Some people think that being a DJ is an easy job where you just spin records and get paid for it. But the reality is much different. DJs work hard to stay on top of what’s new in music, and they have to try out new styles every day so that they don’t get stuck playing the same old stuff. They also need to be able to make themselves heard over loud speakers when there are hundreds or even thousands of people dancing at one time.
DJing has become a huge part of the music industry. More money is made from sales of “DJ Equipment” and music produced by DJs than ever before, and more DJs have been given prominent roles as producers, remixers, radio personalities and label owners than ever before.
If you’re thinking about becoming a DJ keep reading this article, I will cover the most important things you need to know.
A Brief History of DJing
The first person to DJ was a Jamaican immigrant named Clive Campbell who went by the name of DJ Kool Herc. He began using two turntables to extend breaks on records and occasionally mix them together.
After Herc, many DJs began experimenting with scratching, beat juggling, blending and cutting. As technology progressed and sound systems became more powerful, DJs found new creative outlets for their skills.
DJing started in the 1970s as a way for DJs to keep people dancing in the clubs longer. They would either speed up or slow down a record by mixing it with another one, making it almost impossible for dancers to stand still.
What does a DJ do?
There are many different types of DJs, and they specialize in different styles. Here are a few examples:
- Turntablist: someone who mixes or manipulates tracks on 2 or more turntables and a mixer, usually with the use of effects units. To be good at this you need to know how to spin records as well as use various scratching patterns and techniques to manipulate beats.
- Electronic Dance Music DJ (EDM): often referred to as an “Electro” DJ, these DJs specialize in playing with loops and samples from current popular songs, while mixing them together with other similar sounding beats on the fly.
- Hip Hop DJ: these DJs play hip hop music for an audience that wants to hear it. You need to know how to speak in a way that people can understand, and be able to read their body language for when they want some new music.
- House DJ: these DJs specialize in playing electronic dance music at clubs, festivals, and other major events. These DJs need to have an understanding of how the crowd moves so that they can help them get into the mood with the right type of music and with the right tempo.
- Radio DJ: popular for years, a DJ that has his or her own radio show is able to introduce new music to the public and go off on tangents about things like current events.
Skills needed for being a successful DJ
There are many skills needed to be a successful DJ, but the most important one is being able to read the crowd. A good DJ will understand what kind of music a crowd wants to listen to and when they want some new music. Some other skills include: ability to speak clearly over loud speakers, being able to scratch records with different scratching patterns and techniques, understanding music loops and samples, knowing how to mix records together with tempo, knowing how a crowd moves and be able to play music in order for them get into it with the right type of music.
Reading the crowd is the most important thing. If you are good at it, it can compensate your beginners mixing and scratching skills. The crowd is the most important part of any DJ’s show.
Mixing and making transitions from one song to another is a very important thing to learn. There are many many techniques for transitioning from one song to another. When you transition songs make sure that they flow well together and that the first beat of the next song exactly matches up with the last beat of the current song.
Also, it’s very important to understand what is BPM (beats per minute), it’s a really important thing. Your record must match the BPM as close as possible to make transition perfect and it gives time to put effects in right place.
When you mix, besides putting more power on one song to overpower another one, there are many tricks for mixing records: cutting in between songs with same beat, inserting crazy scratches and mixing them, playing with 3 beats in one record and jumping back to the original beat in another record. All of these tricks are used when there is no song which you can transition to from current song.
The importance of having good taste in music and knowing how to mix it together
What separates a good DJ from an average one?
As we discussed last time, the most important thing is being able to read the crowd. Being able to do this well can make up for many times where you might not have been as good at mixing songs together or setting up equipment properly.
Taste in music is another important thing, although it doesn’t necessarily bring you any skills. If you’re a DJ and people don’t like your taste in music then they’re not going to keep coming back to see you. One way to improve taste in music is by going on Soundcloud and looking at different artists, listening to their music, and seeing what types of genres they play that are popular with other DJs.
Mixing is another major skill that many people overlook. Mixing well is also based on your taste in music and you can develop this over time. You don’t necessarily need to be able to mix two songs perfectly, but you do want to make sure that the transition is smooth and not too abrupt. For example, let’s say we have two songs: song A and B. They may match up with each other very well so when you play them together they work very good and a crowd would be happy with it. However, if you try to throw in another song like C right after song B then there would probably be a bad transition because they do not match up as well as A or B did. So instead of playing A-B-C you should play A-C and then B.
Equipment necessary for becoming a successful DJ
DJ equipment is going to depend on the type of DJ you are. If you’re a DJ who specializes in hip-hop music, for example, then you’re going to need different equipment than someone who specializes in country music.
What should you choose a turntable or a DJ controller?
I personally prefer turntables because they’re more fun to use and they require you to actually have skill. You need to be able to scratch well, beatmatch songs together very precisely, and develop a good ear for pitch while using them. They also require you to know how music works which is important for being able to mix two songs together properly.
On the other hand, controllers are easier to use but much harder to master than turntables. They are good if you want something that’s not as hard on your wrists as turntables are or if you just don’t like playing with vinyls.
What’s the difference between a turntable and a DJ controller?
A DJ controller is a modern musical device and it is like a combination of traditional turntable and a mixer. All in one.
A DJ controller is also much easier to transport than a traditional turntable. It’s almost like having your own personal mixer with you wherever you go so that you can use it in case of any party or big event.
You can’t DJ with only one turntable, you need two of them and a mixer. The mixer is necessary because it makes it possible to connect turntables into one output and build up your whole mix.
If you are just getting started I would recommend to choose a DJ controller, because it won’t cost you a lot.
If you are a professional DJ, of course, I would recommend to choose high quality turntables and a mixer.
The best DJ controllers for a beginners
Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000
The new DDJ-1000 is one of the best DJ controllers for beginners. It’s very compact and lightweight so it can easily fit in car trunks or backpacks.
It also has a lot of features to help you learn how to mix songs together, even for someone with no experience at all. For example, if you have this controller then Pioneer created special effects called “8 Hot Cues” which means that there are 8 different parts of each song where you can set them up to automatically play whenever you touch a button on your controller. This makes it easier because instead of having to manually search through your songs and find the part where the crowd would like what they hear the most, this thing does it for you.
This controller will fits all your needs no matter you are a beginner or a pro.
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SX3
The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SX3 controller may be one of the most compact controllers on the market, but it offers a lot of features that you would expect to see in a more expensive controller. For example, it has the DJM-S9 Prime mixer so that you can control your mix with high quality effects and EQs. You have faders that are touch sensitive so they give you instant feedback and you can scratch like a pro. It also has RGB backlit buttons, 4 channel is able to connect with each other and much more!
This controller is great for beginners because the layout is so intuitive and there are lots of controls close to their hands, which makes it easier while learning how to DJ. The best thing is that it’s very easy to use and you can connect it up with your laptop or PC in minutes.
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3
The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 is a great controller for beginners because of the layout and all the controls that are close to your hands. For example, there are 8 Hot Cues which means that you can set up certain parts of the song to automatically play when you touch a button on the device. This makes it easier because instead of having to go through your song manually, this does it for you.
It also has lots of other features that help beginners learn how to DJ like RGB backlit buttons, 4 Channel Internal Mixer and much more!
If you’re looking for a DJ controller that’s not too expensive but still provides high quality sound, then Pioneer is what I would recommend!
The best DJ turntables
Technics SL-1200/SL-1210 Mk7
My absolute favorite turntable in the world is the SL1210 mk7. I own one and it’s fantastic. The sound quality on this turntable is unmatched. If you’re not a DJ, you would never know how much time was put into each component and the research that went into every inch of this device. You can’t go wrong with this one!
This turntable provides great sound quality and is very durable. It’s definitely worth the money.
Pioneer DJ PLX-500
The Pioneer DJ PLX-500 is a high quality, low priced turntable that is designed for DJs. It has features that help it excel in this field. The controller allows the DJ to start their set from any song and the EQ allows finer tuned adjustments to be made to the sound of the records.
This device is also lightweight and features a sturdy body to reduce vibrations and noise. It also includes a built-in pre-amplifier with a DVS enabling direct control of digital files, including Serato DJ Intro as well as music from iPads and iPhones using Apple’s Lightning Digital AV adapter. There is a USB port which can be used to play audio devices such as an iPhone or USB stick that can contain WAV, FLAC and MP3 files.
Another important feature of the Pioneer DJ PLX-500 is that it can be used for up to 6 hours before it needs recharging which means you don’t have to worry about using an expensive power source and you can use a number of different types of batteries with this device. The platter can handle both 7 and 12 inch records which makes it versatile in terms of the size of records that can be played on it, as well as the type. Some turntables are unable to perform either function. This not only gives DJs buying this a wider range of music they can play but also reduces the amount of equipment required since they won’t need two sets of identical record players.
Stanton T.62 MK2
I’ve been a DJ for over 25 years and I’ve tried out all sorts of different turntables. I believe the Stanton T.62 MK2 is by far the best turntable I have ever used. The sound quality is amazing, which was one of my main concerns as I do want my music to sound good! My favorite thing about this turntable is that it has a motor that automatically adjusts its speed to match what you’re playing, which means you don’t have to worry about manually changing it yourself every time you switch records! It also comes with an adapter for plugging in your headphones so you can listen to the music and not disturb anyone else in the room. I love how you can also plug your computer into the turntable so it acts as a USB sound card! This means I can record my mixes and listen to them later without having to worry about connecting any small computers or other pieces of equipment.
It has a nice sleek design and is easy to setup. It’s very user-friendly which was something I was concerned about at first as I’ve never used this brand before. It takes me less than 10 minutes now to get everything set up!
How to get your first gig as a DJ
Step 1: Research your local music scene and find out when and where the best nights are being held. Try to figure out who is spinning at these events and what kind of sound they have. This will help you to decide what kind of music you will be playing and how you’ll sound.
Step 2: Make sure you have the right kind of equipment for these events. You don’t need all your turntables, mixers and headphones at first but it is important that you have high quality ones! Don’t buy cheap ones as they won’t sound good when mixed together with other music.
Step 3: Start small by trying out your mixes at house parties or smaller club nights. Get people dancing and get them to notice you so they can recommend you for bigger gigs down the road. Be ready to play anywhere from 1-4 hours per night depending on where it is!
Step 4: Start networking with promoters and getting them to book you at bigger events! Having a consistent presence will mean they’ll know what they’re getting and be more likely to use you again in the future! After this, it’s only a matter of time before you become one of the most successful DJs around.
Additional tips for beginners:
- Start uploading your mixes on Soundcloud or Mixcloud and then sharing them on your social media. This will help people to find out about you and hopefully listen.
- Start small by playing mix sets on Youtube or your own website. You can also try sharing your mixes on Reddit for feedback from other DJs!
- Facebook & Instagram Live videos are great way to show your skills for your followers and promoters to see. It’s a very visual form of promotion that can’t be ignored!
- Don’t overdo it! You don’t need to try and upload or share something new every day. Take your time to perfect the mixes you’re putting out there so they sound good and represent you well. Slow and steady wins the race, right?
- Pay attention to how other top DJs are doing things online and learn from them. They’ve been where you are now so follow their examples to get ahead faster than those who aren’t trying!
DJing is a tough gig to get into, but it’s not impossible. If you want to become the next DJ sensation, there are some things you’ll need including knowledge of the music scene and good ear for what sounds good together. It also helps if you’re knowledgeable about equipment like turntables, mixers, and headphones. You may be able to start small with house parties or smaller club nights before moving up in gigs later on down the line depending on your dedication and skill level! Overall becoming a successful DJ takes time so stay patient while honing your craft through researching other top DJs online as well as networking with promoters who can help book bigger events for you!
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for this article feel free to let me know in the comment section below!