Learning to become a DJ is not just about getting your own musical style to match the preferences of a particular crowd. It’s about being perceptive, empathetic and creative. The hard part is not getting started, but standing out and being exceptional.
What do you need to start being a DJ?
This is not a how-to guide with DJ tricks for your new set of turntables. If you are considering starting a career as a DJ, you should know a few useful DJ tips for beginners.
The first thing is to understand what DJing really is.
Strictly speaking, a DJ is someone who plays pre-recorded music for an audience, so if you’re told to make a playlist for a dinner gathering, you’re a DJ. But we think you’re interested in doing a lot more than that.
Let’s break it down into simple categories:
- Resident DJ: This is the one who recurrently plays music at a venue. Generally, the job of a club DJ is to keep the dance floor moving.
- Guest DJ: People go to see this DJ because of his reputation or because they like the music he plays.
- Wedding DJ: These are DJ’s who are constantly on the move to play at the different weddings, bringing their own sound equipment.
- Radio DJ: The concept of DJ’s owes its origins to the radio. Generally, in corporate radio, DJ’s are not in control of the music selection, and have to stick to what they are told to do.
Which one do you want to become?
Ask yourself WHY do you want to be a DJ
To be a reference in the music scene, you must feel that unique passion for music. If you have really set out to be a DJ, you must know that talent and consistency must go hand in hand with love and enjoyment for the profession.
It will be a journey full of ups and downs, but you must be ambitious and enjoy every session of the music and the moment.
Do you do it for fun? Do you want to start a business? Do you want to travel around the world? Be honest with yourself about what your motivations really are.
You have to be clear that many people are DJ’s, but very few become superstars. Many people want to be DJ’s because they like the music and want to share it with an audience, but then they use it to flirt or make money.
Musical knowledge is never superfluous
Yes, music theory is a valuable weapon.
Studying a little bit about music theory will always be a plus that will help you improve your music composition skills.
On the other hand, if you can, also practice an instrument. It will help you to tune your ear, get to know the musical structures and master the notes and melodies of music.
No matter what type of instrument you use, you’ll learn about the proper structures of songwriting: where to put hooks, verses, toplines, melodies, and how different songs fit together.
Get on the Internet: self-taught is the way to go
If you are reading this post and have made it this far I don’t think I need to explain much more: you already are on the right path to your first session.
Take advantage of the Internet to use different tools and improve your skills. It could be courses, YouTube tutorials, help from forums, music groups, etc.
All of this will help you to follow your path in the best possible way. You can learn some basic DJing skills on your own. Here are a few key points:
- Beatmatching. The basic idea of beatmatching is to line up two tracks playing at the same tempo and phase.
- Phrasing. Phrasing refers to mixing your tracks together at points that make sense to you. Master counting up to four in order for you to incorporate one track to another.
- Gain Control. This factor revolves around the skill of controlling the volumes.
- EQing. With EQing, you are cutting or boosting frequencies to allow multiple audio tracks to blend seamlessly.
Practice, practice…, and practice!
There is no other way. If you are not born with it, practice makes you talented. Don’t expect to become Martin Harrix overnight. It will take you time and a lot of effort before your first time on a stage.
Improve your skills as much as possible and follow our tips to promote your music online before considering your debut.
Production or Mixing?
As soon as you start discovering the world of DJing, you will realize that the easiest way to get started is by using some kind of DJ software. If you have hundreds of vinyls you can always use them, but as a beginner, making use of software will make your job much easier without having to invest a lot of money.
Here you’ll have two choices:
- Production software: tools to make new songs. They usually include a selection of instruments like drums, piano, bass, and optimizes for short pieces.
- Mixing software: tools to evaluate the BPM, key, and measures of two songs and how to mix them together.
Of course, choosing a DJ platform is a matter of preference. Most of the tools have a free trial option, so explore as much as you can. Also, think about a good mixer, some quality headphones and your listening monitors, you will need these tools for your home practice.
We recommend you to check the Beatmatch subreddit Wiki. There you can find detailed information about equipment, software and DJ music.
Some people think that being a DJ is easy since DJ software apps and rigs are widely available. But far from reality, this is a long race. Enjoy the journey to the beat.