Any DJ who has been on the scene for many years and no matter how good their sessions are today will not have been spared tons of mistakes along the way. It will have had difficulties, potholes. Little things that, if you haven’t been able to anticipate, may have meant you missed out on great opportunities.
In this article, I will tell you a series of DJ tips and tricks that I think will be of special help to all those who want to start in this world, at the same time that they can also be useful for all those DJs who have been working for a while.
You can practice at home as much as you like, but the game becomes completely different when a drink is spilled on your setup. A shitty promoter decides they didn’t make enough money to pay him. Or people in the public or organization make horrible requests.
Before continuing, we recommend that if you have come here interested in looking for information to learn to be a DJ, you go through our main guide with everything you need to know to be a DJ.
My first warning to anyone who wants to dedicate himself to DJing or making music full time as a way of life would be this: “It is tremendously difficult to achieve enough success to be able to dedicate yourself to being a DJ as a way of life. »There is a 99% probability that the attempt will fail.
The music industry is arguably the hardest sector to excel at, and now that music and hardware are within the reach of anyone who wants to give it a try, it has become much more difficult still.
Reaching a consistent booking level at a competitive and fair price can take years. If you are doing this as a hobby, perfect… You can stop reading here. We are talking about something else. But if you want to go in and bet heavily on music as a DJ. You are in the right place.
Here’s a quick guide to get started that will save you from making a lot of mistakes in the DJ world:
1. The only thing that really matters
Some DJ who has been DJing for years or from the old school will say that «you have to know how to DJ with vinyl, otherwise you will never be a DJ»… I am going to tell you the truth, and before anyone doubts what I say, I’ve been DJing for 14 years, I learned with vinyl and I have no problem playing 3 or even 4 turntables …
That statement is false. Today no one needs to know how to play vinyl to consider themselves a DJ.
Skrillex creates his session through Ableton Live and uses a controller to manipulate his music and sound effects. Zedd uses a Traktor S4 controller. David Guetta uses CDJs or even software like Serato. There are enthusiasts who are still using vinyl and driving Technics 1200s but use Traktor or Serato to load the songs, effects and so on.
You should use whatever setting makes you comfortable and be sure that the quality of the audio you are mixing is optimal. Although this includes any digital software such as Traktor or Serato, my suggestion is to also practice with CDJs, because if you only know how to DJ with software and your equipment fails for some reason you would have a problem if you do not know how to drive and have controlled the operation of standard hardware. in most clubs (which is nothing more than the Pioneer CDJ precisely).
2. Choose your style
There are DJs who go through a lot of styles. They start with hip-hop, move to drum n bass, house move to dubstep when the popularity of this style began to grow worldwide.
It is important to have knowledge of the different styles, to know how to handle them, but in my opinion, the producers and DJs that I have encountered along the way and who have achieved the most success have been to stand out in a specific style within a scene.
Being known within the scene is invaluable, and it takes years of work to get to that level.
3. Don’t let “the scene” absorb you
Music trends are constantly changing. If you don’t know how to jump from one genre to another, it will be short-lived being hired at popular parties.
If you have only music on your playlist that is popular in your scene, you are doomed as a DJ.
You never know how the public will react so it is very important to have control and know other styles. Maybe on some occasions, it will be useful to add some hip-hop to your session or to break your style by playing some trap, dubstep, house, etc …
4. Marketing is the key
Think about this. I have a website, a personal Facebook page, a Facebook fan page, Soundcloud, Twitter, two or three more social networks or new applications… and six email trays. You need a central website that links all of this material.
In addition to this, you will need a good press-kit in PDF format with all your recent work, with links, high-resolution photos that should also be available for download through their website.
Have your logo ready in high resolution, prepare a video presentation. You need all this material to be working professionally.
The most important thing is that people do not have to search too much to find you, to listen to you and to contact you.
Booking you has to be something really easy.
I am not going to fool you all this material costs money, but above all “dedication” and time. Keep your networks updated and constantly upload new material, new sessions, photos, videos, etc.
5. You’re not just a DJ
Apart from my work as a DJ, there are many other things that I do or that I have had to do throughout my career to start getting recognized. These are just some of them: I have made articles and tutorials, I have learned to make mashups and produce my own music, I have done several video interviews, I have done my own manager until I have been lucky enough to have professionals who They have seen business in me, I have worked in radio, I have prepared my web pages, social networks, I have uploaded sessions, I have attended and tried to respond to many messages from followers and fans … In short, DJing at parties is only a small part of the work of a DJ.
If you want to be a DJ, being good at mixing music isn’t enough. You’re going to have to be good at a lot of other things.
I respond to all my emails and I really care about keeping up with and following all the artists that are making music or things that I like.
Whether it’s artwork, mixing music, filmmaking, or promotion, you must have something more to offer, you always need to offer more than just the “basics” if you want to stand out in such complicated worlds.
You may also have noticed that most successful artists produce their own songs. This is not a coincidence. Recruitment, booking and marketing agencies will only take you seriously if you are able to offer this “something else”. If you’re not producing your own work, giving back to the community, or lacking consistency as a DJ, don’t be surprised when doors slam in your face.
6. Music education is important. Constantly listen to new themes, classics, different styles
I have a large collection of music that I have spent the last 10 years compiling. It’s organized into a couple of dozen folders, and I know exactly where everything is. I also monitor what producers and new artists are creating. I watch tutorials on YouTube from other DJs, production: Logic Pro, Ableton Live, I learn tricks from other DJs …
I ask other musicians and producers about the songs they really like, and in turn, share the ones I like with a small group of people.
I pay attention to the trends of social media, mobile applications. To hardware advancements. And the new software programs related to music.
Be critical of the information you receive, the truth is that most blogs do not know how to connect the dots properly and will only tell you about trendy songs, influential labels, parties and well-known artists, all talking about the same thing as robots. However, the information is out there, you just have to know how to search properly.
Know the history, and it’s present.
Always be aware of what is happening around you.
7. If you want to be taken seriously. Be serious!
Be a punctual person. Throughout.
Whether it’s when you’re having meetings, meeting other artists, performing in a room, writing a blog post, submitting an article, promoting a song that’s coming out at a certain time, or having a deadline to meet. be serious and punctual. Always. Without excuses
If you ask any of the artists, managers or promoters who have hired me or anyone who has seen me perform, they will always tell you that I am where I am supposed to be at all times. This is largely due to my team. My manager keeps me on point.
I can rely on other members of my team to reply to messages in a timely manner. My calendars remind me where I am supposed to be at all times and in a planned way. If you are not organized, punctual and reliable, it will be difficult for you to get recommendations and gain the trust of the industry.
We certainly live in a small world … you never know when your reputation will come back to help you (or take you down).
8. Prepare to work hard
I receive probably more than 100 relevant messages and emails a day. I browse through another 100 to see if there is something relevant to answer. I scroll through my news feed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and other social networks.
I write articles on my personal blog (many times not related to my work), and for specialized media like this one. I take more travel than any normal person.
I upload music to various networks (Soundcloud, Mixcloud, etc …). I search for and download music every day. I prepare sessions and my radio program.
Every day I also spend several hours in the studio, rehearsing, preparing my session, producing new songs or learning new techniques. All my music is in order … Besides all this, I also work as a DJ and DJ at parties!
I don’t watch TV. It is almost impossible to maintain a relationship with my rhythm of life. I have no hobbies. I sleep between 4 am and 10 am most days.
You need to be prepared to maintain this rate for years. If you are unwilling to put yourself at this level of work, you are unprepared for success in this industry.
9. Be nice, always!
If you send me a song, I might say something like “It’s not my style right now, but please don’t stop sending me your future songs.” On the other hand, other people will never respond or will do so with things like “I’m not interested, you wouldn’t recognize a good song even if Freddy Mercury wrote it for you”
People who are kind, respectful, humble, and positive will get 100% of my attention 100% of the time.
There are more idiots in this industry than one can imagine in any other profession, so it is also important to know how to recognize and appreciate positive people or those who transmit good energy. If someone takes the time to write on their blog or any other medium about your music, share, listen, or support your work in any way… we thank them for that.
I don’t need a pat on the back, but I can’t lie and say it doesn’t feel right when you get an upbeat personal email every now and then.
10. Be realistic
I have seen thousands of great DJs and producers disappear as easily and quickly as they appeared.
The chances that you will be able to make a career in this entertainment industry are slim. If you are talented, you learn the rules of hard work, you have the ability to learn quickly, you know how to please people without being a ball, you understand the basic principles of “business”, you have something to offer that others do not have, you have a concept Realistic what it means to be truly persistent, and realizing that you need hard work alongside lots of other people, you still have a very good chance of not getting it.