The idea of being a professional DJ is something that excites millions of people all around the world, though not many of them actually understand what goes into making a career out of what some would consider a hobby. It requires a lot of studying, learning, watching, reading, spending, and more practicing than even those who have an idea of what they’re getting into could imagine. So, what does it take to actually make money from creating music and DJing for party-goers? Here’s a quick rundown for beginners on how to DJ.
Watch the Masters
It may seem like being a sought-after DJ is all about the music, but its not… at least not entirely. There is so much more that goes into being a truly great DJ, especially when it comes to performing. The best of the best don’t just understand what songs work together and how to seamlessly mix one tune into another; they know they are putting on a show when they are in the booth. This matters more than many people might guess.
If you’re either just starting out as a DJ or if you’re considering becoming a DJ, you need to spend some time watching performances of others, not just listening. If you’re already thinking about DJing out in public as an artist (as opposed to simply creating mixes in the comfort of your bedroom and uploading them online for people to enjoy), you’ve probably already invested an incredible amount of time in listening to and breaking down the mashups, mixes, and playlists constructed by others… but have you watched them?
If the answer to that question is no, don’t fret! It’s not something many people think about, and you still have time to catch up and put in the work. Head to YouTube and search various phrases that will not just give you crowd shots of someone DJing on a stage at a festival somewhere, but which will actually also give you close-up shots of what the musician is doing with their instruments. Look for tutorials from others who have come before you. There is a lot out there that can be helpful, you just need to track it all down and dedicate the time to viewing.
Learn Everything You Can
Having a good ear for what track can blend into another and being able to sense the vibe in a room are very important qualities a great DJ needs, and it can be tough to teach those things. More often than not, those are simply given talents, but thankfully, a lot of what being a DJ entails can be learned.
Now all you need to do is go out and educate yourself or find someone to help you through the lengthy process of becoming a DJ. If you’re going to go the solo route and do most of the work on your own, you have an incredible number of resources to help you become better informed, more knowledgeable, and better equipped to one day take to the stage and entertain an entire crowd of people. You might not realize it if you’re just getting started, but there is so much you don’t know you don’t know about DJing and all that goes into it.
The key to success as a DJ is a passion for music, an ear for beats, and the ability to read a crowd and select tracks that will keep the dance floor moving. So, if you have a love for music and a knack for selecting the right tracks, don’t let a lack of musical education hold you back from pursuing your dream of becoming a DJ.
Next, if you haven’t been scared off by any horror stories or the realization of how long creating a career can take and the fact no matter what, it simply might not work out, you’ll want to spend a lot of time researching the equipment you’ll be using to make music and perform.
What do you already know about the computer programs Logic, Ableton, and Pro Tools? Do you understand what computers are best for music makers and why? What do these things cost, and are you willing to spend a big amount of money long before you make anything back? This last question can turn some people off, as it does take a sizable budget to afford the right computer and a license for one of the most popular DJ software programs… and those only help you get started.
This may be the most daunting part of the outset of your lifelong job as a DJ, but keep in mind you don’t need to know everything before you craft a single mix. In fact, it wouldn’t be smart to attempt to know every single in and out of the business and the technology that backs it before you begin.
You can be learning and making at the same time, but you should have a baseline education before you invest significant sums of money into programs, headphones, microphones, decks for playing live, and so on.
Achieving greatness as a DJ takes a lot of time and effort. You will need to put in countless hours of practice and continuous learning to hone your skills and become a seasoned professional. It may take a while before you become a working DJ, and even longer to establish yourself as a great DJ. Nevertheless, with patience, perseverance, and a love for the craft, anything is possible. Reach out to anyone having any type of party. Get together with other musicians, friends and even recording studios like Rakoon Sound Studios and plan your own event you can DJ. Reach out to companies hiring entertainers for weddings and other special events to see if you can work with them in some capacity.