How To Start DJing (A Beginners Guide)
If you would really like to know how to get started DJing but don’t have a clue exactly where to start then you’ve come to the right place. This is the ultimate How to Be A DJ for Beginner’s guide where I will share you with some practical information on how to get your foot in the door of the DJ industry and what’s helped me over the last 20 years. Now one of the early questions you will have decided already is do you want to become a club DJ or a mobile DJ? Most will say club DJ, but I believe that before you become a specialist in something first you should become a generalist and learn the core skills first. This will provide you with a solid platform and experience to take your DJ career to the next level. With that in mind, the first tip is to start out as a mobile DJ.
Tip 1) Start out as a mobile DJ
Every DJ has got to start somewhere but with little to no experience trying go straight from the bedroom to the nightclub is like trying to do a back flip for the first time without breaking your neck – It’s possible but not worth trying. There is one major problem here, and that is that no nightclub (that has people in it) is going to take on some newbie or bedroom DJ who has never played in front of a crowd and allow them behind the decks. Not having experience in front of a crowd is pretty much a deal breaker for any nightclub so you are kind of left in a catch 22 unless you find another way (or unless your brother or friend owns the club).
What you need is two things as soon as possible, experience and and most importantly an income.
This is why you should start out as a mobile DJ where you can get some gigs playing in front of a real crowd and make a little extra cash on the side, which I will add usually pays a lot more than club gigs unless your name is Martin Garrix. Plus as a mobile DJ, your DJ skills are really put to the test because it’s easy to go and play house music in a club where everyone loves house music, but try playing seven different genres at a house party where you have to read the crowd and work out what people like based on their body language. This will really refine your DJ skills and prepare you for being a club DJ, if that’s what you choose to do.
Tip 2) Tag along with other DJs
Another great idea to get things started as quick as possible is to ring some mobile DJ companies or message other DJs in your area and ask them if they would like a free roadie to come along so you can help out, watch and learn. Most DJs will be surprisingly open to this idea (not to mention the free roadie) and if they are in a position to hire new DJs and you happen to leave a good impression you have a pretty good chance of landing yourself a paid job as a DJ. You should also try joining any DJ related Facebook groups and making friends with other DJs on Facebook and looking for other ways to get more experience.
Facebook Groups You Can Join:
Tip 3) DJ for family and friends
If there is one way to get some experience as a beginner DJ it is to offer to DJ for family and friends. This is how I got my foot in the door as a mobile and then eventually a club DJ. All of my initial gigs I did for free. I remember my older brother was a DJ when he went to Europe for 6 months leaving all of his DJ equipment in the garage. Needless to say I began playing the equipment and when my aunties and uncles had house parties I nominated myself to be the DJ and a new passion was born. As I was DJing family parties I was playing music from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, Top 40 and being family had non stop requests to which I happily obliged. Actually when you have a friendly attitude and play people’s request you learn more about what music people like and it expands your music knowledge. Sometimes you don’t know how well a song will go down until someone asks for it and when you play it you get to see peoples reactions. Moreover DJing for family and friends is a great way to get unbiased and honest feedback about your performance and gain experience before playing for paid customers.
Tip 4) Create a brand and advertise yourself
This is something you gotta do whether you are a club DJ or starting your own mobile DJ business. If you aren’t working for another mobile DJ company, then you will want to create a brand for yourself. It could be as simple as DJ XX-yourname-XX or you could make a unique business name like Pro Mobile DJs XX–yourcityname-XX. Once you have chosen a name, go and make some business cards up, do a photo shoot, take photos at your gigs, make a DJ website which these days you can do totally free (Click here for free WordPress course for DJs) and then go and add your website to as many trust worthy online directories as possible. Look for party planning websites, places like YELP and Yellow Pages, Google Maps, create a Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram you name it. Just do as much of it as possible and get your name out there.
Tip 5) Contact venues for new opportunities
Once you have a little experience up your sleeve, this is probably the easiest thing you could do with the largest pay off. Contact venues and ask them if they are looking for DJs. I’m not talking about night clubs although you can try that also, I’m talking about function venues, where you can get gigs without paying any money for advertising and start making money. Pick 5 of the closest function venues to your house and let them know you are a local DJ and looking for work, in case any of their customers require a DJ. Send them your business cards and a link to your website, and offer them a good deal if they make regular bookings.
Tip 6) Follow up your enquiries
Something else that’s really important is to make sure you follow up all of your enquiries. If you contact a venue and email some info through, follow up next week with a phone call. If you got an enquiry from one of the directory listings you created, get back to people quickly as this will increase your chances of getting a booking by over 25%. If you are having troubles with keeping track of who you called and when, or you are getting too busy, you should consider trying the Event Master Pro booking application which is an online application made for mobile DJs and booking agents to follow up their leads, automate all their emails and manage their bookings. This will help you turn DJing into a full time career.
Tip 7) Decide where to go from here
Okay so by now you have been DJing for at least a year, have DJ’d many different parties, developed some crowd reading skills, and you are also making a decent side income from your main job. Now you can start to consider the prospect of being a club DJ if you wish, alternatively you can just keep doing what you are doing and keep developing your DJ business. We’d all love to be DJing every day in Ibiza or the most popular night clubs, but let’s face it you need to make money too and there is a lot more opportunity to cash in and make money as a DJ doing private functions. Most club gigs will only be 2 or 3 hour sets and you might get only $50 per hour, whereas a mobile DJ will get $500 or $600 dollars for a 5 hour party which includes your equipment and lighting. Perhaps you might say you don’t wanna DJ for the money, but what are you doing as your day job so that you can live your passion a DJ? Wouldn’t you prefer to be making money AS A DJ and then choose to DJ at a club if you want to? and if they pay enough? and if you think it’s worth your time? Not because you are a bedroom DJ hoping for a chance to play to a crowd? I think we both know the answer to this.
DJing can be a passion and it can also be a way to make a living. If you want to survive in the DJ industry and be more than just a bedroom DJ you’ll need to find a steady way to build up your experience and make some coin at the same time. I say master the art of DJing to all crowds, with all music, and learn to make money from your craft as a professional mobile DJ, then if you really want once you’ve built up the skills you can take it to the clubs and really blow them nightclub owners socks off! If you are already a mobile DJ and want to generate even more gigs for yourself then head over and read our blog 5 Ways To Get Gigs Without Spending Any Money and if you like this article please leave your comments below.
Paul Anthony is the Managing Director of Event Master Pro and Discosource DJ’s based in Phuket, Thailand. With over 20 years experience as a Professional DJ he built a nation wide DJ service across every major city in Australia teaching over 50 DJs his craft and now developing the EMP online application for DJs.