Your Questions: When Can I Start Calling Myself A “DJ”?

Joey Santos | Read time: 2 mins
beginner your questions
Last updated 5 April, 2018


When Am I A DJ?
In today’s question, our reader wants to know when he can properly start calling himself a “DJ”. Are there any milestones to reach before you become one?

Digital DJ Tips reader Oisin asks: “When can you officially say you’re a ‘DJ’? Is it when you first open up Serato / Traktor / Virtual DJ? Is it after you’ve played your first public show? Is it when you’ve been paid to perform? Or is it when you’ve had your first DJ fail in front of an audience?

“Some friends told me that I wasn’t an ‘actual DJ’ because I had been doing it for only a year. I’ve been DJing for a while now, but at the time I thought: ‘What if they’re right? Can I really say I’m a DJ after spinning for just a short period time?’

“What are your thoughts on this? When do you guys think you can say you’re a ‘DJ’?”

Digital DJ Tips Says:

This is an excellent question, especially since just about anyone with a laptop or a smartphone can load up a DJ app and some tunes: does that mean they’re a “DJ” straight away? To answer this, we culled replies from our forum members. I’ll kick things off…

You’re on your way to becoming a DJ when you intend to share music that you love with other people. This is at the essence of DJing, and goes beyond the technical side of things – even if you just make mixtapes to hand out, create Spotify playlists to share, or actively research music both new and old to broaden and refine your taste, you’re doing things that a DJ would normally do, that is, curate and share tunes with people.

You may not be going through the physical act of DJing yet, but you’ve nailed the music side. Now, when you get into the technical aspect (eg practising mixing, beatmatching, and so on) that’s when you become a DJ – apart from just programming music, you also know how to operate the gear and software needed to play those tunes.

Here’s what our forum moderators and members had to say:

“In my head I break it down like this: it’s when you play in front of people. That’s what DJing is – spinning music for an audience, even if it’s just a few friends in your basement. Before that happens, you’re someone ‘learning to DJ’.” – Todd Oddity

“I usually say you’re a DJ when you get a set-up and are serious about learning and crafting yourself as a DJ.” – D-Jam

“If you are playing in front of people and you manage to not empty the dancefloor with each tune you play, you are basically a DJ. Now of course there are different levels of DJs: those who DJ as a hobby or for their friends, those who are in it to learn and want to become a professional DJ, those who are ‘weekend warriors’, and so on.” – Terry_42

“You’re a DJ whenever you want to call yourself a DJ, as there is no standard achievement to legitimise yourself other than just actually getting on the decks and DJing.” – DJ Vitico

“Somebody showing up with his smartphone, his splitter connector, his phone earbuds and rocks an impromptu party is most definitely a DJ. It’s not about the gear.” – DJ Vintage

When do you think you’re allowed to call yourself a DJ? Are there certain qualifications to be met? Do you need to get the basics down first before you call yourself a DJ, or do you agree that sharing and curating music is in itself a form of DJing? Let us know below.

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