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Becoming a DJ isn’t an easy task and there are a lot of different skills that are required in order to start DJing, even casually.
DJs primarily mix music that already exists, changing it and adapting it, remixing it and curating playlists to create an amazing series of tracks that create an awesome atmosphere for a party or club.
While this may sound simple, and there are some people who underestimate the skill required to be a DJ, there are a lot of different elements that go into being a DJ, especially a successful DJ.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to be a DJ, you’ll need to understand what it takes.
In this guide we’re going to look at some of the core skills you need to be a DJ, as well as some other important factors, to help you learn what you need to kickstart your career.
We’ve also included some other key things to consider about DJing to ensure that you understand what you’re getting into, as well as other areas you could expand into if you’re interested in the doors that DJing can open up to you.
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people totally underestimate the importance of a deep musical background or understanding when it comes to DJing.
There’s a fair amount of room for you to explore in terms of what music you specialize in and what music you like to experiment with, and it’s completely possible for you to be DJing 80s hits at a wedding party one weekend, and hosting a trance night at a club the next!
This is the beauty of DJing, but also one of its great challenges.
To be able to maximize your opportunities and work well as a DJ you need to know music like it’s your job (because it is!) and also have a great ear for rhythm, beats, and other aspects of music which will allow you to mix with great timing and know what to line up next.
Interpersonal skills are another overlooked and important skill when it comes to DJing and there are several reasons for this.
First and foremost, DJing often involves facing a massive group of people as they dance and sing, and look to you to keep delivering a great atmosphere for them to enjoy.
DJing is as much reading the room and knowing how to control the ebb and flow of a crowd and the music as it is knowing music, and a DJ who can’t read the room with skill and attention won’t build a very dedicated following, or repeat bookings!
There are other aspects to this also, however.
DJs need to be able to make friends with the right people and promote themselves in order to be successful, and interpersonal skills are a big part of this.
Being able to butter up promoters and agents are all highly important skills that will get you more gigs than anything else except the actual quality of your DJing itself, so work on your charm and charisma as well as practice reading the room and watching how other DJs manage this.
Djing is a surprisingly physical job and depending on your style and the size of the event you may be standing up dancing and mixing for several hours in an incredibly hot and high-energy environment.
This can be absolutely draining, but keeping the energy high is crucial to good DJing, so good stamina is essential if you want to keep the energy of the party going.
While you don’t need to be a marathon fit, a certain level of physical fitness is required to take the strain of this demanding lifestyle.
Organizational skills are a key part of DJing, and they affect many different aspects of the DJ profession.
From managing your vinyl and organizing your equipment, to keeping track of bookings and events, DJs have to be organized in order to be professional and successful.
Disorganization often ruins events and causes DJs to embarrass themselves or deliver sub-par performances that can ruin your reputation.
Work on organizing your life and staying on top of all your engagements and appointments, show up on time, and keep your equipment organized and well maintained!
Despite what some people may think, DJing is immensely creative, and no DJ can be successful without at least some creative talent, as this is the secret sauce that makes a DJ stand out from the crowd.
Whether it’s working with more obscure equipment and material, or reimagining how to mix or remix a track, creative talent is key in terms of expressing yourself as a DJ and making an impression on a crowd.
Technical ability is really important for DJing as you need to be able to set up and use a lot of complex equipment which most people will find very difficult to work with.
While this can be learned, it takes a lot of practice and no small amount of experience to become proficient with the various tools DJs need to use as part of their performances.
What Else Do You Need?
Aside from these skills, there are a few other things essential to becoming a DJ;
- Equipment, such as turntables, controllers, microphones, and headphones!
- Vinyls, CDs, or a large catalog of music to work with
- Marketing Skills
- The ability to work unsociable (or sociable depending on your perspective) hours
Where Can DJing Lead?
DJing is a profession that can open a lot of doors and direct your career in all sorts of directions, from work as a promoter to a sound engineer or even a radio DJ.
The interpersonal skills and confidence that DJing builds also applies to various other professions from public speaking to performing arts and even people management, depending on your preferences.