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.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Everyone remembers the first time they went to one of the Disney parks. Spinning in teacups and having Goofy wrap his arms around my 8-year-old self were some of my fondest childhood memories, and I'm surely not alone in that.

Keep Reading... Show less

These Superfood Beauty Products Show Kale And Matcha Work For SO Much More Than We Thought

Just another summer's day with a cold glass of kombucha on my face.

I've been vegan for about six years now, so a love for fresh vegetables and superfoods has now become a core part of my being. Don't get me wrong. I love my indulgent, creamy pastas and truffle fries more than anyone. But I keep most of my focus on eating clean and healthy so I can indulge guilt-free.

But I'd say about a large part of my diet has always, unknowingly, included superfoods. Being Indian, lentils, beetroot, garlic, ginger, and whole grains have been core essentials on the family dinner table since I could digest solid foods.

Keep Reading... Show less

Now that college is around the corner for most if not all young adults, students once shook by a pandemic now have to shift their focus on achieving their career goals. As if we thought we had it together already! As an NYC girl, I have always seen myself as a hustler, hungry to advance my career in journalism by having one skill: working hard.

Keep Reading... Show less

5 BBQ Essentials Every Vegan Should Bring To Avoid Summer Cookout FOMO

You'll have your whole family drooling when you bring these goodies over too.

All vegetarians and vegans can relate when I say this: summer barbecues aren't fun when there's nothing you can eat.

Keep Reading... Show less

Kourtney Kardashian has decided to leave "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" after nearly 14 years and although we saw this coming, it breaks our heart that she won't be there to make us laugh with her infamous attitude and hilarious one-liners.

Kourtney is leaving the show because it was taking up too much of her life and it was a "toxic environment" for her.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

We Asked You How You Felt About Resuming 'Normal' Activities, And Some Of Your Answers Shocked Us

The New York Times asked 511 epidemiologists when they'd feel comfortable doing "normal" activities again, considering COVID-19. We asked our peers the same thing, for science.

Last month, the New York Times surveyed about 500 epidemiologists asking about their comfort level with certain activities once deemed normal — socializing with friends, going to the doctor, bringing in the mail. That's all well and good for the experts, but they are a very niche group, not the majority of the population. What do "normal" people feel safe doing? In certain states, we've seen how comfortable everyone is with everything (looking at you, Florida), but we wanted to know where Odyssey's readers fell on the comfort scale. Are they sticking with the epidemiologists who won't be attending a wedding for another year, or are they storming the sunny beaches as soon as possible?

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments