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The 30 Best DJ Tips For Beginners

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DJ Tips For Beginners

Your dream of becoming a DJ is underway, but you’re not quite sure what to do next.

Well, learning how to DJ doesn’t have to be complicated; you just need to break things down and focus on one thing at a time.

So, to get you started, here’s a list of 30 DJ tips for beginners that will set you on the road to success!

 

Top 30 DJ Tips For Beginners

 

1. Determine Your Sound

A DJ Determining Their Sound

First things first, you’re going to want to determine what type of music you’d like to mix.

Don’t worry; you can always change genres as you progress; however, it’s a good idea to start with what you know.

For example, you might have already built up a collection of EDM tracks in your music library that you’re familiar with.

That’s great, as when you start to learn how to mix, you’ll be a lot more likely to commit to it if as you enjoy the music.

So, keep it simple, start with your favorite genre, and away you go.

 

2. Choose Your DJ Type

A club DJ Performing

Once you’ve determined your sound, you should look into different types of DJs and figure out which one you’d like to be.

These include mobile DJs, wedding DJs, club DJs, radio DJs, scratch DJs, or even just hobbyist DJs.

The point is to determine what you want to be doing with the skills you’re developing, so you can have a goal to work toward.

 

3. Get Inspired

You’re more than likely learning to DJ due to inspiration from other DJs you like.

It’s important to stay inspired throughout the learning process, as there will be times that you’ll want to give up.

To make sure you stay on the right track, we recommend attending your favorite DJs’ events, following them on social media, and keeping an ear to the ground when it comes to new DJs, so you can model what’s working for them.

Inspiration often turns into motivation, so make sure you keep yourself in the mix as much as possible.

Try to talk to other DJs that you admire who are a few steps ahead of you, as this will help you to visualize how long things take.

 

4. Find A Mentor

A DJ Helping Another DJ

This is one of the most important DJ tips for beginners, as it can save you hours of frustration and wasted time.

Finding someone to guide you in the right direction that has already got the battle scars is worth its weight in gold.

Not only will they be able to oversee what you’re doing, but they’ll also introduce you to the right people when you’re ready to start playing in front of a crowd.

Now, depending on your circumstances, finding a mentor could be pretty challenging, but if you’re willing to put in the work, then it will almost certainly pay off in the long run.

Start by networking with your existing contacts and reach out to DJs on social media.

 

5. Stick To One Genre

As we mentioned earlier, starting with one genre will help keep things simple for you.

Sticking to it until you’ve got the basics of beat matching under your belt will pay dividends.

This is because learning how to beatmatch by ear takes a lot of time, so if you’re constantly switching between genres and BPMs, then it’s going to take a long time to reach your goals.

So, keep things simple and stick to your chosen genre until you’ve mastered the fundamentals of beatmatching.

 

6. Use What You Have

Minimal DJ Set-up

One of our biggest beginner DJ tips is to use what you already have.

You don’t need to rush out and buy the latest DJ mixer, DJ controller, or speakers before you even know what you’re doing.

Learning the basics of beatmatching and mixing can all be done using free DJ software on a laptop.

Depending on what type of DJ you want to be, pretty much everything you need to know about music theory, beatmatching, equipment, and song selection can all be done from a computer.

So, start with what you have, learn some theory, play around with free DJ software, and purchase more equipment as you develop your knowledge.

 

7. Choose The Right Gear

A DJ Controller & Laptop

Once you’ve developed a good understanding of theory, and know what type of DJ you want to be, then you’re ready to invest in your first piece of DJ equipment.

Different DJs require different bits of gear, so make sure you do your research before you spend any money.

Now, with that said, you don’t have to buy brand new equipment either, as you can pick up some excellent, high-quality DJ controllers on the second-hand market for a fraction of the cost.

Most DJs are pretty anal when it comes to their gear and tend to take care of it to the point of obsession.

This means you can grab some absolute bargains when more established DJs upgrade their DJ setups.

Alternatively, if you’re not into buying second-hand DJ equipment, then just invest in the best you can afford, and upgrade as you go.

The saying “You get what you pay for” couldn’t be more true when it comes to DJ equipment.

 

8. Upgrade As You Go

Traktor Kontrol S2 DJ Controller

As we mentioned before, you don’t need to start with the latest and greatest equipment, as you can buy new gear as you go.

Upgrading bit by bit also helps keep you motivated and gives you goals to work toward.

Let’s say you start with a laptop, some basic DJ software, a second-hand pair of decks, and a mixer.

Once you’ve mastered those and fully understand what they do, you can make better buying decisions when it comes time to upgrade your equipment.

Also, after you’ve earned some money from your first gig or two, you can re-invest the profits back into buying better gear until you’ve built a nice collection of DJ equipment.

 

9. Know Your Equipment

DJ Tips- Know You DJ Controller

Once you get yourself a new piece of equipment, it’s well worth your time understanding what each button, fader, and knob actually does.

By doing this, you’ll have complete peace of mind that you’re DJ sets will be entirely in your control.

The good thing is, you only need to learn your way around a DJ mixer once, and the majority of DJ equipment on the market, for that matter, as they’re all pretty much the same as each other.

However, there will be new features and things you’ll have to learn when upgrading or switching brands, but in general, once you know what you’re doing, it’s pretty easy to switch between different pieces of equipment.

Also, it’s pretty common for certain features on a DJ mixer, as well as DJ controllers, to do more than one thing, so exploring what they’re fully capable of will help make your DJ sets even more exciting.

 

10. Invest In Your Headphones

DJs Using DJ Headphones

When you’re starting out learning to DJ, money can be tight.

One of the first things beginner DJs tend to try and save money on is headphones.

Unfortunately, that’s not the right way to go, as you’ll end up buying several pairs over and over again until you eventually end up investing in a premium pair.

DJ headphones are one of the most critical pieces of DJ equipment.

DJs wear headphones to preview different tracks, adjust the tempo, select cue points, and even for basic ear protection.

Using a low-quality pair of headphones while DJing can invite a whole host of problems that you really want to avoid when performing in front of a crowd.

So, making sure you invest in a high-quality pair of headphones is an absolute must.

 

11. Invest In Quality Earplugs

If you want a long career as a DJ, then it goes without saying that protecting your ears is a no-brainer.

However, you’ll often see many DJs forget to use ear-plugs or not use any at all and end up developing tinnitus further down the line.

This is definitely something you don’t want to get, especially as a successful DJ, as it’s almost impossible to cure.

So, the best thing to do is invest in a few good pairs of earplugs and make sure you’ve always got some with you in loud environments.

You don’t need to spend loads of money on molded earplugs initially; just regular earplugs will do until you’re making more money.

Also, try to be aware of how loud your monitors, headphones, and speakers are when mixing, as a few simple tweaks to volume can help prevent long-term noise damage.

The age-old saying, ‘prevention is better than cure,’ couldn’t be more true!

 

12. Learn To Beatmatch

Learning how to beatmatch by ear is one of the most crucial DJ tips for beginners.

Yes, we know that all modern DJ controllers come with auto-sync (automatically matches the speed of one track with another) nowadays, but what happens if they have a technical problem and stop working in the middle of your set, or the venue uses old equipment that doesn’t use auto-sync?

Well, you’re going to have a pretty unhappy crowd to deal with, probably a loss of earnings, and you’ll feel somewhat embarrassed.

Learning to beatmatch by ear will take a lot of time and effort, but in the long run, you’ll be grateful you did, as you’ll always have peace of mind that you can do if push comes to shove.

So, if you haven’t started learning to beatmatch, now’s as good a time as any!

Check out the video above to learn the basics of beat matching.

 

13. Learn To Equalize (EQ)

Learning how to DJ using EQ is going to be one of the best things you do.

Equalization, or EQ for short, allows you to manipulate the high, middle, and low frequencies of a track using a DJ mixer.

Understanding how EQ works will help you create smooth transitions between tracks, and your sets will sound a lot more professional.

Nowadays, most high-quality mixers come with a 4/3-band equalizer (EQ), which allows you even more control than an older two-channel mixer.

Whatever mixer you have, start messing around with the EQ as soon as possible to get a feel for what it’s all about.

 

14. Learn To Count

Now that you know how to beatmatch, it’s time to learn how to line your tracks using the beat.

You may already be familiar with counting to four in music, but most dance tracks come in counts of eight and phrases of 4.

To keep things simple, when you cue your next track on a mixer, the first beat of your new track should be synced to the first beat of the playing track.

It’s important to get this right; otherwise, your mixes won’t match, and your set will sound off.

Developing the habit of counting to eight will also make beatmatching and mixing a lot easier.

However, as this article is all about DJ tips for beginners, don’t worry too much if you don’t get this straight away, as it can take a while to understand fully.

 

15. Create Good Habits

When you first start learning how to DJ, it’s pretty easy to develop bad habits that are hard to shift.

These habits can range from setting up your equipment incorrectly to a complete lack of understanding of equalization (EQ).

Our biggest piece of advice for creating good habits is just taking your time and fully understanding what you’re doing from the start.

With the constant release of new equipment and DJ software, it’s now even easier to get distracted, but try not to move on to the next shiny object until you’ve mastered the last.

Take your time, create good habits from the get-go, and master your craft one step at a time.

The video above will help you understand how habits work and how you can increase your chances of building good ones.

 

16. Stay Out Of The Red

As you get more into DJing, you’re going to come across redlining and clipping.

Clipping is when an audio signal is amplified past the maximum limit, leading to distortion and lower audio quality.

The signal levels are visible on your mixer’s channels, and use a simple green and red color system to indicate each channel’s volume.

You’re going to want to keep your tracks in the green as much as possible and learn to keep an eye on all your tracks levels when you’re mixing.

If you’re looking for more volume overall, then you can use the mixer’s primary volume control instead of increasing each channel.

It’s worth taking note of tip fifteen, as you’ll want to get clipping under control before you start playing your first DJ sets.

Check out the video above to learn how to set up your gain structure correctly.

 

17. Record Your Mixes

DJ Software Recording A DJ Mix

If you’re serious about improving your DJ skills, you will want to know what your mixes sound like to other people.

The best way to do this is by recording your mixes and playing them back to yourself to understand what you need to improve upon.

This is a great way to gauge your progress and provides you with critical feedback that you’re unlikely to get unless you’re in front of an audience.

Most DJ software, like Serato DJ Lite, allows you to record your mix with ease. By recording your mix, you’ll pick up on any bad habits, and you’ll be able to track your progress, which is crucial when you’re just starting.

Once you’ve recorded your mixes a few times, it might be an idea to upload them to platforms like SoundCloud, as you might receive constructive criticism you can use to improve.

 

18. Film Your Sets

Film DJ Sets

Just like recording your mixes, filming your sets is a great way to improve your DJing skills.

Almost every DJ we know has a certain energy about them and an ability to get the crowd moving.

Keeping the audience engaged is an essential DJ skill that every DJ who plays in front of a crowd must learn how to do well.

One of the best ways to find out what you look like behind the decks is to film yourself.

You’ll be able to see your exact body movements, what your hands are doing when they’re not on the mixer, and what your general energy and aura are like.

Now, you might be thinking no one cares what you look like behind the decks, but actually, club owners and managers want you to have positive, upbeat energy, as this keeps people dancing and having a good time.

If you just look like you’re pressing a few buttons and turning knobs, then people will leave the venue, and the club owner won’t book you again.

So, once you feel comfortable, start filming your sets at home, watching them back, and figuring out your style, positioning, and presence when you’re behind the decks.

After you’ve done it a few times, you’ll start feeling less nervous, more confident, and ready to DJ in front of a crowd.

 

19. Play It Cool With Effects

Effects On A DJ Mixer

Although we’re big fans of effects like reverb and echo, we only use them as and when necessary.

When you’re learning to DJ, you’ll pick up a lot of tips and tricks along the way, and a fair few of them will be to do with sound effects.

However, trust us when we say less is more when it comes to this kind of thing. Just because they’re there doesn’t mean you have to use them.

By using too many effects, you’ll end up overpowering your mix, and the audience will pick up on it.

You want to be as subtle as you can when adding effects like filters and reverb, so much so that it’s hard to notice if you’re using any at all.

So, when it comes to sound effects, take it easy and keep it simple.

 

20. Build Your Music Library

DJ City Record Pool

One of the biggest things you’re going to need to stay on top of as a DJ is your music library.

When you’re just getting started, building a library from scratch can be expensive.

Whether you’re paying for monthly subscriptions to DJ record pools or you’re buying tracks directly from platforms like Apple Music, it all adds up.

The good news is that there are tons of free music resources to get you started.

However, if you’ve got cash to spend, you should check out some of the paid record pools, like DJ City; as for a small monthly fee, you’ll have access to millions of tracks.

 

21. Get Organized

An Organized DJ

Although it’s not one of the most incredible beginner DJ tips, organizing your music, equipment, and overall DJ setup is one of the best things you can do when getting started.

The reason being is that the sooner you know where things are, the easier your life will be when you start performing in front of an audience.

Many DJs organize their playlists by genre, beats per minute (BPM), mood, and event type.

Our advice to beginners is to start by genre, as it’s the easiest to understand, and then create a few playlists organized by BPM and mood once you get to grips with beatmatching.

These are the most popular ways to organize tracks; however, it all comes down to what type of DJ you want to be and the music you’re going to play.

Aside from your tracks, make sure to keep your equipment in good standing and start looking at DJ controller carrying cases and other modes of transporting your gear.

Getting these things in place from the start will save you a lot of stress during your first gig, as you’ll be organized and ready to go.

 

22. Practice, Practice, Practice

A DJ Practicing DJing

It goes without saying that you’re going to need to practice a lot to become great at anything you want to do in life.

How much practice is up to you, but if you want to become the best DJ you can be, then you’re going to need to put in the work.

Many DJs are known for putting in thousands of hours, day-after-day, for years before their first professional gig.

That’s not to say you have to wait years for your first gig; it’s just to give you some perspective on how long it might take before you feel ready to DJ outside of your bedroom.

Either way, we feel that there’s no such thing as too much practice, especially when it comes to doing something you love.

However, moderation is key, like anything in life, so come up with a plan and schedule that allows you to practice consistently and try and stick to it as best you can.

You’ll be amazed at the progress you can make if you’re consistent.

 

23. Don’t Be A Perfectionist

Done is Better Than Perfect

Perfectionism is one of the fastest ways to put the breaks on your progress.

It’s one thing to practice your craft to the point of mastery, but waiting until everything’s perfect is a sure way to stay trapped in your bedroom, never allowing your DJ mixes the chance to be heard.

So don’t worry about making your mixes perfect; just focus on being good enough to perform the job you’re paid to do and continue getting better over time.

Even after DJing for many years, you’ll still feel like you don’t know everything and that you’re not good enough, that’s just the way it goes.

 

24. Mistakes Happen

A Sign About Mistakes

This next tip is undoubtedly one of the most important DJ tips for beginners, so take note.

You’re going to make mistakes throughout your entire DJ career; it’s just part of the process.

Everyone makes mistakes; even the biggest DJs on the planet mess up a mix from time to time.

However, the trick is to acknowledge your mistakes, learn from them, and keep moving forward.

Mistakes offer you an opportunity to understand what not to do, what doesn’t work, and how to grow and develop your DJ skills even more.

So, don’t worry about making mistakes; they happen, just try and develop a habit of letting them go as soon as possible, and focus on continually getting better every day.

 

25. Be Patient

An Hour Glass Indicating Patience

The adage “Rome wasn’t built in a day” couldn’t be more true for learning how to DJ.

DJing takes a lot of time to perfect, and there’s no clear path or magic bullet to success.

It takes a long time to learn how to beatmatch correctly, mix and blend tracks seamlessly, and fine-tune your skills to the point of satisfaction.

You’ll need to start networking and building relationships with people within the industry if you want to secure paid DJ gigs.

On top of that, you’ll be spending countless amounts of time building your music catalog, understanding each track inside out, and fine-tuning your set-up and workflow.

That’s why it’s important to make sure you enjoy what you’re doing and give yourself the time to practice and develop your skills, so you’re ready to perform in front of an audience, which just takes time and patience.

 

26. Break Out Of Your Bedroom

A DJ Performing In A Bedroom

If you’re serious about becoming a DJ, then there will come a time when you need to start performing.

In our opinion, that time is when you’ve mastered the fundamentals and feel confident in what you’re doing.

Then, it’s time to step outside your comfort zone and put all that practice into play.

It will be scary at first, and you’re going to be nervous, but that’s all part and parcel of becoming a DJ.

Once you get stuck into your first DJ set, and you get some positive feedback from the crowd, your nerves will settle, and all your hard work will have paid off.

 

27. Learn How To Read A Crowd

Once you’ve broken free from DJing at home, it’s important to learn how to read a crowd as quickly as possible.

By doing so, you’ll discover how to adapt to the venue’s mood and be able to adjust your mix accordingly.

The world’s highest-paid DJs have mastered reading a crowd through years of DJing in front of different types of audiences around the world.

It takes time to comprehend fully, but over time, you’ll develop the ability to identify what tracks work well with each other and what crowds respond to the most, especially if you stick to one genre, as we mentioned earlier.

Check out the video above to learn how Phil Harris reads a crowd.

 

28. Have Fun

A DJ Having Fun DJing

What’s the point of doing something if you’re not having fun, right?

Well, this is by far one of the most essential DJ tips for beginners, as if you’re not having fun while becoming a DJ, then you may as well pick something else to do.

First and foremost, you should be having fun while you’re learning the ropes. Don’t get us wrong, you will get frustrated along the way, but as long as it’s enjoyable, then you’ll continue to make progress.

Once you’re playing your first gigs, you’ll see how important it is to have fun behind the mixer, as the crowd is much more likely to respond well to a DJ who’s pumped and full of energy.

This goes back to the importance of tip eighteen as if you know what you look like while your mixing, then you’ll know what the crowd sees during your DJ set.

So, when things are annoying, and you feel like you’re not making any progress, remember to relax, have fun and enjoy the process.

 

29. Start Networking

We touched on this in tip twenty-five, but the sooner you start networking, the better.

Once you start, you’ll quickly realize that you do actually have what it takes to become a successful DJ, and your confidence will increase.

You don’t have to go to formal networking events or meetups anymore, although they can be pretty good if you go to the right ones, as you can reach out to club owners, promoters, and venues, all via social media and over the phone.

Before you do this, it’s a good idea to make sure your online presence is up to scratch, as the first thing people you contact will do is google your name or DJ name to see what you’re all about.

 

30. Keep Learning

Keep Learning As A DJ

We’re finishing off our list of DJ tips for beginners by encouraging you to keep learning.

There’s always new music and DJ equipment being released, and the industry as a whole changes fast.

However, the most important thing to recognize as a new DJ is that you can do anything you set your mind to as long as you’re willing to put in the work and have a plan to get there.

A lot of DJs stop learning once they’ve developed the fundamentals. However, the most successful DJs of all time are constantly learning, figuring out new ways of mixing, and producing even better DJ mixes than ever before.

So keep learning and never be afraid to ask questions, as there’s not one DJ on the planet that knows everything.

 

DJ Tips For Beginners – Rounding It All Up

Hopefully, our list of DJ tips for beginners will help you on your way to becoming the best DJ you can be.

Use the tips and tricks as a roadmap to master the fundamentals and develop your skills throughout the early stages of your DJing career.

As you become familiar with the basics of DJing, start venturing outside of this guide and experimenting with your own style and techniques.

 

Here’s a quick recap of our top 30 DJ tips for beginners:

  1. Determine Your Sound
  2. Choose Your DJ Type
  3. Get Inspired
  4. Find A Mentor
  5. Stick To One Genre
  6. Use What You Have
  7. Choose The Right Gear
  8. Upgrade As You Go
  9. Know Your Equipment
  10. Invest In Your Headphones
  11. Invest In Quality Earplugs
  12. Learn To Beatmatch
  13. Learn To Equalize (EQ)
  14. Learn To Count
  15. Create Good Habits
  16. Stay Out Of The Red
  17. Record Your Mixes
  18. Film Your Sets
  19. Play It cool With Effects
  20. Build Your Music Library
  21. Get Organized
  22. Practice, Practice, Practice
  23. Don’t Be A Perfectionist
  24. Mistakes Happen
  25. Be Patient
  26. Break Out Of Your Bedroom
  27. Learn How To Read A Crowd
  28. Have Fun
  29. Start Networking
  30. Keep Learning

Have we missed any DJ tips for beginners? Leave a comment below.

Matt's the guy behind Audio Captain. He's a qualified sound engineer and self-confessed music nut who's passionate about electronic dance music. When he's not writing about all things audio, you'll find him in the gym or working on his next EDM track.