Pros & Cons: Beatmatching For New DJs

Beatmatching: You vs. The Machine


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Learning new skills as an inexperienced DJ can be difficult. Unfortunately it isn’t just the technical aspect of learning that can leave you feeling overwhelmed; it is also the multitude of opinions on the best way to achieve it. You will have some DJs or music fans who are complete luddites and refuse to acknowledge any skill aided by technology as legitimate. But the fact is that all this great new technology is awesome and it allows you to focus on ways to progress your career and become a better musician.

No topic is more controversial than beatmatching and you will have to decide what aspect of DJing is more important to you: learning the skills or the end result. I’m going to tell you though, there are ups and downs of learning how to beatmatch by ear.

PRO – Better DJ

I know I said it was up to you…and it is. But let’s be honest if you can beatmatch by ear then you open up the music that is available to you and that will make you a much better DJ. You won’t have to keep your eyes glued to the BPM counter in order to find songs and genres that fit together, you will be able to hear it yourself which will cut down on the time you spend searching for the “right” track.

A side bonus of learning how to beatmatch by ear is that you can easily slow tracks down or speed them up for a proper transition.

CON – Readiness

Learning to beatmatch isn’t that hard, really. But it does take time and if you’re a perfectionist like most DJs you may be reluctant to learn this skill by ear because that means it will be much longer until you’re ready to step inside an actual DJ booth. Trust me when I tell you that this is NOT a bad thing. Your desire to be the best you can means that when you are ready, you will be.

Just because beatmatching by ear will extend your DJ education doesn’t mean it is something you should skip. Think of it as another skill that will set you apart from the DJs that only rely on what their DJ equipment can do for them.

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PRO – Solid Producer

Whether or not you have dreams of producer superstardom, you will want to produce your own tracks and guess what? Learning how to beatmatch will help you get there. Beatmatching requires superb concentration so you can provide a laser focus on the percussions and rhythm of two tracks. This will make you inherently more aware of all the individual components of a track—plus the structure—which will help you when you’re ready to start laying down your own tracks.

Let’s face it; you are a DJ and you got into this gig to make your own music. Beatmatching is a skill that will help you make something different than what everyone else is putting out there.

PRO – Equipment Malfunction

As much as we love computers and technology and machines in general, the fact is that they don’t always work the way we need them to or wish they would. Any DJ who’s had equipment failure in the middle of a gig or just moments before the gig is supposed to start know this fact all too well. But what separates a competent DJ from a badass DJ is how they respond to these major malfunctions.

If you have learned how to beatmatch by ear as part of your DJ education then you will be fine if, for some reason, your BPM counter decides it doesn’t feel like being on duty tonight. This does happen and we don’t really know why; some tracks or types of music may be hard for the counter to read and give you an incorrect count. This will throw everything off and if you can’t beatmatch without technological assistance you will know something is off but you won’t know what it is and you won’t know what to do about it…unless you know how to beatmatch.

CON – Practice Makes Perfect

I will be the first to tell you that becoming a great DJ is exhilarating but it isn’t always fun. In fact the early days of my DJ career very much reminded me of piano lessons as a kid: there was endless repetition until perfection was achieved. It was rote, it was boring and I hated it. But I do play a wicked piano so…you see where I’m going with this.

Beatmatching is a skill that improves with practice, which unfortunately means you will often be listening to a track long enough to get utterly and thoroughly sick of it. I recommend practicing on tracks you won’t play often or you’ll be looking at long miserable nights inside the DJ booth.

Beatmatching is an essential DJ skill and without it your skill set is incomplete. You might be able to get gigs and you might keep the crowd entertained for now. But beatmatching by ear means that you will also be prepared when disaster inevitably strikes.

I hope I helped you understand why beatmatching is an essential DJ skill. 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 disk jockey!

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