As a DJ with several years of experience, one of the most common questions I get on a weekly basis is: is DJing hard? After all, the constant turning of knobs and pressing of buttons can feel puzzling, overly complicated and arduous, especially for the average layperson. If you are somebody that is just getting into DJing or are aspiring to become the next Calvin Harris, this is something that you have probably wondered at least once.
And the truth is that DJing is easy to learn but hard to master. In other words, learning the basics of DJing isn’t really hard at all, but actually creating a sick mix that really makes the crowd go wild is another story. It usually takes a few months for DJing to become second nature.
but as long as you mix often, getting there isn’t too challenging. The introduction of new technologies has also really made DJing much easier than what It used to be.
DJing is often said to be both an art and a science. And to be the best at it, you will have to combine technical knowledge with musical creativity to really get the most out of your controller. If you want to learn more about what makes DJing hard, and a few tips to become a better DJ, please read below!
If you want to see the result of a newbie djing after 1 week of being coached by a pro take a look at the video below.
So as I said above, DJing isn’t as hard as many newbies think. The first things that an aspiring DJ should be learning are technical skills and learning what are the main functions of the controller being used. This is very easy but you will be amazed by how many newbies often struggle this part. Obviously, the DJ in question should know what is the cue and play button, the line faders, and the jog wheel. Aside from this, learning what the EQ is and how to modify it is super important.
Other things that should be learned is how to change BPMs, songs, and how to use the other extra functions that a controller might have. The DJ should eventually learn how to beat-match, which is syncing the tempo of one track to the tempo of another, which is much easier now that most controllers have features that auto-sync them.
After the DJ knows all of this, it’s time for him or her to start tinkering and mixing different songs. Something that I used to do when first starting out is having 10 songs to mix with, and simply doing so in order, playing with the EQ to see what sounded good and what didn't. I recommend that you do that too. The simple task of continuously mixing songs, even if they might not musically fit, will do a heck of a lot for your skills.
After you have learned all of the above, you have technically learned how to DJ. That doesn’t mean that you are good at it though. In fact, as I talked about in this article this is where you really start to learn the craft. This is why DJing is often considered hard to master: learning the technical aspects is one thing, but actually applying them while making music that the crowd likes is something else.
For example, one of the reasons why many people call DJing hard is because the DJ must choose the right song at the right moment, and this moment will depend on how the crowd is feeling at that particular point in time. This is called feeling the crowd, and it’s obviously something that can only be learned by experience.
Another reason is the fact that the musical selection is another important aspect of actually DJing well. Many people think that this is hard, but honestly, if you are listening to a diverse list of music genres and songs, you shouldn’t have a problem with a musical selection.
If you are reading this article, chances are that you are an aspiring DJ and are looking to improve as much as possible. If this is the case, I have a few tips for you! Applying the following will seriously make you a better deejay, no matter if you are doing this as a hobby or are dead set on becoming a professional.
This is one of the most important things you can do. Recording your mixes is great because you can then share your mix to a public DJ forum. These forums are full of veterans that will be more than glad to critique your mixing skills, giving you constructive criticism on the things that you should be trying to improve, and of course, telling you what you are actually doing right.
And honestly, you don’t even have to share the mix publicly. If you aren’t too comfortable with sharing your mixes, you can always just keep the mix to yourself. The simple act of listing to your own mixes will really polish your skills. If you really pay attention, you will notice passages where you could have used the EQ better, should have chosen another song, etc.
For some, this is easier said than done but I can’t understate how important playing in public is for your skills. After all, DJing is considered a public performance, and there are a few factors that you simply can’t consider when playing alone, such as the energy of the crowd. So it’s really important that you go and try to play at a house party or any other type of event. The simple action of DJing in front of even a few people will do a lot to not only polish your skills but also boost your confidence.
One of the best ways to play in public is trying to network in frat houses. This is one of the ways that I first started playing in public and as long as you do a good job of presenting yourself and making them think that you are experienced, you probably won’t have a big problem getting gigs. Playing on a frat will give you the advantage of actually learning how to read the crowd. You will learn when to use slower or faster songs depending on the crowd's energy.
Another great way to improve quickly is to try to collaborate with different DJs. Music platforms such as Soundcloud have really been a godsend to DJs. They have given us the ability to share our music through it, which not only helps us receive constructive criticism, but it’s also a good way to meet and collaborate with different DJs.
That’s why you should be uploading your mixes as often as possible. If you do a good job at this, there are chances that you might receive a collaboration request, and if not, I recommend that you go ahead and start messaging your fellow DJs for one. You could even try messaging singers if you like the music that they are producing.
If you want to know more about how DJs work together on the set you can check out this article about how DJ duos work.