DJing is awesome. The platters under your fingers as you search for the sweet spot. The backspin in one ear and the room in the other while you flip through the library for the next one. The hum, chatter and roar of the crowd or group. There’s a good reason we aim to enhance our knowledge of the subject. We want to be good. How do you get good, and how do you get noticed as a DJ?
By being technically able
Step one: do the hours. This step is the reason that everyone in the world isn’t a DJ. There’s a time commitment involved. There’s a sacrifice to be made. You need to learn DJ software like Traktor and its alternatives. You need to learn the behavior of a pair of decks, an Ableton Push or whatever your weapon of choice is. The more skill you have across manufacturers and platforms, the better. Whatever it takes, make sure you’re able to plug in RCA cables without an ear-popping buzz. To get in the learning headspace, imagine you’re on before your idol in two weeks and need to get up to speed. Fast.
By being intuitive
Read the crowd. A smooth night with zero requests should be your goal. Make sure you know what the people want to hear by being up to date with both hot pop tracks and classics. Look at what they’re wearing, where the event is being held, how old they are and where they fit in. This is a good chunk of the job! Smooth transitions between tracks are a total necessity. Be invisible if that’s what’s required. Be enthusiastic if that’s what’s required.
By being enthusiastic
The crowd are sheep. They generally look to the music as the source of the energy for the night. But they can’t see the music itself, so they latch their attention onto you. Your mood needs to accurately reflect the tone and feel of the track if they’re going to leave their seats. It doesn’t all have to be arms flailing and over-the-top clowning around. Allow yourself to just enjoy the music! Stand up. Nod your head. Maybe you’re on a mobile DJ gig and actually don’t enjoy what you’re playing. That’s OK. Smile anyway, because it will make your life easier. Whatever you do, just don’t appear to be bored.
You get new jobs by having conversations with strangers. You have conversations with strangers by being approachable. Every human being has a need to dance, move around and experience the joy of music. You’ll get noticed when you address this need by playing what they want and being happy about it. Overcoming your own superficiality might take some work, but the results are worth it. Get on board with a career in DJing by signing up for one of the awesome courses offered by DJ Courses Online.
John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.