If you want to become a great digital DJ, then you'll need the right tools to reach your goals. That means more than just collecting DJ equipment. Of course, you'll need that as well!
Know Your Target Audience
If you want to DJ weddings, proms, and similar events, then your job is all about entertaining people. That means you need to know what your target audience wants to hear.
Talk to event organizers a couple weeks before the event. This will give you time to purchase any songs that you absolutely must play.
You might not like all of the songs that you play, but this kind of DJing isn't about what you want to hear. You'll get sick of the Chicken Dance song in about a week, but you still have to play it at weddings. The crowd expects it, so you have to play it.
Decide Where You Want to Go
Some DJs aren't interested in pleasing as many people as possible. They want to use music creatively to express themselves and create cool, new sounds.
There's nothing wrong with trying to become your town's best wedding DJ. Those guys can make a lot of money while bringing joy to people's lives.
If you want to create art or work with other performers, though, you need to make that decision so you can hone your mixing skills. Eventually, you might even make a mixtape that will rival Girl Talk's best efforts.
Learn How to Use a Sequencer
If you want to stand out from the crowd of digital DJs competing against each other for gigs, you need to bring something special to the (turn) table.
Learning how to use a sequencer lets you create your own beats. By mixing your own beats into the music people love, you can create new interpretations that will keep the dance floor throbbing all night.
You don't even have to spend a lot of money on an old school sequencer. There are plenty of affordable software options that do the same thing as the hardware.
Get Professional Hardware
You will, however, need professional hardware to make music sound as good as possible. You can start building your setup by purchasing a giant tablet that makes it easy for you to control sounds. Smaller tablets are just too difficult to operate reliably. One slip of the finger on those tiny tablets could ruin a whole night of work.
In addition to a tablet computer, you should have high-quality headphones that let you hear music clearly without any distortion. You'll also need professional speakers (you can't always trust a venue to supply speakers that sound good), RCA cables, and perhaps an external hard drive that holds your songs.
Spend a Little Money on Professional Software
There are plenty of free DJ programs, but you can't rely on them to work as well as software specifically created for professionals.
Still, that doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of money to pursue your digital DJ dreams. Some affordable pieces of software include:
- Zulu DJ Mixing Software Master Edition
- DJ Mixer Professional for Windows
- SAM Party DJ
- FutureDecks DJ Pro
None of these programs cost more than $100, so you can try several of them to decide which one feels right to you.
Learn More About Music
DJs should know a lot about music. That doesn't mean that you know a lot about house music or rap music or rock music. That means you know a lot about all kinds of music.
If someone asks you to play a song by The Platters, but you can only shrug your shoulders because you don't know who they are... well, you're just not much of a DJ. Chances are that the person will walk away wondering how you ever got a gig.
How do you learn about music? By listening to it, reading about it, and talking about it.
Use an service like Spotify or Pandora to stream a wide range of songs. This is a cheap way to expose yourself to everything from Miles Davis to Sebadoh.
Listening to music as much as possible will also help you find commonalities that let you mix tracks together. The more creative you can get, the more people will respect your abilities.
Watch Other DJs Do Their Jobs
If you want to become a great DJ, then you need to watch a master at work. Talk to musicians and music geeks in your area to find DJs with stellar reputations.