How hard is DJ’ing? How long does it take to learn to DJ?

Photo by Obi Onyeador

Learning to be a DJ takes a lot of hard work, hustle, and a lot of time. The typical time it takes to learn how to DJ depends on how long you contribute to learning. To help you learn quicker, there are online courses available with lessons covering everything from equipment set up, basic techniques, music production, and more. 

Getting Started DJing – Set Up Your Brand

There are three main types of disc jockeys; Radio DJs, those who work for radio stations. Club DJ’s, those who work in clubs and concerts and Mobile DJ’s, those who go out on their own and become independent. Getting started as a DJ takes some hard work. 

If you want to be a successful DJ, you need to constantly work hard on getting noticed. Most DJ’s are energetic, have a deep love for music, and knows how to entertain a crowd. 

For beginners, you can improve your chances by learning basic skills and creating a music library. This will help you keep up with the current music trends. Always keep yourself updated on today’s top music and what is upcoming. 

Increase Your Presence as a DJ

You must build an online presence and market yourself as a brand. Promote yourself on social media by creating high quality, professional Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. You should also have a YouTube channel for your fans to find you. Keep your social media pages updated. 

When it comes to social media, it allows you to promote your work globally to a huge audience and creates many opportunities for people to engage with you. 

This is a great opportunity to help build your brand. Make time to connect with people personally by responding to their messages. People want to see that you’re a real person. If nobody knows who you are, you’re not going to get many gigs. The key to success on social media is building a community fan base. 

If you build a great online community, then it will be easier to market yourself. It’s equally important for you to follow other popular DJ’s social media pages to keep up to date with their latest news and to network with the artist and their fans. 

Promoting Yourself as a DJ

Another way to promote yourself is to make press kits, hand out business cards, and email the prime movers in the industry. Come up with a catchy brand name for yourself and create a logo. You can have these printed on promotional items such as music posters, t-shirts, and whatever else you like. You need to constantly work on creating a buzz around yourself and your skills. 

Stay focused, try not to get discouraged, keep improving and always be on the lookout for opportunities. Keep honing your craft until you’re confident you can do it live and then get out on the circuit and start playing as many gigs as possible. You may need to take whatever gigs you can in the beginning until you establish yourself.

Don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities. Gigs won’t just fall in your lap! You’ve gotta go after them. Become friends with the people who book clubs. Create and pass out demo CD’s of your work. Hit up some popular DJs in your area for advice on how they got started. If they are passionate about what they do, they’ll love to share some tips with you. 

The Different Types of DJs and their Tasks

Various tasks depending on if they are a club DJ, a mobile DJ or work for a radio station. A DJ who works in a radio station mainly plays musical selections from different genre playlists. They may also be required to read advertisements, weather forecasts and news stories. 

A club and mobile DJ plays music for parties, clubs, festivals and other events. They also take requests and work with customers on creating their personal playlists. They use portable equipment to play digital music or CDs, promote dancing and may host party games while keeping crowds engaged over long periods.

They may also use props, such as strobe lights and fog machines to enhance effects. Many DJ’s get their start by offering to play for free so that the bar/club has the opportunity to get to know them, their work ethic, and how they interact with the audience.

You can also learn how to produce your own music while being a DJ. As you begin creating your own tracks, you need to have a strong sense of how your music flows. Applying this to your music can give you an advantage if you are making club / dance music.

As you are learning to produce your own music, you may find that your DJ skills are improving as you gain a new understanding of how your music flows. Once you produce a few tracks and you learn the basic techniques of putting a track together, you will find it easier to create a more consistent workflow that works for you.

This will help you stand out in the crowd! You can produce your own music with the help of a publisher or you can publish your music yourself. The basic items needed for an independent DJ includes a laptop, a mixer, two turntables, a good sound system, headphones and the use of digital mixing software.

The salary ranges from $500-$1,000 per night

Formal Training for Disc Jockeys? 

Those wanting to become Disc Jockeys do not need to meet a specific set of academic qualifications. Jobs available in this area focus more on experience. Although DJ schools and classes do exist, there are no degree programs in DJing. A large portion of DJs are self-taught. 

There are online courses available where you can access a library of lessons covering everything from equipment setup, music production, and other basic DJ techniques. 

When learning how to become a DJ, there are several basic skills you will need to learn such as equalizing, phrasing, mixing, beatmatching, and prep. Some music mixing software may be hard to learn but you can find a lot of great tutorials online that will show you the ropes.

Many clubs have nights for booking beginner DJs. These normally aren’t paying gigs but they can be a great experience when you’re first starting out. 

Skills Required for DJs

Even though being a DJ doesn’t require you to have an extensive academic background in the industry, you will need to have (or learn) some necessary skills. Some are personal skills and some are directly related to the field of DJing. 

Personal Characteristics of DJs 

  • Interpersonal abilities 
  • Being creative 
  • Being self-motivated 
  • Being proactive 
  • Have great communication skills 
  • Have high attention to details 
  • Have a good sense of humor 
  • Have a deep love for music

Technical Skills Required

  • Being able to use soundboards and turntables 
  • Know the musical trends 
  • Be aware of current events 
  • Know how to predict and react to an audience 
  • Know how to transition between songs, matching beats, so that the beat remains consistent 

Income Streams of a DJ

As you make your way up on the circuit, more opportunities will present themselves. If you’re dedicating a lot of time on becoming a DJ and don’t have a full-time job, you probably need some extra cash. Creating successful income streams around your DJing is possible if you follow these steps. 

Consider setting up a Patreon page

A Patreon page is a subscription-based crowdfunding platform for content creators. The idea is to get fans to pay for your work. You will want to give them something they will be willing to pay for on a monthly basis, such as exclusive remixes of songs, your productions, who you are, etc. 

Receiving Online Tips/Donations as a DJ

You can set up an online ‘tip jar’ on your Facebook Page. This is where fans can donate cash via PayPal or Venmo to support you. There are also tip jar apps that you can add to your YouTube or Twitch Channels. 

Create a Personal DJ Website/Vlog

Creating a website and promoting your content on a vlog can be very rewarding. It gives your fans something to enjoy, plus you can monetize your vlog with affiliate links. For example, you can create an affiliate link to a piece of equipment you are using and If someone clicks on the link and buys the item, you earn a commission from the sale. 

You can create affiliate links for lots of things and you can post them anywhere you want on your vlog. If creating a website is foreign to you, you can always hire a freelancer to help you get it set up. You can often find freelancers who can do an outstanding job and charge very low fees. 

Having multiple micro income streams gives you the financial freedom to hone in on your art of DJing. 

“Let your heart beat for music. Don’t be a DJ for the wrong reasons, do it because you have a passion for it.”  

Jennifer Lee

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