What It Really Takes To Be A Good DJ
DJing is an underrated profession, but that doesn’t make it any less honorable.
Picture being responsible for tens and hundreds of people having a good time. It takes skill to take them up, bring them down, and keep them moving.
More importantly, it takes skill to get them to connect with you and each other through music. With an instrument, the job is relatively easier, but being a DJ, where do you begin learning how to do that? This article will tell you all what you need to know.
Know your Music
A good DJ knows their music selection. Not in terms of names, but in terms of moods, vibes, tempos, and mixability, if you may call it that. If you intend to take your audience on a journey with your music, you need to pick tracks that highlight the emotion you want them to feel. Do you want them calm? Excited? Feeling the chill summer vibes?
Knowing your music will help you create a well-constructed playlist that combines various musical styles. Not just that, but knowing the tempos of your songs will go a long way when it comes to improvising mixes on the spot. In addition, knowing which of your tracks mix well together won’t hurt you either.
Know your Audience
A good DJ knows their music, but a great DJ knows their audience, too. Any DJ worth their salt knows how to read a room and how to adapt based on the vibes they’re receiving. That’s how you truly give your audience what they want. There are several ways to do that. The first and most basic way is to use your skills of observation to understand the space your audience is in. The second way is by noting their reactions to your tracks. There is no shame in testing the waters, especially before you challenge the audience with a new track, a lesser-known track, or one of your personal mixes.
Get Good Gear
Gear doesn’t make the DJ, but it always helps to have a proper DJ controller. Why a controller and not decks and a mixer? Because a controller provides you all of that and it’s portable which means you can take your controller anywhere. That said, there is a lot that goes into choosing DJ controllers that will satisfy your needs, whether you’re a beginner, an amateur, or a veteran.
Assuming you’re a beginner, you’ve got to know the software that comes with the controller. You’re not expected to be proficient at it, but you need to figure out if you like it or not. Second, look for a controller with a simple enough layout, but with all the basic features, like faders, EQ, jog wheels, and a decent set of remix tools. This will give you the freedom to develop your skills and style.
Eyes on the Prize
The prize here is people’s enjoyment. Many up-and-coming DJs make the mistake of trying too hard to prove themselves. People feel when a DJ is flexing or forcing a moment which is always a turn-off. When you get up there on stage, especially if you’re opening for someone, respect your place. If you’re expected to warm up the crowd, do exactly that and do a great job at it. There will come a day when someone will open for you, but it won’t happen if promoters and other DJs feel like you’re always overeager to hog the spotlight. Think of a DJ line-up as a band where every DJ is an instrument that fulfills a certain purpose.
The most important tip, and there is no other way to say it, is to practice your fingers off. Practice makes perfect. The more you practice, the more you understand yourself, what you can do, what you can’t do, and what you want to do. How do you think one develops a style? They keep on practicing and experimenting until they arrive at something they like, and suddenly, it clicks in. That said, there will come days when you don’t feel like it, and that’s fine. It’s okay to have off days.
Art and creation should be flexible processes. What you don’t want is to neglect your practice sessions because of a fear of failure or because you’re not improving as fast as you want to be. When that happens, take some time off, encourage yourself the way you would encourage a friend, then get back on track. Remember, DJing is an act of passion. Fear extinguishes that passion and so does self-criticism, so be sure to keep it healthy and DJ with love.