When you set out to be a DJ the only thing you’re thinking of is what equipment a DJ needs, how to use that equipment, and getting gigs. While that is a big part of learning how to be a disc jockey, there are all kinds of things—unwritten rules—that can make or break a DJ career. Okay maybe not rules but definitely things that can help a budding DJ get his career on track.
The reason I’m talking about this today is because recently I’ve spoken to quite a few new DJs and they simply want to walk into the shoes of Tiësto, Afrojack and all the other big names out there. The problem is that they only know part of the story, because there is no such thing as an overnight success, so they end up missing out on a lot of important life lessons.
Unfortunately some of these lessons can only be learned the ‘hard way’, but that’s part of the learning process.
Don’t Be Afraid To Fail
The first thing you should know if you want to be a disc jockey is that it is okay to fail. I mean it sucks, but the only way to know what works for you as a DJ is to figure out what doesn’t work. At the risk of sounding like a DJ Confucius, often it is not the successes that teach us the biggest lesson, but the failures.
If you don’t attempt to mix two songs you think go together as well as tuna fish and Jell-O, then how will you know that those underlying beats actually produce an amazing dance beat? You won’t.
Some of the best things come from the boldness to try, to test out your creativity in alternative ways. So as you embark on your DJ career don’t discount your ability to succeed at something unheard of.
Try It ALL
So you want to be an EDM DJ and that’s your big goal. You’re not interested in any other genres, so you should only take gigs that allow you to play your passion, right? WRONG!
In fact the I would argue that anyone who’s asking the question, how to be a disc jockey should not be turning down any paid gigs. I don’t care if it’s a themed wedding in need of golden oldies, a sales conference that’s totally 80’s or a New Year’s Eve gig that’s non-stop hip hop; take it.
You never know how you’ll respond to other genres until you try them. And the ability to successfully mix different types of music will make you a better DJ.
Be Nice To Everyone
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received about how to be a DJ is to be nice to everyone. Before you roll your eyes at the triteness of the advice you should reconsider because this is truly a self-serving piece of advice.
Ok so you should be nice to everyone because it’s the right thing to do, but you should also do it because you never know who can help (or harm) your career. Early in my career I was pretty indifferent to bar and wait staff, only really making an effort with the doorman. Then I was waiting to meet with the club owner about a gig and I chatted up a waitress and helped her collect ashtrays, just because. Okay she was hot, but I really was just being nice.
I got the gig (hooray for me!) and when I showed up I found out the waitress, also the owner’s niece, put in a good word for me for being kind. After that it paid to be nice to everyone, and really it isn’t that difficult.
Know Your Equipment
Any good artist needs sturdy tools that he or she can rely upon, and that holds as true for DJs as for any other DJs. Your equipment and the ease with which you use it will help you seem comfortable in the one place you want to be: the DJ booth.
Don’t just skim through instructional manuals and only focus on the knobs and buttons you want to use. Learn the entire piece of equipment—all of them—until you can do it all without forcing the crowd have to look at the top of your head all night.
If there is one thing you need to know about how to be a disc jockey is that you should be different. Not different from your natural self, but different from other DJs. You’ll certainly play the same songs but you do not have to do them in the same way everyone else does. The only way to do that is to learn your craft. Listen to other DJs and hear what they’re doing, and figure out a way to make it different.
Don’t focus on making your look different and don’t try too hard to be heady or “out there” just for the sake of originality. Tweak your sound until you’re satisfied that you’re not the carbon copy of the guy who auditioned before you.
I hope I helped you learn how to be a disc jockey. Email in the box below to get access to Free video DJ lessons that will answer all of your questions on how to become a disc jockey!
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