So you’re trying to figure out what do you need to be a DJ. This is not an easy question to answer. There are so many aspects of what you need to become a DJ and you probably feel like you don’t know where to start.
To make matters worse there are a lot of half-assed “how to become a DJ” guides online that leave out key pieces of info for your DJing. These pieces of info are key steps in becoming a DJ and help determine your ultimate success as a disk jockey. With this in mind I decided to compose a complete list to help you answer the question “what do you need to be a DJ?”.
What Do You Need To Be A DJ? – Step #1
The first thing you need to do as a new DJ is decide the genre of music you want to play. You don’t have to be super picky about the sub genre. Do you want to DJ electronic music? Pop music? Rock music? Hip hop music? A mix of all of them (top 40 music)?
Choosing your music style is probably the easiest step in the “what do you need to be a DJ?” answer because most people already have a favorite genre of music. Yet it is SUPER important to define at the beginning because what you need to be a DJ will depend a lot on the music style you play.
What Equipment Do You Need To Be A DJ – Step #2
Once you’ve selected a style of music for your DJing its not time to choose your DJ gear. If you’re planning on DJing hip hope and doing a lot of scratching, you’ll probably want to look at Serato Scratch using the real Technics turntables and the special vinyl that syncs up to your laptop. This way you can scratch like a pro but you can use the tunes on your laptop (no lugging around vinyl… yay!).
If you’re DJing any other kind of genre I recommend looking at an all-in-one DJ Controller & software setup. Something like the Numark Mixtrack. They’re priced very well and they allow you to have the physical feel of a traditional setup while using the tunes on your laptop. Win win.
Aside from that you’ll need speakers (also known as DJ monitors), DJ headphones, a DJ laptop if you go digital (highly recommended), a power plug to plug in all of your DJ gear to the electricity and some pairs of earplugs for your parents or roomates.
What You Need To Be A DJ – Step #3
For those rookie DJs that want to know what you need to be a DJ, beatmatching is it. Its how DJs actually mix songs. The process of beatmatching involves matching the speed of two songs – one playing out loud on your speakers and the other in your headphones.
Once two songs are beatmatched they can play together as long as their harmonies or melodies don’t clash. If you mix two songs without beatmatching it will sound like you have 3 shoes in the dryer (test it to find out what this sounds like. Tons of fun!).
The truth about beatmatching is that it can take a long time to learn if you try to teach yourself. It took me over a year to get and I’ve seen a lot of other DJs take longer.
This is the most important piece of advice in this post: If you want to learn how to DJ & beatmatching quickly, invest in DJ training. Don’t waste time teaching yourself. Investing the $100 or $200 into some DJ lessons, or even better some online DJ training will save you MONTHS of struggling to learn how to beatmatch.
I’ve seen DJs learn to beatmatch and mix within as little as 2 weeks using my Pro DJ Mixing dj training videos. Thats a lot better than 2 years!
What You Need To DJ – Step #4
Once you know how to beatmatch you are now a DJ! Congrats! But the practicing isn’t over yet. DJs also need to be able to mix the two songs together in a smooth and harmonious was that keeps the energy in the music.
Being a good mixer includes know how to do cuts, drops, blends, spin outs, EQ properly, gaun control, scratches and all sorts of other DJ mixing tricks!
Again, to learn this stuff you’ll have a lot more fun if you invest in some online DJ training first. You’ll learn it quickly and it will feel easy. A lot better than slogging it out yourself!
What Do I Need To Be A DJ? – Step #5
Now that you can mix like a pro its time to prove it. You now need to record your DJ demo mix. This demo mix will be about an hour and you’ll use it to give out to people to show that you’re a DJ.
Here’s a key tip – taken from my Free video DJ lessons newsletter – on DJ Demo CDs. Make the CD for a specific venue. If there is one top club or rave you want to play chances are they’ll be playing one specific type of music. So you should go an hang out there to get a feel for what they play. Then go home and record a demo CD that caters to that night or venue.
I see so many DJs making mixes that don’t fit in with what the nighclubs and raves are playing around town. The result a two-fold negative because:
- Promoters and venue manager won’t ask you to play their venue because your sound doesn’t fit there show and
- it will be tougher to build a dedicated following because the crowds at these parties are all into another style of music.
This isn’t to say that you should just make a bland run-of-the-mill mix that copies every other DJ in town. Put all of your creativity into your mix. Put your own touch and style on your mix. But you want to create a demo CD that will appeal to the shows in town and the crowds that attend them.
What You Need To Be A DJ – Step #6
Once you have a demo CD its time to hit the pavement and start giving your mix out to everyone you can. The bigger the following you have, the more valuable you’ll be to promoters & venue managers.
Remember that the nightlife industry is a business and if the party promoter has to choose between 2 DJs to play before DJ Tiesto (or any other cool show you’d want to play) where one DJ has a following of 1000 people and the other has none, he’ll choose the DJ with the following any day because it will sell more tickets.
The easiest way I’ve found to build a following and respect in the industry is to setup a cool DJ website for myself. The website has 1 purpose and 1 purpose only: to get the email addresses of my fans. So every CD I handed out said “get more on my website” and then the website says “I’ll email you my latest mix (bribe them with something cool in exchange for the email), enter your email here and press submit”.
Now you have tons of people singing up for your email list and you can go to promoters and say “I have 1000 fans here in the city that I can email and get out to your party. Want me to DJ?” The promoter would be NUTS to say no. That is how you get the HUGE gigs opening for big name superstar DJs.
I hope this post answers your question “what do you need to be a DJ?”. If you haven’t yet already, enter your email in the box below to get access to Free video DJ lessons. These DJ training videos will show you everything you need to know on how to be a DJ.
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