Grammy Award winner Afrojack reveals what it takes to be a DJ

Blanche Lim and Rohini Nambiar
Afrojack attends the MTV Europe Music Awards 2016 on November 6, 2016 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Jeff Kravitz | Getty

Grammy Award-winning recording artist, DJ and producer, Nick van de Wall, better known by the stage name Afrojack, is widely recognized for co-producing chart-topping tracks for artists such as Beyonce, Madonna, Pitbull and Chris Brown.

In an interview with CNBC Make It, the 30-year-old Dutch DJ revealed that what started out as an interest, eventually grew into a career.

"I liked it and it was one of my hobbies and I like producing music too," he said.

While Afrojack currently enjoys international stardom, it took him a couple of years before he gained recognition in the music scene.

Afrojack performs to crowds at EDC in Las Vegas
Frits van de Brink

The artist, who lives by the "10,000 hours" principle — the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert in any field — said that it "starts with the first hour."

At the age of 11, he started producing his own tracks from home for "five hours a day," and it took him a good seven years to produce his first release, "In Your Face."

What eventually propelled him globally was the success that came with the song "Take Over Control" featuring Eva Simons, which charted in 10 different countries.

"I made myself discovered by going out there, talking to people, promoting my music, listening to critiques, making myself better, practicing until it worked," he said.

Afrojack frequently headlines at global electronic dance music festivals, including Tomorrowland, Ultra Music Festival and Coachella. Recently, he's ventured into the business of selling Afrojack merchandise.

Nick van de Wall aka Afrojack performs on Radio1 stage during T in The Park Day 1 at Strathallan Castle on July 10, 2015 in Perth, United Kingdom.
Roberto Ricciuti | Getty

When asked how he copes with an erratic work schedule, the DJ said: "It is not really coping, it is a very conscious choice to take the bad that comes with the good, but the good is definitely worth it."

Despite his hectic schedule, Afrojack prioritizes time for self-education, which he thinks is a crucial factor for his career.

He revealed that listening to audiobooks and taking online classes has been instrumental to his success.

"Pay attention, study, teach yourself, educate yourself. We are very lucky that we live in a day and age whereby education is mostly available for free online," Afrojack told CNBC Make It.

Afrojack performs on stage during Ultra Music Festival 2018 at Bayfront Park on March 24, 2018 in Miami, Florida.
Jason Koerner | Getty

"All the philosophers out there, paving the way for successful people and have been inspiring people to follow their hearts," he added.

Besides being known for his music, Afrojack is also the CEO of LDH Europe, an entertainment company seeking to nurture new talent.

When asked the type of qualities he's looking out for, the DJ said potential artists should "be ready to learn, be ready to educate themselves and also, most importantly, to have a dream and to believe in that dream."

From managing his own label to helping budding artists realize their dreams, one of the most important lesson that he has picked up along the way is "you are in control, you can change your life to what you want it to be, so you should definitely not just let it slide by."

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