Music Business

How To Be A DJ For Beginners: The Ultimate Guide

Photograph of the blog post author, Cristian Poow

Cristian Poow

9.4.2021

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Today we are witnessing one of the strongest technological leaps in history. It is important to understand that being a DJ has gone from being “a person playing music” to a career completely dedicated to it. This is why so many people are now interested in how to be a DJ.

how to be a dj

At times, we think that being a DJ stands for being an eternal rock star but the truth is: well, it is not like that. The passion for the music itself plus the happiness of being the one who gets the party started your own way is something as unique as football, rugby, painting, and many other activities that attract millions of fans around the world.

If you want to know how to become a DJ or already are but want to evolve, this article will show you the way.

How To Become A 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 the 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 how to be a DJ 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 ensure 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 among the ages. Within a party, they have the ability to get an 8-year-old 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 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.

Turntables

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 from 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 off +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, where 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.

Controllers

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

dj

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 grueling 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 DJ or a radio DJ, you will only need to go on with nice cuts. Also, for nightclub DJs who play freestyle/all-styles, going with a hit from Guns N’ Roses’ i.e. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” that 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. 

Our Final Thoughts

man playing music

Now you know how to be a DJ 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!

Are You An Anspiring DJ?

Showcase yourself and get discovered by fans and music reps through your very own artist site. Collaborate globally with other musicians, songwriters producers, and more. Finally, ace your format by using our WAV to MP3 converter and Large File Transfer tool. Try all of this out for yourself by joining Music Gateway. Get your 14-day free trial, no strings attached.

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