Many DJs get their career started in their basement or bedroom, perfecting their craft to eventually share it with the world.
Some DJs will learn the basics and hope that their new found skill set is enough to be booked for at multiple venues, but what about the competition? There are a lot of ways DJs can improve their skills to set themselves apart from their competition. This could mean be better gigs and bigger venues.
What are some ways to up your game and outwit the competition? Are there things that should be done that you are not doing yet to improve your talent and set you apart from other DJs?
Learning how to DJ is can be overwhelming for many and experts say that it’s important to break everything down and learn one aspect at a time. The learning process takes time and patience, but with the proper mindset, work ethic and drive, here are 10 DJ tips that could help enhance your chances of success.
Take a look below a the list of 10 DJ tips and tricks to improve your skill and enhance your mixes.
Tip and Trick #1: Don’t take Yourself Too Seriously, Have FUN!
DJing is fun and the energy and hype that comes from the crowd can be infectious. This is no ordinary skill or talent that is straightforward and black and white. There is a lot of room for creativity and imagination. DJs that are most successful don’t see their practice sessions as a job, but more of a first love. They should be engaged with their music and the crowd.
We will get into this a little later but it’s important to be able to read the crowd and understand the mood, the setting, and the venue. If you are seeing people leave the stage or dance floor or are on their phones, what are you doing that you could do differently?
People go out to dance to enjoy and have fun… They want to be taken through a musical journey and as a DJ, it’s your aim and goal to do just that.
DJ with passion and fervor because the energy you set on stage should radiate throughout the venue and music set.
Tip and Trick #2: Know your Equipment
A lot of new DJs will unwrap their equipment and immediately start using it without taking the time to understand its mechanics. Once you have mastered the basic functions of your equipment, take the time to learn some of the features that are not as popular or well known but could really enhance your mixes.
Some experts even suggest picking a track and playing it on a loop for 20 minutes and testing out one feature at a time. See what happens, see how that feature can be incorporated in some of the other already learned functions.
Part of knowing your equipment is understanding some of the downfalls where you may have to manually adjust the sound, pitch, or tempo. While a lot of your equipment should automatically sync beats or time transitions, the equipment isn’t perfect. It’s vital to understand the mechanics and know how to adjust to changes without warning or preplanning.
Watch out for red lights clipping on amps and the mixer. Ignoring these warning signs may cause long-term damage to your equipment and it’s vital to fix any issues to ensure to produce the best quality of sound and experience.
Tip and Trick #3: Learn How to Mix in Key
This skill can really enhance your mix deck. Harmonic mixing is a skill that some DJs ignore but when mastered it can really transform your mixes. The original method of determining the key of the tune was to use a piano and then label each record before going out on stage. There is new technology and software that can help with this process and automatically pair two songs together.
Some songs that have matching tunes may still not sound good when mixed together. Matching by ear may be the easiest and best way to find the best pairing to filter out those matches that even though they have the same tune, they still don’t work well with each other.
To bring your mix to the next level, experts suggest trying to match kick drums and kick drum patterns. When you can mix two tracks together and your audience can’t tell the difference, you’ll know that you’ve mastered this skill.
Take your time in learning this skill because it could really elevate your audience’s experience and your reputation.
Tip and Trick #4: Create your Own Loops and Record your Own Vocal Samples
You can use your DJing software to loop your favorite songs and have queued up for your gig beforehand. This is a way to add flare and creativity to your set.
Some DJs take it one step farther and create their own loops with drum machine software and melody-producing equipment. Making an original sound could give your listeners a totally unique and memorable experience.
Can you sing? Some DJs that can sing will put together sounds and create loops out of them to enhance their set.
This is just like creating loops with various instruments, but you are using your vocals. If you can sing, you should really explore how to integrate that into your mixes. This will set you apart and make you a better sound producer and artist.
Tip and Trick #5: Understand the Best Moments to Mix In and Out of a Track
Be prepared. It’s important to understand each track and know where to mix in and out. If the timing is off, the track may sound terrible.
Make sure the vocals don’t clash and ensure there isn’t one melody competing for dominance over the other.
When sounds aren’t mixed properly there could be a sudden interruption of the vibe and flow of your set, interrupting the overall experience for your listeners.
Tip and Trick #6: Analyze your Tracks and Record Everything
DJs should know every detail of their tracks, everything from its tempo to key to when and how the bars break within the track. And not only that, they should record everything as a way to keep track and analyze their mixes. Analyzing the data as it’s put is a way to maintain the creative flow and know where to continue to improve tracks for future shows.
Take the time to listen to your tunes. Record and videotape yourself DJing as a well, to pick up areas for improvement.
Another helpful tip with this trick is to group your tracks into groups of two or three as a way to complement each other. You can match the bass lines or melodies and structures to create a robust and sound-worthy playlist. Creating a playlist can help build a journey and story for your music, giving your audience a trip of a lifetime.
Tip and Trick #7: Learn Multiple Genres
Being locked into one genre may limit your progression as a DJ. Yes, it’s important to mix music that you love listening to, but integrating new sounds into your deck can help improve your mixing abilities and pose as a new and fun challenge.
Mixing across multiple genres will offer a different experience transforming your skill level. You could even unlock some creative idea that produces a whole new sound that could resonate and go viral with your followers.
Remember there are no boundaries when it comes to music production. You can be creative and inventive and think way outside the box by mixing between genres.
Think about ways that could set you apart as a DJ, why wouldn’t you want to push the limit and expand what you’re capable of producing and recording?
Exploring new genres could open a whole new world and only elevate your potential and talent.
Tip and Trick #8: Read your Crowd
Many DJs fail to learn how to read the crowd and be flexible in the present moment. It’s important to be able to read body language, pump up the crowd and interact with your listeners.
Making a name for yourself within the industry is important to continued growth and progression. Getting this right and connecting with your fans is important because it will expand your following and reputation.
One way to take advantage of low moments and lulls in sets is arriving 30 mins early to see other DJs perform. Read the crowd. are people on their phones? Are they leaving the dance floor? Look at what the DJ may be doing and aim to not do what they’re doing. in fact. do differently and do better.
Tip and Trick #9: Leverage your FX and Faders Appropriately
Make sure you don’t overuse the faders between tracks. Some DJs will make the mistake of fading the beat too quickly and cutting over to the next track and replacing vocals with empty-sounding snares or kick drums. Not everyone will notice this abrupt transition but sometimes when it’s done without intention. that could ruin the audience’s experience.
Using the faders is a great way to build anticipation for the crowd and create a tease for them of what is to come but don’t cut off vocals. Pick out recognizable parts of a track to woo the crowd and keep them engaged in your set.
Incorporating FX into your set can enhance your set. Take time to understand and perfect the use of FX. You want to make sure you don’t overdo it, but many DJs will focus too much on adding in delay and reverb which can be annoying and become outplayed.
FX can be used to cover up poor beatmatching or transition to another mix, but don’t heavily rely on it. Remember, sometimes less is more.
Tip and Trick #10: Master One Technique at a Time
There are so many different techniques you can learn and master. These new tricks of the trade could be picked up from another DJ or you may see them done in tutorials and YouTube videos.
You may feel that you need to master them all at once, but there is no rush. Make sure you master the basics and then start finding your own technique and personality. Build your brand and integrate different sounds, techniques, filters, faders, etc., to create your own music footprint.
Once you master a new skill, rinse and repeat all over again. Practice, practice, practice. Hard work and practice can help enhance your skills as a DJ and musician.
That’s a Wrap!
If you are new to the industry or looking to make some changes. what are you doing right now that may be holding you back? If you’ve read the tips above carefully and thoroughly. what are you not doing that you could do more of or start?
At the end of the day, you need to love what you do and when it comes to DJing and making music for others’ entertainment. it’s easy to tell
Who’s heart isn’t in it anymore. Your crowd feeds off your energy and aura which is why it’s important for you to show up and give your best.
Additionally, you are going to make mistakes. Some of the tips listed above are harder to implement but not impossible to master. Use your mistakes as a way to learn and grow. Don’t ruminate on them and let them fester. That negative energy will do you no good.
Be open to understanding and learning from your mistakes. In fact. some of the greatest DJs have worked and learned from other artists. They’ve made mistakes and have taken the necessary steps to continue to grow and improve.
What Makes a Good DJ Mix?
What should you look for in a good DJ mix? Well, the easiest solution to this is to look back on events you attended. What was fun about the DJ? What worked? Here is what we think:
- Energy. A good DJ brings energy to the party and seems like they are having fun, too. You want someone who is upbeat, fun, and happy.
- A good mix of songs. At something like a wedding, you need a good mix. A good DJ will have requests lined up from the people hiring them. You need to have some great, popular stuff for dancing. You need some slow songs, or some classics, for a mixed crowd.
- Get people moving. Throw in some classics that everyone loves. Get everyone, from the grandparents down to the kids, tapping their toes and wanting to move.
- It’s Not About the DJ. It’s about the event, tailoring music to it, and finding popular stuff plus classics to fit your demographic. A good DJ will know the crowd and show them a good time.
DJs on Stage
DJs performing live on stage are a key part of audience enjoyment. DJs choose tracks that are best suited to their audience and atmosphere. DJs can perform on stage at clubs, and may also be apart of television and radio broadcasts.
While choosing songs to play, a DJ can choose to correlate the beats per minute of one song to another to maintain a flow between songs. DJs may also slightly modify the songs that they are playing by altering sound frequencies, altering the amount of bass, and adjusting treble.
Some DJs may choose to introduce electronic sounds effects to their sets. DJs make these adjustments by altering the controls and knobs on the control panels they have on stage.
The combination of various songs and alterations to them work to create a set of unique music for the crowd to enjoy, all of which is made possible by the DJ.