How To Be A DJ: Get Ready to Rock!

How To Be A DJ“Hey, Mr DJ put a record on I wanna dance with my baby”

No worries Madonna, we got you covered.  And not only do we have you covered, but we are going to offer those who need some assistance getting started with DJing, a lending hand.

We are pretty sure most of you have been to a club before.  If not a club, then a large gathering where there was someone controlling the music.  You may have assumed that the music was on auto play, or that someone’s iPod playlist was making its rounds.  You may have not even noticed that there was a DJ.  So who are these people behind the stereos and sound equipment?  Maybe you have a passion for music and want to find your way behind the control station.  We are here to help, so listen up because we are going to go over a simple outline that will get you on the right track to becoming a DJ.  Soon enough, you will be well on your way to fulfilling a request from the Queen of pop music herself.

Let’s Clear the Air

Before we get started on detailing how to become a DJ, we want to clear one thing up with you first, which is: to make sure that you want to become a DJ for the right reasons.  Generally when we see DJs, they are in a club, a large party, or a nightclub surrounded by beautiful people, beautiful lights, and beautiful sounds.  If you decide to become serious about becoming a DJ, you need to remember that the beauty, the mystery, and the seemingly lavish lifestyle of a DJ is not all there is to it.  Music is a form of art, and as a DJ, you will be playing certain types of music and incorporating your own rhythm and beats to create your own art.  Essentially, you are a musician, and there is a lot of thought, creativity, and perseverance that will go into that.  Let’s take a look at a few misconceptions that people may have about DJs.

  1. All you need are some CDs: Just because you are really into a certain genre of music, or your iPod is packed full of the latest top 20, it does not mean that you have the knowledge to become a DJ.  DJs have to be able to cater to certain clients, and not everyone is going to like the same type of music or rhythm.  Make sure you know at least the last 60 years of popular music styles.
  2. You always get to party:  Just because a DJ is at a party does not mean that they are partying along with it.  Being a DJ is a job, and a DJ is at a party because they have a commitment and responsibility to the event.
  3. No Training:  While DJing does not require formal training, just like anything else, it will take practice and experience.  Proper execution or creating great mixes is not going to happen overnight.
  4. Work Hours:  You might think DJs only work for a few hours at the party, but this is not true.  DJs are responsible for all their equipment’s maintenance, planning out song schedules, updating their music library, and being able to coordinate with other aspects of the party.
  5. DJs are all alike:  DJs are artists, and no two artists are quite like one another.  Every song mix and playlist is going to be different depending on the DJ – this is what makes each one’s individual style so unique.

Ready to Rock?

If you are still here, we are going to take that as a sign that you want to get into the good stuff.  So, how do you become a DJ?  Obviously it is not as simple as it looks – so where is the best place to begin?

Equipment:  When you choose an artistic profession, you will likely need some equipment, and DJing is no different.  Sound equipment can get pricey, so if you are just beginning – start with the basics.  This will consist of two turntables or CD players, headphones, and a mixer with two or more channels.  Just like technology, DJing is constantly evolving.  There are a few notable software mixing packages that you can pick up if you are feeling technologically efficient.  After you have been at it for awhile, feel free to pick up some speakers, a monitor, audio interface, a mic, and a MIDI controller.  For DJing, there will always be some kind of new and improved equipment up for grabs.

The Music:  Of course, music is what makes a DJ.  If you want to become a DJ, you probably have a feel for music already, but now, it is important that you learn how to work the music.  You will need to learn how to: mix beats, identify the beats per minute (BPM) of your songs, incorporate intros and outros to your mixes, and learn how to scratch.  Also, remember that as a DJ, you are expected to be the musical expert of the party; and therefore, you will need to know all the various genres that can pop up.  Do your homework for this one!

Dive into the Specifics:  If you want DJing to be more than just a hobby, and a possible career, you are going to need to know who your audience is.  You are trying to sell your musical magic to crowds of people, and therefore, it will be important to determine who your crowds are going to be.  You can either be a crowd-pleasing DJ or a music specialist.  Know your skills, know yourself, and know where you want to go with what you have to offer.

Study:  We do not mean picking up a book and taking notes, we mean getting out there on field and studying other musicians, DJs, or musical artists.  Pay attention to sounds, crowds, and how other musicians and DJs put on a show.  Additionally, keeping up with the latest music trends is essential.  Even if you might not like a particular music trend, it does not mean people in your crowd feel the same way.

Followers:  No one becomes successful by themselves.  Especially in the entertainment and music industry, it is clear that the most successful artists have very loyal and devoted followers.  The same goes for DJs.  To develop a following, you need to know how to market yourself.  A good way to do this is to get hired by a successful company to play for recurring hours or slots.  Keep showing up, and repetition will get you known.  If you are just getting started, ask to DJ at your local school, college, or with a local radio station.  You might not get paid at first, but people will start to remember you name.

The Internet:  Online is a great place to increase your visibility as a DJ.  In the beginning oyu will not have a personal assistant or a crew working for you, so you will have to do everything yourself.  Be your own manager and know that being a DJ is a job that does not stop once the music is over.

Turn it Up!

The more you learn about DJing, the more extensive and complex it can become.  Just remember to keep it simple in the beginning.  Unfortunately, you probably will not be the next Tiesto by tomorrow, but if you keep at it, you will be well on your way to developing your own DJing style that is going to set you apart from the crowd.  Put that record on!