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Music Industry

How To Be A DJ For Beginners

Photograph of the blog post author, Cristian Poow

Cristian Poow


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how to be a dj

In this article, we will provide a beginner’s guide to becoming a DJ. Whether you’re interested in playing at parties, or clubs, or even pursuing a career in music, we’ll cover the essential skills and equipment needed to get started. From selecting the right gear to developing your own unique style, we’ll provide you with the knowledge and resources necessary to kickstart your DJ journey.

What is a DJ?

YouTube player

A DJ sets the musical ambience at bars, nightclubs, concerts, parties, raves, and festivals. To stay competitive, they must consistently hone their skills and produce original music under their own name. A deep passion and understanding of their chosen genre is crucial for keeping the crowd dancing.

Originally, “DJ” referred to radio station workers who played vinyl records on air. The role has since evolved to encompass those who mix music from various recorded sources such as types of vinyl, cassettes, CDs or digital audio files with samples from other sources. Today’s DJs utilize specialized software to manipulate digital audio files instead of relying solely on record players or boomboxes.

They can specialize in different areas of the music industry; some perform at weddings or private/corporate events while others focus on creating unique mixes under their own name for club performances or residencies. Modern DJs (often categorized by genres like House, Techno or Hip-Hop) also compose and mix beats, bass lines and loops used by rappers as backing tracks during live shows.

DJs perform across various genres like Dance Hall, Reggaeton, and Dub, with some also singing. Turntablists “scratch” records and utilize specialized equipment to transition between tracks or play multiple tracks at once, making turntablism an art form.

Different types of DJs exist, including Mobile DJs, Producer DJs, Bedroom DJs, and Celebrity DJs. On-air Radio DJs continue to play records and excel in transitioning between them. Some Radio DJs have historical significance as they introduce new music to the public through the airwaves.

The role and artistry of DJs have evolved over time and will continue to develop alongside changes in the music industry.

How To Be A Good DJ

how to become a dj

Most DJs fall into more than one category.

For example, a lot of DJs just starting out in local clubs also produce original music that is available on streaming services. Or, they may play weddings sometimes for extra cash. 

The great thing about the music industry is the diverse array of possibilities. Especially for DJs, which is why we have separated this article into several sections. People become DJs for different reasons, so first, let’s dive into DJing for a wedding.

How To Be A Good DJ At A Wedding

wedding DJ

It is well known that the history of many has begun in private social events such as weddings. We must recognize that they are unique moments as each wedding is a party that cannot be repeated. As well as being the starting point of many love stories.

The DJ who has devoted his professional career to weddings knows very well that there are two main elements here: energy and emotion.

The energy that the DJ and the couple engage with at the wedding is key to ensuring that they have one of the most unforgettable nights of their lives. The emotion that the DJ handles is detected from his experience. The DJ will know how nostalgic the floor will be and how to manage the mood of the couple and the guests, both in food and dance sessions.

It is then that the wedding DJ knows very well the weak points of the newlyweds. In order to use music to make them recite their vows of love, to watch some videos to remember moments, and of course, the ability to use those as a liaison between all these unique elements of that day or night in which the party takes place.

Also, it should be noted that wedding DJs are experts in music trends of the ages. Within a party, they have the ability to get an 8-year-old to dance to Erasure and Elvis Presley while also getting the bride’s grandparents to move their feet to “Despacito”.

How To Be A Nightclub DJ

nightclub DJ

On the other hand, nightclub DJs ought to be more present with a certain group of styles or one style only. For instance, a classic nightclub DJ will be mostly playing trending music and a group of B-sides just to flourish on the dancefloor and take the chance.

Nightclub DJs must take risks every single night if they want to learn how to be a successful DJ, as they may become new trend-makers.

Back in the day, DJs who also were music producers had a better chance to create trends as they worked with the artists. A young Madonna started working at Sire Records and having meetings with the executives every week to see how her career would grow.

One day, she met Jellybean, an utterly successful DJ from Puerto Rico who had been working at several clubs. He then remixed all of the first Madonna songs and even presented “Holiday” to her. The rest is history.

As nightclub DJs walk in and out of music trends, they also use their experience to connect the dots. Meaning that a song recorded in 1980 could be easily mixed with a song from 2020.

They are experienced enough to get to know which songs work and why. Unlike weddings, nightclubs do not create unique events. This would be a week-by-week experience where the DJ is aware of what is trending but also thinking of connecting some new songs with old ones.

How To Become A Radio DJ 

radio DJ

Requirements for becoming a radio DJ are mainly the ability to handle upcoming hits and retain information from the old days.

This is because you are the one who keeps the momentum of a song from the very beginning. While also having enough knowledge of the past to co-work with the radio host choosing songs to cover a radio segment or a whole show. 

Equipment Required To Be A DJ

DJ equipment

In regards to gear, the equipment has long gone from classic turntables to DJ controllers, as you can watch more and more tutorials on YouTube.

Before you think about buying something that you don’t actually need, here’s our essential guide to equipment for beginner DJs.


DJ turntables

As the story of hip-hop tells, people would need two turntables, a mixer console, and a set of headphones.

The classic Technics 1200 brought us the best memories of DJs like Carl Cox or Sven Väth.

Today, it is an easy set-up and sometimes very cheap. However, you will often be spending a lot of money on vinyl records.

CD Players

cd players

CDs were the big shift as the new millennium started +20 years ago. All of a sudden, worldwide DJs changed their setups and scenography from big 4-lighted-turntable-booths to smaller ones.

That went on for a few years until big companies such as Pioneer and Denon had a great idea of creating CD players with turntable form.  

These CD players kept up with the evolution of technology and so they developed USB-friendly variants. These then became the weapon of choice of most DJs until nowadays, when Pioneer fabricated new USB-only models of their old CDJ series.

Digital Vinyl Players

digital vinyl players

There are some sort of CD players that allow users to connect a computer alongside and play songs directly with the vinyl switch.

You will not need CDs anymore nor to go buy vinyl records either. Anything from WAV to MP3 will be available on your computer screen as a vinyl-alike experience.


dj controller

In recent years, the CD player market went way up to the sky in prices and they were not so affordable for beginners. That created the thought that only famous people would get the chance. Therefore, companies developed integrated systems called controllers for those who wondered how to be a dj with a laptop.

This type of all-in-one gear is all you need to connect to a computer. Controllers mean that everyone would have the same opportunity from now on when asking how to be a mobile DJ.

Mixing Skills


If you’re wondering how long does it take to be a DJ? Then it’s time to listen up. Learning how to mix can be a gruelling process.

In regards to mixing skills, you will develop your own as time goes by. Progressive House music was born upon a long-mixing style where you can build up a gentle journey on each track. Usually up to 1 minute long mixing softly enough so the audience perceives the whole DJ set as one song ‘progressing’.

You will also need extreme memory as to where are the ups and downs of each record so they do not set foot on each other. If you are a wedding or a radio DJ, you will only need to go on with nice cuts. Also, for nightclub DJs who play freestyle/all styles, go with a hit from Guns N’ Roses’ i.e. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” which could be followed by “Girls & Boys” from Blur. It is your choice to mix it before or after the long bridge where Axl says “Where do you go…”.

A final piece of advice is to try not to repeat a song, even if many people are begging for it. One of the most important facts is that a good DJ knows how to create momentum for modern chart hits – now called viral – and all-time classics. Another thing to keep in mind would be the ability to step up and talk to the crowd with the microphone.

If you suffer from social anxiety don’t panic, just focus on the music and things will eventually happen. Most of us have had to do this once and it is such an amazing experience to be able to connect with the crowd. Not only through the music but also by talking to them. 

Explore various software tools

Music Radar suggests various top-notch software options for laptop DJs catering to Mac, PC, Android, and iOS users:

1. Native Instruments Traktor Pro: Launched in 2011, this software remains popular among both novice and experienced CDJs.
2. Serato DJ Pro: Pioneering digital vinyl systems software nearly 20 years ago, Serato has evolved with technology to offer dependable solutions.
3. Other notable programs for budding DJs are Pioneer DJ rekordbox DJ, Mixxx, PCDJ Dex, and Atomix VirtualDJ Pro.

Our Final Thoughts

man playing music

Now you know in mostly all its forms!

If you’re just starting out, make sure you get your hands on the right equipment. Also, get ready to start talking to people such as booking agents or venue owners. It is imperative when making a name for yourself as a professional in the industry.

Many of the most known DJs have started off in the lightning booth, serving drinks, doing the PR of a tiny little club until things just changed for them. With that being said, never give up! Do not just feel like a DJ. Be that one DJ. Good luck!

Are you a DJ? Let us know your experiences in the comments below! Also, don’t forget to share this guide across your socials and tag us @musicgateway!


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