How Altruism Gets Ahead

My observation of DJs is that the ones who help others are the ones who succeed.

Most producers think of it as a game to produce the best product, release it, and repeat until fans catch on that “Hey, this guy is pretty good.” They think of it this way because it is all they see. Stories of “Yeah, I worked hard on my music for years before anyone noticed me.” Or YouTube videos where a producer shows off his latest synth patch.

What their imagination doesn’t show them is the key friendships that helped them along the way. Their imagination does not see how reciprocation compelled someone at a label or YouTube channel to host the rising star’s initial music. Or how word of mouth traveled about this guy’s incredible track… because his visuals were memorable.

Many DJs and producers are oblivious to opportunities to help each other out. Their perceptual filters are literally not attuned to the signal. Meanwhile, the others who prowl around looking for chances to help get ahead.

The punchline is that when your friends do well, your chances of success improve. And if you can be a part of their success, they’ll want to pay back the favor in the future.

By the way, have a look at DJ Snake’s career. I have only observed him through Twitter, but I know he helps a lot of musicians with production work. That earns him reputation as a helpful guy and a valuable friend. Where is he now?

There’s great news here too. Humans are wired to receive a reward by helping each other out. When you help a friend, it feels good. That makes you want to do it again.

Right now, I’m helping the producers and DJs who read my blog by changing how they see the world, for their own benefit. That makes me feel good. As a side effect, I want to keep writing, and will be more likely to help again next time. (You can increase the likelihood by sharing this post. Or lying to me and saying you did. Either one works.)

Allow me to help you by showing you a deeper look through the persuasion filter.

According to neuroscience, socializing is the most stimulating activity a person can do. Listening to music is the second most stimulating. So collaborating on music is the first and second most stimulating activity combined into one. That’s a lot of potential to form great memories.

Picture sitting with a friend while you both jam out a musical idea. It might take one hour, ten hours or two weeks. But so long as you are both find it rewarding, you’ll remember it as a good experience and want to do it again. You can remember how heavy the weight of producing can be. It’s nice to have someone else along to share the load.

As an aside, I suspect that “more stimulation” roughly equates to “greater focus of attention on the task.” People who have their entire bodies focused on one task do not get distracted, so long as the reward keeps up.

And even if your collaborator doesn’t remember the specifics, they will still associate a good feeling by working with you. It’s like installing a steel beam between the neuron that holds “Fun, trust, excitement” and “you”. That memory isn’t going anywhere.

Now the persuasion really kicks into high gear.

When someone has a good feeling associated with you, they literally hallucinate that you have good qualities. It’s likely that you really do have good qualities, but having someone associate good feelings with you goes the extra mile.

If you get some good work done, and can post it publicly, your collaborator will have a reminder of your usefulness and the good memories every time they see it.

The memories will last for years, and the people you work with now will want to work with you again later. Along the way, they will say good things about you to others, adding to your social proof.

You can develop a sense for what might help other producers by imagining the world from their perspective. Some entrepreneurial creativity helps. But generally it’s enough to keep your friends’ wants and needs in mind while you pass through your day. Your brain will pick up the right signals if you care enough to concentrate on your friends’ needs, even for a few minutes.

If you can’t figure out what they might want, you can always ask them.



I’ll be collaborating with a special guest from the Vancouver Trance Family this Thursday to record a podcast.

We both get to help promote a community we love. The community gets to find out a bit about him. And DJs and producers will learn about what happens when they help their community! Big wins!

I would like to hear more from the readers of this blog. You can reach me by tweeting me at “rolypolyistaken”, through Facebook or via comments in the blog.

By the way…

If you go to raves: How could you contribute next time you go to a rave?

If you are a DJ or producer: How could you help out your fellow artists? Effort goes a long way.


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