grant, 35, founder and president of record label Moods and Grooves Records in Detroit. "Large companies recognize this and use DJs to sell equipment and clothing."

Along with the popularity come cries from the underground that music is being sacrificed on the altar of commercialism, given the proliferation of popular genres such as progressive trance. "[Popular genres aren't] thought of all that highly in the underground,"says John Bush, senior editor of the All Music Guide. "But it's where you'd make the most money."

While DJs will tell you the music always comes first, nobody's against making a buck, either. "I can make up to $10,000 a show," says K. Hand, 26, a Detroit-based electronic dance DJ who has been spinning records since 1988. "I had to work my way up from scratch," she says. "I didn't make much money at first."

Now that DJing is more prosperous, however, everyone wants to get in on the monied musical act. "Mixers and processors are making it easier for everybody to become a DJ," says Grant. "Pretty soon my grandmother will be DJing."

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This article was originally published in the January 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: 2nd Annual Million-Dollar Ideas.

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