When Justin Blau, a junior at Washington University in St. Louis, was interning at Credit Suisse’s New York offices last summer, his life was a lot different. Different in the sense these days the 21-year-old is being followed by Paris Hilton on Twitter, he’s scheduled to do shows with T-Pain and Passion Pit and electro pop group LMFAO is posting his music on their Facebook wall, which has more than 13.4 million “likes”.
Blau, a mash-up artist who goes by the stage name of 3LAU, has been catching the attention of people all around the world since his days as a Wall Street intern.
“Back then I just started to get recognition,” Blau told Business Insider in a telephone interview. “I showed up at Credit Suisse and two interns had my song on their iPod. Back then, that was awesome.”
Fast-forward 10 months, the DJ is slated to perform in shows in April with big names such as R3HAB, Afrojack, Alesso, Dev, Killagraham, Passion Pit, T-Pain, Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, Hot Chel Rae, B.o.B, Macklemore and Basshunter. He’s received requests to do shows internationally in India, England, Australia and Canada, but can’t take them (yet) because of school.
Since he’s booking shows at major venues and music festivals all summer, he won’t be returning to Wall Street as an intern. Blau received offers from two major financial firms, but declined them so he could continue DJing.
It’s no secret that college students often dream about pursuing careers that they’re really passionate about instead of doing the corporate grind at a 9 to 5 desk job simply because it pays the bills.
“This is an opportunity that you never get — I never imagined myself getting paid well to do what you love to do.”
For now, Blau thinks his future in entertainment looks a lot brighter compared with the Wall Street track.
“Given all the crazy news that markets are experiencing and the overall uncertainty in the financial industry and that of the future of me as an investment banker or trader five years from now, as much as the entertainment industry is risky, I would have more of a stronghold there than competing with thousands of other students from Wharton or another school for a job,” he explained.
Photo: Photo courtesy of DJ 3LAU
What’s more is the income he’s earning as a DJ is a lot more appealing compared with finance, he added.”The money looks like it might even be triple what an entry-level employee would make,” Blau said. “I’m working on music during the week and travelling and playing shows on weekends.”
He imagined that if he were in banking he would have to work long days at his desk crunching numbers in Excel or possibly have to be called into the office on weekends.
When he’s DJing not only is he making money, but he’s also doing what he’s really passionate about.
“There’s never a situation where I’m not actually loving what I’m doing, so both from a time/ financial earnings — the time of “work” versus earnings — the ratio is just so far in favour of being a DJ, at least on the scale I’m doing it.”
That’s not to say that the finance card is completely off the table for Blau.
The full-scholarship finance major plans to graduate and use his degree at some point.
“I intend to have my finance degree, so in the future if I want to create something larger than my career — I do have that entrepreneurial drive at least. I might take the money I’ve been making and pull some other money and invest in entrepreneurial entertainment ideas I’ve had over the course of the last few years.”
Blau, whose father runs investment firm RABCO Asset Management, said his parents are now really supportive of his music endeavours.
“When my parents look at my Facebook wall and my Twitter account and they see 40,000 Facebook fans in 7 to 8 months — those fans are not even close to the real number — when they are seeing the response of the people who listen to my music, I think it’s stuff like that than made my parents realise this is something I’m good at.”
For those of you interning or working on Wall Street, DJ 3LAU is expected to do a show in New York City this summer.
Check out this video from on of DJ 3LAU’s shows. Here’s his latest song release.