7 (More) Tell-Tale Signs You’d Make A Great DJ

Phil Morse | Read time: 6 mins
DJ traits
Last updated 3 September, 2015


When you buy a new car, what interests you the most? Brake Horse Power or Total Music Power? If it’s the latter, you just scored a point in today’s survey…

A while back we wrote an article called 7 Tell-Tale Signs You’d Make A Great DJ, designed to inspire beginners and give them confidence to get started in DJing. The idea was that many of the traits of DJs can be easily spotted in people way before they spin their first tune or do their first mix.

Anyway, inspired by some of the comments underneath that original post, and again with the intention of helping people who are thinking about trying DJing to identify if they’ve “got what it takes”, today we publish a second list of tell-tale signs. To paraphrase many a singer, this list can help you decide if “you got the music in you”, and if DJing is the hobby or career for you. See how you score… and thanks to the original commenters for many of the items below!

How many of these situations describe you?

1. You automatically take control of the music at social occasions
Whether it’s that Bluetooth speaker perched on the windowsill at a barbecue, or choosing a radio channel to play through the cable box plugged into your TV when family are around, or crafting a playlist carefully on Spotify for that get together with mates, or playing a few tunes in the adverts when you’re all watching the football… it’s always you that takes care of the music at such times (and it’s always you who spots when it stops, and heads off to do something about it…).

Why it matters: You instinctively understand how important music is in setting the mood in social situations. This ability – to “programme” music to suit a particular time, place and crowd of people – is the number one skill of all DJs. Mixing etc comes a poor second to being able to gather and sequence the right music in the first place…

2. You make a point of listening to music other people tell you about as soon as you can
Someone simply saying: “Have you heard the new single by _____?” is enough to send you to your smartphone to make a note of the title, and as soon as you get a chance, you’re off to listen to it on YouTube or Spotify to check it out for yourself…

Why it matters: Good DJs are always on the look-out for new music… but great DJs put particular weight on music that people they like recommend to them… after all, playing music to other people is what DJing is about, so having an ear to the ground among your social circle for killer tracks is a classic DJ behaviour…

3. When you are looking for a new car, a bad sound system is a deal-breaker
You really don’t care about engine size, comfort, colour or brand… or if you do, all of those come a poor second to the quality of what come out of the speakers when you crank the car system up! Put simply, you wouldn’t consider buying a car that doesn’t have a great stereo in it…

Why it matters: In order to hear as much music as possible, DJs do everything they can to ensure that every possible time in their day can be spent surrounded by it… and that includes the time spent in your car going to and from work. It would be criminal to miss so much music discovery time…

4. When you see a pile of records or CDs anywhere, you can’t help looking through them
Music collections are like catnip to DJs, especially other people’s collections! So in anybody’s living room, bedroom, or in a bar, second-hand shop, wherever, just a glance at a pile of records or a stack of CDs gets you itchy to flick through them.

Why it matters: We used to call it “cratedigging”, and it is as much the behaviour of DJs as sniffing bums and wagging tails is the behaviour of dogs! It’s in our DNA to check out music collections, and somehow in this digital age, piles of “analogue” music have gained even more mystique… this behaviour is a dead cert that you’re wired to be a DJ.

5. You spot volume changes between tracks, and correct it
It’s a wonder why in this day and age music providers don’t get this right, but still they don’t! Picture this: There’s a Spotify or YouTube playlist playing at a party, and a great song comes on too quietly. You’re the one who jumps up to fix the volume… and you’re also the one who turns it down slightly to keep things smooth when the next, louder track comes on.

Why it matters: You instinctively know that volume is one of the key tools of the DJ. Good DJs know that playing the music at just the right level so people can be “moved” by it, but also that it is suits the “set and setting”, is a key skill of playing a good set.

6. You get annoyed when people talk over your lovingly crafted mixtape
One for the actual DJs reading this, rather than the complete beginners (although I bet you beginners can sympathise): You make a mixtape that you’re really proud of, and play it in public somewhere, but everyone appears to not be listening and talks over it instead. You know that’s fine, that people shouldn’t be expected to sit in reverence, silently admiring your every transition… but secretly, their apparent lack of attention to your mix really annoys you!

Why it matters: You crave complete crowd control. You want them locked into your groove, blissfully unaware of anything else. You badly desire that dancefloor rockin’ feeling that all DJs get in the middle of a great set when everything’s going right, when the crowd is eating out of the palm of their hand. In short, you are driven to get to the point where you can command this type of attention with your own DJing.

7. You’re shocked the first time you realise that not everyone is like the above!
When you first get into the idea of DJing, possibly because you’re in a group of friends who go out clubbing together, you (naturally, maybe) assume everyone else feels the same as you about the music.

You assume they all want to control the music at the party too, but that you simply have a knack of getting there first. You guess that they, too, go and listen to music people recommend to them, that they too wouldn’t buy a car that had a bad sound system in it, that they also spend hours finding great tunes and lovingly making playlists on Spotify or Apple Music.

And it amazes you the first time you realise that actually, most don’t!

Why it matters: This is a really powerful one, because it is what makes you ultimately realise that you’re made to do this! You are actually pretty special for feeling this passionate about music – and while someone else’s calling might be sport, or films, or cookery, yours is sharing great tracks with other people, expressing yourself through the music you play and how you play it. In short, once you realise this is your calling, you also realise you have a right to do this… and that maybe, just maybe, you’ve got what it takes to be a DJ.

How did you score?

5 to 7: Why the hell aren’t you DJing in public? Has somebody locked you indoors? Do you live 100 miles from the nearest bar that’ll let you do a low-key Friday night every now and then? You don’t need any more than your laptop to DJ nowadays, you know. Stop making excuses and do it!

3 or 4: OK, so you probably have a bit of a life outside of music. You’re normal, in other words. But you obviously love your music. You’re definitely not tone deaf. And the fact that you’re reading this means it’s something you want to do. So why not? I am guessing you’ve already got a laptop, the software doesn’t have to cost you anything nowadays, and music is cheaper than ever before, so what have you got to lose?

0 to 2: Mmmmm. Are you sure you answered truthfully? If so, if you think you want to be a DJ, maybe want to do so for money, fame or sex! It’s unlikely you’ll have the staying power to get very far with it, as musical passion is a great driver – the best, in fact. To DJ well takes a lot of work – are you sure this is the easiest way to get what you want?

• Want to get past knowing you’d be a good DJ, and actually start getting there? Our How To Digital DJ Fast training has helped thousands of DJs to do just that. Find out more here.

So – what are the other tell-tale signs that you’re “once a DJ, always a DJ”? What little behaviours and preferences have YOU noticed in other people or yourself that give the game away? Let us know in the comments…

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