Your dream is to be a successful DJ. The competition is very high and the only way to achieve it is the hard work!
I would like to explore 5 habits productive and ambitious to help you starting your dj career. This is fast read and will help you to stand out from everyone else. It’s easy to proclaim yourself a DJ, but being a good one usually don’t come that easy.
1- Play, eat, sleep, repeat...
If you want to be good at something, the one invariable truth is that you need to practice often.
Nobody ever became world champion, in anything, without regular practice. Talent will take you a long way, but the road to failure is paved with talented individuals that thought practice was for the less talented ones.
The most simple trick I have found to make time is to plan ahead. Make a schedule in your week, even if it’s a short 2 sessions of 30 minutes, that you will spend exclusively at practicing your DJ skills. It’s very important not to decide on the fly when these moments will happen, but make up a plan and slot in those practicing moments in your agenda every week. For a few months ahead. If you do this electronically you will be able to set up reminders, and that will provide you some structure that most of us need to get things done.
Your DJ skills get easier everytime you train. It's all about the practicing habit, more you do more you get better and more you like. The first skill you need to master is to be good at mixing and blending. So make mixes, 30 minutes long, spend some time preparing the playlists and listening to your music.
Record your mixes and listen to them. Check out your improvement on transitions, EQing, sound levels and also what needs to get better. Share them with your friends & family and collect feedback, and then, improve!
2- Know Your Music
Most of DJs think that the best collection is the bigger one. Remember, quality is not measured by the size!
These days it’s very easy to instantly build a music collection of thousands of songs. You download all the hot tracks of the moment from the digital stores and voila, you have a huge collection that will please (almost) everyone.
This is not going to help you in anyway. If you don’t know your music, you will be totally lost when mixing, especially in front of an audience. Sure, the computer can take away many of the technical difficulties of mixing (sync button anyone?) but you still are responsible for the “secret sauce” of DJing: make the music flow in a way that it keeps the dance floor filled and your audience hooked.
The key is to buy music that you like and only field your playlist with the records that you will definitely play at your gigs. Listen to your tracks whenever you get a chance, prepare them for mixing (set beat grids, set music key, set cue points, hotcues..) and then learn how it “fits” your collection by mixing regularly (practicing) so you are able to tell a story through your mix.
In the end, good DJs are always music fanatics. You can learn the technique and the skills, then you are only ready at 50%! The rest, of hitting the top is all about the Music.
3- Manage Your Music Collection
So having a big collection is not a must. But wait, if you are a wedding DJ for example, you need to be able to cope with requests, right? Or even if you are not a wedding DJ, part of being a good DJ is to be able to take your audience into account and make sure that your music is catching them and keeping you connected to them.
Remember, you are an entertainer and you are not playing music for yourself!
This is where you need a smart system. It’s useless to try to sell you the “perfect” system because that doesn’t exist. But in order to keep a music collection manageable, there are many options with softwares such as Rekordbox or Engine.
For exemple, what you do? You rate all songs in your collection with stars. Five stars are your favorite songs, the ones that you know work in a DJ set and that you play regularly. The rest you can guess, with 1-star songs being the ones you absolutely hate, but still, serve some kind of purpose in a specific situation. You will be surprised!
Then, you make playlists. Permanent ones, but also specific ones for every single gig. For example, if you are playing to a very wide audience and you know that people will expect some “1-star songs” from your collection, you prepare a “crap” playlist with a selection that you can go through if needed.
Important point is that there are no songs in your collection you haven’t listened to, even if it was only once.
Your system is very simple and you should keep it like that for a reason. if you make it more complex and advanced you will give up on it sooner or later and it will make your collection unorganized. However, if you feel you can cope with the effort, DJ software these days offer many possibilities to rate & tag music, so use what is available and what feels necessary for your own style and needs!
4- First Gig & DJ Mixes
You will never know what DJing truly is until you have played your first dj set in front of an audience. So grab whatever chance you can to land that first gig, and build from there. This can be a house party, a party at work, or if you are lucky, a gig in a club or a bar.
But what if you cannot get gigs?
If you don’t manage to play in front of a live audience regularly, there is no excuse not to post mixes online. Sharing mixes is a great way to build up a following, get reactions to your music choice and mixing style, and show the world you know something about music & mixing!
Everybody knows Soundcloud, but these days it’s the last place you should try to upload DJ podcast. Try these free platforms: mixcloud.com, house-mixes.com, mixcrate.com.
The list goes on and on. Posting your mixes will expose you to feedback from listeners, and if your style catches on, you might even construct an online fan base. Which, in turn, could land you gigs if your online fan base converts into people who are eager to see you perform.
5- Share Your Music (Social Network)
The promotion key for DJs these days is the social media. If you haven’t done so, set up a Facebook, Instagram, Youtube pages and update them regularly with DJ mixes and videos showing your skills, pictures of your gear, reviews… If you can captivate an audience with your content, people will start to come back for more and before you know it, you have a following! Also a Twitter and an Google+ account looks professional and offers people more things they can connect to.
Good DJing habits is the key to becoming a good DJ. Expertise comes with regular practice, and even the super talented need to practice to improve and maintain their skills. I have been doing this for 25 years and still practicing every single week. Also, I have been sharing my experience during my dj classes, with my students, is even making it easier for me to practice. I give and I receive.
If you ask any veteran in the dj world, they will all tell you the same conclusion. Djing is all about passion!
If you are passionate about music and sharing your experience and talent with the world, then creating good habits and making enough time for it should come quite easily.
Where can I get more education on DJing?
The Skilz Master Program is the most complete and extensive collection of courses offered at the Skilz DJ Academy. From Initiation to the Advanced Level.
The Master Skilz DJ course features the very latest in world class DJ kit for you to get your hands on. Our students get the exclusive opportunity to perform at Future Stage Live on the Chewb TV/Radio on a regular basis. You'll experience a variety of set ups before playing out. Complete DJ guides you through essential DJ skills: beatmatching, CD and vinyl mixing to the high Level, intro to scratching and more. Classes are taught by professional DJs on the latest kit including CDJ2000 Nexus, old school vinyl Technics. Each student has their own set up in class, all styles are welcome and every student has access to the facilities seven days a week. By the end of the course you'll have the chance to play at a live venues (Bars, clubs and festivals) in Luxembourg.