Whether you’ve just started thinking about planning out your DJ career or you are already doing your first steps in the industry you have to adopt a strategy and keep some things in mind in order to jumpstart your DJ career. Here are most important things I wish I had done sooner when I was just starting out!
- Know your music, start your own track collection.
- Get your first DJ controller
- Come up with an easily recognizable DJ name
- Start building your brand online right away!
Check out also: What Are DJ Record Pools And How To Use Them?
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1. Know your music well, start your own track collection
The main task and the purpose of DJ’s existence is to provide people with music by preparing a track selection targeted for a specific crowd. To be able to do this you need to have access to a vast track selection. The more tracks in more genres you know the better you are able to tailor your tracklist to please all the people you’re playing for and deliver a great live set.
Research the topics of Digital DJ Record Pools, places to buy single tracks and albums or places to access them via a monthly subscription, and possibly streaming services integrated into the DJ software of your choice.
After a short online search you will be able to chose a best offer that is profitable for you. Usually access to record pools or DJ software streaming service integration is available in offers that you pay for after each month of use. Nowadays most of the time using those subscription based services is more reliable than buying each track separately.
Of course you may already have a collection of music files and tracks that you’ve accumulated over the years on your drive – those may also be a valuable addition to your evergrowing track library. Keep in mind however that generally you are required to have rights to every track you own in a digital form. We do not condone downloading music files from illegal services or ripping tracks from streaming services via third party software.
Music discovery is also an important part of building your track library. Search for both new and older tracks and songs in different places and don’t ever stop to discover new music.
When it comes to tracks other than “The top 50” be sure not only to blindly add new songs to your library after one quick listen – It is generally best to discover tracks naturally, as a part of your music listening routine. Appropriate and quick track selection will be your most important skill and in the beginning it will be often harder than the actual mixing process.
2. Get your first DJ controller
Quite an obvious piece of advice, in the beginning you might be fine with using either a dj app such as Algoriddim djay or Cross DJ only with your mobile device or your laptop. There is however a moment when those simple apps can’t do anymore good for you. Getting even a basic dj controller such as a Pioneer DDJ-FLX4, Numark Mixtrack Pro FX or Roland DJ-202 opens up a new world of possibilities before you and it’s an essential for you to progress. Even with an entry level controller you will have access to many essential features that you were lacking whilst using only your phone or laptop. Most obvious and important ones are physical controls and headphone cue capabilities.
We have an extensive article about DJ gear for beginners – feel free to check it out here: How To Choose Your First DJ Controller (New Detailed Guide!)
Buy an entry level DJ controller, or if you want to make a step further a professional one – which will allow you to begin building your go-to futureproof setup.
After getting your first dj controller be sure to watch lots of tutorials and example mixes performed on the device of your choice – you will naturally find lots of them most importantly on youtube. Learn some basic transitions and mix techniques and build on that learning new tricks by analyzing and utilizing the vast world of content available online.
The Pioneer DDJ-FLX4 is one of the most popular choices for an entry level dj controller for beginners.
3. Come up with an easily recognizable DJ name
When building your brand and promoting yourself online choosing an easy to remember and easily recognizable name is one of the most important things on a fresh DJ to-do list. By choosing a stage name early on you are able to start building your online presence – people who visit your social media profiles will now associate your DJ name with your work and when they will feel the need to come back to your profile the will be able to find you by the name you’ve chosen.
Easily recognizable and simple doesn’t by any means equal boring! It is crucial however to ensure that your stage name isn’t too long and that it’s easily pronounceable by english speakers.
A meaningful tip that many people seem to overlook is that you DJ name does not necessarily need to contain a phrase “DJ” at all. Many DJs use their producer name as their official DJ pseudonym. There is no reason to force the “DJ” part onto your stage name unless it really fits your creative vision and makes sense for you. Your role in musical world is declared by what you do and what you represent – it doesn’t have to be explicitly stated in your name!
You may also be tempted to use your own name and surname as your dj name. Keep in mind that some names may be hard to pronounce and hard to remember for people that do not speak your native language. A similar thing has to be told about some English names. While many of those don’t have to be necessarily hard to pronounce (although it really depends on the recipient’s native language) many might be simply not distinct enough and this might be harmful for building your online presence. Keep those things in mind!
While thinking about your stage name come up with words and phrases that are meaningful to you; those may come from your favorite book, movie or tv series, song lyrics or a quote. Write them out on paper or in a notepad app on your smartphone.
When you think of a dozen of meaningful phrases and words and you write them down don’t rush things. Give yourself some time to choose a stage name based on your notes. I often advice people to take a look at the list and go through it when they are listening to their favorite music, imagine themselves on stage and think if any of the names written out is the name that they would like to be associated with. You don’t have to choose your stage name right away, give yourself the time you need to find one that suits you and your style the most!
4. Start building your brand online right away!
Build your online presence right from the beginning! One of the things that are sometimes overlooked by many beginner djs is the social media promotion. Even if you are way before your first public set it’s highly advisable to start your social media accounts as soon as possible. If you start to build your social media following early on you won’t have to worry about it later on plus you will be able to begin sharing your new content and promote yourself with ease and your earliest fans will have the ability to get in touch with you via your social media profiles. Those early connections really help in building a community around your brand.
Start your social media accounts early on to build your following. Three social media accounts are sufficient, most popular choices for DJ’s being Twitter, Instagram and Facebook depending on the country.
You can go beyond the social media promotion by creating a simple one-page business website showing some of your photos, containing links to your social media accounts, links to your recent mixes and contact info. There are web services that allow you to create and host that kind of simple website with ease using a drag-and-drop site editor, a great example is wix.com. It’s a great advertisement method: whenever anyone asks for you you are now able to show them examples of your work just as an artist who shows someone their online art portfolio!
We have an extensive guide on online DJ brand promotion for beginners here, be sure to check it out!
Article photo: Sammy-Williams