“If you would like to become a DJ you should first of all ask yourself ‘Why?’ If the answer is anything else than ‘Because I love music,’ there is no need for you.”
- DJ Paul van Dyk
Becoming a DJ is fairly easy; becoming a professional DJ who earns enough to live comfortably is monumentally difficult. You’ll start out working a lot of crappy gigs for very little money, if you get paid at all. Or even work at all. If you don’t absolutely love what you do, it is highly unlikely you’ll have the drive to continue doing it through the hard times. But if you love it, DJing is the greatest job in the world.
Here is my step-by-step guide on how to become a DJ. Follow along and put in the work and you will become one of those lucky few who make a living doing what they love.
1. DJ Equimpment
You can’t be a DJ without the proper equipment. Unfortunately, that equipment is expensive, which is why I recommend you hold off on purchasing anything until you absolutely have to. If you have access to DJ equipment to use for practice, take advantage. I’ve seen too many people run out and blow a ton of cash on gear only to discover a few weeks later that DJing isn’t really for them. Then they end up selling their equipment at a huge loss.
Whether you don’t have access to DJ equipment or you’ve been practicing for a while and you know without a doubt you’re ready to buy your own, eventually the time comes where you need to spend some money. Some of you may already know exactly what you want and need, but if you don’t, I break it down for you on my equipment page.
2. Learning the Skills
If you know an established DJ who is willing to take you under their wing, then you’re set; that’s the best way to learn. Everyone else will have to pay for lessons or learn on their own.
I taught myself, as did probably the majority of professional DJs. And many of them will insist it’s the only way to become a DJ, but I’m not personally opposed to paying someone to teach you. Learning on your own is definitely possible, but it takes time and lessons, whether online or in person, will help speed up the process. If you want to start playing gigs as soon as possible, lessons will help you accomplish that and I would never recommend against them. However you choose to learn the skills is up to you and I will do my best to help you out either way.
For those who want to learn on their own, this page has some advice on picking up the basics and a bunch of links to free lessons online that will help you sharpen your skills.
For those looking to take some lessons to speed up the learning process, I compare some of the more popular courses to help you decide which one is right for you (and to hopefully avoid any of the numerous scams).
3. Landing those First Gigs
In this section, I’ll teach you how to get that all-important first booking.
4. Growing a Career
In this final section, I’ll teach you how to go from small gigs to larger ones. Much of this will involve marketing techniques; I know most DJs hate this part of their jobs, but without it, you’ll never get anywhere. All the top DJs are on top because they know how to sell themselves. You need to sell yourself, too.