People enjoy music as a hobby, as a form of stress relief, and as a way to improve sleep, to name a few. While some individuals may look into music through these lenses, some individuals consider music their passion, like disc jockeys or DJs. Without DJs, people at bars, concerts, nightclubs, and music festivals won’t enjoy music as much as they do.
Disc jockeys, or DJs, possess compelling knowledge and skills in mixing music of different genres to keep their crowd on the dance floor. Some DJs even work on the production side of music and release music under their names.
If you’re interested in becoming a DJ, here’s a quick guide to help you get started:
- Explore DJing software. The DJing industry agrees upon the best tools and software for music mixing, such as Rekordbox, Serato, Traktor, Virtual DJ, etc.
- Learn the basic skills. Being a great DJ is beyond having vast knowledge in music as you should also learn and master the basic skills—beatmatching, gaining control, phrasing, and equalizing.
- Get into recording. With the help of your recording equipment, which will be discussed later, you can apply your DJing skills by recording your mix, then analyzing how it sounds afterward. On your first recording—think that you’re in front of a huge crowd who wants to have fun!
- Look for your first DJ gig. Now that you have practiced your skills alone or with a group of friends, it’s time to put yourself in front of an actual crowd! It’s best to start searching for bar gigs in your locality, such as Blues Bars Manchester or other nearby nightclubs.
DJing is definitely fun, but not necessarily easy, as it takes time to master the skills of mixing, as well as reading the crowd. You also need some decent equipment if you want to perform properly, so let’s start there. Below is a detailed list of the essential gear to have if you want to become a DJ.
The most essential part of a DJ’s setup is the mixer as it controls where each track is coming from as well as when you trigger it. In fact, we spoke to the experts over at findadj.co.nz, who told us, “without a mixer, a DJ is just a person pressing play on a standard playlist. The mixer elevates the DJ above this, giving them the freedom to perform in a variety of ways.” Frankly, they couldn’t be more right. Not only does a mixer help you blend one track into another or speed up and slow down songs, but it will also be jam-packed full of effects. Without all these tools, you will arguably not truly be DJing, but instead just playing one song after another.
Decks or Turntables
If you are keeping it old school and DJing with vinyl, you will need a set of turntables to play your tracks. Most DJs use two turntables, one each side of the mixer for ease of access. By doing this, you can have one track playing and another track lined up ready to go. Then, using your mixer and headphones, blend the two tracks into one another, creating seamless performances. With DJ decks, you can also shuffle, skip, and remix songs on the fly, giving you ultimate DJ status. Learning to use a turntable properly should be number one on your list when thinking about becoming a DJ.
DJ Digital Controller
If you are slightly less ‘old school’ and decide to mix CD or MP3 instead of vinyl, then the digital controller is better for you. These controllers mimic both a turntable and mixer but in digital form – though it is still a piece of hardware. The difference is you do not have to physically load a selection of vinyl onto decks but instead pull from an array of digital or CD-based tunes. While they then work in much the same way as traditional gear, they are much smaller and lighter, so favoured by many modern DJs.
While most clubs you play at will have speakers, it’s always good to have some handy for smaller events. This way, you can rock up to any gig at short notice and be ready to play in fifteen minutes. Make sure you’ve purchased all the correct power and cabling to go with your speakers and test them plenty before your show. Another benefit of speakers is rehearsing. Though your neighbours may hate it, practice makes perfect for any performer or artist, DJs being no different. Spend plenty of time practicing your mixes and tracklists to make sure you are on top form by the time you go out and perform.
Headphones are an absolutely essential part of any DJ’s arsenal. Though they are good for practicing as well, we recommend practicing through live speakers. Aside from rehearsing, headphones are also important in a live setting. Headphones allow you to briefly disconnect from the noise of the party to listen very closely to your mix. This way, you can blend tracks seamlessly and adjust tempo or effects without any mistakes.
With headphones, you will also be able to listen to upcoming track parts and blends without the crowd hearing any of this work secretly happening in front of their eyes. Without headphones, you will struggle to mix every track in sync without some obvious blips.
Finally, there are a few other tools and accessories which will make your life as a DJ much better. Cases for any CD or vinyl are essential, as is a case for your mixer and turntables. DJs travel a huge amount, so making sure your gear is protected is a priority. You may also like to carry with you a stand to place all your gear on, meaning your setup is exactly the same every time you use it. Top tip – use Velcro strips to hold your gear onto your stand or table, this way, if you ever catch a cable or someone knocks past your table, your equipment isn’t going to end up on the floor.
With all the above equipment, you can begin your DJ journey. Make sure to put some rehearsal hours in and really get to grips with mixing tracks, then get yourself out there and get playing. Most of all – enjoy the party!