Becoming a DJ has become more difficult nowadays. With the emergence of famous DJs worldwide and diverse music trends, it is becoming increasingly challenging to stand out from the crowd and turn your activity into a successful business. If you are passionate about music, getting started is the most complex and time-consuming step. Between choosing the material, creating the playlists, choosing the music and attending the show, there are many steps to consider.
Find out everything you need to know about becoming a DJ and how to make the most of your opportunities.
1. Learning the basics of music
Before you become a DJ, you need to understand the basics of music, such as rhythms, beats and chords. If you haven’t studied music theory, there are many online courses and videos to learn the basics of music quickly and from a DJ’s perspective. So take the time to learn and train before you start.
2. Buying the right equipment
DJ equipment is essential, although it is not mandatory to begin with professional equipment. You can start with a small, affordable DJ controller and other low-cost equipment. Here are some tips and materials on how to become a DJ:
- Two turntables (or two CD players)
- Decent headphones
- A mixer with two or more channels
- A computer with dedicated sound creation and mixing software
- An optional computer-assisted music (CAM) application
Further down the line, you can consider buying speakers, a reliable MIDI controller, a good audio interface, a quality microphone and other peripherals. If you can, try out several pieces of equipment before you buy them. Make the best possible choice, as some products can be costly. Finally, if you are organising a party, make sure you have the necessary equipment to transport your material.
Also, consider renting equipment, which may be an option if you can’t afford to buy all the equipment, which is a considerable expense.
3. Practice, practice, practice
Practice is the key to becoming a DJ. As with any profession (elite athlete, artist, comedian, actor, singer…), you must train continuously to reach a level that sets you apart from the rest. Spend time every day practising your skills and learning new mixing and sound techniques. Listen to professional DJ mixes for inspiration and to improve your style.
4. Choose between analogue and digital
Today, the vast majority of DJs use two or more decks. Purists will choose vintage turntables that play vinyl records for their mixes. Opting for the analogue method will be a completely different and potentially more complex approach. For example, you’ll have to scratch the old-fashioned way. Most of the time, you will have to carry a lot of vinyl records, representing a considerable cost and weight.
The digital option is much more practical and flexible. You’ll get the most out of the new technology, especially when it comes to adjusting the BPM (bits per minute) to move from one song to the next. It is also easier to transport the equipment and mix.
5. Learn about intros and outros
Intros and outros are essential elements to liven up the audience and differentiate yourself from other DJs. The outro of one song is often mixed with the opening of another to get a good mix. When mixing live, knowing where the intro and outro start is essential. If the BPMs are different, adjust the tempo of the next song and, with the other hand, control the crossfader knob so that the first song’s volume gradually decreases while the volume of the second song increases.
6. Create your own mixes and playlists
Once you’ve mastered the basics, start creating your own mixes and playlists. Share them with friends and colleagues or on sites such as Reddit and other social media to receive constructive feedback and improve your technique.
7. Build your brand image
As a DJ, branding is essential to succeed in the music industry. Choose an original, cool-sounding DJ name and design a logo that stands out. Again, use your different social networks to promote your brand and your music (TikTok, Instagram…).
8. Network with other DJs
Network with other DJs and industry professionals to help you establish contacts and find production opportunities (parties, clubs, festivals…). Attend local and national music events to meet like-minded people.
9. Develop your musical repertoire
Develop your musical repertoire by producing different musical genres and styles. Of course, you must develop your own style to differentiate from others, but many DJs mix a variety of music styles. Especially at the beginning of your DJ career, you need to be able to play for all audiences, so make sure you have a wide variety of music in your collection.
10. Check out the latest news
Some trends are clear, but it also investigates the music of tomorrow and what works in neighbouring countries or abroad. By observing the trends and movements in the sector and the content that the public likes, you will be able to orient your work and your productions better.
Make a list of all the artists, DJs, producers and tracks whose music you like. At a party, have you heard something that the audience likes but you don’t? Take note and add this sound to your repertoire. Always have your phone handy, as well as a pen and a small notebook.