Careers in music are notoriously hard to come by. Competition is high and rewards are low – but nonetheless thousands work hard at their craft for the love of it, in the hopes of one day breaking through. DJing is no different, and can seem impenetrable as a career path from the outside. Thankfully, the steps to starting your DJ career are simple:
What’s Your Niche?
In order to set yourself on the right path as a DJ, your first step should be to define your aspirations. What kind of DJ are you, or what kind of DJ would you like to be? You might want to monetise your skills in the form of DJing private events and weddings, or your aim might be to get your own radio show. Maybe you want to get booked for gigs and afterparties, or you might want to generate income from selling mixtapes. Whichever way you’d like to take your career, write it down and keep it in mind as you practice and make connections.
Knowing exactly what you want to do will also help you find key inspiration to further your craft. If you know you want to offer yourself up for private event bookings, you could reach out to a wedding DJ with questions; if you want to become a radio DJ, there are numerous resources online which can help you get a head-start on understanding what you need to do – and countless global stations you can listen to in order to get inspired.
Nailing the Basics
You might already be a talented DJ, or you might be starting on the bottom rung when it comes to DJing skills. Either way, you need to ensure that you are consistently practicing and growing your skills so that you meet the requirements for the kind of work you’re hoping to achieve. A huge part of this is owning your own DJ equipment, and knowing your way around it. DJ controllers are a crucial part of any DJ setup, from all-vinyl turntabling to CDJing and even DJing completely “in the box”; knowing instinctively where every control is, and being able to cue, beat match and crossfade without hiccups will get you a long way by virtue of your skill alone.
Avenues for Exposure
With your own equipment and your skills on lock, you can start looking for ways to boost your profile in circles relevant to your chosen field. For radio DJing, try recording your own mixes and sending them to local DJs and stations for feedback. If you’re hoping to get gigs, email local venues and promoters with samples of your work, or simply show up to a night and talk to whoever’s running it. The more connections you try to make, the better your chances of getting your first big break.
From here on, all that’s left to do is to keep at it. Use social media to bolster the public-facing part of your DJing and organically grow an audience, but make sure you keep pushing for events and opportunities; these are the most effective way for you to achieve your DJing dreams.