On the dance floor, nobody holds court but the DJ. Song after song, beat after beat, only the best mixmasters can capture the minds and bodies of the people who have come to witness beat alchemy.
But what exactly does it take to become a DJ? Like any other musician, it will take time, patience, and the right tools for the job to become fluent in the language of beats.
If you are interested in becoming a mix master, here are a few things that you should know.
Choose which type of DJ you want to be
Modern DJing traces its roots to radio DJs. Today, there are other types of DJs that might appeal more to you.
Perhaps, the club DJ is the most familiar among all the different types of DJ. This mix master is primarily responsible for getting people into the groove inside a night club. Typically, he is responsible for choosing which songs to play. He also controls the overall energy of the club, knowing when exactly to ramp up things on the dancefloor and when to give guests time to mingle and go to the bar.
Unlike the club DJ who churns out song after song, the turntablist draws attention to the technical skills involved in the craft. These DJs have mastered tricks like scratching and cutting.
Mobile DJs are the ones you usually see performing in parties like weddings, birthdays, and corporate affairs.
Unlike resident DJs, mobile DJs are more flexible with their playlists. Apart from that, they are also primarily responsible for bringing in and setting up their DJ tools from Music Majlis.
Once you have chosen which type of DJ you want to be, the next thing that you will need to do is to set a goal for yourself. Do you want to get into the craft to earn money? Or are you into it more for the music? There are no right or wrong answers here.
Select a software
Once you have identified which type of DJ you want to be, the next thing that you need to do is to choose the right DJ software for you.
There are three leading software types to choose from: Rekordbox, Serato DJ Pro, and Traktor Pro. These are the most popular and widely used.
However, you might want to look into other options like Virtual DJ, Mixvibes CrossDJ, and Mixxx.
In the end, which software you use is a matter of preference. If you can, try different software before investing in one. Also, check out reviews from other DJs so you can decide better.
Learn and master the basic skills
Like any other musician, DJs need to learn and master a few essential skills before moving to advanced techniques. Lack of mastery of these basics cannot be masked even by quality studio equipment. What are these essential skills?
Ever heard a setlist where the songs seamlessly transitioned into one another? Credit that to the DJ’s beatmatching ability.
Essentially, beatmatching entails matching the next song’s tempo to the tempo of the song currently playing. This allows the people on the dance floor to maintain their vibe.
Beatmatching is not one of those skills that you can master for a specific set of time. Although it is possible to play in public with an elementary knowledge of this skill, the true masters do not stop learning and refining their beatmatching capabilities.
Phrasing is all about mixing two tracks at a point which is most logical, music-wise.
Most of the songs that you are likely to play have a 4/4 time signature. These include songs from genres like hip-hop and electronic dance music. Each measure or bar contains four beats. In turn, each quarter note contains a beat. And to a large degree, phrasing is about counting those beats.
Gain control pertains to adjusting the volume of your DJ rig. This includes modifying the volume of the channel, the main output, and the fade of each channel from each other.
Some DJ software types automate gain control, but it is still a good idea to know how to perform this task properly.
Apart from beatmatching, another trick that professional DJs use to ensure the seamless transition of one song to another is equalizing or EQing.
In equalizing, you either boost or cut the frequencies to blend the different tracks on your playlist. Many mix masters believe that proper equalization leads to a more polished sound.
Investing in a DJ setup
Over time, as you become a more proficient DJ, you may want to invest in more gear. However, the first thing that you should buy is a DJ setup. Here’s a brief overview of your available choices.
Compared to other options available, vinyl setups are more complicated and more expensive. But for some people, there’s an allure to playing with vinyl.
For one, many DJs look for the tactile feel that only vinyl records can provide. Second, many people consider vinyl records as part of the DJ culture and seek out DJs who still play with this type of setup. Finally, if you want to learn how to scratch, you will need this kind of setup.
A timecode setup offers DJs the best of both worlds: playing with a physical record along with the advantages of using a software.
The software allows DJs to manipulate the music using turntables while songs are played digitally. The turntables act as a physical interface providing a feel akin to a vinyl setup.
For most prospective DJs, an all-in-one controller is the perfect entry-level setup, allowing you to do almost everything you need to do to play a set.
This type of setup is available at different price points, so you are sure to find one that fits your needs and budget.
As you become more experienced and more familiar with different types of equipment, you may want to experiment with your rig and add to invest in modular controllers to fit your needs.
CDJs are considered as an industry standard, used in a diverse array of venues.
This type of setup was initially intended to play compact discs. Today, you can plug a USB to a CDJ, which also acts as the mixer.
In due time
Learning how to become a DJ may seem like a daunting prospect, considering the different things that you need to learn. But if you put in ample time and effort, you might just be the next DJ sensation. One thing to do is be sure and find some options to pass the time in between sets and gigs such as snabba casino or other great options.
Amrit Shivlani is the Founder and CEO at Music Majlis, a community-driven e-commerce platform that offers a wide variety of musical instruments and equipment for every musician and sound professional. The company’s goal is to make music-making, recording, producing and mixing accessible and available to everyone.