How To DJ : Top 5 Tips
Welcome to “How To DJ : Top 5 Tips! Throughout this article you will find information to give you clarity on what aspects of DJing you should be focused on and what you need to get where you want to be. Let’s get started!
When beginning to DJ, it’s important to realize that DJing is not just turning knobs and pressing buttons. On the contrary it’s matching your musical “emotions” if you will, to your audience. If your audience is feeling out of touch with your tunes you will know it fast! It’s all about connecting with your audience and observing their mood in the moment.
Most DJ’s you hear on the radio or at major festivals are safe to say, well off. However DJing didn’t get them rich overnight and most likely you won’t be getting record deal offers in your inbox the morning after learning to DJ. They had to exercise patience, perseverance, and time to get noticed and so will you.
It’s not hard to start, but it is hard to stick out and make people acknowledge your unique sound.
Let’s get started with “How To DJ : Top 5 Tips”
Step 1 : What Do DJs Do?
To begin “How To DJ : Top 5 Tips, lets start with what DJs Do. There are different Dj’s for every function and before you get into the meat of DJing, it’s important to know the purposes different DJ’s fulfill. Lets learn what they do!
The Radio DJ
The “Radio DJ” varies greatly and does not quite have a precise definition due to so many jobs they can do! Most often a Radio DJ will mix songs live on the radio and intermittently announce the weather forecast. In essence controlling much of what you hear on a particular radio station.
Many Radio DJ’s have actually transitioned from live mixing on the radio to podcasts.
Most people go to see a this kind of DJ to experience a more raw form of mixing. More often than not this type DJ performs many unexpected yet smoothly orchestrated transitions on a whim, making the performance all the more exciting for their audience.
A lot can be learned about DJing simply by being in the audience of a solid performing turntablist.
The Club DJ
The “Club DJ” and his job is simple to understand yet complex to execute. A Club DJ is responsible primarily for keeping peoples feet moving and maintaining constant energy. Often they will transition between fast paced and slow paced songs to repeatedly build up again to a climax, reinforcing the energetic hype.
Between balancing an energetic audience and a busy cocktail area, Club DJ’s have their hands full.
The Mobile DJ
Last but most definitely not least, the “Mobile DJ”. If you have ever been to a wedding, prom, or a similar event with a DJ, a Mobile DJ fits the bill.
Mobile DJ’s have many responsibilities and have their hands full consistently. Typically they alone are responsible for the setup and teardown of their equipment at a show. Not to mention the arranging of the show, catering to what kind of event they are performing, and listening to requests.
These DJ’s are more often than not considered an entrepreneurial type figure at an event and are typically expected to be flexible and willing to play requested songs at a moments notice.
What We Have Learned
All things considered, it’s important to know the different kinds of DJ’s there are and what they do. While the spectrum of DJ’s and what they do is broad, I hope this clarified each of their responsibilities for you and helped you narrow down what kind of DJ you want to be!
Step 2 : Exploring DJ Software
Let’s jump into the world of DJ software!
There are 3 industry leading DJ software platforms:
While these 3 lead the world of mixing, there are other options out there optimized for beginners. One such program is Virtual DJ. Claiming to be one of the most downloaded DJ software programs on Earth, it comes packed with the freshest mixing technologies.
Virtual DJ is backed by a massive online community, free to use, and packed full of effects as well as video mixing and karaoke capabilities.
We recommend exploring free to use programs prior to purchasing one. A little bit of YouTube and some basic demoing will go a long way in determining the appropriate mixing software for you!
Step 3 : Gaining DJ Skills
When you are just being immersed into the world of DJing, it may seem overwhelming.
To help with that, we are going to go over 3 primary functions of mixing that are key to making some great sounds: beatmatching, mixing, and EQing. Let’s briefly cover them all!
Beatmatching is a basic but essential part of successfully mixing two tracks.
The purpose of beat matching is to get those two tracks to play at the same tempo, the speed of the two tracks playing, and the phase, the beats from both tracks playing in-time.
Beatmatching gives you the ability to forecast what the next song in your lineup should be and helps you develop a more trained ear.
Learning to beatmatch is a key component to modern mixing as a whole.
Equalizing is essentially cutting certain frequencies from your mixing to make your sounds blend more nicely.
Typical modern mixers supply a three band EQ low, mid, and high.
Proper EQing won’t in itself cure a bad mix but we can use it to give our mixing a more professional sound between songs.
Step 4 : Getting To The Good Stuff
While plenty of people DJ with only a laptop, eventually you are going to want to grab some hardware!
Regardless of your scene and level of experience DJing, choosing the right hardware can be a tough choice. We are going to lay it out for you and make choosing the right hardware a walk in the park.
There are several DJ setups to be considered.
Controller Setup (Recommended)
A DJ Controller gives you precise control over the DJ software you use. Specifically designed for the task of properly mixing music, a DJ controller is the place to start.
Controllers give you everything you need to get started (aside from a laptop) and are by far the most cost effective option to get mixing and recording done.
Options range from $100 to over $2000 depending on your preference of options you’d like to have.
While the options for controllers is already vast, the DJ market continues to grow and so do the options. While this is exciting it also can make for a difficult decision!
If you are planning on going to a nightclub or festival anytime soon, chances are they will have what is considered the industry standard for large productions, a CDJ.
While DJ controllers are connected to a laptop, CDJs get their supply of music via USB which is connected directly to the hardware itself.
CDJs are a common mixer for most all DJ’s to use. While the music is input to the mixer directly through USB, this makes it easier for DJs to access their tracks quickly if there are multiple artists playing a show.
While CDJs are more expensive than controllers, they tend to be more high quality and offer a bit of separation from a laptop which some DJs will prefer.
While mixing records on a Vinyl setup is harder to mix on than its counterparts and more expensive to get tracks for, there are benefits.
Many people consider vinyl setups more classy than mixing on a controller or CDJ. Mixing records on vinyl is more attractive to some due to the “raw” feel and sound of a DJ physically scratching on vinyl. Simply put, its incredibly sexy.
Mixing on vinyl is the best route to go if you’re looking to be a raw scratch DJ.
For many DJs these days scratching vinyl isn’t in their toolbox of DJ skills, but for many DJs, scratching vinyl is all they know!
Step 5 : Determining Your Goals
The final step of “How To DJ : Top 5 Tips” is one of the most important steps. Ask yourself in regard to mixing, why do you want to be a DJ?
Do you want to become a superstar DJ? Be able to be the DJ at parties? Or DJ for purely your own enjoyment? All of these are important questions to consider.
Whether you want to be one, or all of the above, you are on the right track just by doing your research right now. No matter what you wish to accomplish through mixing, it takes a lot of practice to nail the basics.
Take your time to thoroughly research the DJ equipment you plan on purchasing, and then dive in!