Becoming a DJ: The Step-by-Step Guide to Breaking Into the Business


It can be daunting for those who have decided they want to become a DJ to know where to start and how to become a success. Many people are unsure of where to start or even what they need when they decide to walk the path of becoming a DJ. If you want to be at the center of the stage with all eyes on you, making the crowd sway to your every whim, but you don’t know how to begin, our guide can help. Being an artist is a personal journey, but we can assist you in understanding where your need to start, what terms you should know, and which skills are essential if you’re interested in how to become a DJ.

Becoming a DJ is a lifestyle change and is not for the faint of heart or introverted. It requires putting your heart and soul out into the world and navigating the praise and hate that every artist deals with in their work. Taking this on can be draining for many people, but if you can handle the hardest parts of being an artist and still be true to yourself as well as your music, you will find a career that is exciting, gratifying, challenging, and fun.

Getting Started

There is more to DJing than simply providing the music at a venue; turntable master, club DJ, radio DJ, and mobile DJ are four disciplines that a good DJ must be aware of. You can choose to specialize in one, but for your career as a whole, it is vital that you are able to work more than one if and when you may need to. Mixing different types of music with style changes on the fly will open up as many opportunities as possible while you work on breaking into your preferred discipline. For more information, check out PIRATE.COM and their excellent guide on learning to become a DJ.

The most challenging part of getting started is becoming proficient with mixing and production software; learning what tools are available in each software and how they work will allow you to become accustomed to breaking down the music. Obviously, if you choose to use the ‘old school’ method of DJing, known as scratching, you won’t need any software. Scratching is a highly respected form of DJing, but it is extremely difficult to master. Becoming a pure scratch DJ takes time, talent, and a lot of skill; this style is also expensive and will take up an extensive amount of time as you will need to source the appropriate vinyl records, which are less popular and harder to find in today’s digital world. Many DJs feel they lose the cool factor when they choose to become a digital artist instead of using scratching, but the cost benefits and the speed of workflow far outweigh the downside to digital artistry.

DJ Software

When you’re looking at software for becoming a DJ, it’s crucial that you have the right setup for whether you’re at home or need to go mobile. A good desktop will give you what you need at home, but having the right laptop that is capable of running DJ software for when you need to head out to venues is vital. Mixing software is an essential tool for digital DJing; it will provide you with a visual presentation of the songs and allow you to break down the music you want to splice together. You can seamlessly match beats, EQ, and control the phase and gain if you import a library or playlist you have stored on your computer into the mixing software.

When people get any tool or new software, they often attempt to learn it through use without reading the manual; with mixing software, it is essential that you understand the controls before you begin as the manual may hold information for how to use the software that could improve your style. When choosing the right software for you, start with feel trials of the software available on the market; this will provide you with an excellent platform for which software suits your personal style more before you buy. It will take time to learn and develop the skills you need to become a successful DJ, but patience and practice are worth it in order to grow into a master DJ.

DJ Equipment

When it comes to the equipment, it’s important to remember not to go overboard when you first start out. When you start the journey, your style and preferred discipline will dictate the kit you need to purchase. To begin, all you really need is software, speakers, headphones, two turntables, and a two-channel mixer. DJing is an expensive career to break into, and you’ll want to start off being as frugal as possible when you get your first equipment; this way, you can hone your skills and develop your personal style without having to break the bank.

Your turntables should be bought new as broken needles and mixer knobs are a constant, and you don’t want to have to replace any or part of the turntables as the needles can be expensive. If you choose to go analog and take up scratching, records will become a top piece of your equipment, and finding a stockist where you can purchase vinyl for less is crucial to avoid the costs piling up. When you go digital, you will still require a turntable and a mixer, but you will also need a computer and the software to go with it. The turntables can be used with both vinyl or CDs, but if you are learning how to become a digital DJ, consider using a fully digital setup as it will be much easier to create the sounds you’re after.

Speakers are an excellent place to be frugal when you’re just starting out, but once you have begun to hone your skills, it is vital that you upgrade your speakers as they are how people will hear your art. Over-ear style headphones are a must when working as a DJ; the crowd, music, and people attempting to speak to you in the middle of the set will all be distractions over-ear headphones can help you combat in the middle of a gig.

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