Spin your way to success: A quick start guide to DJing
Updated: March, 25. 2023
Welcome to the world of DJing! Whether you're 18 or 80, it's never too late to start your journey as a DJ. DJing is all about passion, creativity, and dedication. It's a thrilling and rewarding career that can take you places you never imagined. In this article, we will take you through the basics of DJing, step by step. From choosing your equipment to building your music collection, organizing your library, and practising your skills, we will cover everything you need to know to get started as a DJ. With the right mindset, tools, and guidance, you can turn your passion into a successful career. So, let's get started and explore the exciting world of DJing together!
What does a DJ Do?
Want to know what a DJ does? They don't just play songs, they use their talent to craft a unique soundscape that leads the listeners on a journey. A skilled DJ sets the mood, keeps the energy high, and the dancefloor packed. Whether you want to pursue a career in music or simply improve your skills for personal enjoyment, this step-by-step guide has got you covered. From selecting the right equipment to creating seamless transitions, this ultimate guide will equip you with all the knowledge you need to become a professional DJ. So, let's dive in and get started on your journey to becoming a world-class DJ!
Set Your Goals First
Hosting a podcast, running a radio channel, performing at weddings, or becoming a resident DJ: there are numerous fields you can work in. The first step is to set your goals and objectives. First, select a clear goal that truly matches your personality. This will help you focus on the right skills. So, ask yourself, why do you want a career in DJing?
• Because I Want to Generate Income
As a new DJ, it can be challenging to earn a stable income at first. You may face hurdles such as oversaturation of DJs in your area, lack of respect, or low pay. However, with persistence and a strategic approach, you can find ways to generate income as a DJ. DJs can earn around 100$ per hour, depending on the event and your experience level. To reach this level of success, focus on building your skills, networking, and developing a strong marketing strategy. To get started, you can use Mixgate's services and get your first gig.
• Because Music is My Passion
If you love music, DJing can bring a lifetime of enjoyment. It's exhilarating to immerse yourself in your favourite hobby and create your own music. As a DJ, you can express your creativity and share your love for music with others. By curating the perfect setlist and mixing different genres, you can create a unique soundscape that reflects your personal taste and style.
• Because I Want to Be Famous
If you dream of becoming a superstar, it takes talent, luck, hard work, and, I won't lie to you, also a lot of money. Aspiring DJs must hustle, love what they do, and continue to work on their skills, even when it's tough. With dedication and perseverance, you will soon stand among your fans and achieve the desired fame. So keep on working and practising... you never know where it might take you.
Beatmatching is the foundation of DJing, and it's essential to master this skill before moving on to more advanced techniques. Beatmatching is more than just matching the tempo of two different songs – it's about fitting them together seamlessly to create a smooth and pleasant transition that preserves the vibe of the music.
To get started with beatmatching, you'll want to select two tracks that are in a similar tempo range and ideally from the same or similar genres. This will make it easier to create a smooth transition between the two tracks. Once you've got your tracks selected, it's time to adjust the tempo of each track so that they match. Almost every modern DJ software has built-in tempo detection that can help you with this, but it's still important to know how to do it by ear if needed.
Next, you'll want to align the beats of the two tracks so that they play in sync. This can be done visually using waveform displays, or by listening to the tracks and adjusting them manually.
Once the beats are aligned, it's time to start mixing the two tracks together by gradually introducing the second track and fading out the first track. This requires careful attention to the phrasing and structure of each track, as well as the energy and mood of the overall mix.
Overall, beatmatching is a foundational DJ technique that requires a mix of technical skills, musical knowledge, and creativity. But don't worry, with practice and patience, you'll be able to master beatmatching and create amazing sets that keep the dancefloor moving all night long!
What Equipment Do You Need?
When it comes to buying equipment, it's essential to consider your budget and skill level. Even simple gear can boost your learning process, so there's no need to overspend on complicated or overpriced equipment. Here are the basics you will need to get started:
A DJ controller is a device that combines a turntable and a mixer, enabling you to mix music by connecting software running on a computer, phone, or tablet. The main difference between a deck and a controller is that the controller allows you to view track information on a digital screen, instead of on the screen of a deck. For instance, the Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4 is a beginner-friendly controller that only requires a computer to operate, without any additional hardware.
Headphones are an important tool. You need them to test and prepare the next track before cueing it in. They allow you to create a perfect mix by testing tracks before the crowd can hear them. If you want to get into music production, you can also use headphones to not get distracted.
Turntables are used to play vinyl records. Along with a mixer, the turntable's playback speed can be adjusted. Although you don't need them anymore, If you want to create a tactile, high-quality sound of vinyl, consider buying a set of DJ turntables.
With some basic equipment, you can start your DJing journey and work your way up to more advanced equipment as you gain experience and skills.
Exploring the Software for Getting the Perfect Mix
Software is at least as important as proper gear. In the end, everything else relies on it. Faulty software can cause your sound to stutter or even to completely crash your set.
Rekordbox is a pioneer in DJ software, with features like Hardware Unlock devices, playlist creation, music importing, DVS support, and cloud sync that make it an excellent choice for beginners. It's a standard DJ program that allows you to mix music virtually using the keyboard and mouse of your laptop.
Serato is an excellent option for DJing in large venues, with a "Practice Mode" that lets you upscale your skills and confidence without any hardware. It's a sturdy application that supports over 90 pieces of hardware and can be your best companion for controlling different hardware if you want to be a cool turntablist.
Traktor, by Native Instruments, is a leading DJ software in the electronic music era. With its super flexible plug and mixing club equipment, you can sync four music tracks at a time. This app is popular in the world of techno for creating electronic music like krautrock, disco, new wave, and synthpop, thanks to its remix Decks and Stem abilities.
Learning Basic DJ Skills
As a beginner, it's important to get familiar with some basic DJ terms and learn how they actually work. In addition to the equipment we previously described, we will now explore some basic techniques:
Beatmatching is the process of bringing two soundtracks to the same tempo, beat, and phrase. You can achieve this by using your player's pitch fader to adjust the tempo of the song.
Equalizing or EQing is the process of adjusting specific frequencies to create a perfect blend. It involves boosting and cutting specific frequencies when needed. For example, when you have two tracks with a kick and bass, then EQing will help you avoid a muddy mix.
One of the first things you need to understand is that most DJ-friendly tracks aren't random, but instead have "phrases". Phrasing helps align two tracks in a mix to create a natural-sounding transition. Phrasing allows you to modify the depth of transition between the tracks to make them more natural without breaking the musical structure.
Reverb is an effect that creates the illusion that sound is bouncing off walls. It's a technique that's used to make it seem like music is being played in a much larger room. Reverb is almost the same as the echo effect and is a common part of DJing. You can use it to fade out another song smoothly, or even to make the drop hit harder
Getting the Perfect Set
Creating the perfect set that will have the crowd on their feet all night is easier than you might expect. With these steps, you can create a mix that is seamless and will keep everyone dancing:
• Choose Your Music
Selecting the right music is crucial when creating a mix. Make sure to choose popular tracks that appeal to your audience. Mix old and new songs to cater to all ages. You can also stream songs from Spotify to add variety to your playlist. Song selection is even more important than technique. So, if you are new, maybe spend some extra time selecting the perfect tracks.
• Organise Your Library
Organise tracks according to genre, tempo, or mood. This will make it easier for you to find tracks and keep the crowd going. Start with two similar songs and gradually transition into tracks that have a similar sound and beat to the previous one. The more alike they sound, the easier they are to blend together. And always remember: When the crowd likes something, stick with it.
Tips for Building a Fanbase
Once you have mastered the art of DJing and are confident in your abilities, it's time to start promoting yourself so that you can start taking bookings for bigger gigs and finally advance to that legendary expert rank. It's important to remember that patience is key to building a following. Here are some tips to help you get started:
• Share your mix recordings on public platforms like Mixcloud, YouTube, or SoundCloud to showcase your skills.
• Stream your performances live on popular apps like Twitch to increase your visibility and expand your reach.
• Establish an online presence through social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. Use social media to promote your brand, network with other DJs, and collaborate with artists.
Remember, success as a DJ is built on a combination of talent, hard work, and persistence.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Becoming a successful DJ takes dedication and practice, but with persistence, you can achieve your goal. Focus on learning the basics of DJing, then work on improving your skills and polishing your techniques. Experiment with different genres to find the music you like. Always remember, practice is key to mastering any skill, and repetition is the mother of unbeatable skills. With hard work and dedication, you will soon become a resident DJ or play at festivals.
A career in the music industry, especially as a DJ, can be both challenging and rewarding. One of the essential skills for success is beatmatching, which requires understanding the phrasing and matching the bpm. While software tools are available to sync, it's crucial to not rely too heavily on them and learn to mix by ear. As a DJ, your ultimate goal is to enjoy the music and then maybe gain some following over time. You can achieve this by extending your connections, promoting yourself on social media accounts, and gaining experience through, well... performing :). Once you have mastered your skills, the world of music is waiting for you. At Mixgate, we help DJs take their careers to the next level by providing a platform that enables them to quickly get booked and get themselves out there! Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting with some basic knowledge, our community of talented DJs and venues is ready to help you succeed. So, why wait? Sign up for Mixgate today and become a Pro! Welcome to the world of DJing!