How to become the ultimate DJ: a starting-out guide

How to become the ultimate DJ: a starting-out guide

If you are passionate about music and enjoy entertaining people, then becoming a DJ could be the ideal career path for you. It can be difficult to know where to start but below are some of the best tips and tricks of the trade to start you off on your journey.

Look for a learning programme

If you know you have an ear for music and sounds, then enrol in a DJ 101 course. A course or learning programme will allow you to learn the basics of not only DJing but also sound engineering.

Some learning programmes are sponsored by music agencies and big names in the industry, so you will receive advice from those who have reached the pinnacle of their careers. They will teach you how to seamlessly integrate modern music with the latest music production techniques.

Learn what type of DJ you want to become

There are different types of DJs in the world, and to make your mark, you will need to decide what type of DJ you would like to become. Below are the different types of DJ to choose from.

  • The club DJ: The club DJ is someone who plays in clubs and some pubs. Each club is different in their audience scope, feel, reputation and musical selection. As a club DJ, you will have to be flexible in order to play music that keeps the party going, and maintain balance between an active dance floor and a busy bar.
  • The turntablist: A turntablist is known as a performance DJ. Aside from their raw talent with mixing, they are also able to include tricks and impressive musical transitions. This type of DJ is happiest in front of large crowds, exhibiting their skills and tricks.
  • The radio DJ: The radio DJ’s job varies in responsibility. You may be tasked with providing the music for a daily or nightly show to announcing the weather or news. If you are someone who prefers sticking to music, you could look into DJing at a music-only radio station.

Determine your end goals

One important thing to note is that DJing is not an immediate pathway to fame and fortune. If this is something that you love doing, you have to work on it even when the going is tough, which is why you have to determine what your goals are.

Ask yourself whether you want to make business out of it, start your own podcast, or if you are just doing it for fun. Once you can answer these questions, you will be closer to becoming the ultimate DJ. A DJ without ambition or a clear goal is often unmotivated and it shows in their music and performance.

Analogue or digital?

This is one of the most important decisions to make as a DJ, whether to go analogue or digital. Traditional DJ setups revolve around using direct-drive turntables to play vinyl records. However, in today’s modern times it is becoming increasingly popular to move away from this to CD style and digital DJ setups.

Analogue setups allow you to learn the art of DJing in the more traditional sense, but means that you have to collect a sizable collection of vinyl records which can be expensive. A digital setup allows for extra mobility and has less of a learning curve. You will need to decide on one in order to purchase the correct equipment.

Start gathering equipment

Once you have decided on what sort of DJ you want to become and what your end goal is, you should start gathering up the necessary equipment. The equipment you will need is outlined below.

  • Two turntables (or more if necessary)
  • A 2-channel mixer
  • Headphones
  • Speakers
  • Mixing software (if necessary)

You should also invest in bigger speakers, a monitor, a MIDI or DJ controller, an audio interface, mics, and various plugins once you have established your basic setup.

Practise at your home studio

Once you have the correct equipment, you should set it up in a room at home in order to practice. Record some mixes and listen to them afterwards, making notes on what you feel could be changed or kept in. If the mixes are good enough without changes, you can play them at your next gig.

By practising at home, you will hone your skills and be able to improve before your next gig. You will also be able to create your own sound and skills, and if you ever plan on producing it will help in future endeavours. You should be sure that the equipment in your home studio complements the equipment you take out with you to gigs.

The most important aspect of becoming a DJ is to have confidence in yourself and in your abilities. Have a vision of where you want to be and work towards it, no matter how hard times may seem. You may not feel as though you are on par with your idols but do not despair, keep on hustling towards that dream and you will soon find yourself there.

Authored by: Pete Anderson

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