5 Things I Wish I Knew When I First Started DJing

5 Things I Wish I Knew When I First Started DJing

Why college is the best time to learn and start DJing.

When I was 17 I went to my first ever music festival, and I absolutely fell in love. I had never seen anything quite like it, I had never met so many amazing people in my life as I have at those music festivals. When I looked up at the DJ's I knew from that moment, I wanted to trade places with them. I knew that for the rest of my life I wanted to be a part of that scene, and I wanted to be big. Enter college, I kept going and bought my own gear, and I learned with the help of my best friend how to DJ. A lot goes into it. It really doesn't become so much like being an interactive playlist- but it should be smooth. Your ultimate goal is to make your entire set like one long track. Each song should more or less seamlessly blended. I have DJ'd weddings, quinceneras, night clubs, house parties, raves, warehouses, and even school dances. So I've written this article to teach all the things I wish I knew when I first started. Here's 5 things that go into being a DJ, and why college is the best time to start. (these are pretty generalized, but I will have more in depth guides coming later on.)

5. It isn't always "fun"

Some people think that being a DJ means that you just party all the time. For some bigger DJ's who make millions per set list, that might be the case, but there is no shortcut to fame and fortune with the music industry. Every single time you are ready to go play you need to conisder, where are you playing? (venue) Who are you playing for? (audience) who are you playing with? (headliners, openers, etc.) It becomes tedious to plan but it's a rewarding experience, if you aren't up to this challenge, perhaps DJing isn't for you. You should listen to your track list from beginning to finish. You should know the tempo/s of each track before you are putting up on your sets. You should memorize the order before your set. All of this work will make your set go more smoothly. Always have your set done the night before, always add back up tracks into your set as just in case tracks. When you get to your venue (or before preferrably) coordinate with the other DJ's so there is minimal overlap in tracks. Every good DJ has a taste that is uniquely theirs. Adding in this is what will seperate you from other DJ's. Next you must learn the technicalities. If you have a gig, I assume you already know how to DJ. Now, when you love music you'll find that even the tedious parts can become fun. I love hand picking tracks to go into my set. I love the process because I get to discover all these new tracks.

4. DJing is more than just pressing play:

Commonly there is the notion that DJing is as easy as pressing play. It isn't. You aren't spotify, yet people will treat you as such. You should decide early on if you are a DJ that takes request. You'll find that as your reach legitmacy as a DJ you will be more and more in control of your sets. If you have started to look into it, you must practice. Practice your sets, record your mixes, learn how to blend and mix tracks. Your set list should flow like an ocean wave, smooth, cresting in the middle, and towards the end- and closing tracks should be a little softer so the crowd can jam out what you're putting down. Learning how to beatmatch is NON-NEGOTIABLE. No matter how expensive your software is nothing beats out a good ear, and good rhythym. I can tell you that this is important. As I said earlier, you gotta know your audience, venue, genre, and your own skills and talents. Learning how to read a crowd is also important.

3. You will make mistakes.

As you start DJing, no one is perfect. You will make mistakes. You gotta be able to fix them on the fly, and learn from them. You will have gigs where you humiliate yourself. Luckily you have my guide to minimize the gravity of what happens. You could have a 1.2 second issue, fix it and then pick up where you should have been and it will be all good. The thing is if you don't pratice frequently, it will show. You can practice tricky BPM mismatches.

2. Different strokes for different folks

Everyone has a taste in music. I have never met someone who doesn't like music. Generally speaking if you're going to DJ, Electronic Dance Music is a natural segway into it. Most people start DJing with EDM. It is in my opinion the easiest to blend, and the most readily accessable. Not everyone likes EDM. This being said, your best friend in the DJ world is networking. You should keep in mind that when you meet people that they are also networking. Once you are a DJ you become a product and learning how to sell yourself is really going to be your gateway to advance. Your audience and headliners/openers will vary from gig to gig, but don't go seeking gigs at a hip hop club (know your venue know your audience) and spin EDM! It seems logical but more often than not your first steps will be odd job gigs until you find your first residency. Here are some first steps to get you advanced, 1) get gear, and learn it well. 2) record your mixes, and publish them regularly- send to your friends. 3) network, seek out gigs, market yourself. 4) practice, practice, practice. 5) always seek out new music. Do this for the right reasons. Do it for the music.

1. Sit down, be humble.

As Kendrick Lamar said, "Sit down, be humble." Don't be afraid to start simple. Don't invest in a extremely expensive gear to get the best and newest. Chances are, you won't get a return on your gear. You will take a loss. Being a DJ more often than not will not pay off for most people who start. I have been in the scene a long time, and I have to say: people are always washing out and giving up the dream. This might happen to you for various reason, maybe you can't pursue it due to life constraints, monetary constraints, or your priorities change, and so in that college is a great time to discover if it's something you want continue pursuing. I sold my gear once I got into college. I bought intermediate gear. I loved my gear, it was the best rig I ever owned, and I really miss it. Now I'm in a better place in my life and so I've decided to come back to it. There is a lot of learning involved, and all these tips I'm giving you are things I wish I knew I started. College is the best place to figure out whether or not you want to be a DJ. Before you go out and buy some gear, I strongly recommend you start with Virtual DJ. Familiarize yourself with it- and you can learn beatmatching, tempo comparison in the application. Eventually, you can get a controller to interface with the software and you just need a plug in and you're ready to start DJing (once you get the basics down.) Virtual DJ is an acceptbale way to learn the ropes, just don't use the automation as a crutch- because it's not always perfect and I promise you if you don't take the time to learn, you'll trainwreck during your sets even if VDJ beatmatches for you. As I've siad before, even the most intricate software can't replace a good ear and rhythym.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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To the guy that shot my brother...


To the guy that shot my brother,

On January 9, 2019 my families entire life changed with one phone call. The phone call that my little brother had been shot in the face, no other details. We didn't need any other details. The woman on the phone who called us in full panic told us where he was so we went, as soon as possible. I don't think it helped that not even 10 min prior I talked to Zach on the phone.. kind of irritated with him, and the ONE TIME I didn't say 'I love you' as we hung up. Could've been the last time we ever spoke.. I remember pulling up to the hospital thinking 'this can't be real' 'it's not our Zach' 'this is just a dream Sarah, WAKE UP' I'd close my eyes really tight just to open them, I was still in the hospital emergency parking lot. I could still hear the ambulance sirens coming. It was all real.

The day our life's changed was definitely a test of faith. A test of how strong we were, as a family. I sat in that waiting room ready to see the damage that has been done to my sweet baby brother. Because at that point we had no idea how lucky he got. That glimpse of seeing Zach will haunt me forever. How helpless I felt in that exact moment frequently wakes me up from these horrific dreams I've been having ever since that day. That is a moment burned into my me and families brain forever.

You always hear about these things in the movies or on the news, a house being shot up, someone shooting another innocent person, not to care if they died on your watch. But we found ourselves on the news.. We have been confined to the hospital since that day. Running on barely any sleep, taking shifts of sleep so we don't make ourselves sick taking care of Zach. Watching him suffer. Undergoing surgeries, to repair the damage you did.

Before I proceed let me tell you a little something about the man you shot.

Zachary Keith Wright. A blonde hair blue eyed boy. Who could potentially be the most annoying human on the planet (possibly coming from his sister). A man who loves his God first, loves his family second. Perfect by no means, but almost perfect to me. A 19 year old who was to graduate high school this month. After graduation he was prepping to leave for Marine boot camp in the summer.. being in the military has been Zach's dream since he could talk. Literally. Running around, playing war with underwear on our heads, and finger guns. Some would say we looked like natural born assassins.. growing up he has been a country boy. Let me tell ya country to the core. He loves this country like he loves his family. He believes in helping people, taking charge in what's right, and never leaving a brother behind. He's lived by that his whole life. Until now....

The day you shot him. The day not only did you change my brothers life, you changed his families life too. The day you almost ripped my brother out of this world... for what? A misunderstanding? Because you've let something take ahold of your life that you can't let go you're willing to kill someone innocent over? Luckily for him, his guardian angels were protecting him in your time of cowardice. There were 3 times that day he should've died, the time you shot him, the time you tried to shoot him again as he stared you directly in the face, (even tho he couldn't talk I know you could read his eyes, and he still intimidated you. That's why you tried to pull the trigger again) and the time he was running out of the house. But he lived. A man who was shot in the face, didn't lay there helpless, didn't scream in agony. That MAN walked to the neighbors to get help. Why? Because he's a MAN, and because he's on this earth for a reason.

It's gonna sound a little strange not only to you, but the audience who is reading this. I must say thank you. Even in this situation, this was the best outcome we could get. He gets to live. He will make a full recovery. He will graduate. And he will go off into the Marines. You united my family together. Closer than ever. Thank you. You tested our faith and brought us closer to our God. Thank you. Because of your moment of weakness, you showed us what prayer could do. Heal anything. Thank you. This was a bump in the road, and a helluva way to kick off our year of 2019. But here we are.. all laying in the hospital. I'm looking around as mom is sleeping in her recliner chair exhasted but still here, Zach his awake playing his xbox all hooked up to machines, fighting to heal and get better. And of course I'm writing this letter to you.

See you in trial,

From the girl whose brother you shot.

'Fight the good fight' - 1 Tim 6:12 🤟🏼💙

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