How to be a DJ - Our DJ School Guide
This is a step by step guide to becoming a professional DJ.
1) Pick a Style
If you want to be a DJ you are going to need to decide what style of music you want to play. Learning to DJ is not a fast process, therefore we highly recommend that you pick a style of music that you love. Whether it’s house, hip-hop, top 40 or techno it doesn’t matter. Pick your favorite style or combination of styles and go with it.
2) Choosing Which DJ Gear to Use
When learning to DJ it is highly recommended that you do not go out and buy the most expensive gear right away. It is better to rent at first if you can, and try out a bunch of different gear options before committing. Also DJ gear is expensive so you want to know you are really going to want to follow through with it before you blow 10 thousand dollars on a awesome new Pioneer setup.
Buying all in one controllers like the Pioneer DDJ-SX or the Traktor S4 are good cheaper ways to start out. You could also get a cheap or used pair of Pioneer or Denon CDJ’s and a Numark mixer. There are even cheaper options as well, however, you don’t want to get something too junky because then you will not get the full experience of DJ'ing properly.
The key point about buying your first set of gear is that it doesn’t really matter what it is as long as you can practice on it. Try to spend around $500 - $1000 on your first gear purchase, try it out and then worry about the expensive gear a few months down the road.
3) Choosing Software
DJ'ing is way easier now with all the DJ software coming out. Traktor, Serato Itch, Serato Intro and Serato Scratch Live are all good options for learning how to DJ, and these are the ones we would recommend. Serato Itch is the most simple software to use but has the least amount of features, where Traktor has a lot of features but is harder to use. Just like the hardware it doesn’t really matter what DJ software you use out of these options. They will all do the trick. If your more tech wise, maybe go with Traktor, if not perhaps stick to Serato Intro or Itch.
4) Learning the DJ Techniques
Becoming good at DJ’ing is not as simple as hooking up an ipod, it takes a fair bit of time and practice. If your serious about it we highly recommend you sign up to our full online course on how to DJ, as it will greatly speed up your learning process.
One thing that is really important to remember when starting out is that DJ’ing is %80 song selection and %20 mixing skills. So don’t freak out if you are not great at mixing, it will come with practice, and with a few basic skills you can rock a party and still not be amazing at mixing.
5) What Music to Play?
You may ask ok well if %80 of being a good DJ is what music I play then how do I know what to play? You generally want high energy tracks that are going to make people dance. Start researching your music or style heavily. Go to clubs, see what works and what doesn’t. Listen to DJ mixes on line, write down track names. Listen to radio stations and write down track names. Watch videos and write down track names. Download, download, download. Keep in mind however, that you want to be really selective about the songs you choose. Only choose ones that you think are really good. To play an hour long DJ set it is recommended that you have at least a hundred songs, preferably a bit more.
6) Learning the Skills
Want to learn how to mix, scratch, cut and more. You can learn how to do all this your self however it will be way faster and more fun if you check out our videos on how to DJ here, or get a private instructor. Start with learning how to control your gain and volume levels and then move on to fading from one track to another. These are the absolute essentials. Just with those two skills you can rock a party and get gigs. After you have those skills mastered try learning how to mix two songs together, and try messing around with scratching. Scratching is by far the most difficult skill and can take years to truly master.
7) Get a Gig
Once you feel confident that you have learned the basics of DJ'ing its time to get a gig. It is recommended that you start with smaller gigs and work your way up. Maybe try to get a gig at a local pub, house party, or small event. These gigs will have less focus on the DJ but will still allow you to practice how your songs work on the crowd and your DJ skills. Once you feel comfortable in the smaller gigs try to get a gig at a smaller nightclub, perhaps on a weeknight when it’s slower, then move to bigger clubs on weekends. You can move up fast, even within a few months, but its good to know where you are at so that if you get a prime time massive gig on saturday night you don’t mess it up.
Knowing your music, and how the crowd reacts to particular songs or combinations of songs is the most important thing. Make sure to focus on this and the basic skills at first and you will have a solid foundation to being a DJ.
Good Luck! And remember to sign up to Spin Academy to jumpstart your career as a DJ.