Interesting question I want to answer for you today, from Digital DJ Tips reader Gurmai. He asks: “What do you think are the five most important and effective things that can help to become a DJ? I want to make the shift in seven months not seven days, so we can go deeper than how to mix two tracks…”
Digital DJ Tips says:
To start with, you’re not starting from zero – none of us do. Love music? Check. Been out clubbing and dancing? Check. Listen to mixes on the radio or online? Check. Know the kind of DJing you want to do? Check. Congratulations, you’ve already done a big load of the work, and you haven’t even started.
The interesting thing for me on this question is the fact that you say “seven months, not seven days”. Why? I much prefer to flip it around.
A business guru (I forget who) said something like: “Decide where you want to be in six years’ time. Now ask yourself: If I had to get there in six months, not six years, how would I do it? What would I do differently? Then, start doing that stuff!”
I much prefer that way of thinking. You don’t spend months and months preparing for this magical moment when suddenly you’re a DJ. It’s not like doing medical school then doing an an exam, and then – wow – you’re a doctor. Nobody’s going to reward all your hard work in your bedroom for months or even years by confirming that, yes, you’re now finally a DJ. It doesn’t work like that.
In this game, you learn by doing. So here are the five steps:
- Book a gig – Any gig. You’re a DJ when you play your first gig. A party in your living room equals a gig. A night in your local bar equals a gig. A school party equals a gig. Be creative. Do something small and achievable. But book one. Now, the time between today and when you’re a DJ is the time between now and that gig
- Get some music – Not any old music, but the music you think you’ll need for playing at that gig. Think hard about each track. Get a nice variety of tunes. Collect double the music you think you’ll need (this lets you have variety, but not too much variety)
- Get some gear – You don’t actually need any gear, as long as the venue you’re going to play at has amplified speakers, as you can DJ from your laptop directly, but much better to have at least a DJ controller of some type – couple of hundred should do it. You’ll need some headphones, too. You’ll want some speakers to practice through at home. You’ve already got something that’ll do, as any speakers at all are fine
- Practise your set – Read the instruction manual for your DJ controller. Take our How To Digital DJ Fast training. Turn on and start playing. You’re essentially looking to cut out the gaps between the tunes, and keep the levels right. And no, you don’t need to be able to mix. You can learn all that later (How To Digital DJ Fast teaches you the basics of mixing). What you do need to be able to do is put tunes in a good order and cut out the gaps. Cutting out the gaps is easy, but the order? You’ll only really start to learn how to do that when you…
- Play the gig – Here you’ll learn what really matters about DJing: Playing the right tunes, for the people in front of you, right now. Along the way you’ll also learn how to conduct yourself in public, a bit about what not to do (no gigs are perfect, especially not first ones), and most importantly, you’ll come away with a head full of ideas about what to do next
Congratulations, you’re a DJ. You’ve got past the stage loads of bedroom DJs never get past. You know what DJing feels like. You’ve probably made a few people dance. Now go back to the beginning and do it all again. That’s how you’ll become a good DJ. Take more training, sure (we have all types of DJ courses to hone your skills once you’ve got this far – but you do need to get this far first!), but keep playing gigs – that’s the most important thing.
That’s how it works. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. But you can do it. And for lord’s sake, don’t wait seven months to do any of it – do it all ASAP!
Do you agree with our approach? What would you “throw into the mix” to help beginners learn DJing? We’d love to hear your thoughts below.