Becoming a DJ sounds like a fast track to success. The DJ is now the modern equivalent to the rock stars of the ’60s, ‘70s, and ’80s, with all of the fast cars, beautiful people, and exotic locales. What many aspiring DJ’s fail to realize is how much work it takes to get there.
As with any musical career, success and talent do not happen overnight, the missing ingredient is always hard work, and there is no substitute for it. If you are a beginner looking to become a better DJ, then check out these simple steps.
Leave the Ego at the Door
First things first, check your ego before you start thinking about “making it big.” The biggest problem that many young musicians or DJs have is that they believe they are the next big thing before even playing their first real gig. Keep your expectations realistic, but still, allow yourself to dream big. Another thing to remember is that you do not need a stage persona or identity yet, you need to be focused on working on your craft and improving your skills before you start thinking about who you want to be on stage.
Improve Your Music Knowledge
Being a DJ is more than just knowing how to read a room, it is about having an extensive mental and physical catalog of music knowledge. Some of the best DJs in the world, past and present, have been huge fans of music as an entire creative spectrum. They collect hundreds of LPs and EPs to play and spin, they learn about artist’s backgrounds, what kind of influences they had and try to absorb as many genres to add to their ever-expanding knowledge base. You do not need a strong background in music education either, but learning music theory can help you diversify your skills a little more. Being a great DJ means being a student of music, so get out of your comfort zone and start listening to as much music as you can.
Network or Learn From Other DJs
Aside from the internet, the best resource for learning the ropes are other DJs. DJing is a pretty popular sector of live music performance, and if you click here, you can easily find some to help learn from. You can talk to them, get lessons from them, or just pop in and see one of their performances to take notes. While you do not need to be learning how to control a crowd just yet, it does not hurt to observe how these DJs manipulate the crowd with BPM, tonal changes, pushing and pulling, and other techniques that define this musical passion. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who wanted to be a professional athlete that did not watch games or matches, and the same applies to DJs so you need to get out there, see shows, and meet them, even if just local.
Focus On Practice, Not Expensive Equipment
You need to start practicing your techniques like BPM control, record spinning, level mixing, and standard procedures. You need to nail these fundamental parts of DJing before you start thinking about name dropping in your mixes as well, but most importantly, avoid splurging on the flashy decks and sound systems. DJing is not cheap, you might know this by now or you might not, but it is important to learn or remember this. Laptops, speakers, sound systems, records, decks, audio software, they all add up but as a beginner, you should be more worried about improving your skills, not your arsenal. Even then, many DJs have been able to get by on refurbished equipment or second-hand stuff because they are more focused on spending time learning, rather than spending money to impress.
Find Your Own Sound
Amid all your music knowledge and practicing, you might start to notice that you have a particular ear or flair for specific beats, tones, and mixing techniques. This is a good start in finding your own sound, which as a beginner, can be quite hard. Do not beat yourself up too much if it takes you a while, part of the process is learning over time. Try to find what sounds like you in the music you mix and understand why you like them, and you may be on your way to carving out your own little niche in due time.
Do not be fooled by people claiming that DJing is easy and that anyone can do it. Just like drums, guitar, or saxophone, DJing is a complex musical passion that takes years to get proficient at. With that said, using some of these simple steps can show you how to focus on the important parts of following your passion as a DJ.