How To Be A DJ

Written by: Zach Wright

With the rise of DJ software, becoming a DJ is now more accessible – and affordable – than ever. But, on the other hand, with more people able to join in this niche, there’s tougher competition to get the gigs you want. 

If you’ve always loved music, you might be wondering how you can put this passion into your work. In this article, we’re going to take a look at how to be a DJ. We’ll talk about the equipment and the steps you need to get started. So let’s take a look! 

What Equipment Do You Need to Be a DJ 

A full rack of DJ equipment is expensive and might be an overwhelming task for beginner DJs. But if you’re just getting started, you don’t need to invest thousands and thousands of dollars. Instead, you can be a DJ with just a few critical pieces of equipment, a laptop, and some DJ software. 

What you need: 

  • DJ Software such as Traktor Pro, Mixx, or Virtual DJ
  • A laptop capable of running the software you want to use 
  • A digital music library 
  • An adaptor to run from your laptop to your sound system 
  • Mixer
  • Speakers and amplifier, if needed 

This is a pretty short list of basics to get you started. If you’re lucky, the venues you are DJing for will already have their own sound systems, so that you won’t need one. However, if you can afford a DJ controller, that would be a great investment as well because it’s easier to use a physical controller with knobs and faders than it is to use the virtual equivalents on the software. Again, however, it’s up to you what you prefer and can afford. 

How to Get Started as a DJ 

Consider your goals. 

If you want to be a DJ, you need to consider what you want your DJ career to look like. Do you love playing weddings? Or would you prefer clubs? Are you happy Djing school dances as a volunteer, or do you want to make a full-time career out of your abilities? You need to consider what direction you want to go. 

You may need to take a variety of gigs when you are just getting started, but you’ll probably want to have a niche that you are always working towards. 

Put together your DJ system and equipment. 

First, you’ll need to decide what software program you like best, what essential gear you’ll need, and how everything connects. Of course, to just get started practicing, you can always connect your laptop to a pair of headphones. But for actual gigs, you’ll need a complete system.

Gather up your music library. 

You’re going to need a digital library to use the DJ software. Some software programs will work with your favorite music streaming services, but some services, such as Spotify, can’t participate. If you have music on CDs, you may want to consider transferring them to your laptop. 

Practice and learn. 

You need to have skills to be a DJ, and the best way to do that is to listen to other DJs and practice a lot. There are classes online, like this, that help you learn to crossfade, understand EQ, and match beats along with other aspects of the business. But nothing works better than putting in the time to practice and master your skills. 

Develop your own style. 

You aren’t going to have an awesome career if you just copy everyone else. Instead, you need to develop your own DJ style and personality. The more you work at it, the more your own style will develop.

Get yourself out there. 

You can’t get gigs by DJing in your bedroom all day long – you need to get yourself out there. Attend events and introduce yourself to the DJ. Get to know producers and venues and help out when you can. Maybe you can volunteer or even get hired to be a DJ assistant. It will help you learn your craft and make connections. Also, be available to fill in at the last minute if someone gets sick. 

You may want to create a website and business cards to hand to people so you can let them know you’re available to Dj for them. In addition, your website should have links to mixes on MixCloud that you have created, so people know your skills and style. 

Set your rates. 

One of the hardest parts of being a new DJ is setting your rates. As a beginner, you might need to set your rates low or even volunteer a little bit. But it helps to know how much DJs usually make so you can make an informed decision. 

Ask for gigs

You need to start asking for gigs. Offer to play for friends and family, school, and ask what it takes to DJ at your favorite clubs. Tell everyone you know that you’re looking to get out there and DJ. You need to hustle as a new DJ – the gigs won’t just magically appear, but there are gigs available if you work for them. 

Be professional. 

No matter what, always look and act like a professional. Even if you’re a beginner, you need to act the part. Always be prepared, on time, and be polite even if you are nervous. 

Final Thoughts on How to Be a DJ

To be honest, if you want to be a DJ, you just need to get out there and do it. And just like that, you’re a DJ! You don’t need to attend a particular school, know celebrities, or spend tons of money. You just need a few pieces of equipment and some determination. 

That being said, you do need to get organized and practice so that you are good at your craft and professional.

Remember, you need to: 

  • Get your software, equipment, and music library ready. 
  • Practice and learn. 
  • Get out there and network.
  • Set your rates and ask for gigs. 
  • Keep hustling and always be professional. 

Master these basics so you can get started in a career that you love. 

Written By:
Zach has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Being a studio owner for 13 years, he actively helps musicians and producers with technical issues around musical instruments and studio and audio equipment.

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