The Disk Jockey or DJ is probably the first person that most young people admire once they start enjoying music and attending parties. A DJ is the center of of attraction at every dance party and sets the heart racing and feet stomping with his or her cleverly mixed and matched music. Many youngsters desire to become a DJ at one tie or the other. A few of them make it a passion and extend it into a profession. But what does it take to become a DJ and how do you become one? We show you how in 10 essential steps.
1. Basic set-up
The simplest DJ setup consists of a pair of turntables or two CD players, a 2- or multi-channel mixer, and head phones. Numark Mixtrac Pro II, one of the best midi controller available, is cheap and has many useful features. You can expand your equipment later on with speakers, audio interface, midi controllers and plug-ins.
Unless you want to play only vinyl records, you can use some great mixing software like Serato Scratch, Atomix Virtual DJ, Mixxx, Numark Cue, Deckadance,… there plenty of them on the net. Experiment with them and get the feel. You can also find plenty of tutorials on the net.
You need great and in vogue music to start off. Start off with what is freely available on the net.
2. Interface software with your equipment
You can store much more on a hard drive than what will be available on your vinyl or CD. You can access your MP3s (or any other format) by using suitable software.
The versatile software are great for looping, scratching, reverberation, and video and karaoke controls in real time. You can try Ableton for starters to get the experience.
3. Set up a home studio
This is where you practice, experiment and feel. This is where your create your work. A Home Studio will be very helpful to you when you go into production later on as a professional. Set up a studio to simulate your club requirements to help you practice and prepare for your gig at the club. A scratch/battle mixer will give you the feel of a competition environment.
4. See what you need
Most clubs have their own DJing equipment – you may only need to bring in your laptop (or external drive) with your music and mixing software. You will have to take your own equipment if it is a private venue.
Check out the arrangements and get your equipment accordingly.
5. Mix the beat and scratch
Mixing beats involves switching over music keeping a constant beat so that there is no break in dancing. This is done live or can be pre-recorded at home.
You can start off with songs and music with similar beats, later on mastering the mix with songs of slightly different beat. It is important to The techniques could be complex and will evolve to your unique style with time.
The Beats Per Minute or BPM of the song is very important in mixing. It is easier to mix songs with same or nearly same BPMs.
Another way is to seamlessly mix the start of a song (intro) into the end of a song (outro). A good DJ knows when an intro and outro begins to do live mixing.
You will have to practice hard to slow down the pitch and use the crossfader to mix songs. It will become a natural ability with time.
Scratching is another technique unique to Deejaying. It also requires practice and ability like all other techniques.
6. Explore genres
It is not enough to restrict yourself to a few songs from a few genres. Explore every genre and become an expert. This will make you very versatile in your field and help you towards mastery. Some genres of interest are
- Dark Alternative
- Drum and Bass
7. Crowd pleaser or specialist
The crowd pleaser plays to the crowd, the specialist plays his stuff and the crowd likes it. If you decide to be a crowd pleaser, you will have to be updated on the latest hits and popular tunes. This generally appeals to the younger crowd like college goers. If you become a specialist, you have your own music selection. You also can specialist in one or more genres. Your specialization becomes your USP and your unique style draws the crowds. Decide what you want to become.
8. Learn from the experts
Find a successful DJ who you admire. Study his style and technique. Meet up with him ask for tips.
Get inspired from professionals like Avicii, Knife Party, Sebastian Ingrosso, Skrillex and Headhunterz.
You can also consider learning from experts at a DJ School instead of going it alone.
9. Market yourself
Like all other professionals you will require to market your abilities. Read up on using the different methods of marketing. Hire a professional. Use the Internet and social media. Become known locally. Advertise in local magazines and newspapers. Visit clubs. Start your own website.
10. Start working
You may have to start off small initially. Take up small gigs at your local community center or college do. Do it for free if required.
Look for work as a regular in clubs on, maybe, a fixed salary.
Its a tough world out there but eventually you will make it. Be persistent and persevere. Once you become a name to reckon, over time, you can even produce your own music!