“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 Equipment
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.
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. Attending a DJ school can also get you access to a professional, but schools aren’t cheap. Most aspiring DJs will have to 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. I’m not personally opposed to paying someone to teach you, but not everyone can afford it—I certainly couldn’t when I was starting out.
If you plan on learning on your own, you’re actually much better off than most current DJs were five or ten years ago: these days, there are a large number of resources available to help you speed up the learning process considerably.
This is great news, if you want to start playing gigs as soon as possible. Of course, most of the best online lessons and resources will cost some money, but they cost far less than traditional lessons and there are actually some really good resources available for free as well.
The page on learning how to DJ lists some of the better resources and lessons available online, both free and paid.
In this section, I’ll teach you how to get that all-important first booking.
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.