If you’re asking yourself the question “how do you become a DJ? and need some pointers, we’ve put together our 10 top tips to steer you in the right direction
Becoming a DJ is a journey that requires dedication, practice, and a passion for music. It’s not just about playing music, but about curating an experience for your audience and engaging them with your sound. To become a successful DJ, you need to have a deep understanding of music, and the ambition to continually push your career to the next level.
Here’s are top 10 tips on how to become a DJ.
1. Invest in good equipment:
Having high-quality equipment is essential for becoming a successful DJ. Invest in a good quality mixer, turntables or controllers, and speakers.
For beginner DJs, the best equipment to start with would be:
- A digital DJ controller is a great option for beginners as it allows you to mix music using software on your computer. Popular options include the Pioneer DDJ-SB3, Numark Mixtrack Pro 3, and Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3.
- A laptop is essential for running DJ software and storing your music library. Make sure to have a good quality laptop with enough storage space to store your music.
- A good pair of DJ headphones is essential for monitoring your music and cueing up tracks. Look for headphones with good isolation and a comfortable fit. Popular options include the Sennheiser HD 206 and the Pioneer HDJ-X5BT.
- Good quality speakers are essential for playing your music at gigs. Look for speakers that are powerful enough to fill a room, but also portable enough to take to gigs.
- An audio interface can help you connect your laptop to your speakers and provide better sound quality.
- Make sure you have all the necessary cables to connect your equipment together. This includes audio cables, USB cables, and power cables.
- Look for software that is easy to use and beginner-friendly, such as Serato DJ Lite, Traktor Pro 2, or Virtual DJ.
It’s important to note that, as you progress and gain more experience, you may want to upgrade your equipment to more professional options, but these are a great starting point for beginner DJs.
2. Build a music library:
Having a wide range of music in your library is essential to catering to different audiences and making it easier to put together a great set. Make sure to keep your library organised and up to date, and always be on the lookout for new music to add to your collection.
Building a music library is an essential part of being a DJ. Here are a few tips to help DJs build a comprehensive and diverse music library:
- Collect music from different genres, eras, and cultures to cater to a variety of audiences.
- Keep track of your music using software such as iTunes, Serato DJ, or Rekordbox. This will make it easier to organize and find the music you need.
- Buy music from a variety of sources, such as online music stores, record stores, and music libraries.
- Rip CDs and vinyl to your computer to create digital copies of your music. The free Audacity software is great for this.
- Download music from legal sources such as Beatport, Traxsource, or Bandcamp.
- Use streaming services: Use streaming services such as Beatport, Beatsource and Tidal to discover new music and add it to your library.
- Create playlists for different genres, eras, and moods to make it easier to find the music you need.
- Backup your music library regularly to ensure you don’t lose your music in case of a computer crash or other technical issues.
- Keep your music library up to date by regularly adding new music and removing old music that is no longer relevant.
- Share your music with other DJs and producers to get feedback and discover new music.
Having a wide range of music in your library can help you cater to different audiences and make it easier to put together a great set. Remember to keep your library organized, up to date, and backed up, so you can access the music you need at any time.
3. Learn the basics of mixing and music production:
Before you can start DJing, you need to understand the basics of mixing and music production. This includes understanding how to use a mixer, EQs, and effects.
- Learn the basics of mixing, such as understanding levels, EQ, and effects. Familiarise yourself with the different types of mixers, controllers, and software.
- There are many tutorials and online classes available that can teach you the basics of mixing and music production. Look for resources that cover the basics in an easy-to-understand format.
- Practice with familiar tracks: Practice mixing with tracks you know to get a feel for how different elements of a song interact with each other. Experiment with different EQ and effects settings to learn how they can change the overall sound of a track.
- Understanding music theory can help you understand how different elements of a song work together. This can help you make better mixing decisions and create more polished tracks. Key detection software like Mixed In Key is a great way of finding out which songs will work harmonically.
4. Develop your own music style:
Developing your own music style as a DJ involves a combination of experimentation, practice, and self-expression. Even if you are an open format DJ who has to embrace multiple genres, you can distinguish yourself by having a certain style of mixing and a selection of music that is unique to your gigs.
- Experiment with different genres: Experiment with different genres of music, from hip-hop to techno, and everything in between. This will help you understand how different styles of music can be mixed and will give you a better understanding of the music you want to play.
- Listen to other DJs, both locally and globally, to get inspiration and learn from their techniques.
- Experiment with different mixing techniques, such as beatmatching, scratching, and mixing in key. Try out different software and effects to find what works best for you.
- Be creative in your mixing, don’t be afraid to try new things and push boundaries.
- Reflect on your work: Take the time to listen back to your sets, and reflect on what worked well and what didn’t. Use this feedback to improve your sets in the future.
- Find your niche and specialise in it, whether it’s a certain genre, era, or style of music. This will help you stand out from other DJs and attract more fans.
- Be yourself: Don’t try to copy other DJs, be true to yourself and your own unique style.
- Play what you love: Always play the music you love and enjoy, it will show in your sets and make you look more authentic.
Remember that developing your own music style is a process and it takes time, so be patient and keep working on it. The most important thing is to have fun, be creative, and always strive to improve your skills.
5. Practice, practice, practice:
The more you practice, the better you will become. Spend time learning new techniques and experimenting with different mixes.
Practicing DJing is essential to becoming a better DJ. Here are a few tips to help you practice DJing:
- Set up your equipment, including your mixer, turntables or controllers, and speakers, in a quiet place where you can practice without interruptions.
- Choose the music you want to practice with, keeping in mind that you should have a variety of genres and eras to practice with.
- Start by learning the basics of DJing, such as beatmatching, mixing, and using effects.
- Experiment with different techniques, such as scratching, crossfading, and mixing in key.
- Listen to your own sets and reflect on what worked well and what didn’t. Use this feedback to improve your sets in the future.
- Watch other DJs and learn from their techniques and mixing styles.
6. Network and make connections:
Get to know other DJs and industry professionals. Attend events, join online communities, and make connections that can help you further your career.
Networking and making connections is crucial for DJs to further their careers. Here are a few tips to help DJs network and make connections:
- Attend events such as music festivals, club nights, and networking events to meet other DJs, producers, and industry professionals.
- Join online communities such as Facebook groups, forums, and online forums for DJs. This is a great way to connect with other DJs and get advice and support.
- Use social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to promote your DJing skills and upcoming gigs. Connect with other DJs, producers, and industry professionals.
- Collaborate with other DJs on projects, remixes, and tracks. This can help you make connections and gain exposure.
- Participate in contests and competitions to gain exposure and make connections with other DJs. Our Mixtape competition is a good place to start.
- Get involved in the local music scene by attending local club nights and events. This will help you connect with other DJs and promoters in your area.
- Provide value to other DJs and industry professionals by offering your skills and expertise. This can help you build a reputation and make connections.
- Keep networking and making connections, even when you are successful. The music industry is constantly changing, so it’s important to always be building new relationships.
Networking and making connections takes time, effort and patience, but it is important to remember that building genuine relationships is the key to success.
7. Learn to read a crowd:
Knowing what music to play and when to play it is crucial for keeping a crowd engaged. Pay attention to the crowd’s reactions and adjust your music accordingly.
Learning to read a crowd is a crucial skill for DJs as it allows them to keep the crowd engaged and entertained. Here are a few tips to help DJs learn to read a crowd:
- Observe the crowd before you start playing. Look for cues such as body language, facial expressions, and energy levels to get a sense of the crowd’s mood.
- Play what you know: When you are familiar with the music you are playing, you will be better placed to put that music together in a way that leads the dancfloor rather than reacts to it.
- Watch the dance floor to see how the crowd is reacting to the music. If the dance floor is packed, it’s a good sign that the crowd is enjoying the music.
- Pay attention to the crowd’s energy levels and adjust your music accordingly. Remember that you can’t play bangers all the time so raise and lower the energy levels like you’re telling a good story.
- Use effects and transitions to keep the crowd engaged and to build tension. Don’t go over the top because nobody likes a show-off.
Reading a crowd takes practice and experience. It’s important to be aware of the crowd’s energy, and to adjust your music accordingly. Remember that every crowd is different, and it’s important to stay flexible and adapt to the crowd’s needs.
8 Promote yourself:
As you progress and gain more experience, it’s important to promote yourself to gain exposure and build your fanbase. Here are a few tips to help DJs promote themselves:
- Create a website or a blog: Create a website or a blog to showcase your work, upcoming gigs, and social media links.
- Use social media: Use social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to promote your DJing skills and upcoming gigs.
- Create a press kit with your bio, photos, and music to send to venues, promoters, and media outlets.
- Create a video reel of your performances to showcase your skills and promote yourself to potential clients.
- Make business cards with your contact information and a link to your website or social media profiles. This one’s old-school but effective.
- Collaborate with other DJs on projects, remixes, and tracks to get exposure and make connections.
- Participate in contests and competitions to gain exposure and make connections with other DJs.
- Get involved in the local music scene by attending local club nights and events.
Remember that promoting yourself takes time and effort. Be consistent, be creative and stay active on social media and other platforms. Building relationships and networking is key to success, and the more you promote yourself, the more opportunities you will have to showcase your skills and grow your fan base.
Here’s our own blog on promoting yourself as a DJ.
9 Take advantage of technology:
Use technology to your advantage. There are many apps and software that can help you improve your DJing skills and make your gigs more engaging.
Taking advantage of technology can help DJs improve their skills, make their gigs more engaging, and promote themselves more effectively. Here are a few ways DJs can take advantage of technology:
- Use the latest versions DJ software such as Serato DJ, Traktor, or Rekordbox and take advantage of features such as stem mixing.
- Use DJ controllers such as the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2, Numark Mixtrack, or Denon Prime Go depending on whether you want to DJ with a laptop or go for an all-in-one solution.
- Use music streaming services such as Beatport, Beatsource or Tidal to discover new music and add it to your library.
- Use a live streaming platforms such as Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook Live to stream your gigs and connect with fans in real-time.
- Use modern intelligent lighting and visual effects to enhance your gigs and make them more engaging for the crowd.
Keep in mind that with technology advancements, new tools and software are emerging, so it’s important to stay informed and updated with the latest technology and trends. By using technology to your advantage, you can improve your skills, make your gigs more engaging, and promote yourself more effectively.
10. Never stop learning:
The music industry is constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies. Take workshops, attend events, and read industry news to stay ahead of the curve.
In conclusion, becoming a DJ is a journey that requires dedication, practice, and a passion for music. It’s not just about playing music, but about curating an experience for your audience and engaging them with your sound. To become a successful DJ, you need to have a deep understanding of music, and the ability to read and adapt to the crowd’s needs.
If you enjoyed our blog on “How do you become a successful DJ” then check out the one on “The best rotary mixers on the market“