There’s a moment in your DJ life when you’ll be confronted with CDJs.
These big, futuristic devices can be daunting at first, but getting to understand them will be an important step in your career and will open new opportunities for you.
Let’s jump right in to the CDJs FAQ you always needed!
What are CDJs?
CDJ is the generic name (inherited from the original Pioneer CDJ 500) given to CD and digital media players that are designed to be used in professional situations like DJ sets.
CDJs allow DJs to apply several manipulation techniques directly derived from vinyl, like playing a track slower or faster or navigating the track and a lot of others that are not possible with just a turntable, like looping a section and analyzing the track’s BPM.
Modern CDJs allow digital audio playback from CDs, USB sticks and SD cards.
Why should I use CDJs?
World-wide, CDJs are the standard gear on clubs and serve as a common platform for DJs.
They are reliable, sturdy, professional and in general, serve as a good inversion for a club to make. Since DJs are not expected to bring their CDJs, and you know that you’ll find them almost everywhere, why shouldn’t you get familiar with them?
Also, a good DJ should be able to get through the night with any piece of gear available!
Once you start getting the hang of using them, you’ll see that all the different models are fairly similar, and you’ll know the pleasure of arriving to the venue with just a USB stick and your headphones!
Are CDJs hard to use?
Disclaimer: Most CDJs don’t have sync capabilities, so if you rely too much in it when doing digital DJing, you may miss it at first.
That being said, mixing with CDJs is like a hybrid between laptop and vinyl DJing, since you are beat-matching by ear -turntable style- but with tons of visual feedback and digital mixing capabilities, not unlike you would find on software.
Pioneer CDJs use Rekordbox, a software that analyzes BPM and key of your tracks.
This information will then be displayed on the screen of the CDJs, along with the cue points you decide to set as reminders.
This could be useful since if you know the BPM of the tracks you need to mix, you’ll be a step nearer of beat-matching them successfully.
Another useful facility CDJs have is the possibility of linking them via ethernet cable, which will allow you to navigate the USB stick or SD card you connect on one of units from both of them.
Is buying CDJs worth it?
I know, I know, they are expensive. But if you are considering getting serious on this DJ thing, you should learn how to use CDJs, and the best way of achieving this is having a pair.
Maybe you can look for used CDJs, specially for cheaper models, since lots of the functions on higher tier CDJs are secondary.
A few older models like the Pioneer CDJ 800mk2 have CD-only support, which could be all you need if you are a CD guy.
The Pioneer CDJ 850 are USB compatible and although they feel plastic, remember that you are not expected to bring your CDJs to the venue, so build quality is not as important as in regular gigging gear.
In case you absolutely can’t buy a pair of CDJs, it’s not rare for DJ schools to let DJs practice for a fee.
If you can arrange a few sessions and do your homework (reading manuals, googling, asking questions), maybe this is a decent way to start.
Are CDJs better than controllers?
I don’t know, are hot dogs better than burgers?
CDJs are just another way of mixing music: If you are a wonderful selector on laptop, you can be one on CDJs as well!
The point is that knowing and understanding different techniques and technologies will help you professionalize and will make you more versatile.
Imagine getting offered a gig but there is no room in the cabin for your laptop and giant controller. Would you let the opportunity slip?
What audio formats can CDJs play?
From the very first Pioneer CDJ-500 launched in 1994 to Pioneer’s current flagship model CDJ-2000NXS2, CDJs have come a long way in terms of features, design and digital audio capabilities. In terms of audio formats, older formats are ubiquitous among CDJs.
These boil down to two types of formats: Lossless and compressed. Lossless formats like WAV and AIFF offer “full quality” audio since these are the formats in which music is recorded and worked on.
Generally, lossless audio offer you best audio quality with the trade-off of bigger files. These formats the way to go for clubs with very high-end PAs and all CDJs are compatible with them, so you might want to use them.
Compressed formats like MP3 and AAC offer you best size ‘value’ and are OK most of the times, if you use the higher settings. Most CDJs can read these compressed formats.
Some modern CDJs can read FLAC and ALAC, which are compressed lossless audio formats that offer a little reduction of file sizes without compromising audio quality.
Every DJ knows how important it is to be constantly playing gigs.
Nowadays you can find a huge amount of people claiming to be DJs with very little skill to show for, and that might get in your way if you’re starting out.
If you already have your thing going, you will still find obstacles and you have to stay smart to keep your wave going and growing.
Whether you are a professional DJ looking for more gigs or you’re starting out, be sure to read our best advices for every step of the way.
DO I HAVE A PLACE IN THE MARKET?
This part is destined to those who are still shaping their identity as a DJ.
Think of yourself in a number of fronts: image, performance, presence and so on. Contractors will look at you as whole when considering you for their party, so let’s look at how you can work your professional profile to increase your chances of getting that gig you’re looking for.
This is not about shaping you into any kind of market, this is about showing your best self, because you definitely have a place to fit in.
1. HAVE A VISUAL ID
You will link contractors to your website or social media page, and whether he checks one link or all links you sent, they must show you as one. This means having a logo, promo shots, release covers and others that will be on the front of these pages.
You can make your own logo, but in order to get the best results it’s better to hire a graphic designer, because this professional will be able to capture the essence of your work and translate it into something visually fitting.
Another advantage is that you can bring your input to the table so that the final result is of your liking. Don’t forget to have more than one option, mostly your logo on different backgrounds or colors.
Your promotional pictures must also express your concept as a DJ, so find a good photographer and discuss the possibilities. Look at Marek Hemman, for example.
He’s a deep house producer from Germany with a discography of calm, soothing and groovy tracks, and his press photos show exactly that.
In that sense, his music, his logo and his picture match perfectly, showing his best self as an artist.
Check out one of his sets to get an idea how Marek sounds.
2. HAVE YOUR OWN KIT
Now that you have your photos, your logo, and, of course, your music, let’s look at how to put it together.
The piece of material you need to send contractors is a press kit. It will have every information needed to facilitate your gig hunting and the contractor’s life.
Have some short but engaging text talking about your background in music, your style of DJing or how unique are your selections.
No need to go telling your whole story, be concise and put together selected information that highlights your best artistic self.
RELEASES AND APPEARANCES
Leave a page to link the contractor to your releases. You can put the cover arts in a visually fitting order and make them clickable or list them with links.
Singles, EP’s, collaborations with other artists, remixes, features, mixtapes, appearences on radio shows, or even that set recorded at an important event: those are all to be shown, and don’t forget to select a picture or two for this section.
Here’s a dope track by Ms. Mavy as well to dig into.
If you’re just starting out, you may end up playing at smaller clubs with less structure in general, and having a technical rider ready for the contractor is part of being one step ahead.
This basically consists on how many outlets and space you will need in order to perform, plus giving specifications about your equipment.
For example, Marek Hemmann is a house DJ from Germany and he has a solid career, so he has higher standard requirements, but you can look at his technical rider as a model.
3. HOW TO GO AFTER GIGS
With your material in hand, you now have a few options to start filling your DJ agenda.
GO THROUGH YOUR CONTACTS LIST
Start out by people who are closer to you and can introduce you to club owners and promoters, or they can personally put in a good word for you while handling over your material, which is now ready to go and totally professional.
This is a little old school, but maybe it’s time to have a little black book. Unless you are old school enough to already have one.
You probably have a friend who is a party animal, or you probably even nome the hostess of a club from going there yourself, there are many possibilities here, and some people might be surprisingly helpful if you show them a well put press kit.
Professional and instigating material are always considered.
Your next step is to go online and find out the names of club owners and promoters so you can reach them via e-mail and/or social media. Remember to be polite!
These are people to whom you are introducing yourself to in a professional environment, not your crowd who’s expecting something artistic and probably very exciting, this is job searching.
Also if there is a scene going on in your city, reach out to collectives who promote musical events in different places outside of nightclubs.
MAKE YOUR OWN SCENE
If your city or area is kind of bleak musically, there’s still an option for you. Make your own scene! Sure it sounds hard, and it will definitely demand you more work hours, but promoting your own event can make you the hot item of the next big thing.
Go after that bar owner who has a nice space and negotiate a first night for your event, if this first one is a successful endeavour, you can bring to the table a monthly residency, and now you have a solid ground on your area to start fishing for more gigs outside your region or state.
This option requires not only more hours put in, but also more responsibilities to deal with, and maybe you’re not the “DJ Entrepreneur” kind of person, but if you execute well, your name you get a solid start on any scene.
4. GOT SOME GIG? SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY!
If you followed the steps given here and it led you to some gigs being scheduled, here’s how to completely seize the opportunity.
BE PREPARED ON ALL FRONTS
This is prior to your gig, so you probably have time to go over a few things. Have a checklist for your equipment, including cables and adapters, and always have a spare one of the irreplaceables.
WORK YOUR WAY THROUGH
From start to finish, be a professional. Make sure you get to the club or venue with enough time to have a sound check, and if you have a big wait between that and your spot don’t waste all your energy before going on stage, stay sober and focused on the set ahead of you.
Be friendly and kind to the whole staff!
These people are working together with you, not for you, and together you make an unforgettable experience to the public, plus they will all remember you as “that nice DJ who played here” and that can only help you.
FINISH BY GETTING SOME MORE
After you played, be sure to post pictures from the gig on your social media and keep them on your hard drive for any professional needs in the near future. Tag the club, the party, the photographer, and show appreciation for the great time you had working with these people.
Then, find out the right time to contact the person who hired you for the job and ask for feedback.
If you get a positive response, that’s when you can introduce a proposition for a monthly gig, not only because you are a great DJ, but because your act will bring more people to the club, given your professional posture, your concern in engaging the professionals involved after you played, and the respect you showed.
We hope that with these tips you can find more gigs to play and further your career as a DJ!
You see it all the time: DJs holding headphones against their head as they do magic on the mixer to drive the crowd wild.
How Do DJs Use Headphones?
It seems like headphones are an essential DJ item, but, what do they use them for?
It turns out that DJs use their headphones to listen the next track they will play. This is called “cue” or “pre-fader listen” and it helps a DJ select a track and match its beat to the track that is playing through the PA.
In other words, the headphone pre-listen gives the DJ a way to listen to a track “in private” to prepare it to mix it in.
‘Ok, so if I want to be a DJ, what do I have to look for when checking out headphones? And what are the best?’ You may be thinking. Since we are here to help, we created a list of the best headphones for the aspiring and experienced DJ alike.
Since headphones have several uses that range from the studio to the booth, there are different designs that manufacturers can apply.
Open-Back vs. Closed-Back
A main feature of booth-friendly headphones is that they are closed-back, meaning that the design was made to isolate from the outside sound as much as possible.
This makes sense if you consider the loudness and noise present in a booth or electronic music stage.
Headphones that are more studio-oriented tend to be open-back, which makes them a bit more comfortable for long sessions and give them a more “natural” sound, not so isolated from the environment.
Rotatable Ear Cups
DJ headphones are often ergonomically optimized for listening through one ear only.
This is extremely important since it allows you to keep an eye (or ear!) on the current track playing through the PA and the crowd.
Booth headphones should allow you to do this in several positions, holding one earcup against your ear with your hand or keeping it in position with your shoulder.
The Right Sound
It’s not enough for DJ headphones to just sound good, they need to have a special sound.
Since they are your preview device to your next track, they must allow you to hear every component of it.
And they need to do it in a noisy environment, so they need to sound loud!
Having said all this, let’s get to it and talk about the best headphones for DJing…
Monoprice Premium Hi-Fi Dj Style Over The Ear Professional Headphones – Black With Microphone For Studio Pc Apple Iphone Ipod Android Smartphone Samsung Galaxy Tablets Mp3
The Monoprice 8323 are dirt cheap. But can good can they be for DJing, sitting in the $20-$30 price range??!!
Turns out that pretty good! For starters, their ear cups can rotate, which is pretty comfortable to use them on one ear. Also, you can fold them to put them away, which make them pretty comfortable to carry in a back-pack along with the rest of your gear.
The build quality is decent: Nothing out of the ordinary but despite being made of light plastic, they seem like they can endure the usual DJ treatment.
Sound quality on the Monoprice 8323 is decent, I mean, we’re talking about 30 dollar headphones! Highs could be a little more sculpted and refined, but general frequency response plus good noise isolation, make them good company for the booth.
All in all, a good pair of headphones to get started with your DJ carreer and not worrying about having to upgrade for some time!
Commonly asked questions about the Monoprice 8323
How are these headphones for noise cancellation / sound isolation?
They do a pretty good job, although not 100%. There is less noise cancellation in the bass frequency end, than in the treble end of things. In other words, it’s better at blocking out treble.
Would a true audiophile be satisfied with these?
Maybe not, but they’re still a great set of headphones for the price. If you’re a discriminating listener with audiophile level hearing, buying under $30 headphones maybe it’s the best option for you, since presumably the rest of your gear would be top tier.
Are these headphones good for other purposes, ie. gaming and other types of music?
Lots of people use these headphones for gaming, and on all manner of other devices. If you’re missing some little piece, many people have been known to mod these headphones until they work perfectly for the task at hand.
Shure Se215-K Sound Isolating Earphones With Single Dynamic Microdriver
Moving up in the price/quality scale we have the Shure SE215, in the $90 – $ 100 range.
What sets these guys apart is that they are in-ear headphones, or more appropriately, earphones. Right now, you are probably thinking about the little crappy stock earbuds that come with smartphones and thinking “why the hell would I want to DJ with that?!”. But bear with me!
These are not regular cheap earbuds, but instead, the Shure SE215 have a little soft plastic part that sits comfortably inside your ear canal, providing much better noise isolation and reducing the need for high volumes.
Since they are a bit bigger than earbuds, their design is made to wrap around the upper part of your ear, instead of hanging freely.
This makes for a comfortable DJing use, where you could leave one of these guys on all the time and just boosting up the volume from the mixer when you need to cue a new track.
Sound quality is nice enough for such little earphones, offering a nice frequency response in low and mid frequencies.
Treble frequencies don’t shine much though, since it’s not easy to offer a set of headphones that can really be up for the task of true audio quality in this price range.
The SE215 are mainly marketed as in-ear stage monitors for musicians, a kind of use use that has a lot in common with DJ needs.
If you are up to the challenge of using in-ears, these guys may be the right choice!
Commonly asked questions about the Shure SE215
Is there a warranty with Shure when it comes to these headphones? If so, how long does it last?
It should be for 2 years, from my experience, and it will be honoured as long as it wasn’t your fault and you didn’t damage them on purpose.
Is there a black case included here?
Yes, the case with the “Shure” logo is included, as well as 3 silicone ear tips, as well as 3 foam ones, plus an earwax cleaning tool.
What’s the durability of the Shure SE215 like?
By all accounts, these are durable headphones with strong cords, and ear hooks. Not easy to break them unless you somehow go insane and try to smash them.
Audio-Technica Ath-M50Xbt Wireless Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones, Black
Audio-technica has a reputation for creating quality products with very reasonable price tags.
These headphones, sitting in the $150 range, are marketed as an integral solution for all things audio: Take them to the booth, but also use them to track and mix in the studio. That said, how possible is it to deliver as promised on all fronts?
As far as construction quality goes, The ATH-M50X are rugged and seem like they can endure the stage and booth treatment, offering a wide head band and tough looking cups.
Although the cups are big, noise isolation is not as neat as it could be, but it’s possible that this is a trade-off for studio audio quality.
Indeed, when it comes to audio quality, the ATH-M50X offer a different kind of sound than the other headphones: Although they are not super clean and neutral studio headphones, these can be described as DJ headphones that can still be useful for tracking and mixing tasks.
This is interesting and useful for DJs that also produce music, since very few headphone models can boast sounding right for several settings.
Commonly asked questions about the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
How is the sound quality of these headphones across various devices?
Depending on the source itself, the sound quality is all around very high quality. The only thing that will lower the sound quality is the source. The headphones are set up to process high quality sound, if that’s what you feed into it.
How comfortable are these headphones for wearing with reading glasses over long periods of time?
Users have reported some discomfort over several hours of listening, but generally, these are headphones which will conform to your head without pinching. You should be fine to wear glasses and use these headphones.
How much noise is cancelled with these headphones?
A fair bit, due to their closed back design. Although they’re not 100% noise cancelling headphones, most dins, fracases, and melees are effectively blocked out.
Warning: Now entering the $300 tier! As it should be at this price tag, Sennheiser delivers what’s promised:No nonsense kick-ass DJ headphones.
For starters, they come with a nice soft case that’s very comfortable to carry them around safely, two spare earcup pads and two cables that you can switch around: a coiled cable and a straight longer one.
Build quality is supreme: Being metal the main material (yes, including the headband), they feel like they could last forever.
The cups are elliptical instead of round, which makes them feel really comfortable. The shape and design are very ergonomic and wearing them doesn’t get tiring, even in long sets. Of course, the headphones adapt very well to one-ear use.
In terms of sound quality, the HD8 DJ are excellent: The audio is super clear and defined through all frequencies.
Low frequencies shine: Since it’s easy to lose them in the club context, Sennheiser has gone the extra mile to ensure that you can appreciate the basslines of your tracks correctly.
Noise isolation is greatly achieved, helping you to take care of your ears by reducing the need of high volumes. But, if you ever need to crank them up, the DH8 DJ can achieve high-pressure levels and they will definitely bite back.
There is no doubt that Sennheiser has created a pair of headphones that will deliver what’s promised and last for at least a big chunk of your DJ career. This comes with a price of course, but it’s one definitely worth paying.
Commonly asked questions about the Sennheiser HD8 DJ
Is there any sort of sound bleed with these headphones? Can people hear what I’m listening to?
No, these are closed back headphones and there’s no bleed, so no one should be able to hear anything, unless you’re DJing with one headphone off. In that case, yeah, probably.
If the ear cushions get worn down, can I replace them easily?
Yes, replacements can be ordered online. HD8 ear pads for the win.
I have a giant head. Will that be a problem?
No, these headphones should fit nicely on your giant head, no problem.
Whether you are testing the waters of an aspiring DJ career or if you are looking to raise the bar with your next pair of headphones, we believe this list will serve as a reference of the current DJ headphone market.
The market changes constantly and there are always new releases, so stick around for the next list!
Martin Garrix, Avicii, Astrix, David Guetta, Infected Mushroom, Skrillex… We are all used to seeing these names on these kinds of lists.
Usually, that’s because of how much money they earn, or records they sell. It is time to see things from a new perspective.
Here is a list of the top 20 Djs worldwide, who are the most talked about according to social media and online searchers.
# 20 – SHPONGLE
Shpongle is a psychedelic music project formed in 1996 in England. Members are Raja Ram and Simon Posford.
This duo is considered to be one of the ancestors of the psybient genre. It combines world music with ambient and psychedelic trance music.
Their tracks combine traditional music and sounds from all over the world and amazing female and male vocals with western synthesizer-based psychedelic music.
#19 – Steve Aoki
Steven Aoki mixes electro, dubstep and progressive house into his unique dance sound.
He was described by Eminem’s manager Paul Rosenberg as a genre defining the music that the globe needs more of.
#18 – GOA GIL
Gil was born in 1951 and was raised in San Rafael, California. He lived the birth of the hippie movement and the acid rock, and was involved with the freak collectives Family Dog and Sons.
He took off first to Amsterdam and then to India in 1969 and ended up settling in Goa.
#17 – Deadmau5
Joel Zimmerman’s alter-ego is almost as famous for his various takes on house music as for his online outbursts.
#16 – TRISTAN
With a career as long as the history of psy-trance, this guy has been a star in the festival scene for years.
He played at the most important festivals in the world. He has a massive number of fans who love his full-on music of deep psychedelia.
#15 – Tiësto
Dj Tiesto or Micheil Verwest is still on top three decades later, he is today combining his old trance with a pop charm that has won him a new generation of fans.
Tiësto was top of Forbe’s world’s highest-earning Djs list.
#14 – DJ BLISS
DJ Bliss is among a small group of Emirati celebrities with the highest career growth and taking their talent internationally.
He has been able to establish himself as one of UAE’s most influential entertainers being the first Emirati DJ to go on tour.
#13 – Diplo
Best known for Major Lazer and Jack Ü alongside Skrillex, this guy spent the year of 2015 on top of festival lineups and global charts.
This year will certainly be no different, however it might be hard to make something more popular than Lean On.
#12 – AZAX SYNDROM
One of the best makers of Psy-Trance music, AZAX SYNDROM (aka Regev Azaria), is easily one of the most influential artists today.
He creates his own music style, or as he calls it “Power Trance”.
#11 – Hardwell
Robbert van de Corput, or Hardwell was an early bloomer. He is one of the people who fell in love with the EDM music.
Hardwell’s was one of DJ Magazine’s Top 100 for 2 straight years, 2013 and 2014.
#10 – NEELIX
There’s only one obvious thing in the sound of Neelix: Relentless forward boost. Exactly how this boost is generated is not obvious at all – which makes it catchy in the most subliminal way possible.
Neelix nicely adds elements of Progressive Trance to Progressive House and Electro music.
#9 – Avicii
Wake Me Up made by Avicii in 2013 was for sure the song that made Avicii’s career take off. He’d sold 10M albums before the end of the year.
Since then, he has made himself as a real festival A-lister, riding high with his fellow Axwell Swedes and Alesso.
#8 – VIBE TRIBE
Elmar Ivatarov is one of the creators of the Vibe Tribe project. He has been making electronic-based music since he was only 13 years old.
He spent four whole years of experimentation of thorough learning which kick started his professional career as a Dj. A short while after, he started releasing tracks on different compilation releases.
#7 – Martin Garrix
This guy is easily a child prodigy of EDM. Martijn Garritsen was only 17 when Animals went international during February 2013.
#6 – Skrillex
In the 2000s, Sonny John Moore was making emo-rock music with From First to Last.
He may still look like a hardcore star, but it is clear that his electronic career has been way more successful. He is now into electronic dance music.
#5 – ANGERFIST
Danny Masseling is a Dutch hardcore producer and DJ. He was born on 20 June 1981.
He produces for various genres and subgenres under many aliases. He is also part of the following groups: Roland & Sherman (with Outblast), Masters Elite (with Catscan and Outblast) The Supreme Team (with Outblast, Tha Playah & Evil Activities) and Masters Elite (with Catscan and Outblast).
#4 – Calvin Harris
Calvin Harris is the next biggest thing from Scotland after whiskey. He has had one foot in the pop world and one in dance music since his start in 2007.
#4 – RAJA RAM
Raja Ram is an Australian musician. He left Australia in the 50s to start the hippie trail. He studied flute at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and went to New York in 65 to study jazz.
He was a founder of the psychedelic rock band Quintessence in the 70s. He was also the co-founder of Shpongle. And he now plays solo and is one of the best Djs of the psytrance scene.
#3 – Infected Mushroom
Infected Mushroom is an Israeli musical duo formed in Haifa in 1996 by producers Amit Duvdevani and Erez Eisen. They produce and perform psychedelic music, psytrance and electronica.
They are one of the best-selling artists in the Israeli music history in terms of both international and domestic sales.
#2 – David Guetta
He has been in the electronic music industry since the 90s, but Guetta’s solo career went worldwide these last years.
Billboard declared his 2009 track When Love Takes Over, with Kelly Rowland, the best dance-pop duo of all time, in 2013.
#1 – Astrix
And the #1 Dj of our list is Avi Shmailov or Astrix! He is an Israeli trance music Dj specializing in full-on psy-trance.
He is a leading trance maker and DJ and he has been for more than a decade. He is carrying his message of beautiful emotional uplifting trance to the most well-known urban clubs, big festivals and underground events.
Today we’re going to talk about how to use a DJ controller, but first, we want to address something that many DJs often hear people who do not understand DJing say that gets old very quickly.
As a DJ, it seems there is the common misconception among those who are not familiar with the culture that when a DJ gets up in front of a crowd, they just press a button and the job is basically done – the rest does itself.
This type of comment is what people who have no idea what DJing involves like to throw out there, tossing out offhand remarks like, “Don’t DJs just press a button and then just stand there the whole time?” or our other personal favorite comment we’ve heard a lot over the years, “Come on, that’s not even real music!” To be fair, maybe they all went to this show…
The Lame Wedding DJ Stereotype
Any real DJ knows that DJ sets don’t perform themselves, and you’re not going to get away just standing there and glancing up once every 30 seconds to “engage” the crowd. That’s just not how it works, generally.
If your job is just to hit play on one track after another, like you might imagine a wedding DJ does, then maybe that’s a little bit true. Corporate and/or wedding DJs do kind of give DJing a bad name sometimes.
There’s definitely a stereotype out there that certain types of DJs don’t really have to do much, and it confuses some people into thinking that all DJing is lame, boring, and requires no actual skill.
This is where we should mention that a lot of these DJs that do corporate events or events like weddings are quite possibly not familiar with how to use a DJ controller. They probably don’t own one or care how it works. Take a look at this Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2 DJ Controller and tell us you think any newb could step up and rock this thing.
To be fair, some DJs actually are just paid to cue up pre-selected tracks, and they don’t even have to hype up the crowd in any way. Its a boring job, but someone has to do it. Think of the most boring FM radio DJ. The tracks are always the same, and they have to follow the script closely.
But yo, let’s be honest, some people are not even good at hitting play on a track…
But to defend competent wedding DJs for a moment, you need to choose the right songs, have them play at the right volume, with seamless transitions into one another, and you probably have MC’ing duties on top of that. Plus, everyone’s counting on the music to be perfect. Its not a low pressure situation no matter how you slice it.
How To Use A DJ Controller
But, if we’re talking about real DJing, where you’re interacting with an actual DJ controller and making and mixing music on the fly, then that’s a whole other story. If you’re more the creative DJ type, who actually can rock a beat, mix on the fly, and actually uses their DJ controller as a tool, then you know that those people who claim DJing is easy really have no idea what is up.
Some DJs make it look easy to use a DJ controller, but that’s just because they are really quite talented.
In reality, as a DJ, you tend to move a lot when you’re playing live. There is a lot to do in terms of using the controller, and just the energy itself can get pretty crazy. You need to be on your toes at all times. It can be a fast and furious job, to be sure, and if you’re just entering the world of live DJing with a controller, learning how to use it is an invaluable skill.
Ok, So How Do They Work?
The controller provides a vinyl or CD deck like experience, while giving you the opportunity to manage your DJ software. They are similar to the turntable-deck set-up or the traditional mixer.
You don’t have to use your computer while performing when you are using the DJ controllers. The laptop will act as a screen only.
Controllers are often compatible with every DJ software and they also offer a variety of quality FX tools, which can improve your mixes significantly. Some DJs even go one step further by using two controllers simultaneously while being on stage
Are Using Your DJ Controller Correctly? How To & Useful Tips
Slowlyatfirst – Don’t push the limits of the controllers right from the beginning because it’s a complex activity and you will have problems if you don’t keep it simple.
Research – You must make sure that the controller you are buying is compatible with your laptop, as well as the software!
SoundCard – To handle the controller, you will need a sound car. However, you must check whether there’s a built-in sound car or you have to buy one.
PrepareYourself – You can carry music on CDs or in a USB drive. However they must be compatible with the controller as well.
Here’s a great starter video for you to watch on how to use a DJ controller. It’s Shelly Time!
Scratch The Surface
The surface of every controller consists of a button, jog wheels, knobs and pads which provide you with hands-on control over the functions of the software. The parameters of the controller are indicated by LEDs. Newer DJ controllers also have smartphone applications for control with mobile devices.
The hardware controller is incredibly easy-to-use because the usage of a keyboard and mouse is very complex and it requires digging through different menus.
Mobile DJs should by controllers composed from high-quality materials. You must also check whether you can reach all buttons seamlessly.
Here’s a video of DJ Trayze tearin’ it up. Even he had to start somewhere…
Advantages & Disadvantages of DJ Controllers
As we said before, the biggest advantage a controller provides is the fact that it’s very compact and convenient for DJs on the run. You can pre-load the playlists, which is really amazing because you don’t have to carry your entire collection. Another great benefit of this is that you can use the laptop’s processing power to manipulate the sounds, which means that you will have far more significant effects at your disposal.
The biggest downside is the long time taken by the shuttle controllers to manipulate the audio file. However, this can be controlled with MIDI, sound card latency, and a good computer’s speed. Upgrading the hardware and changing the configuration settings might solve this problem.
The world of the DJ controllers is rapidly expanding, and it changes as fast as the technology itself. You must do your own research to explore all options you have.
To improve your skills, you must always check out the gear and software used by other producers and DJs, so that you can monitor competitors and learn from them. In many international forums, you will find fellow musicians talking about the latest technologies. You can always stay updated, learn and become better. After all, the best way to master a controller and become a top DJ is by increasing your knowledge.
What is your first thought after hearing the words ‘Professional DJ’?You’re absolutely right – an extensive music library that can bring the party no matter what the occasion.
Wedding?Got it covered.Night club?No sweat.House party?Of course.Bar mitzvah?Uhh..yes?Baby shower?Err… yeah, yeah, I GOT you fam. We’ll hit that infant with some deep bass.
In order to always provide the right content to your audience, you should never stop digging around and finding new tracks to expand your playlist.
Essentially, keeping current is your job.You need to know about the mainstream, but also the underground, as well as the under underground, etc.
Music is your middle name now that you’ve told a few people that you’re a “pro DJ”, and now they’re gonna expect you to be a pro or word’s gonna get out that this guy or gal says they’re a pro but they’re a total newb!
So if you say you’re a pro, a huge-ass music library is like your bread and butter. So what’s the best way for a pro DJ to build one?
Old & New – Building Your Music Library As A Pro DJ
Music is very spiritual, as well as very practical and functional.If you know the right tracks to play, the people will respond by dancing and partying.But, if you’re 6 months behind in terms of your playlist, you can make it obvious that you’re not down with the current sounds.
Knowing what’s new and current is basically part of the job of a pro DJ.Maybe you’re not into every style that becomes popular, but you need to at least brush up on it because you will get asked.
In some cases, like weddings, people are gonna want the oldies…the classics!
Sometimes people actually want to hear a certain song for a certain reason, and that song might not be for everyone, but it will please the people that requested it. And its in your best interest to take certain requests.
Oh yeah, and there’s someone else you might want to please, and that’s YOU.You gotta get your kicks in every once in a while too, but timing is everything. You don’t want to take someone else’s big moment and do something like this…
So, here we go with five ways to build your music library as a DJ.
As a DJ, your music library is going to get pretty frickin’ huge pretty frickin’ fast.
And before you have like 100 000 tracks in your iTunes and they’re all over the place, you need to come up with a strategy, or a way to keep very organized.
Since this is business, you don’t want to show signs of being a disorganized DJ, because that’s how you lose gigs.
You also don’t want to show up and realize you don’t have a backup, which is why a good back up hard drive is crucial.
Staying organized is different for everyone when it comes to how you organize it on your computer, or external drives.
You can have playlists for certain artists, but, better yet, you might want several playlists that go according to the type of event you’re hitting up. Like Wedding Playlist #10 or something like that.
Or, you can do it by venue.Popeye’s Night Club Playlist #4, for example.
For certain venues that you play regular gigs at, you can have multiple playlists.The point being – multiple playlists for multiple occasions, but super organized, and always back it up!
Searching out certain kinds new music might almost seem counterproductive for a DJ.Why?Because new music isn’t always popular music.
If you’re trolling around on Bandcamp, listening to some god forsaken genre that you’ll probably never use for any event ever, you could rightly wonder – what’s the point?
Because if you’re not going to ever use it for your DJing, why would you bother spending time looking into it or listening to it?Better to spend your time figuring out what your audience wants, right?
If you’re a wedding DJ, you might have to get acquainted with stuff like this.
Now, hold on a sec.
Remember that no journey is ever just a straight line, and if you don’t allow yourself to enjoy music you like sometimes to and make your own private mixes out of whatever you want, you’re just going to turn into a person that does a job that’s no more exciting than sitting at a desk all day.
Just look at this guy! Do you want to be like this guy?
Presumably you don’t want to turn your DJing gigs into some boring grind, right?
Therefore, yes, put the time in to make professional DJ playlists that you know people will want to hear, but don’t hesitate to spend time on Soundcloud / Bandcamp / YouTube / whereever looking for bands that YOU like, and making playlists just for the fuck of it.
The more varied your music library, the better, because you never know when you might have to bust out some funky shit at a wedding or something.
Hashtags And Categorical Searches
If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet, you ought to know about hashtags, and categorical searches.
Basically, as a DJ you need to get good at going online and navigating your way around in order to find what you want faster than the average bear.
You type in a search term into Google, like “best dubstep songs 2018”, and you will no doubt be off down the rabbit hole, seeing what’s good.
You might end up on Twitter, reading about some awesome new DJ.
He or she is probably using hashtags, which might be how you found him, and then others are hash tagging so that once you’ve found him, you can find related content.
The people out there who know how to use the internet know that if they hashtag their music with the right hashtags, the right people will find it, eg. you.Conversely, you can draw people to your web pages using hashtags as well.
Lots of popular platforms use hashtags, including Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and more.In other words, the big guns.The bottom line is that hashtags are a way to find stuff you like, and then even more stuff you like.It can help people find you too!
With categorical searches, its much the same.If you land on a website, or an article that is categorized that way, check their categories to see what is in the same vein as the first thing you looked for.This is all very, very useful to the modern DJ.
Find Record Labels Online
One more way to grow your DJ music library is to check out various record labels.Chances are, if you like one thing on that label, you’ll like another.
In the EDM world, there are tons of record labels you can check out all over the world, so its hard to narrow it down to just, say, 5.Our advice is to use the search engine method and type in “best EDM record labels 2018”.
This will get you started with your quest.
Or, if you hear of one in your travels, no doubt they are represented online and you can find their website with a quick search.
Record labels always list their rosters on their websites, and from there you can either sample the music directly from the record label’s website, or you can hop over to YouTube or another audio / video platform to see what’s good.
Another quick tip here is to sort the YouTube info by date, to see what that label or artist has been up to lately.
Like it or not, weekends are when most DJs work, since that’s when the clubs are bangin’, it’s when the house parties are housin’ things, and its even when many weddings are scheduled, since no one has time to book off mid-week for a wedding
Weddings, in particular, usually have a ton of logistics for the planners to think about it. Weekends tend to be the safest time of the week to have them that will guarantee attendees, and Spring / Summer is the nicest time to have them, usually, due to pleasant weather.
Weekends are usually the time when the most money is being spent and gets made by DJs who are there to make sure the event is a hit!
Weekends being the only viable time to party is why so many DJs feel pressured to work part time at it, because they think there’s literally nothing going on during the week. If we’re talking nightclubs, that’s probably the case, most of the time. Friday / Saturday night has always historically been the time that nightclubs fire things up.
During the week, with many clubs, the lights may be on, but nobody’s home. Actually, the lights are usually not even on. Scratch that. People be saving on electricity.
That said, if you’re a DJ who can’t find work during the week and you’re thinking of working that night shift grocery store stocking job, hold on, because not all hope is lost.
Don’t be stackin’ them soup cans yet, cause we’re coming at you with three tips that will help you to get DJ gigs during the week.
Tip #1 – Look at Different Kinds of Venues
This is where you’ve got to start thinking outside the box. Yes, the weekend is all about bars, clubs, and parties, sure, but they’re not the only venues in existence for a DJ to hit up for gigs.
Ok, so what else is out there? You might think that you’ll be scrounging for gigs during the week, but it depends what kinds of places you can think to go to. Keep an open mind, and things will go well.
Business Events / Product Launches
The wider world of 9-5 Monday-Friday business is happening during the week, and that means there are things like product launches going on, that need DJs for their mid-week openings.
Product launches are big deals, and they’re not always happening when you’d assume they’d happen, ie. not on weekends.
The thing also to consider with product launches is that these events are like.. the biggest deal to the company in question. It’s sort or a one-off. The company launching the product and all their employees are freakin’ stoked about the launch, and so the level of hype is really high.
When you step in, the faster you can get in line with this hype and get ready to ride the wave of pride and joy for whatever the product is, the better.
That’s why it’s good to throw in comments when negotiating like “Oh yeah, I think I HAVE heard about this thing. It’s actually being released? That’s great!”, and then the response, ideally, should be: “YES! WE’RE SOOO EXCITED! THIS IS VERSION 2.06B AND…”
At this point, once they see you care about their product and are willing to get onboard with the whole thing, you might just be their prime candidate for the gig, because, again, you have the gear and know how to use it. It’s a match made in heaven!
I’m not endorsing you be disingenuous with the person you’re talking to, by the way. Maybe you have heard of their product. However, if you haven’t, it doesn’t hurt to play along a little bit just to get the gig. Being a patronizing douchebag isn’t the point, but being someone who, to some extent, is agreeable, doesn’t hurt.
Oh, and don’t forget churches! You might think that this is a crazy idea, but just think about it. Churches are always organizing huge events, and if you don’t mind being worshipful for some cold hard cash, hey, why not?
Church people are generally agreeable to anyone with the skills to do the job, and as long as you’re not like “Hi, I’m an atheist”, then you can just sort of ride the wave of praising Jesus all the way to the bank.
Or, maybe you’re actually a Christian, and you just hadn’t thought about DJ’ing at a church event. You might have to expand your definition of DJ’ing to include MC’ing, or playing certain types of tunes, but the point is churches have events and people who need music played and MC’s to talk and whatnot.
Depending where you live, there’s probably a lot going on you don’t know about, music wise and event wise. Maybe it’s an art gallery, and so you might wanna hit up that thrift store and try on some some nerd-chic hipster-ass glasses.
Art galleries often do things during the week, and if you can make a little map of all the galleries that are in your area, you can come up with some kind of circuit, just like any other independent contractor who needs jobs to stay alive.
Maybe the galleries in your area only do events once every 3 months, but if you’re the guy that they know who has the gear, they’re going to want to talk to you.
On top of that, if you know about 10 or 20 different galleries, you can make sure you’re in their rolodex (anyone know what that is??) of DJ’s to call when something comes up.
Restaurants and Bars
Just like restaurants and bars need entertainment in the form of rock bands and whatnot, they can also use the services of a good DJ. These types of venues do things all through the week, and remember, they’re not just looking for rock bands these days.
What they want, more than anything else, is to make money. They wants their customers to be having a good time, and to buy more food. So, unless the bar is called Hillbilly Jim’s Bluegrass Bar, and they strictly book jug bands, march right in there and give them your business card.
Celebration of Life Events
Not to be morbid here, but celebration of life events do often need some sort of MC or DJ to oversee the proceedings.
If you’ve never heard of a “celebration of life” event, it’s basically the more fun version of a memorial service. These events can even go so far as to not be sad, which is actually pretty great. Sometimes, they even have themes.
In any case, if you’re thinking outside the box, a celebration of life event might be something to be aware of when considering the different kinds of gigs you might be able to DJ.
One thing to keep in mind for a celebration of life event is that the person being remembered might need their own unique playlist, and this means you’ll be DJing and working closely with the people who knew the person best.
In this way, if this person being remembered was a huge ABBA fan, you might find yourself at an event playing ABBA all night long, or maybe even something that seems weirder than that.
However, as long as you’re genuinely interested in what that person liked musically, you can actually put together something meaningful that everyone in attendance will know that you actually took the time to give a care for who that person was. This, I think, is the best way to leave a good impression in this case.
Long Term Care Facilities
Again, you might think I’m joking here, but I’m not.
Think about it like this – the people who plan activities at long term care facilities are always looking for new ways to keep the people in their facilities healthy and active.
If you’ve spent any time in these places, there are event coordinators who are often trying their best to plan these activities out in advance. At any long term care facility that’s actually half decent, there is always a lot going on.
One great thing about music is that it makes people happy, and also stimulates people mentally. It basically keeps dementia at bay, and makes people happy.
That is, if you are sure to play to your audience. For gigs like this, it might be a good idea to emphasize the fact that you are more than open to playing the music that the residents at the facility want to hear.
In fact, that might be your only way in. If they want someone to come and play music for ballroom dancing, then that’s what you’re going to have to have ready. If they want jazz from the 1930’s, you need to know what that is and have it on hand.
High School Events, ie. Prom Night
At the other end of the age spectrum, we have high schoolers who have all sorts of events, such as the formal, the semi-formal, the prom, graduation, etc.
These sorts of gigs need to be approached a certain way. For instance, you might not want to walk into the school in the middle of the day and say you’re DJ Scooby Snax, and you want to DJ the upcoming prom.
School staff often don’t like to see “strangers” wandering the hall, even if you do head straight to the front office.
There are other ways to approach this, and you have to figure it out for yourself. Maybe you know a teacher who goes to the same YMCA as you and you always see him in the change room.
It also might just be as simple as dropping a business card in the school mailbox (where ever that is located) that says your name, has your email and number and also happens to mention that you do proms.
There’s a time and a place to promote yourself as a DJ, but my point here is that high schools have plenty of events, and you can get in on the action if you do it right.
Tip #2 – Talk to More People, Be Open-Minded
As we mentioned in our article, “DJ Marketing Success Tips“, it helps to get out there and talk to real people, and see what people are saying.
The second you just assume that you’re out of ideas for how to get work, you’re basically limited to the few that you depend on always, and that’s why you gotta get out there and think outside the box. Pound that pavement, channel your inner extrovert!
Also, don’t underestimate who needs a DJ’s services. It can literally be anyone.
There’s really no point in grumbling how there’s no DJ gigs during the week (which may seem true), because that’s definitely not the right attitude to have here.
To some, this will sound rather silly, but honestly, if you go out into the community and you exude confidence, letting people know that you’re a working DJ looking for more work and you’ll play anything, people are going to know you’re cool and hook you up with as many gigs as you can handle.
Some call it the Law of Attraction, or I think it’s also called “The Secret”. Except it’s not really a secret, is it? It’s pretty obvious – just have a good, can-do attitude and go everywhere and talk to everyone.
Oh, and be flexible when it comes to the job! Wait for your potential employer to lay out the details of the job to you, and try your best to work with those parameters. It’s a better way to go than to say “This is what I do and what I don’t do. Take it or leave it.”
Better to listen and pay attention to their requests. Maybe you can expand your definition of what being a DJ is a little bit. It might go a long way.
Tip #3 – Try Out Different Promotional Methods
Since I have no idea who is going to read this article, I don’t know what you’ve tried or haven’t tried, when it comes to promotion.
That said, you may have only tried promoting yourself one way, and ignored other ways of getting your name out there.
So, let’s look at some of the promotional methods that you may or may not have thought of.
Local and Campus Radio
Radio used to be the original platform for DJ’s, as radio DJ’s were the original DJ’s, spinning tunes on the air for whoever tunes in.
These days, radio is just one medium that DJ’s can use. There are still plenty of radio DJ’s, but that seems to be an entirely different breed of DJ from the type of DJ who performs at events. That said, there is still some crossover.
Radio DJ’s are certainly in a class all of their own, but, as an occupation, it’s certainly a job, and it certainly pays.
That is, if it’s a paying gig. You can also go on campus radio and be a volunteer. On the upside, there’s way more freedom, on the downside, it’s volunteer most likely.
In any case, if your dream is to be a DJ who has their own business, getting yourself a radio DJ job might be good for several reasons.
Some of the advantages of working at a radio station include the fact that you have to put together playlists, work with current (or old) technology, know and build your audience. The list of positives that go along with being a radio DJ goes on and on.
You also gain some clout in the business, you mingle with other professional DJ’s, you make public appearances. If you wanted to, you could do this kind of DJ’ing exclusively, and that could be what you do for your whole life. Nothing wrong with that.
But then there’s DJ’s in the sense that I was describing before, in terms of the performer, or the independent freewheeling entity, and those DJ’s may want to simply drop into the radio DJ world just to gain some new and exciting skills, and then port them back over to their other life, where they’re performing at shows, or otherwise just being independent and making money that way.
Podcasting / Spotify / Online Radio Show
So the local radio station is swamped with applicants, and the kind of music you play isn’t going to fly on CKMU The Fox FM. Ok, now what?
You could have your own podcast / online radio show that you fully control and is customized to whatever your vision is.
You may know, there are lots of popular podcasts these days, and there are lots of DJ’s who go live on FB, Spotify, Youtube, or where ever, and make their names that way.
If you are a DJ, technology is probably something you understand better than your average person, so why not build up your own brand, and see if you can get things going that way?
You might even become the next Happy Harry Hard-on, with your own cult of rabid listeners.
Public Access TV
Nowadays, TV just seems so old fashioned, but it still commands a huge audience, if we’re talking national television.
Chances are, you’re not going to be on national TV if you haven’t made a name for yourself, but, like they say, you gotta start somewhere.
This is where public access TV comes in.
Most major cities have some form of public access television, and people do watch it. Usually locals, because who else is going to watch local TV in your area except.. well, the people in your area.
This can be a good way to build up a following as well. And you can exercise some amount of freedom creatively as well. You might not have a huge viewership, but you will attract certain people.
Another benefit of trying this out is that you can play around with TV studio technologies, and that can be a whole other world from radio station gear, not to mention your average portable DJ setup that you’ve put together at home.
Option #3 – Move Somewhere Else
There’s an option I have hesitated to mention until now, and that is – just move somewhere else.
This whole time, I’ve been trying to instil a sense of optimism and can-do attitude, but sometimes, when you live in the most dead end of backwater bergs, you might need to go somewhere else.
For instance, maybe your little town isn’t a hotbed of activity. Maybe downtown consists of 1 hardware store and 1 convenience store. And maybe everyone kind of hates each other, and you’re walking around trying to get a DJ gig at the local morgue.
Well, if all else fails, you can locate a city nearby that has some nightlife, and just some life in general, and go live there. I’ve talked to many people who say that they don’t feel like they should be living where they’re living, and sometimes, when that is how you feel, staying in some toxic atmosphere where everything is working against you isn’t the best idea.
What I’m saying here is to go somewhere where there’s more happening than just the one night on the weekend where everyone goes to the same club.
Maybe you belong in Berlin, or Miami, or New York, where there’s so many thing so to do that you’ll never be short on options.
Relocating to a new city can be stressful, for sure, but it’s not impossible. Especially when you’ve decided that DJ’ing is what you want to do, and you’ll stop at nothing to make it work.
And it doesn’t have to be a metropolis, but it should be somewhere where DJ’ing is a viable career path. You’ll have to do some research on this one yourself.
If you want to get more gigs DJ’ing then just on the weekend, I hope this article provided you with some options that you hadn’t previously considered.
If you think I’m dead wrong about what I’ve said here, feel free to drop a comment and let me know, and give me your 2 cents. If you’ve tried one of these methods for getting more DJ work, and it HAS worked, also let me know in the comments.
Whether you’ve already DJ’ed a handful of weddings, or never DJ’ed any, don’t stress. We’ve got you covered right here with this basic guide to the wedding ceremony DJ tips that will make you into a pro before this is all over.
With these 5 essential wedding ceremony DJ tips, a wedding planner might just forego hiring an Adam Sandler-esque wedding singer or that professional cello trio to supply the music for the evening and give you a call due to your reputation for being the most dependable wedding DJ in town, who knows exactly what is appropriate for any given situation. Or they might just hire all three of you…Ohhhh god!
A skilled DJ must understand the needs of his audience. He or she has to spin the right tunes at the right time, which will encourage guests to join each other on the dance floor to get down. Yes, your task will be to be playful enough to entertain the crowd with some rump shakers, but you’ve also got to know when its time to switch it up and throw down that slow jam.I know at least one situation where a wedding DJ wasn’t paid because when it was time for the father-daughter dance, they played the wrong song.Oofah!
As DJs, we need to remember that not all weddings are going to be the same theme, hence what you’re playing depends on those who you’re playing for. One of the weddings that I DJ’ed was half classical, and then later that night when all the elderly relatives were out the door we switched to some raunchy hip hop, which was hilarious but I knew it was coming.And that’s just one example of how eclectic things can be.
Ok, onward to our Top 5 Wedding Ceremony DJ Tips…
Don’t Be Shy, Ask For A Playlist
Being well informed about the music taste of your audience could easily be rule number one.Hence, coming to a wedding with all your gear in tow, but having no clue about what guests want to hear is completely out of the question.Its not just disrespectful, it could make it so that’s the last wedding you ever DJ, because coming unprepared can destroy your good name in the business.So, in order to prepare for your next big wedding ceremony, it would be the best to ask the bride and groom what would they like to dance to, they can provide you aCD or USB with their favorite music, or share it via e-mail or some virtual drive.It may seem like a small thing, but this is how you build a business, which is by understanding your client.If that means driving around listening to a USB full of music that you didn’t choose, so be it. Its way better than working at the local factory putting stickers on boxes.Besides, don’t you think it would be rather annoying, or even embarrassing to show up at the wedding and all you’ve got is a library full of Ariana Grande and deep house music when they’re expecting Dionne Warwick?
So, you may think that your library meets your audience’s requirements, but it’s the best to have a playlist provided by the bride and groom before attending the wedding, because then at least you know what they expect.Also, to really be a pro, you can even follow up with them and say “I listened to your playlist.Now, that Dionne Warwick song – do you want me to also include this OTHER Dionne Warwick song, or perhaps some Barry White?”Being that kind of person shows you actually care and you will really stand out as well.
(Almost) Always Take Requests
Handling guests’ ultra-specific requests is a mandatory when being a wedding DJ.Although you may have ignored requests in the nightclubs, coming from random people whose taste in music you do not like or respect, you must understand that environment of a wedding is much different than what you encountered in nightclubs before.In the case of weddings, you can’t EVER ignore request.
You’d think that when some random drunk person comes up to you with possibly the lamest request you’ve ever heard, it would be fair enough to ignore them.But don’t be too hasty!All of those guests are one way or another related to the bride and groom that are paying you. Of course, you must believe in your judgement and instincts when it comes to choosing the right music, but if bride or groom have a request, I highly recommend playing it.
Remember – that annoying little drunk person who’s screaming in your ear asking you to play Justin Bieber might actually be the bride’s little sister or brother.And if you want to get paid, and then maybe get referred for like 10 more gigs, you might just have to rock out the Beebs whether you like it or not.
Know Your DJ Gear
If you’ve never DJ’ed before, you should probably go with a simple setup that will help you learn the basics and make you more proficient, because it’s very important to be familiar with equipment when attending a wedding as the DJ.It doesn’t make sense to wake up one day and say “No more pumping gas for me!As of today, I’m a wedding DJ!” and then you go and buy like 10 K in gear that you don’t understand, and book yourself a gig.Showing up at a wedding with all that gear and no clue what you’re doing is not the best idea.
So, if you’re still new in this profession, keep it simple.You’ll want to perhaps acquire gear slowly, learn how to use it so there’s no chance you’re going to have any major issues, and then slowly get more gear.
If you do have experience as a DJ, but just not a wedding DJ, you should know that there are some big differences between DJing at a club, and DJing at a wedding are not the same.For instance, don’t expect to do much turntable scratching at a wedding, even though at a club or a house party, scratching might be exactly what people want to hear.That said, you can probably leave certain pieces of gear at home, meaning you don’t have to worry about them getting stolen, and you can simply not worry about using them.
Don’t Cry, Mistakes Do Happen
Let’s set the record straight. It’s ok to make mistakes, it happens.This is probably something you heard when you were 3 years old and you barfed all over your aunt’s dog.When it comes to DJing a wedding ceremony, there are lots of crazy things that can go wrong.Little things, big things.You just never know what can happen, so be ready for anything!No, I’m not telling you to completely give up on taking any risks.Being a DJ is like being a performer.Synching tracks, adding effects, working the crowd, talking into a mic, all that good stuff…you don’t want to avoid it all just because you think you might f—- up.There’s nothing worse than a lame-ass DJ standing there stiffly, pressing buttons and staying quiet. Or it could be like this…
Ok, so mistakes do happen, but you should definitely not let mistakes become a habit in your DJ’ing career.One thing that could be your saving grace is alcohol.This may not be the case, but in many cases your audience will be so drunk that they won’t notice your mistakes because they’ll be having too much fun.This isn’t an excuse to make mistakes, but if you’re going to make some small mistakes, doing it in a room full of drunk people is the best place to do them because there you are, stone cold sober, and you make some little hiccup in the music.Do you think Uncle Tony, who is three sheets to the wind, is going to remember that the next day?Probably not.That said, someone might be sober and that person might notice every little thing, but that’s just an incentive to be a good DJ.
Reading The Audience
The final thing we want to talk about is actually reading the audience.This is a mistake many DJs make, which is to go into a wedding situation, with everything pre-planned, and just do their thing.This can be a catastrophe, because you just know that at weddings you’re going to have people leaning over into your ear and requesting things, members of the bridal party frantically making demands of you that you didn’t expect. For your part, you just want everything to go smoothly and with everybody having a good time…
Oh, and don’t think you will necessarily get away with attending a wedding in the DJ role and not having to use that lovely mic of yours.There are two roles, one being the DJ, one being the MC, and they often get confused by the wedding party.Remember this and remember it well.Those people who have hired you may not be aware that you don’t like public speaking.They figure, here’s this DJ, he or she must loving being social, because they’re DJing for hundreds of people.That means, they must also love talking to hundreds of people.That is what they might assume about you, so if you don’t like public speaking make it very clear that your job is just the music, but of course this could make your potential clients say “Oh, really?Well we wanted someone who could make a few announcements, and I guess that isn’t going to be YOU then, is it?”
So if you thought you were just the DJ, suddenly you might find that you’re the MC and that the bride’s mom wants you to make a quick announcement.Who knows, they might actually want you to say something at some point, like “Ladies and gentlemen, do not feed the ducks outside, it is against the law!” or maybe “Hey listen everybody, this hall is only rented until 2am so we need to be out of here by then, and please stop throwing chairs, guys…” You know, crazy stuff like that.Remember, you’re one of the people holding the microphone, and so that tends to mean MC to a lot of people, rather than just the DJ.If you thought you were Jazzy Jeff, uh oh, turns out you’re also the Fresh Prince!
Overall, the point is to read the audience.This basically means if you’re playing some music and you start to notice people leaving the dance floor, be sure to hit them with a real crowd pleaser for the next song.Heck, you can even get someone’s attention and ask if the bride or groom or their friends or family want to hear anything specific.Of course, if you’ve followed our other tips, you would have already figured out exactly what music these people like to hear, and you wouldn’t be scrambling to find music they like.
Anyway, that covers a lot of the basic tips you’ll need to know when DJing a wedding ceremony.If you’ve paid close attention to these tips, you should do well DJ’ing for the next wedding you’ll be working at and you’ll probably get some referrals as well.
As many other professions and hobbies, DJing requires some serious equipment and if you want to do this gig at the club level, you need to invest in getting reliable gear that will serve you well and that will not impose limits on your ability to perform.
Before you can worry about how do I get a DJ gig in a club, you’ll want to have the right equipment. This allows you to be the best beginner you can possibly be.
When your local clubs advertise that they need a DJ, you’ll be ready and capable of providing good beats for the clubbers.
The way most people become great DJs with loads of bookings is through word of mouth. Don’t be the DJ that clubs bad-mouth because you didn’t practice and learn before getting the gig.
So let’s look at what you might need or want exactly, starting with the things you could not do without.
Turntables and/or Other Input Devices
No matter if you want to use vinyl, CDs, other digital turntables, a laptop or something exotic like a Kaossilator, input devices are your bread and butter.
You can’t play songs if you don’t have something to play them off of and your personal MP3 player will not be up to the task. You need at least two sources because you want to be able to mix.
You might want to go old-school with vinyl, but when you’re starting out, you’re not going to be able to purchase all the records you’ll need for your DJ career.
Think about building your record collection over time. For now, you’ll need to Have a turntable that can handle two CD decks.
It makes managing your music library much easier – especially when you’re carting all this equipment to clubs every night.
The surface of the controller will have knobs, buttons, faders, and pads that increase the level of control for your music.
You want to look cool dancing, and spinning your music, but you’ll have to learn how to use all the settings and functions before you bring yourself into a professional setting for gigs.
You’ll need to consider a few factors aside from knobs and buttons for accessing your menus, you’ll want a quality board that holds up to travel quite well. You will always be careful around your gear, but that might not be true of anyone who is touching your equipment. It needs to stand up to some abuse of the road.
Here is a clip of DJ Nick Kim keeping the party going. Pay attention to his use of flanger.
Classic DJ Club Setup
The classic DJing setup includes two turntables that use vinyl and if you are serious about your art, that might be the best option.
If you think analogue sound is overrated and you don’t want to deal with the whole records and needles jumble, you can also get two CD decks.
No matter what route you take, you need to get equipment that would allow you the highest level of control and the highest sound quality so you will not be limited or crippled while mixing, scratching or performing.
So after you have your audio sources figured out, you need to be able to work with them and you need to be able to work with them easily, flexibly and reliably. So a good DJing mixer is an essential tool of the trade.
It is going to be your command center, so the general rule is the more control, the better.
The most basic setup will include a two-channel mixer to connect two turntables to, but you might find that limiting as time goes and if you want to add more input devices, you will also need more channels to work with.
Another thing to consider is available effects and equalizer, options to expand with outboard, sound quality and build quality.
Don’t underestimate the last item on this list, because you are likely to be lugging that thing around from club to club and if that is the case, it should be able to withstand that.
Software and Apps
The powerful turntables and mixers need equally impressive apps and software to give you plenty of cool filters and effects for making your mixes. When you’re selecting your controller, make sure it’s one that you can operate as a new DJ.
As a newbie, you’ll want equipment that will grow as you do, but be easy to operate in the beginning.
Now this is something simple and small, but absolutely essential. No matter what you want to do exactly, the ability to listen to a different part of the mix than the one you are blasting through the PA is essential and should not be overlooked. At the club, you are going to be using your headphone all the time and you need a set that is going to be reliable, that is going to provide high quality and level and that is going to look good on you. Just make sure that you don’t compromise with anything else just for the look.
When it comes to different types of DJ equipment, you’ll want reliability, of course, but you’ll also want a pair of headphones that will move with you. As a DJ, you’ll be constantly on the move.
The set you purchase should have swivel ear pieces and those pieces should be covered with a foam that will be comfortable on your ears for hours.
The best headphones are ones that are going to isolate noise from what’s playing in the club versus what’s leaving the speakers. You’ll have less ear damage when you don’t have to listen on high volume just to hear past the noise of the club itself.
PA / Sound System
Now getting a sound system or a PA is not a small thing and it really depends on your budget and the desired gigs you are trying to get.
At most clubs, there will be a house PA that you will be able to connect your mixer to and you will not find yourself dragging your own PA to most clubs around the world.
Still, having your own sound system might provide youwith a level of freedom that you cannot get otherwise and you might also need one for your practice sessions as well.
Sound systems come in all shapes and sizes from large amplifiers and speaker stacks, to the simpler to use and move around powered speakers that have their own amps built in.
Having your own PA suitable for small or medium venues or rooms will allow you to get gigs you otherwise wouldn’t like house parties or other special occasions, but my advice would be to research the options before committing to a purchase.
Making a choice among the many media players, controllers, and software apps comes down to personal preference, which is difficult for a beginner. Here are some things to consider when picking your club DJ setup.
First, you’re playing in dark clubs with spinning lights and insane noise. Your controller and media player should have large, bright buttons to help them to be seen in the dark.
Second, you’ll want a lock button for ejecting your CDs. There’s nothing worse than banging into the eject button. Your entire flow will be ruined and dancers will voice their disappointment as you try to fumble your way back to a good rhythm.
Third, have as many effects as possible. You may not use them all, but you’ll have them. Things like phase, echo, flanger, filter, pan, and transform will give you increased flexibility and a variety of sounds.
Lastly, consider whether you want a system that has data storage with removable memory cards. You might have a memory card for wave data storage or loop points cued up exactly where you need them.
Hopefully, you already have a better idea about what you might need to get to start showcasing your DJing skills to the wide public, but let me share a few tips that might still help you out:
Find a way to test the equipment you want to buy first.
If you buy online, you’re going to have to trust other peoples’ reviews of that product, but we always recommend going to your local music store when possible.
There are many options for all of the things you are going to need and it is important to get something that fits you. Finding a way to spend some time with a piece of gear you’re interested in before getting it is always a good idea. Test extensively as many options as you can.
Stay away from the DJ-in-a-box packages
If you are going to hit the clubs, you want to be professional and getting professional equipment is a must. Those types of packages are aimed at hobbyists and you’ll find them severely lacking as your skills start to get better.
Second-hand equipment will get you more bang for your buck
As mentioned already, getting professional grade equipment is a must if you want to be a professional and since it doesn’t come cheap, you can take a look at the second-hand market where you can get things at much lower prices.
But stick only to high quality models that were built to last and that were designed to take the punishment of constant use. Also make sure what you are getting works well and is in good condition.
Keeping Equipment Safe
Hard cases for your equipment are always a good idea. The equipment should fit snugly inside a foam insert if possible.
Check with the manufacturer of your equipment to find hard cases that are made especially for that turntable or mixer.
After asking yourself, “What equipment do I need to be a DJ?” it’ll be a simple matter of making a list and doing your own research.
Whether it’s a microphone for talking to the crowd over a PA system, having the best turntables and software, or the best headphones for canceling club noise, you’ll have a basis for your search here.
The combination of late nights and the occasional major technical blunder from time to time can be draining, so you have to have the right mindset and constitution for the job. The rewards, we think, justify becoming a wedding DJ
Becoming a Wedding DJ / Starting Your Own Business
One cool thing is that wedding DJs is that as a job they are ALWAYS in demand. Hence, it’s not a bad idea to consider this as a legit business option. In fact, it’s one of the coolest types of businesses I can think of.
And, if you make things easy by being a chill person and easy to work with and be around, you can get some on-the-job perks (*cough* free bar) as well as the gift that keeps on giving: more wedding DJ gigs.
Just don’t charge too much, but also don’t sell yourself short, since you’re the one providing the equipment, and dedicating your time and presenting them with your particular skill set.
The fun times are on you, my friend, so charge reasonably and you’ll be sure to get the gig.
But before you can get yourself that first wedding DJ gig, you need to know – what is your ideal DJ setup for weddings?
It can be overwhelming to think about in the beginning, but we’ll give you an elemental equipment checklist. Well, as simple as we can make it, since you will be needing a few “little” things.
And so, here is a quick guide to your first wedding DJ setup, and everything you’ll need to DJ your first wedding!
Deck / Controller / Mixer
What Is A DJ Deck?
Let’s get this straight. They’re sometimes called DJ decks, they’re sometimes called DJ controllers, and they are also called DJ mixers.
These terms are generally referring to the same device, which is in integrated music player.
Yes, just looking at the picture above, it does look like a shitshow of complicated equipment, and of course if you are just starting out what you do NOT want to see is something that has waaay too many buttons and switches.
Before you say “F— this! I’m going to become an accountant like my dad wants…” HOLD ON! As crazy as this mixer looks, its not necessarily that complicated.
Watch this video below which simplifies what these DJ mixers are all about, and we guarantee that things will make more sense shortly…
Ok, so assuming you watched that video above (you should it has great wedding DJ tips), let’s quickly recap some of the key takeaways of what you need to know as a beginner DJ who’s either just bought their first deck, or is considering it.
Basically, like Paul said, in the above example there are two decks, which each can play a cd. You control the volumes of each with the volume switches, and really those are your main concerns to start out with.
They also mentioned the AUX switch, which allows you to play stuff from your phone or computer. So, as you can see, having a piece of equipment like this, which is able to play cds, is a great asset for a wedding DJ.
Software and controllers – Cheap and easy DJ setup
As much as old-school DJs rant about them, laptops have become basic equipment for many DJs.
Weddings are no exception, since a laptop running software is much more mobile to carry around than crates and crates of cd’s or vinyl records.
To use a laptop for your wedding gigs, you’ll need specific DJ software and a controller, a piece of gear that you plug to a computer to have a more hands-on control – like a DJ joystick, essentially!
Another good thing about software DJing is that you don’t necessarily need a mixer since you can mix inside your program.
Nowadays there’s a plethora of software applications for DJing. Traktor and Serato are oldest players, but tons of other programs have appeared since they arrived on the scene.
Traktor is developed by german company Native Instruments. It’s a classic among DJ software and as such, it’s compatible with a lot of controllers.
Recently, Native Instruments introduced STEMS, a proprietary audio format that in the same file holds the different instruments of the track (Say drums, bass, keyboards and vocals).
This allows you to remix on the fly and gives DJing you a new horizon. When getting started on wedding gigs you may want to keep it simpler, but STEMS prove that Traktor is a great program that pushes the industry forward.
If you get started with Traktor for your wedding gigs, you know you’ll be working with industry-standard professional software.
Here’s a screenshot from Traktor:
Serato is another classic DJing application, heavily rooted on hip-hop and scratch tradition. It pioneered the digital vinyl system, where you can use a vinyl turntable to control tracks stored on your computer.
Fans swear by Serato because of its stability: Used as one of its selling points, the software is known to run day in and day out without hassle or problems.
This makes it a “rearguard” program: New functions usually aren’t added until the company is sure that stability won’t be compromised.
All in all Serato is a great choice and also offers a monthly subscription payment. Definitely check it out, whether it’s for starting your wedding DJ business or for stepping your DJing game up!
Here’s a screenshot from Serato so you get the idea of how it looks.
Free DJ Software Options
Of course there are a few free options to check out: PCDJ Dex lets you mix in up to four decks and Mixxx lets you explore its code to achieve greater customization capabilities. You can also opt for a paid version.
PC DEX in action.
Keep in mind that not every controller has a script for every DJing software (meaning that not all are compatible), so consider that when building your wedding dj setup!
Although the typical choice for the working laptop has always been Mac, PC’s have come a long way and provided you take care of it and keep Windows updates under control.
Keep in mind that the computer will likely be the center of your wedding DJ gear, so you need it to be up to the task! You should be getting at least an Intel i5 processor, preferably with an SSD drive.
Aside from a controller and software, you’ll need an audio interface, which basically takes sound in and out of your computer with better quality than your regular headphones jack.
Luckily, you don’t need much for DJing, just a main output that will go to the PA and a monitor output to pre-listen your next track on your headphones.
Also, some controllers also act as audio interfaces, which makes them ideal for a mobile DJ rig!
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z1 DJ Mixing Interface
With a high quality sound card and a gorgeous tactile screen to search your best tracks on your collection, these babies feel –and hear! – like a charm.
The 2000NXS2 offer you a plethora of possibilities to take your DJ set to the next level. They can play SD cards, CD’s, flash drives and can work as controllers for DJ applications.
Offering a whopping 96khz sampling rate, you can take your digital audio quality to the next level to have the crowd in the palm of your hand.
Siblings to the bigger XDJ-1000, these babies sit on a more modest budget while still offering plenty of power. With a nice LCD touch screen, you’ll be capable of accessing your track collection in no time. Perfect for wedding DJ gigs and their occasional rush to find a specific track!
Also thanks to the Hot cue and Loops capabilities, you will be able to create loops on the fly!
Take a look at this walk-through of the CDJ-900NXS and you will see why a CDJ is an excellent piece of gear that you might like to acquire before hitting the wedding DJ gig circuit in your area.
Another pro of using CDJs is that they are very common on club set-ups, so if you decide to go down the CD way, you’ll have the necessary skills to command a club dancefloor.
One option, although it will result in carting crates of vinyl everywhere, is some sick vinyl turntables.
Having vinyl as an option is becoming increasingly in-demand at weddings as vinyl itself is seeing a resurgence.
Vinyl these days isn’t just seen as old school, but actually new and fresh and facing the future. That said, you should know that bringing a vinyl turntable to your next wedding DJ gig doesn’t mean ripping grandma’s old record player out of the wall and throwing it in the van.
These new vinyl turntables are definitely looking dope, but they can still play whatever vinyl you like, whether it be hip hop or some old dusty jazz record.
And remember, vinyl = high quality audio, and its going to impress the blatant audiophiles at the wedding, and its going to treat everyone else to higher quality audio whether they are are aware of it or not.
Here’s a sample playlist featuring vinyl, so you can hear the transitions, but you won’t get the same quality, since this is obviously not being played on actual vinyl.
Vinyl Turntables = Cool Cache
Vinyl might not be every bride and groom’s go-to for music selection, but if you present them with some choice, you just know some people are going to say “Did you say vinyl?That’s awesome!”
So if you want to go hard into this wedding DJ thing, having some sick vinyl turntables at the ready can be a great option for certain types of weddings.
Here’s a quick tip or two about DJing using turn tables at a wedding from DJ Bill Bara from Modern Era Weddings.
Keep in mind that only direct drive turntables can endure DJ performances, because the technology in belt drive turntables is not prepared to do scratch and move records.
Here are a few great direct drive turntables you can check out on Amazon that will get the party started.
Best Vinyl Turntables – Editor Picks
Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable
Offering a nice Technics vibe at an affordable price range, the AT-LP120s feel solid and work greatly as gig turntables.
Turntables usually need a special “phono” input due to their low volume outputs. The AT-LP120 bypasses this hassle with an internal phono output, which lets you plug it to a regular RCA input.
Stanton T.92 USB Direct Drive Turntable
With a sturdy construction and with all the accessories you’ll need to start dropping tracks, the Stanton T92 is a solid choice for your wedding vinyl DJ setup.
Like the previous turntable, the Stanton comes with an USB cable that allows you to digitalize your vinyl tracks.
Speakers For Wedding DJing
Up next, we’re going to look at speakers, because you’re obviously going to need to get your hands on some good ones for your first wedding DJ gig.
This may sound a tad obvious, but in order to output your music you will need speakers. Ideally a whole PA system is probably what you will be needing at some point, but some good speakers are a must-have to start out.
You might luck out and they’ll offer to supply you with a PA / Sound System, but this is NOT something you should expect from anyone. You and your company need to be responsible for bringing ALL the gear – that basically goes without saying.
That said, think about it. If you have a good PA system, that will have speakers, not to mention many of them come with a mixer and a microphone.
Even if you aren’t required to do any MC’ing, someone is going to want to use a microphone at some point, and this means that having the whole PA set-up is kind of crucial. Here are some of the best deals on PA / Sound Systems out there right now.
It might not be a bad idea, once you secure the gig and know who you’re dealing with, to ask if there is anything you should not bring, because they might not want you to bring every piece of gear imaginable, but we suggest you be able to bring whatever is needed at the drop of a hat.
Speakers are one of those key pieces of gear that you cannot be caught dead without.
We will go into more detail about speakers in another post, but for now, let’s just quickly talk about the size of speakers any wedding DJ will need to rock the party.
Find The Appropriate Speaker Size For Your Wedding Or Event
Ceremony/Reception – 50-75 people
We recommend: Namsung’s Dual LU43PB 100 Watt 3-way Indoor/Outdoor Speakers in Black (Pair)
Cheap, resistant, nice audio quality, great for your first wedding DJ PA!
Ceremony/Reception – 75-150 people
200W to 400W System
We recommend:Seismic Audio – FL-15MP – Pro Audio PA/DJ 15″ Monitor – 100% Birch Plywood – 400 Watts RMS each
Solid construction and big volume. If you want to step up your wedding DJ setup, these are a nice way to go.
15 inch woofer guarantees a nice bass response. Since they are active, you don’t need a separate power amplifier to make them sound.
Ceremony/Reception – 150-300 people
300W – 600W System
We recommend:PylePro PASC12 600 Watt 12” Two-Way Stage Monitor Speaker System
With a slightly more modest 12 inch woofer, these may not offer such a big bass response, but they can be used alongside a specialized sub low speaker.
Being passive, you’ll need an amplifier, which is a separate piece of gear but almost always guarantees more and better sound.
Wedding Lighting & FX
If you want to really hype people up and get them in the partying mood, think about lighting and some special effects.
Each of these really deserve their own post, but, suffice it to say, you will probably be expected to have at least a mirror ball kicking around in your truck somewhere.
It all depends on the type of wedding you’re DJing, and whether you are required to go classy, or full on get-down-get-funky party mode.
Here are, at least, a few ideas for cool lights you could have on hand should the need arises.
A good wedding DJ set needs to have a large, engaging, and wide-ranging collection of music pieces.
If you want to keep your audience entertained, it is mandatory to engage them through the right tunes for the occasion, and this applies for every DJ.
Remember, this isn’t about you taking over the party with your tastes.
You’ll get more work the more you try to figure out what kind of music they want to hear.
Here is a typical 2016 wedding playlist to get you in the mainstream mood.
Adjusting to all these changing tastes in music is a challenge to any wedding DJ, and so you need to be ready with iPods, iPhones, hard drives, vinyl, and much more, because as you seek out various wedding DJ gigs, you just know that everyone is going to want different songs played in different ways, in different formats.
And then other people will have no clue what they want and expect you to know everything there is to know about music. So be ready!
In terms of tune-age, you should focus mainly on the safe bets, such as 80s, 90s or top 40 hits, especially with some disco and familiar dance tunes, for when the ambient gets a bit of loudmouthed later.
Choosing a list of songs that the guests can also drunkenly sing along to never fails. People kind of like this…
Or maybe like this…
Alrighty folks, that’s going to do it for now.
If you are just getting geared up to go into the wedding DJ business, and you have yet to work your first gig, this article should give you a lot to think about.