Learn to DJ – The complete beginners guide!

What is a DJ, What does a DJ do, and how do I become a DJ? Your introduction to the art of DJ’ing!

In this article we are going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions by beginners interested in DJ’ing. DJ’ing is a fantastic hobby and for some develops into a dream job. The ability to control music to express your self is an amazing skill and somewhat of an art form. Just as with playing a musical instrument, DJ’s sometimes specialise in specific areas of the subject. This can lead to confusion about what makes a “DJ” a DJ but fear not, in this article we break down the basics you need to know about!

What a DJ Does

A DJ is an individual who plays prerecorded music to an audience. DJ’s can be found playing music on the radio, mixing songs at a party or even playing on main stages at festivals. They typically use equipment that can play two sources of music, and will mix the music in such a way to avoid pauses and gaps.

What does a DJ do?

The most common skill used to mix music is called beat matching. Beat matching involves adjusting the speed of two tracks to align their beats, avoiding clashing tempos when changing from one track to another. As a DJ progresses, they may chose to learn other skills such as scratching and tone play to create more interesting mixes.

People who create music, especially electronic music, are sometimes incorrectly referred to as DJ’s. Although they might DJ to perform these tracks live, they are actually known as Producers within the industry. It’s important to know not every DJ has to make their own music.

What equipment do you need to DJ

DJ’s require equipment that allows for the playback of at least two different pieces of music. Typically a DJ will use two sources of music, these can be CD players, turntables or digital media players. An external DJ mixer is then used to blend the two tracks together.

Rather than buying a mixer and two players separately, most modern DJ’s now use controllers. These are cheaper, all in one units that control DJ software running on a computer, phone or tablet. Popular software for use with controllers include Serato, Rekordbox and Traktor. You can read our best beginner controller article here.

Alternatively, it is possible to DJ with just the application on its own with no external controller. However without physical controls, mixing the music can be difficult. Virtual DJ for PC/Mac and Algoriddim Djay for Phone/Tablet are popular applications for users with no hardware. Read our full software guide here!

What equipment does a DJ need?

Is DJing hard to learn?

As with most skills in life, DJ’ing requires a lot of practice to master. That said, DJ’s benefit from great tools and aids to automate certain aspects and make the process easier. Some people will find DJ’ing easier to pick up that others but it’s important to note that we have never come across anybody who hasn’t eventually been able to mix after some practice.

Is DJing hard to learn?

How long does it take to learn to DJ?

Using tools such as SYNC and Quantize a DJ can perform basic mixes within minutes. However, to learn to beat match without any aids, the process can take a lot longer to master. As with most skills, some people will learn faster than others. However, it’s important to note that DJ’ing isn’t impossible and most people do learn the basics within a matter of hours.

Why not try DJ’ing for free? Click here to take a free lesson using applications that are free to download! 

How much is a good DJ setup?

The equipment a DJ uses is usually influenced by the style of DJ’ing they are performing. A scratch DJ for example may use a battle mixer and turntables, which is usually very expensive. However, to start DJ’ing most people will use a controller. These offer great control for very little money, with some beginner units being just over £100.

A typical professional DJ booth will be equipped with a stand alone mixer and at least two media players (most typically Pioneer CDJ units). These can cost thousands each meaning a full professional set up can easily be in excess of £6000.

Professional DJ Set Up

Luckily for beginners, DJ controllers that cost as little as £120 offer the perfect amount of control with fairly advanced features. Even the entry level models are built well and offer enough features to last a beginner DJ long into their progression. There’s never really been a better time to learn to DJ!

How and where can I learn to DJ?

At one time learning to DJ was limited to those lucky enough to know a DJ with very little tuition available. These days aspiring DJ’s can learn locally, online or with the use of free online videos. Google is a great tool to find a local DJ school for one on one tuition.

Alternatively, to learn in the comfort of your own home, you can learn online. Obviously being an online DJ school ourselves, we would love you to join our community! Below we have linked some of our best selling courses and a link to a free lesson for you to trial too!

Finally, if you don’t feel you are at the stage of spending money on DJ lessons, you can find amazing tutorials for free on platforms such as YouTube! If you want to try getting started DJ’ing on a laptop for free, we have a free six part tutorial which will guide you through the basics. You won’t need any equipment and you won’t even need music as we have a free music pack in the download below!

Where do DJ’s get their music from?

DJ’s can obtain music from a variety of sources. Just like anybody else they can obviously buy it with online stores such as Beatport specialising in DJ edits. Alternatively DJ’s can sign up to record pools. These are online databases of music that DJ’s can download from for a monthly fee. As a DJ progresses, record labels may send the DJ music directly for feedback, this is called being on a “mailing list” or “promo list”. Services such as Inflyte deliver these lists to DJ’s for download and feedback. To get started with downloading music for free however, click the link below and download the free Crossfader music pack! To learn more about where to get music from, read our full in-depth guide here!