How to be a DJ for Beginners:

The Ultimate DJ Guide to Spinning Mixes

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. What is a DJ?
  3. 3. History of DJing
  4. 4. The good example
  5. 5. Chose your weapon: deciding on the format
  6. 6. Where do you get your music?
  7. 7. DJ equipment
  8. 8. DJ techniques essentials

1. Introduction

People come into DJing from diverse backgrounds with various motivations in mind. Some of you are here because you love music; some want to make money from the craft, while others see DJing as a fun way to become famous.

We at Edmwarriors created this valuable DJ guide with great care to assist anyone’s journey in learning how to be a DJ for beginners, regardless of which group they belong to. If you want to learn more about making EDM music, read out other guides at the Academy section of our platform and our informative blog .

As you lean in this direction, you already probably come equipped with a starter kit of tools, including a musical ear, a sense of rhythm, and the ability to recognise what makes one track great. So far, so good! The essence of DJing, however, is the ability to choose the right music, play it at the right moment, and make people dance until dawn.

To learn how to become a DJ is to correspond your musical expressions with the crowd’s desires. It isn’t just matching beats and doing tricks. It’s about being observant, empathic, reactive, and, of course, with impeccable musical taste and a broad selection. Learning to read a room will take extra time and some gigs behind your back.

Contrary to popular belief, becoming a DJ is not a shortcut to instant success. It requires tons of practice, patience, and persistence. It’s not difficult to start, but it takes time to advance, distinguish your DJ style, and stand out.

So... ready for action and learn how to become a DJ? Let’s get busy.

2. The First Step of How To Become a DJ is to Know the Role Entails

The term DJ is short for disc jockey, referring to someone who plays records in front of people. The primary purpose of playing music is for the audience to listen, enjoy, and dance. In the best-case scenario, they might be influenced into buying some of the records they’ve overheard or getting hooked on a new genre or artist.

In order to understand how to become a Dj, you first must realise that DJing is a craft in which a person uses different tools, technologies, and music manipulation techniques to play two or more sources of music at the same time while avoiding pauses and gaps between songs. One of the main tasks of the DJ is to break new music, and a good one would play all sorts of different records, not just what’s topping the charts or trending at the moment. In a sense, they are curators of taste.

Nowadays, the DJ craft is more accessible than ever. Therefore, the creativity behind the decks and developing a personal approach to mixing and mastering transitions is essential to standing out. Otherwise, a person is nothing more than a human jukebox that an AI could easily replace, which is something any beginner who wants to learn how to become a DJ should keep in mind.

Type of DJs

Okay, if you are wondering how to become a DJ as a beginner, you should be familiar with the most popular types of disc jockeys out there, right?

  • Club / Festival DJ

The most popular among the bunch is probably the club DJ. This type of disc jockeys perform in nightclubs, pubs, and festivals – bet you didn’t expect that! The talented ones eventually manage to be booked outside their local scene and start touring, much like rock stars, so becoming a DJ can take a few different career paths.

  • Radio DJ

Radio DJs are the original disc jockeys. In the early days of radio, they kept the music playing and their listeners entertained. Throughout the 40s and 50s, they introduced new recordings on their radio stations. Artists would send their new records to the station with hopes of winning a spin. In the 80s and 90s, radio DJs were the ones who would expose their broad audience to genres such as House, Techno, and Hip-Hop. Since radio was often people’s primary access to new music, weekly programmes were highly anticipated.

Radio as a format has changed a lot in the last 20 years, but the art form lives on through podcasts and internet radio stations, and knowing how and knowing how it has evolved is an important aspect in learning how to become a DJ for beginners.

  • Mobile DJ

Mobile DJs are surely hard-working fellows. They are one call away when you need someone to provide music and entertainment for various corporate or private events. The transportation of DJ equipment for gigs is what makes them “mobile.” While other DJs play on the sound system and gear provided by the venue or the promoter, most mobile ones bring their own.

They also play more extended sets, up to six hours, which is the standard gig timeframe for private events or weddings, and they often hold down MC duties too. How to be a DJ certainly has no one right path and this type of disc jockey proves that.

  • Turntablist / Scratch DJ

Our DJ guide covers every type of DJ, as being aware of all the variations of the role is important to decide on your personal career path. That being said, turntablism involves treating the decks as a musical instrument, which is considered the skill that elevates DJing closer to musicianship. These guys focus on cutting and scratching. Throughout their mixes, they demonstrate genuine techniques, stunning tricks, and clever transitions. They spend quite some time perfecting their skills and deserve nothing but massive respect. So, if you want to learn how to be a DJ, learn these important elements of the craft.

  • Producer DJ

These guys dwell on music production and often play their own tracks in their mixes. There are different types of performers among this group: some are strictly DJs, others opt for a live performance (utilising synthesisers and drum machines), and some land in-between. It’s a spectrum.

If you want to know how to become a DJ, you need to find the balance between making and playing music. In order to make it big, you must opt for the combo – there’s hardly any other way around it. Keep up with this DJ guide and learn how to make your first steps into music production more fun and easy.

  • Bedroom DJ

We’ve seen an explosion of new DJs whose careers began in that holy place – their (or someone else’s) bedroom. The reason for the phenomenon is partly the significantly lowered costs of getting started, the major shift to digital, and, of course, the easy, effortless access to music, both old and new. It’s safe to say that one way of learning how to become a DJ for beginners is to do it in the comfort of your own bed. Thank you, Internet.

3. Learning the History of the Craft is The First Step of How to be a DJ

No DJ guide is complete without a brief look at the fascinating history of recording technology In 1857, France came up with the first way to record sound. But we couldn’t record and playback any recording until 1877 when Thomas Edison invented the phonograph cylinder. His invention was not a best seller since the sound quality was terrible. The duration of the recordings was short while the price was high. Emile Berliner recognised the opportunity and officially became the father of the gramophone in 1887. His approach efficiently enhanced the audio quality by designing a device that played music from discs instead of cylinders. The first gramophone records went on sale to the public in 1892.

Back in 1909, Ray Newby was the first person to play records on the radio, although the term Disc Jockey wasn’t used until 1935. Around two decades later, in the mid-40s, Jimmy Saville revolutionised the art of DJing by using multiple turntables, making the continuous playing of music and non-stop dancing possible. Although you couldn’t learn how to be a DJ at this time due to the primitive technology.

The emergence of distinctive musical styles with repetitive rhythms in Jamaican culture promoted the creation of specialised DJ mixers during the 1960s. This pioneering era also saw Technics introduce innovative turntables, such as the SP-10 in 1969, followed by the incredibly successful SL-1100 and SL-1200 models that revolutionised the commercial turntable industry and changed everything.

The craft didn’t just spring into existence in the wake of the 70s but played an integral part in the birth of a whole new subculture — Hip Hop. This led to the establishment of “The Five Pillars of Hip Hop”: Graffiti, MCing, DJing, and B-boying. The political stance of DJing emerged alongside the rise of Hip Hop as the audio expression of the emancipation movement within America’s black working classes. As you know, black culture significantly influenced the DJ movement and music in the 20th century. You can say that people learned how to be a DJ, before that role solidified.

As turntable technology advanced, it unleashed DJs’ creativity, which brought about new techniques such as scratching, beat-juggling, and turntablism. This was made possible by the direct drive feature of the turntables, enabling quicker stopping and starting and more responsive tempo adjustments. These advancements also meant that techniques that were previously too damaging to the turntables and records were now achievable.

The Rise of Disco

Disco originated in the 70s in the underground clubs of New York. These venues were like shelters for the LGBT, African American, and Latino communities, where they were frequently going to escape from the social issues and public scrutiny they faced. Disco music rapidly became more popular, pushing DJing further as a musical performance form of entertainment. DJs like David Mancuso and Frankie Knuckles became stars in their own right, playing to packed dance floors in clubs like the Paradise Garage and Studio 54. These are both integral names to know if you want to learn how to be a DJ.

Thanks to Hip-Hop, the 80s marked the widespread recognition of DJing as a mainstream cultural phenomenon. Near the end of this decade, the rise of dance music took it to a whole new place. Disco led to the emergence of two unique musical genres: Techno, originating from Detroit, and House, from Chicago.

The advent of synthesisers in the mid-60s marked another milestone in the music industry with the commercialisation of electronic musical instruments. Synths and drum machines such as Roland 808 and Minimoog were pivotal in creating the unique sound characterising contemporary popular music. DJs embraced the advancements and started testing the new instruments to samples of old Disco tracks. This allowed them to move beyond just playing records and create their own beats and remixes, further expanding the creative possibilities of the art form.

The two styles rapidly spread to Europe and became embedded, giving rise to many music genres we savour today. Back then, vinyl records ruled the roost and were sold internationally. Music enthusiasts all over the globe hunted for fresh sounds to add to their collections and play at events. Artists’ curiosity and gear exploration were thriving.

The New 90s

The world was changing, and people felt liberated and eager to experiment with anything they could imagine. This mood can definitely be felt through the music released at the time. Dance music reached a peak as new musical movements emerged constantly.

From 1988 to 1989, the second summer of love triggered the emergence of Acid House and Rave in the United Kingdom. The popularity of illegal raves escalated, accompanied by the widespread use of ecstasy. The government felt concerned about losing control of the situation and came down hard on dance music by banning illegal parties.

In response to rave restrictions in the 90s, the Superclubs sprung up, revolutionising how dance music was experienced by creating authorised venues for ravers. That contributed to the commercialisation of the genre and paved the way for the rise of superstar DJs like Carl Cox, Paul Oakenfold, and Tiesto. Being aware of all these cultural changes plays a huge part in knowing how to be a DJ for beginners.

When the first iPod hit the market in 2001, it transformed the music industry beyond recognition. However, DJs were struggling to keep up with the available equipment. Pioneers noticed the issue and made a savvy move by launching their first CDJ decks. Finally, in 2004, they tasted success with the CDJ-1000, which emerged as the top player in the tech arena and continues to maintain its position.

At this time, learning how to be a DJ became easier than before. During the mid-2000s, the music business underwent a transformative phase with the emergence of new tech advancements. From hardware to software, every aspect of the industry was affected by the digital revolution. The popularisation of the internet and the iPod resulted in a change in music publishing, making MP3 the preferred format and CD obsolete. At that time, disc jockeys had a plethora of options to choose from when performing, including turntables, CDs, SD cards, USBs, laptops, and DVS.

This era saw a significant rise in music downloading without any cost or at rates below that of a CD. This trend resulted in a massive decline in the profits from record sales, forcing music labels to search for alternative ways of generating revenue by advertising, organising events, and seeking sponsorship. Festivals became the ultimate jackpot, turning famous DJs into lucrative sources of income. A common theme in this DJ guide will be adapting to change, as you will see.

The popularisation of digital music formats and the internet made it easier than ever for disc spinners to access a vast library of music, while new technologies opened up even more possibilities for creative expression. Record spinning has become a global phenomenon, with DJs playing to crowds of thousands at festivals and clubs worldwide.

Fast forward to this day, the craft has grown so prevalent and affordable that it has turned into a full-time hobby for many keen music fans. What was once a unique skill became mainstream for entertaining your friends at a home party.

Spotify was launched in 2006, and its new streaming technology altered music consumption yet again. Fans now have the option to subscribe to a massive music catalogue by paying a monthly fee. DJs can still purchase individual tracks to perform but might also choose to link their DJ software with a streaming service. Anyone can start learning how to be a DJ hobbyist in the digital realm. History in the making.

4. How to be a DJ for Beginners: The Good Example

We don’t want to be yet another platform on the internet that praises famous DJs or comes up with elitist critiques. Nah, in this DJ guide, we’d like to say something that might actually help or encourage you to dig deeper into the craft itself. We only draw the contours of a map and point you in the right direction – you hunt for the treasure on your own.

However, it would be ridiculous not to mention a bunch of the real pros in the game, who also happen to be the ones who developed these DJing methods, the ethos and then turned rave parties and club nights into a global phenomenon. How to be a DJ, or any other artistic endeavour requires awareness of the cultural landscape.

In the past, the distinction between a DJ and a live performer has always been somewhat hazy. Block parties in New York gave birth to DJing as we know it today. It’s been a while since the pioneers like Kool Herc and Grandmaster Theodore picked up the needle at the end of the “break” and dropped it back at the start for the first time.

Keeping the vibe flowing meant fast-paced performances and additional showman skills to work for the crowd while they worked on the record. Disc jockeys who captured the crowd’s attention through their performance skills were often innovative in some way, either by building or destroying something and re-creating it again.

In today’s scene, new talented disc jockeys are popping out like mushrooms. One cannot simply keep up with the news. Therefore, we decided to respect the pioneers and encourage you to share your most recent favourite DJs with us! We made three groups to illustrate the three fundamentals of DJing. In each one, we do an honourable mention of some pro-DJs famous for what they are most good at. Looking into their technique is the best way to learn how to be a DJ for beginners.

Maestros: best skills and notable innovations; game-changers with a historical legacy

Jeff Mills: An American DJ and producer known as one of Detroit’s fathers of techno music. Famous for his innovative use of drum machines and skilfully crafted DJ sets with 3 or 4 turntables. Owner of the label Axis Records. He has released hours of various outstanding music under several aliases. His legacy and musical genius are recognised and respected worldwide, even in this DJ guide.

Carl Cox: A legendary British DJ and producer known for his technical skills and energetic sets created by blending various genres. Active since the 80s and still going strong. For his significant contributions, Carl Cox was crowned “The king of dance music” by Mixmag and other music officials.

Richie Hawtin: A Canadian disc jockey and producer, a techno pioneer, and an expert in using technology to create unique and innovative sets. Owner of the influential record label, Plus 8. Anyone can learn a lot of things about how to be a DJ from him.

Hypnotists: best in reading the room and crowd control; they know exactly what to play to make people lose their minds

Paul Oakenfold: A British DJ and producer known for his pioneering work in the trance genre and its global popularisation. He founded the noteworthy Perfecto Records label and made numerous hits and collabs. He has also won multiple awards, including the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll in 1997 and 1998.

Sven Väth: A German DJ and producer who’s been active for almost 40 years. Throughout this time, he’s opened the legendary Omen club, founded the record label Harthouse and finally launched Cocoon - both a notorious club and a music label. He is known for playing 100% vinyl, which is a great skill in learning how to be a DJ for beginners.

Nina Kravitz: A Russian DJ, producer, singer, and one of the first women in the industry who significantly impacted the electronic music scene. Famous for her dynamic sets, unique sound, and ability to connect with her audience.

Marketing gurus: DJs with a strong presence and great PR

Tiësto: A superstar Dutch DJ and a producer with an extended discography. He’s been active in the electronic music scene since the 90s and is famous for his signature big-room trance and progressive house sound.

Armin Van Buuren: A Dutch DJ and producer and one of the most popular figures in the trance music scene up to this very day. Best known for his vibrant live performances and weekly radio show, “A State of Trance”, that can offer valuable insight into how to be a DJ.

Steve Aoki: An American DJ, producer, and music executive who has built a massive following by engaging with his audience through social media. Famous for his wild live performances, which often include him throwing a cake at his fans in the crowd, a ritual known as “cake face”. His collaborations with other artists have led to some of the biggest hits in EDM history.

5. Choose Your Weapon: How to Become a DJ by Deciding on the Format

First and foremost, when learning how to become a DJ, you must decide which path you will take: digital, analogue, or both. Why not be daring and go for a Live set performance? As an aspiring DJ, the first type of performance you should start with is the most traditional one – the live set. When you play pre-recorded tracks from your music collection, select songs and make decisions during the set.

Your music library is your biggest weapon. Don’t ever forget that! The tracks you play can be within your digital music library, your unique vinyl collection, or both – it’s up to you and your preferred format. Each format has its additional advantages and complexities. One of the things this DJ guide will teach you is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution.

For people not deeply involved in the music industry and regular fans, performing a traditional DJ set might seem like an easy process. It most certainly isn’t. The reality is that, despite using a pre-recorded selection of music in your set, you need to obtain and perform a set of skills, a deep understanding of which music flows together best, as well as the proper decision-making process when performing on the spot, gauging your crowd’s reactions.

Technology is constantly being reinvented, and you can figure out creative ways to make it work for you. You shouldn’t be afraid of pushing the boundaries. Experimentation is the key. One route in the process of how to be a DJ for beginners is having a constant curiosity. Try until a new door opens.

In this chapter of our DJ guide, we will look at all possible options to approach the art of playing music in front of people, depending on your format of choice.

Digital DJing

For DJs, the birth of the digital file signalled a new approach to the art of live mixing that brought with it new techniques, along with a new level of availability of music. Little did they know what a massive game-changer this would turn out to be.

Digital files were the one single factor in making DJing widely accessible as they were affordable (or free), easily transferable, and allowed for software to automatically beat match them. In one single technology, every barrier to DJing – the cost of equipment and records, and the practical challenges of learning to spin vinyl – was blown away. It was a huge cultural democratisation, a tearing down of barriers that empowered as many new DJs as it angered older ones. In short, learning the ropes of how to become a DJ is easier than ever.

Digital DJing offers numerous seriously tempting advantages. For one, it allows you to carry a massive music library with you at all times, making it easier to cater to different audiences and styles. Additionally, it provides advanced features such as real-time beat matching, effects processing, and looping, which can help you create complex and creative mixes.

So, here we list the most essential tools for digital DJing that you need to know about. We know it might be hard to process the info all at once. But keep in mind that this field is constantly developing, with more and more new tools introduced daily, each offering unique features and capabilities. In chapter 7 of this DJ guide, we go into the nuts and bolts of describing the most popular setups that exist. Make sure you read it carefully to find out what you may look for when learning how to be a DJ.

Opinion: In our opinion, there’s one easy, safe, fast and affordable way for a DJ to play digital music files on industry-standard decks in a club today. Follow these five steps, and let us know what you think!

Mobile and cloud DJing with smartphones, tablets and apps.

  • Rekordbox for iOS Version 4.0

Just released, the Rekordbox v4.0 combines track selection and preparation (playlist building, cues, loops, etc.) with a full DJ app, similar to Pioneer DJ’s existing WeDJ and Algoriddim’s djay Pro AI. It offers compelling visuals for beginners to get to grips with the foundations of DJing quickly and can be used with streaming services for ultimate access to music.

Pro DJs can also benefit from the convenient cloud-based playlists by connecting their iPhones or iPads to professional hardware (CDJ-3000, XDJ- XZ, XDJ-RX3) and playing tracks directly from the Rekordbox app. The new v 4.0 allows ten tracks to wirelessly sync across devices using Pioneer’s Cloud Library Sync so that DJs can follow their ten essential tunes wirelessly across devices. Moreover, they can access their complete library if they upgrade to the Professional or Creative plan of the full desktop version of Rekordbox.

  • Cloud Library Sync

Cloud Library Sync is a Pioneer service allowing DJs to synchronise their music and all of its performance data across different Pioneer devices, including everything from saved Hot Cue points to the BPM and beat grid data of tracks. All music used within the app will automatically sync with the desktop Rekordbox library, which can be used as a music preparation tool on the go! The in-app Rekordbox subscription plans differ from the desktop Rekordbox purchase plans and must be purchased separately.

The in-app subscription cost is the same as the current leader in the DJ mobile app space, Algoriddim Djay Pro. Currently, djay offers more performance features, including stems (Neural Mix) and DVS capability. However, the Rekordbox app will still appeal to a broader audience as it provides professional DJs with on-the-go music preparation convenience. Music preparation via Cloud Library Sync is time-saving as DJs can now set performance data, such as cue points, at any time whilst away from the decks.

  • Djay Pro AI for iOS

Algoriddim squeezed many features, functionality, and power into their rapidly developing app, already integrated to work with Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, and Windows. djay’s modern user interface is built around a sophisticated integration with your music library. Instant access to millions of tracks via supported streaming services (subscriptions may be required) gives you the endless creative flexibility to reinvent your DJ sets.

It’s got stem mixing, four-deck mixing, streaming service integration, and AI auto mixing built-in. You get the ability to mix video in high-resolution 4K, and you get access to the Looper feature that lets you trigger loops and sounds while you spin.

It’s compatible with the iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard, and if you’d like to spin with actual jog wheels, it works with controllers like the Reloop Buddy, and you can now map it to any Midi controller using the Midi Learn feature. The subscription also gets you access to the Mac version. While it may sound a bit complex, this new tech has made becoming a DJ more accessible to anyone.

  • A smartphone/ tablet with a DJ controller setup

Now make it more interesting. Connect any of the mentioned apps to the Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4, the older DDJ-200 Smart DJ or Numark Party Mix to reach the next level and get hands-on control of mixing functions.

Youngsters these days have their extra affordable entrance to DJing by playing tracks via smartphones, tablets and ultra-portable controllers and using a variety of DJ apps and software such as WeDJ for iPhone, djay and edjing Mix. Depending on the device and the program of choice, they can directly mix music stored in a Cloud Library such as Rekordbox or iTunes and synced across devices.

Or straightforward stream songs from Beatport LINK, SoundCloud Go+, Deezer, TIDAL or even Beatsource LINK. The pure freedom to have fun anytime, anywhere, offered by new technology is certainly unbeatable, and makes learning how to be a DJ fun.

  • Cloud DJing

Yes, nowadays, you can DJ exclusively with streaming services. While they’ve not yet arrived on Pioneer DJ’s club gear, they are available within all software and in Engine DJ-powered standalone systems. Spotify and Apple Music are absent from the services available, but you can check out these four available services: TIDAL, Beatport Streaming, Beatsource Streaming and SoundCloud Go+. While this tech may seem like a hobbyist choice if you are striving to learn how to be a DJ as a beginner, it does give people the chance to have a fun time.

5.3. Playing vinyl

How records work is astonishing to discover yet easy to understand. The turntable has an arm, the arm ends with a needle, the needle follows the record groove, which is an analogue of the waveform of the sounds it contains. You can literally see the groove spinning, and it’s hypnotising for a fact.

Okay, but records are the most challenging tool to learn to mix with when discovering how to be a DJ for beginners. Vinyl is also the most expensive format to buy music on. So why would anyone want to go this route?

Three bulletproof reasons: it’s rewarding, it’s sexy, and people love it. Many DJs love that tactile feel of moving the physical record, and many people love watching a “real” disc jockey playing “real” records.

Explaining the concept behind vinyl manipulation is a long and detailed topic we won’t dwell on in this DJ guide, mainly because watching and practising what you see is much more helpful than reading about it. There are thousands of tutorials to browse through, so don’t think twice and check for yourself.

5.4. DJing with CDs

This format was a huge thing two decades ago since it was the first to provide high-quality sound on an easier-to-carry-around source. CDJs caught on quickly because they offered cue points and looping for the first time and because you could suddenly burn your own discs to play live with.

Today the CD is pretty much obsolete (in DJ terms); CDJ players, however, are more popular than ever. Originally designed to play music from compact discs, modern CDJs and XDJs play digital music stored on USB drives, external SSDs or SD cards.

Pioneer completely ditched the CDs with their most recent industry-standard model, the Nexus 3000, which comes without a disc slot, as this is not much of a requirement to know how to be a DJ anymore.

5.5. Live set

As you probably know, there are different types of sets, each with its way of operating: a DJ set, a B2B set, a Live set and a Hybrid live set. In this DJ guide, we cover the basic knowledge and techniques needed to perform a DJ set. However, we think sharing a word about other creative ways to perform music is also important in knowing how to be a DJ for beginners.

Live sets are very different from traditional DJ sets. During a live set, the artist essentially puts music together right on the spot using a combination of software and hardware. The usual arsenal includes a laptop, MIDI controllers, and electronic musical instruments like drum machines, sequencers, and synthesisers.

Artists who perform live sets have banks of sounds that they use to define their signature style. They usually have the tracks separated by parts (kick, melodies, vocals, etc.) and thus possess much more control over each part of the track, so they can play with each parameter to change how it sounds on the fly. They also use effects pedals and devices like reverb and delay to create fluid movement and transitions throughout their performance.

Live sets are not fixed by any traditional song structures, which is reminiscent of ‘jamming’. This allows artists to be fluid in their approach to how their electronic music is being made. Whilst live sets have the upper hand at creativity, a lot more can go wrong as a result, and that’s why they are among the hardest aspects to master when taking steps on how to be a DJ for beginners.

A live set is more complex to prepare, and doing it properly is more complicated than traditional DJing. It also requires more practice, primarily because of the endless combinations you have. Another reason live sets are less common is the amount of equipment needed to perform. Musical equipment is expensive to buy and costly to transport. The live act is likely cancelled if something gets lost along the road. Transportation and a sound engineer also add a certain amount of money to the event budget, and in the end, it is extra money and hustle for a one-hour performance.

But still, those types of performances are pretty popular among producers who have the musical knowledge needed to perform a live set and can benefit from showcasing their own music in a unique way. And, of course, to stand out from the rest.

5.6. Hybrid live set

The Hybrid Live set is technically a mix between a DJ set and a live set. The traditional set is enhanced by elements coming from hardware such as synthesisers, samplers, drum machines, etc. A single clock source like Ableton Live synchronises everything.

One can play a few complete tunes like in a DJ set and then play one track that’s separated in stems or, even better, mix several sources by putting samples and vocals on top of another track. Again, endless possible combinations and mastering them is one of the most thrilling parts of how to become a DJ.

Many leading techno disc jockeys, such as Richie Hawtin, often use a remixer, a drum machine, or an additional synth to add some of their signature sounds and place them on the tracks that are currently playing. Excessive use of loops is also widespread for this type of performance. This ultimately creates a freestyle effect that is both creative as well as energetic. In the next part of our DJ guide, we will delve into getting music for your sets.

6. Where Do You Get Your Music When Learning How to Become a DJ?

There is so much exciting music - new & old - waiting to be found and heard. It’s both amazing and overwhelming. The world is your oyster, and you are lucky to be alive in times when the Internet is so developed that you have access to everything on the tips of your fingers, this DJ guide section will introduce you to some of the places to do that. Enjoy digging and discovering new worlds.

  • Specialist download stores and platforms

Specialist sites host music exclusively for DJs to download. With most downloads stored, each track is paid for individually. The cost varies depending on file quality. If you are a bedroom DJ, cheaper MP3 or AAC files are suitable. However, those who play on massive sound systems may want to consider the more expensive lossless audio options. Some sites offer cheaper rates if you become a member, usually for a monthly fee. Understanding different file formats is essential for how to be a DJ for beginners

Record stores

Physical formats are currently experiencing a revival. There’s something extra special and adventurous about digging out music this way. It satisfies like nothing else, and there are many addicts worldwide. Record stores are also social hubs for music lovers and nerds, making them a nice and cosy place for networking and getting familiar with others of your kind. Make sure you check out the ones in your town. If you like the experience, try visiting the record shops in the cities you stay in on your trips and vacations. Digging in a foreign country is even more exciting and adventurous.

  • DJ Pools

A popular way to bulk download is to join a DJ pool. These are online databases of specialist music that users have unlimited access to downloads from for a reasonable monthly charge; they provide a convenient solution to update your collections and save you time. When learning how to become a DJ, investing in record pools is a game-changer. It not only allows you to focus more on developing your skills but also provides you with a vast musical selection that'll keep you busy for days.

  • Social media, specialised blogs, and communities

Youtube — The original gold mine, duh! If you can’t find something good there, then we don’t know where you will. You can also learn the ins and outs of how to be a DJ by watching people do all sorts of live sets. Dig for channels that match your likes and subscribe. Instagram — Follow your favourite labels and producers; they keep the fans updated and constantly announce forthcoming stuff.

  • The DJ community

You can always reach out to other disc jockeys for more in-depth know-how. When you advance on your path, you should try to get your name on label promo lists or look for other promotional channels exclusive to DJs from the industry. Overall, expanding your network will help you get your hands on the freshest releases.

  • Producer friends, rave pals, fellow music nuts

The sea of music out there today is the result of this over-proliferation caused by the technological advances all converging at the same time. For the consumer faced with thousands of new songs daily, it can be very disorienting. Your peer community, therefore, becomes an important reference.

Becoming a successful DJ requires the one thing that makes you unique – your own style, and there’s no better way of showcasing that than spinning unique tracks made especially for you. Edmwarriors offers you the opportunity to buy EDM tracks made by our team of experienced music producers and get exclusive copyrights over them. See how it works .

6.1. How to organise your music library: Playlists and tags.

The music files on your computer aren’t ready for DJing as they stand. Nowadays, DJs analyse their music before a performance to add vital info and, more importantly, organise it into playlists to make sets easier. In this DJ guide, we recommend Rekordbox as it’s a very convenient way to get into music organisation and track preparation, and most importantly, as it’s the industry standard software, working with Pioneer’s Club DJ gear worldwide.

Things like graphical waveforms (so you can see where different parts of the track fall, like breakdowns and drops), key analysis (for harmonic mixing), beat grids (info about the BPM/tempo and where the beats in the track fall), and user-added cue points and loops (for live remixing and quick mixing) can all advantageously be added to tracks before a gig, and the DJ software is where you do that. All these elements are important in knowing how to become a DJ for any beginner.

Another software tool that we genuinely believe to be of great interest for the aspiring disc jockeys that we have to mention in this DJ guide is Djay’s advanced library management system. It’s built around a sophisticated integration with your music library, videos, and the Files app. Djay now also offers its own playlists that make music management easier than ever.

Sorting your songs out into playlists is also a good idea, as is tidying up its “metadata” (artwork, artist, title and so on) – and the best place to do this is in your DJ software. Track selection is largely a product of personal taste and your target audience, whereas track order is determined by the energy levels you hope to achieve. Choose music you love that represents the direction of your music collection you want to display, not necessarily the most popular tracks on the Beatport Top 100. Don’t be afraid to mix old tracks and new; there is nothing like connecting the dots in an interesting way – it’s a key aspect of how to become a DJ with a personality.

7. No DJ Guide is Complete Without an Equipment Section

Twenty years ago, DJing used to be an expensive hobby. Still, thanks to the digital revolution and the rise of new technologies, nowadays, you have many options to choose from, some of which are quite affordable. In this section of our DJ guide, we will explore them further.

The craft hasn't changed much since its original conception: you still need two sound sources, a tool to mix them, and a way to "privately" preview the next tune. The base level for a DJ setup is two decks and a mixer, but there are countless revisions on this subject, and it's not always clear which pieces of gear you'll need to accomplish your best performance. This is where we come to help.

Your preferred music format, DJing style, working environment, and of course, budget play an integral part in the decision-making process. There’s plenty to choose from, so don’t get overwhelmed; analyse your needs along with your budget. We hope this DJ guide provides enough pointers to help you make informed choices when shopping for all the things needed in how to become a DJ.

In this segment, we will review the industry standards for the most popular DJ attributes but also discuss and suggest budget-friendly options. It’s good to ensure that your interest in DJing is not just a phase before you go all in; spend your savings on gear, then starve for weeks.

7.1. Turntables

One of the best things about turntables is that you don’t have to go through a “research” phase, followed by the “can’t decide” phase, to end up at the “hope I made the right choice” place. The best option in this category is... well, one.

The Technics SL-1200 turntables are most wanted for two main reasons. The first is durability — they are almost immortal, and the second is engineering mechanics — their motor is one of a kind.

Believe it or not, up to this day, there is no actual equivalent to compete with the good old Technics motor. There is just one legitimate direct-drive turntable by Pioneer DJ PLX-1000 that resembles the SL-1200 a lot by design — 90%, mechanics — not really. Additionally, the price of the DJ PLX-1000 is around 30% less than that of the SL-1200, making it a suitable learning tool but not considered the “standard". So, keep this in mind when gathering information on how to be a DJ who wants to spin vinyl.

So, don't think twice if you are 100% convinced that turntables are your thing and already got the buck for it. If you have patience and enough time to spend on hunting, you might find yourself a deal on a well-maintained pair, yet not nearly as easy as finding used CDJs in good condition, not to mention consoles and controllers.

  • Pros: Hats down, best sound quality ever. Scratching. Incredibly Durable Build.

  • Cons: Very Heavy & Difficult Mobility. High Maintenance Costs. Not Particularly Versatile.

  • 7.2. CDJs

    The next stop in our DJ guide: two CDJs and a DJ mixer – the kind of set-up you find in clubs everywhere around the globe, designed primarily to be used playing music from a USB drive or SD card. A CDJ is a traditional example of a media player: it’s basically a CD player designed for DJs, where once you’ve slid the CD in, a platter lets you control it as if it were a record. Most, though, are fixed platters, meaning the round bit doesn’t actually turn when the music is playing but can be used to control the music when touched.

    Today’s players have most of the functions and features associated with DJ consoles/software – including a sync button. Arguably the most controversial button ever created, right after the big red button from the 90s’ cartoon movies which would usually cause a massive explosion or lethal ending of the planet if pushed.

    These features have made these consoles the go-to choice for the industry for a lot of people interested in how to become a DJ:

  • Vinyl emulation: This feature gave start to the adoption of the CDJ as a legitimate DJ turntable and a credible alternative to the analogue ones.

  • Quantize: Perfect accurate looping on the fly is possible thanks to the quantize feature that reads track waveforms in Rekordbox and snaps beats to the grid with millisecond accuracy.

  • Sync: While on the surface it might seem like a contradiction to the art of DJing, in practice it's a powerful creative tool for multi-layering— something software DJs are already used to.

  • SD/USB sources: The end of CD burning. DJs can now obtain instant waveforms, track data and accurate BPM readings by exporting from Rekordbox to a drive or card.

  • Rekordbox: The music management preparation software brings the CDJs to life. It has its own app and offers wireless play from tablet to CDJ over its own wireless network.

  • Pro DJ Link: By network linking the CDJs artists can play across four decks from a single source. The "live" deck jog wheel turns red, and fast, hassle-free DJ changeovers are possible.

  • 7.2.1. DJ Guide to Buying CDJs

    The XDJ-1000MK2 improves usability through enhanced track browsing and support for high-resolution FLAC and ALAC audio files and could not be overlooked in this DJ guide. An excellent alternative to the CDJ-2000NXS2 at about half the price.

    In any case, check the XDJ-700, which comes with a large touchscreen and a familiar club layout at a much more affordable price. This model inherits a host of features from its big brother, the XDJ-1000. Its compact size turns it into a great addition to even the smallest booth or home set-up.

    Pro Tip: Nowadays, you can find a nice pair of used Pioneer CDJ-2000NXS at a decent price.

    7.3. DJ Mixer

    We’ve mentioned it numerous times so far, so let’s focus solely on this magic box. This is the fundamental must-have device that enables the mixing and manipulating of audio signals from multiple sources. Any beginner wondering how to be a DJ should know how it works. The cross-fade capabilities of a DJ mixer are among its core functions, ensuring smooth fading in and out of sounds and effects. A three-band equaliser is a minimum requirement.

    When choosing your mixer, pay attention to the following features:

  • Channels: How many channels will you need? Usually, mixers are at least two-channel, allowing plugging in two different audio sources. Experienced users certainly prefer four-channel mixers.

  • Software: Some mixers come with their own software or are associated with a particular solution, whereas others allow you to work with whatever tool you prefer.

  • Effects: Mixers can also include additional features like USB connectivity, filters and integrated audio interfaces, volume controls, EQ and crossfaders.

  • Durability: Ideally, the mixer must be constructed of high-quality, well-made and durable materials. It should withstand frequent use and transportation to gigs when needed. As well as keeping you company for a long while.

  • Pricing: DJ mixers come in various sizes and formats. The professional ones are pricey, as usual. If you are on a budget, it's better to find a pre-owned high-end mixer in reasonable condition or wait until you save enough for something good. More features = more money.

  • Reason: It is important to consider the reason for your purchase. Stating the primary purpose of your DJ setup will significantly influence your final choice.

  • Different type of mixers: Mixers come in many styles to support different DJ styles and set-ups. Knowing what kind of system you’re looking for will give you a head start when purchasing.

  • Digital vs analogue: No DJ guide is complete without going into this debate. Digital mixers take an electrical signal and transform it into a numerical representation. This allows the user to split the sound into different frequencies and organise it with a computer software system. Analogue mixers are old-school. They don’t provide digital conversions so you can operate without a laptop.

    Given that the sounds are warmer and more natural, analogue mixers tend to be the preference for audiophiles and record collectors. Analogue options are cheaper than their digital counterparts yet still deliver a fantastic experience. They are exceptionally reliable, user friendly, and work with most DJ software if you need different effects. Additionally, vinyl turntables can plug naturally into an analogue DJ mixer with zero fuss, which is a note that should be taken when looking into how to become a DJ.

    Scratch vs regular: Another consideration when choosing your DJ mixer is whether you want a scratch tool or just a standard mixer. Scratch mixers focus more heavily on cross-fading functionality. They have a very robust cross-fader, allowing DJs to cut scratch audio in and out of their music with precision and speed.

    While many basic mixers have cross-fading built-in, they can't stand up to the capabilities of a scratch mixer. Those are often simple and elegant devices. However, if you’re not particularly interested in scratch mixing, settle for a regular mixer, as it's more accessible and will give you all the necessary functionality.

    Rotary mixers: There’s another type of mixer we cannot skip in our DJ guide, even though it's definitely an experienced tool: the almighty rotary mixer. They use knobs to control sound, not faders, so instead of pushing a button up and down, the DJ twists and tweaks knobs. They are known for their ultra-sleek sound and smooth EQ, turning track blends into masterpieces.

    As DJs continue to move away from heavily digital-focused gear and search for more natural sounds, rotary mixers are gaining steam. Many of these come with expensive components, high-definition audio, and a considerable price tag. Definitely a worthwhile investment for audiophiles or hipster underground clubs, or just an option to consider while on the journey of how to be a DJ for beginners.

    6.3.1. DJ Guide to Buying Mixers

    If you’re searching for a club-level performance, look no further... Grab the Allen & Heath Xone:96 and enjoy the show. Pioneer’s DJM-900NXS2 is the other must-check industry standard mixer, preferred by effect appreciators and DVS DJs. Pioneer made some excellent changes in the previous model that we find here: twin USBs, much improved FX, and astonishing USB FX send/returns are the technological improvements that stand out most.

    Allen & Heath Xone:92 is also a great DJ mixer and is much more affordable at the moment, thanks to the release of his younger brother A&H Xone:96. It was so popular during the past decades that finding a used one in good condition might be easier than you think (second-hand price ~ €700). The same goes for the Pioneer DJ DJM-900NXS. If you are serious about how to become a DJ, then these can be great options.

    DJ guide to scratch mixers

  • Rane Seventy-Two: Rane’s flagship battle Serato DJ Pro enabled mixer/ Midi controller including a great built-in screen to show you your waveforms and to use for scrolling through your music library.

  • Pioneer DJ DJM-S7 Scratch Mixer: Same look and feel as the DJM-S9, but with better specs and a lower price.

  • Numark Scratch Serato DJ Pro Mixer: Simple, nicely done, and loads of fun, and the quality is there where it counts. The Numark Scratch mixer is a DJ mixer with a built-in audio interface, designed to be used with Serato DJ Pro as a DVS mixer – although it works fine as a standalone DJ mixer too.

  • 7.4. DJ Guide to Controllers

    If you are famous for having the best taste and wickedest playlists on Spotify across the gang and suddenly became curious to see “how to become a DJ for beginners” or just want to have some fun and turn a regular house party into a “house parteeeey” (pun intended) — this is the right weapon for you.

    These tools are quite close to “the real thing”; moreover, they perform most of the necessary actions alone. Technically, in no time and without effort, you can almost learn how to become a DJ in a day or two. However, DJ consoles and controllers are not professional gear, and you won’t find them in the booth.

    Laptop + DJ Controller

    Probably the most popular way to become a DJ today. As such, it needs no further introduction. Combining a DJ mixer and decks that come as one device, which you can plug into a laptop, revolutionised the hobby of DJing, making it equally loved and hated by many.

    A DJ controller gives you hands-on control over your mixing software for much easier music manipulation than a mouse and a keyboard. Without a doubt, this is the most sensible way to learn how to be a DJ for beginners. As long as you already have a laptop, they offer the most cost-effective and capable way of getting into it. A modern all-in-one DJ controller contains everything you need to mix and record music, and there’s a wild variety of models available anywhere from $100 to over $3000.

    Learning how to connect DJ controllers is relatively straightforward.

    Standalone (all-in-one) DJ systems

    With standalone all-in-one systems, you get a built-in computer embedded so you can leave the laptop alone. Simply add your music (via a USB drive or SD card, SSD), and then you can do most of the things modern digital DJs do.

    These units are becoming more and more appealing with extras such: as a touchscreen, smooth graphics, powerful DJ features, and built-in music streaming services, utilised all in one box while delivering an experience surely closer to professional decks by their look and overall vibe than almost any controller. They are a viable option in developing the skills one needs while understanding how to be a DJ.

    6.4.3. DJ Guide to Buying Controllers

    Laptop DJ Controllers

  • Pioneer DDJ-1000 and DDJ-1000SRT: The DDJ-1000 is one of Pioneer’s most feature-packed controllers. It has two full-size CDJ- style jog wheels with full-colour displays onboard showing track details, cover art and waveforms. It’s also got Beat FX onboard, taken from the DJM-900NXS2 mixer.

  • Pioneer DJ DDJ-400: A two-channel controller which copies the CDJ / DJM club set-up layout and distils it into a portable device for home use and bar gigs. The deck controls, and Beat FX layout help new DJs get up to speed with Pioneer DJ’s hardware workflow for an easier transition when they start gigging at clubs.

  • Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4: Replaces one of the most popular controllers in Pioneer DJ’s history, the DDJ-400, so all eyes are on it. It certainly meets the expectations.

  • Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3: This worthy update to NI’s flagship four-channel controller comes with motorised Haptic Drive jog wheels that are smooth and silent, onboard effects and Mixer FX controls, onboard deck displays and a streamlined performance pad section.

  • Standalone controllers

  • Pioneer XDJ RX3: This model may not be the most potent or innovative option available. Yet, it is tremendously popular because, for many DJs, it contains everything they require. This Rekordbox-powered two-channel DJ system does the basics very well, is just as at home in the club as in the bedroom, and even works with Serato, Rekordbox and Virtual DJ software – the best all-rounder.

  • Denon DJ SC Live 4: Units powered by Engine DJ are currently the tech leaders from the brands Denon DJ and Numark. It’s important to note that for the best operation, you still need to use a laptop to prepare and output your music to a USB drive to use with these systems.

  • Numark Mixstream Pro: This great value two-channel DJ system features the same software as the Prime 4, providing almost all the same benefits. Additionally, it has a pair of built-in speakers, which may not be suitable for large parties, but they are perfect for their size.

  • 7.6. Digital Vinyl System (DVS)

    This is the next stop on our DJ guide. DVS systems are pretty confusing for anyone who hasn’t dealt with them in the past or is just learning how to become a DJ. We’ll try to explain very briefly what a DVS is, how it works, what advantages it offers, and what equipment you’ll need to maximise your usage without feeling overwhelmed.

    A DVS is the meeting point for the old analogue way and the new digital world. It’s a technology that re-adapts an old turntable set-up – to turn it into a system that can control DJ software and thus play digital music. Vinyl emulation software allows the user to physically manipulate the playback of digital audio files on a computer using the turntables as an interface, preserving the hands-on control and feel of DJing with vinyl.

    Vinyl emulation software allows the user to physically manipulate the playback of digital audio files on a computer using the turntables as an interface, preserving the hands-on control and feel of DJing with vinyl. For beginners wondering how to be a DJ, it’s a best-of-both-worlds solution.

    7.6.1 Timecode Setups

    You know the feeling of mixing records and like it better than the other options. But you also greatly appreciate the functionality and variance offered by modern-day software like the perfect loops, wild FX, and stems, to name a few. And you prefer hands-on access to your digital music collection everywhere you go. Great news, we know the suitable set-up for you. According to many disc jockeys, using a timecode set-up gives you the best of both worlds, which is great when getting into how to become a DJ.

    There are three types of DVS systems available on the market:

    • DVS-enabled Audio — the oldest one, a bit outdated
    • DVS-enabled Mixer — the latest and best available solution so far
    • DVS-enabled Controller — the most popular today, but not for club use

    Here’s a mini DJ guide on how a DVS-enabled audio system works.

    First, you get yourself a pair of special timecode vinyl or CDs that contain computer code that your software picks up and uses to manipulate digital music files. Then you either attach a breakout box between your record decks/CD players and mixer or use a DVS-enabled mixer instead.

    The next step is to plug your laptop in so your DJ software intercepts the computer signal from the control vinyl or CDs and sends music from your hard drive to the mixer and speakers, following your every manipulation on your decks/ CDJs.

    It sounds like too much effort – what are the advantages? You can use your existing gear (or the club's) and still benefit from DJ software. It looks exactly like "real" DJing and feels more like it. However, you get all the advantages of digital. It's popular among scratch DJs. DVS setups are a good compromise for traditional vinyl DJs who don't want to change their workflow but want to embrace the new-age digital features.

    Beginners noting how to be a DJ may wonder – what are the disadvantages besides that it sounds too complicated? Even though DVS-enabled Audio is pretty old, it can still be quite expensive, especially if you must buy the analogue gear first and then add a DVS 53 system. More and more people are moving to DVS-enabled controllers, and mixers and audio sound options are steadily decreasing.

    DVS-enabled Mixer

    This solution is best for DJs with an old set of turntables or CDJs, as they would only need to replace their mixer with a model that supports DVS. However, it is also the easiest, most convenient way to utilise a timecode set-up.

    DVS mixer translates change in pitch to deliver digital tunes with the analogue feel. The DVS mixer goes to your software with USB, and you can then start working with timecode CDs or vinyl. Many of these DVS-compatible mixers also come bundled with the necessary software, and some even with timecode vinyl. This lets you start immediately without too much hassle with connecting, which is always convenient when taking your first steps of how to become a DJ.

    DVS-enabled Controller

    The DVS-enabled controller is pretty different from both the DVS-enabled audio and the mixer. It’s a good fit for DJs that want a versatile yet customised DJ setup. While it may be bulky and space-restricting, this is an excellent option for those who want to DJ with a turntable, CD player, or just the controller itself, depending on their current mood and flow. There's also an impressive variety of options on the market.

    7.6.2 What Is HID Mode?

    A portion of our DJ guide that shouldn’t be overlooked is HID, or Human Interface Device, which connects hardware to DJ software and controls the software via MIDI. Essentially HID mode allows you to set your hardware to act like a controller. Meaning CDJs need no control CD, and every button works as it would if you were playing on the player itself, without a laptop. It’s also a simple way of unlocking the true potential of your DJ setup.

    Using HID mode on Pioneer CDJs

    Utilising HID control is great for those learning how to be a DJ, as it allows laptop users to take full advantage of the buttons and controls on hardware. Joining the best of the CDJ world with the best hardware and the best of the laptop world with vast music libraries accessed and loaded within seconds. The hassle of scratched control CDs is gone, and the drawbacks of relative/absolute mode are also gone. Cue buttons act as they should; there’s complete control of manual loops and hot cues. It really is the best way to set up a laptop DJ with professional hardware other than controllers.

    Timecode vs HID on Pioneer CDJs

    Because this is a comprehensive DJ guide, you must know that when using a timecode CD with your CD player, you are stuck with basic deck functionality without any innovative track control features and without CDJ screen feedback. On the contrary, you will experience lower latency when using HID mode.

    You can access all additional control features, such as hot cues, loops, track and library navigation, etc. So definitely go for HID if your gear supports it, as it usually performs significantly better. However, if you have an outdated media player — you can’t help but choose timecode.


    This product offers its users the full advantage of HID mode and its benefits. Originating as a Pioneer DJ product, it supports additional features and set-up methods for HID on Pioneer CDJs, such as full scrolling waveforms and cue point position markers on the jog wheels. To connect the players to Rekordbox, you need USB B cables that plug into the rear of the players. A USB hub might be needed as well, but that is a device that anyone wanting to know how to become a DJ should own.

    7.7. DJ Software

    Finding the right DJ software for you is essential when learning how to be a DJ as a beginner, as you two are about to become best friends and hang out a lot. There are several tempting options that will serve you well. Choose the one that works well with your hardware and style. Keep in mind that you will use it for two fundamental tasks: music library (to prepare your tracks before the gig) and/or performance. Once you get deeper into it, wonders will follow.

    • Rekordbox

    Pioneer DJ is the very first manufacturer of DJ hardware, such as controllers and turntables. They are the creators behind Rekordbox, a robust and comprehensive DJ software with a wide range of capabilities.

    What started as a simple music-prepping tool has been gradually upgraded over the years to become state-of-the-art DJ software, reaching 1st place in 2022 for the most used DJ software, rated by users in the survey.

    Rekordbox is the only software you can utilise to prepare and format your USB sticks for later use with club-standard Pioneer CDJs, instantly turning into the club standard. It allows you to organise your music library, tag tracks, make playlists, alter beat grids, and prepare tracks for club use. By the way, you can download the free version of the “club standard” software and explore it right as you read while learning how to become a DJ.

    In Performance Mode, your laptop can be turned into DJ decks where you can begin to practise mixing with your keyboard and mouse or with authorised hardware like a Pioneer DJ controller. It is also helpful for the times you want to rehearse before a gig or just try out some track combinations.

    • Serato

    Serato DJ was a trailblazer as one of the first DJ software on the market and remained one of the top players in the industry. It’s been favoured by many disc jockeys during the last decade, especially those in the urban music industry and the majority of hip-hop, dancehall and scratch DJs.

    The software is best known for its use of combining traditional vinyl turntables with digital audio music - helping DJs utilise the best of both worlds, which is an interesting approach in discovering how to be a DJ for beginners.

    What makes it so special? Well, Serato provides you with the tools you need to create music and DJ simultaneously. It lets you do editing tricks that you otherwise couldn’t do in real-time, and it’s happening right there on the spot.

    Essentially, it is a highly reliable and low-latency DJ software with all the bells and whistles one may wish for in four-deck mixing, effects, analysis tools, sync, and sampling capabilities, to name a few. Just imagine all the mixing gimmicks you can perform with this magic program’s help.

    Serato doesn’t make hardware but licences third-party manufacturers instead. Thanks to its plug-and-play compatibility, you can use a wide range of controllers with Serato and many others that can connect via midi mappings, making it great for anyone interested in how to be a DJ.

    The software is designed to be used by laptop DJs – you can’t export Serato- analysed music to a USB drive and use it on hardware away from your laptop. This would involve carrying your laptop to each event along with a sound card to connect it to the decks.

    After a short period of decline, the company regained its former positions thanks to the well-received stems technology. With the introduction of Serato Stems in the latest release of Serato Studio, they’re taking a big step toward making production tools available to DJs and producers.

    • Traktor Pro 3

    Traktor Pro is another top-rated DJ software that offers an all-in-one digital DJ package for newbies and pros alike. It has been around for over ten years, regarded by many top DJs as the software of choice for top performance. It's still a popular platform, although, in numbers, it is nowadays eclipsed by Serato and Rekordbox.

    The software has a user-friendly interface making it easy to navigate and customise to get it just how you want it. It’s currently at Version 3, and you can download Version 2 legally for free. It can be used in sync with various hardware, such as the Traktor Kontrol S4 Mk3 controller and the Traktor Kontrol Z2 mixer.

    Anyone reading this DJ guide should note that Traktor Pro is famous for its quality effects, key analysis algorithm, seamless looping, and real-time stems feature. The software has fallen behind feature-wise in recent years; however, it's now catching up with new upgrades that offer a better experience.

    • Ableton Live

    Ableton Live is breaking the mold with something unique: a deviation from other classical DJ software, which seeks to recreate the turntable and mixer experience. Instead, it offers a flexible program allowing you to create music lists and FX sounds while on the go.

    The software offers limitless possibilities to artists, whether they’re performing live or in the studio. We definitely recommend it to DJs or musicians who wish to add a live performance element to their shows. Suitable for artists with a background in music and some years of DJing behind them. Ableton is also a great choice for beginners just dipping into how to be a DJ. It should be noted that preparing songs for a live performance with Ableton is not hard at all.

    • Virtual DJ

    Our final software in this DJ guide is Virtual DJ. With over 1 million downloads for the past two decades, we can tell that it is one of the community's most popular and preferred software. It is used by many professionals, whose emphasis on visuals helps their audience better appreciate their skills.

    The clever algorithm can automatically mix tracks and select the next song based on the tempo of the current one. The user interface has also been significantly upgraded in its later version; it now includes an automated stem feature tool that isolates vocals, drums, melody, and baseline on each track. This puts Virtual DJ on par with other top software like Serato DJ.

    7.8. DJ Guide to Headphones

    Some say that headphones are “a DJ’s most intimate tool”; others call them “the most loyal friend”. Choose whichever you prefer, but you get the main idea. The headphones are a crucial part of the DJ experience and the most important tool in preparing a performance before delivering it through the speakers. All the magic happens there — the artist chooses and cues tracks, listens to mixes in progress and plays around with EQs. It's safe to say that you can’t learn how to be a DJ without them.

    What to consider when looking for DJ headphones?

    When shopping for headphones, you should first decide if you want open or closed-back models. There is also a third type, semi-open, which attempts to combine the advantages of each.

    Closed-Back Headphones - Good to excellent isolation. - Low leakage (the extent to which audio leaks from the headphones) • Enhanced low-frequency (bass) reproduction. - Very common amongst DJs and suitable for almost any situation.

    Open-Back Headphones - The open-back architecture of the ear cup promotes a more natural sound due to less colouration than the closed-back. - Better transient response. - Less ear cup material translates to an overall lighter-weight assembly, which is beneficial when wearing headphones for long periods.

    On-ear vs Over-ear headphones - Over-ear headphones are designed to cup over the entire ear lobe; feel chunkier and more rigid. - On-ear headphones rest on top of your ears; feel smaller and lighter.

    Sound quality, comfort and durability are what you should go after. Your future headphones need to have good sound isolation, be loud, be sturdily built, have a firm headband and grip on your ears, and preferably come with a detachable, coiled cable (which you can easily change when needed).

    In this part of the DJ guide, it should be noted that the most essential feature to ask for is a sufficiently high sound pressure level (SPL) in order to be able to hear above the external sound of a loud PA system. However, a closed-back design with good ambient noise rejection enables monitoring at a lower volume level. Also, ear cushions that can be changed or washed would make your headphones last longer than some of your past relationships.

    Here comes our handpicked selection of tested, time-proven leading models headphones that you can trust, when getting to know the equipment needed while learning how to become a DJ:

    • The Sennheiser HD 25 is perhaps the most iconic model of DJ headphones, an industry standard that has been a popular choice for a really long time. The headphones offer excellent sound quality, durability and are incomparably lightweight and comfortable to wear. All their parts can be easily replaced if damaged. Their weakest spot is the cable connections to the ear pads, but since they are modular, people fix their pairs DIY.
    • AIAIAI TMA-2 Modular DJ headphones have become popular and were highly rated by many legendary DJs and music professionals due to their modular design, allowing them to customise the headphones to meet their specific needs. This model works superbly for bass-heavy loaded electronic music.
      For example, one can choose between different types of ear pads (leather or microfibre), different types of headbands (leather or nylon), and different types of speakers (high-sensitivity or high-definition). Their sick modular design and 100% sustainable and replaceable parts make them slightly more expensive than the rest.
    • Technics EAH-DJ1200 is just as loud and punchy as the previous model but with a surprisingly smoother sound. This version comes with more balanced high-end yet similar low-end power. Another significant improvement by Technics is that they made the EAHs less tight and thus much more comfortable to wear for extended periods. Great value for money, and a solid choice for anyone learning how to be a DJ.
    • Pioneer HDJ-X10 is a high-end option that delivers excellent sound quality with the ability to reproduce frequencies from 5 Hz up to 40 kHz. Built to withstand heavy use thanks to the feedback and advice received by pro-industry players. The headphones are proven highly durable and shock- tested by US Military Standards. Downsides: obviously expensive compared to other models; the ear cups are not as breathable.
    • Audio Technica ATH-M50x is popular among DJs due to its excellent sound quality, affordability, and durability. The headphones have a closed-back design for noise isolation and swivelling ear cups for easy one-ear monitoring. However, they can be slightly heavy, which can cause discomfort over long periods of use. So keep that in mind when looking into how to be a DJ as a beginner.

    7.9. DJ Speakers

    Choosing speakers can be tough to navigate, as with other bits of technical kit. Still, this process is simplified once you decide what aspects best suit your requirements. This is what this DJ guide is for, after all.

    The main difference between DJ Monitors and Studio Monitors?

    Studio monitors offer an accurate and neutral listening experience, ideal for those who seek precision and a heavy focus on clarity. They produce audio in its purest form, the closest to what it initially should sound like.

    We’d recommend getting a set of studio monitors when:

    1) You live in an apartment and must keep the volume as low as possible. You want minimal bass and a minimal sound volume leaking outside the room. You can position your speakers at the proper ear height (speaker stands or shelves on the wall).

    2) You’re confident that you will engage in music production sooner than later and want a sound solution for both scenarios.

    Bear in mind that due to studio monitors’ even and flat response, you will hear every flaw while you are DJing, and even the slightest mistake might sound very obvious. But on the bright side, this set-up will give you a very clear picture of what you should and shouldn’t do. It’s a precision tool. It can be a great tool for learning how to be a DJ for beginners.

    It’s important to note that personal preference, room acoustics, and other factors can also influence the sound quality and suitability of a monitor speaker for each individual user.

    • Overall winner: Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor

    The Yamaha HS5 is a powered studio monitor with 2-way bass reflex performance. You get a powerful 2-way performance with a 5-inch cone woofer and a 1-inch dome tweeter for a relatively minimal cost. There’s a broad frequency response and 70-watt power amplification from a bi-amp system included.

    The Yamaha has an XLR and TRS phone jack input for balanced and unbalanced signals. There’s also room control available, so you can adapt your speaker to suit the style of your room. Clear, accurate sound, deep enough bass to mean no subwoofer required in most circumstances, realistically priced, and most importantly, great audio solution for both producers and DJs. Highly recommended.

    • Adam T5V

    The Adam Audio T5V is for the contemporary bedroom DJ/producer who demands high-quality monitoring at a fantastic value – it blows away active monitor speakers in its price range and even some older, more expensive models from “prosumer” brands such as M-Audio and KRK.

    The imaging and detail in the high frequencies are unheard of in this bracket – these are the best entry-level monitor speakers you can get for your bedroom studio. Highly recommended, especially for those just discovering how to be a DJ.

    • Budget-friendly: Presonus Eris E3.5 Near Field Studio Monitor

    That studio monitor offers everything you need to make the most out of your tracks and discover new elements of your mixes. The reviews online really speak for themselves here. The Presonus Eris is a near-field studio monitor with an excellent industrial design.

    Also, these powered speakers are the only monitors in this class with built-in acoustic tuning, giving you a pristine sound quality. You can access stereo aux input, headphone jacks, and more. These speakers aren’t as ideal for bass quality as some of the larger options on the market, but they’re excellent for the price.

    • Mackie CR-X 5

    Mackie’s CR-X 5s are a pair of high-end studio monitors designed for both playing live and listening to the latest digital mix of your tracks through a computer. Each speaker is equipped with a 5-inch woofer and a .75-inch tweeter. They feature an 80W amplifier, but Mackie doesn’t specify the frequency range.

    The CR-X 5s have a generous assortment of inputs: a pair of TRS (1/4-inch) inputs, a set of RCA inputs, and a standard AUX input. It’s actually useful and convenient to keep the studio monitors connected to different sources simultaneously. The only con of that model appears to be its weight — speakers are heavy and not mobile-friendly. Overall, Mackie’s CR-X 5s are sure to deliver crystal-clear sound

    • Mobile friendly: Mackie Thump Go Speaker

    The Mackie Thump Go is a marvel of a speaker. Not much bigger than a standard studio monitor, it is, in fact, a small PA speaker with pro inputs and outputs, a long-lasting replaceable rechargeable battery, Bluetooth, and a mini live mixer built in. For the size, it sounds great. For DJs, a pair of these may be the only speakers you ever need for DJ practice, small parties, and just throwing in the trunk to play down the beach with Bluetooth. One aspect of learning how to be a DJ is to discern the equipment you need to invest in.

    8. How to be a DJ by Learning the Essential Techniques

    Get lost in the endless possibilities, unleash your creativity, and surprise yourself. The decks are your playground, and you have the entire history of recorded sound to play with. In this segment of the DJ guide, we’ll look closer at the craft’s key principles and the most fundamental techniques you need to acquire.

    There are several basic skills to consider first setting out on how to be a DJ. In this chapter, we briefly cover the ones you can’t go without.

    8.1. Beatmatching

    To put it frankly, it’s not rocket science. Yet learning to beatmatch is the most challenging task while learning how to become a DJ. It’s the base foundation of the craft, so the faster you train your ears to do it, the better. It will happen, just don’t quit and practise every day.

    Beatmatching is a technique used to synchronise two tracks by adjusting their tempo (the speed at which the song is playing) and phase (the beats from both tracks playing in time with each other). Tempo is the speed, such as 120 km/h. Phase is making these two cars drive right next to each other.

    To beatmatch successfully, you can adjust the tempo of the song by using your player’s pitch fader. You can modify the phase by utilising a jog wheel, pushing a pitch bend button, or touching one of your playing records. “Okay then, is it essential to learn how to beatmatch when there is the sync button over there, and it’s looking right at me?” – A popular question we get asked quite often for those wondering how to become a DJ.

    Speaking from our personal experience, nothing is necessary, but it’s a great idea you won’t regret having later on. Firstly, it allows you to beatmatch and play music on anything, including younger DJs’ nightmare - turntables. More importantly, it helps to develop and tune your ears so that you know what to listen for.

    The practice of manual beatmatching results in a much more trained ear and a more confident DJ. And, yes, you can always come back to this later, but learning to beatmatch as soon as you get into DJing is the easiest, most natural approach to the whole journey.

    8.2. Matching phrases

    Understanding the concept of good phrasing could be pretty challenging for anyone learning how to be a DJ as a beginner, but understanding how it works is the only way to craft a seamless mix where the tracks start/end at just the right time. This part of the DJ guide will try to break it down shortly for you to get the idea and learn how to count phrases and how to apply them creatively across different genres.

    Most Western music, particularly electronic and pop, contains phrases of 8, 16, and 32 counts. As you gain experience as a DJ, you will notice that all styles of music follow a similar rhythmic structure. Our brains naturally expect these patterns. Therefore, you must always keep the rhythmic structures of each song in line. Understanding these patterns makes it possible to take two very different tracks and make them sound like they were meant to be.

    Why It’s Important

    Every track introduces noticeable changes to the music that mark the beginning and finish of phrases. Typically, these changes would be to either add or subtract a new instrument, drum fill, a crash, or a change in the drum patterns, occurring every 32 counts.

    The golden rule is to always introduce the new track at the beginning of a phrase from the previous one. Now, don’t panic; it is simpler than it sounds. You just need to train your ears to identify the changes and wait for the right moment to start your mix. Most tracks stick to the 32-count rule, so you are safe as long as you get the 32-count rhythmic phrases of both tunes in sync.

    Thanks to technology and DJ software, we are now provided with a visual overview of the entire track’s waveform. This makes it very simple to spot the start and end of phrases, such as breakdowns and buildups, which are important elements anyone learning how to be a DJ should know.

    To understand how phrases work, you need to observe a few elements in a phrase.

    To successfully match up two tracks, you have to make sure that the second tune starts aligned with the phrasing of the first. Determining when to start mixing in the next track and the duration of the transition between tracks depends on each case. A standard error is to line up two tracks at the exact BPM but start the incoming tune too early or too late, creating an unintentional lull in the energy.

    Determining how one track ends and the next begins is essential for creating a composition in which the structure of the first balances the structure of the following. This is good phrasing.

    For example, if one track builds up to a big drop at the peak, you want to create space before the next drop in the next track. If the next tune you choose drops too early, you could burn out your listener. How to be a DJ for beginners requires a bit of practical experience, as well.

    8.3. Choosing tracks

    In order to become a DJ, being intimately acquainted with the intricacies of each track is not a mere luxury, but an absolute necessity. From the number of bass layers intricately woven within the composition to the precise make and model of the guitar used to record that intro riff, every detail holds significance. Understanding the song structures is paramount if you wish to harness your musical arsenal to its fullest potential and explore the realm of experimentation with absolute freedom.

    8.4. Gain control

    Understanding gain structure is essential for how to be a DJ for beginners. Every DJ tool used for mixing – a mixer, a console or a controller, contains a few different levels of volume adjustment. Firstly, each mixer channel has a gain knob, allowing you to adjust the level by watching your meters. Then, each channel has a line fader.

    The line fader adjusts how much signal you send to your main output. And your main output has a volume control, too. Then there’s the crossfader which allows you to fade between one channel and another in a left/right motion.

    In addition, DJ software has its own gain structure. This can make things quite confusing. When in doubt, read the manual. Some DJ software features auto-gain functionality, which helps minimise the amount of manual adjustment between tracks. In this part of the DJ guide remember a general rule: stay out of the red. If you need more volume, boost it on the amp or speaker side.

    8.5. Blending

    To learn how to become a DJ, the ability to blend tracks seamlessly is an essential skill that separates the novices from the masters. Blending allows you to create smooth and harmonious transitions between songs, maintaining the energy and flow of your set. Let's explore three key techniques for achieving flawless blends: using the crossfader, utilizing faders, and harnessing the power of EQ.

    Blending with the Crossfader

    The crossfader is a powerful tool found on most DJ mixers. It controls the audio output between two channels – typically your decks. To blend tracks using the crossfader, start by cueing up your next track on the incoming deck. As the current track nears its end, gradually slide the crossfader toward the incoming deck.

    This action smoothly fades out the first track while simultaneously fading in the second track. Practice finding the perfect timing and adjusting the crossfader's position to achieve a seamless transition between the two tracks.

    Blending with Faders

    Faders, often referred to as channel faders or volume faders, allows you to adjust the audio levels of individual decks. To blend tracks using faders, begin by cueing up the next track on the incoming deck. As the current track progresses, start gradually lowering the volume fader of the outgoing track while simultaneously raising the volume fader of the incoming track.

    This gradual transition ensures that the outgoing track gracefully fades out while the incoming track seamlessly takes over. Fine-tuning the timing and smoothly controlling the faders are key to achieving a polished blend.

    Blending with EQ

    Equalising, or EQing, involves adjusting the frequencies of audio tracks and cutting or boosting them to create a harmonious blend. This is yet another essential concept to know for how to be a DJ for beginners.

    For example, in dance music, most of the audio space gets eaten up by bass frequencies. You should avoid mixing two powerful kick drums over one another since they are too loud to combine. A typical DJ mixer includes a three-band EQ (low, mid, and high) which allows you to carve out the audio space for a buttery blend.

    When appropriately used, the EQ is both a helpful tool and a means of creative expression. Equalisation will not fix a bad mix, nor will it work miracles. But we can use it to smooth together multiple audio signals and make our mixes come out with a bit more polish.

    8.6. Harmony

    Becoming a DJ requires a sense of musical harmony. Despite being of the same genre and BPM, some tracks don’t fit together. While some DJs have an innate sense of tracks that complement one another, others will find it frustrating without a good explanation.

    To musicians, the answer is often found in the track’s key. Mixing in key involves transitioning from one track to another that shares the same or a complementary key. You can rely on the Camelot Wheel to determine the complementary key for each tone.

    8.7. Transition techniques

    The last part of our DJ guide will focus on transition techniques. Stereotypically, dance music DJs favour beatmatching, Hip Hop DJs cutting, and radio DJs fading. While you can make an excellent mix with any single transition type, using a combination of transitions can both help some tracks fit together that may not otherwise and/or create variety in your set.

    If your mix has a mixed bag of genres, change it up transition- wise. If you are playing a single genre, like techno or house, seamless beat matching all the way through is the way to go. We believe that having all of these in your arsenal is important in learning how to be a DJ for beginners, as it gives you a more colourful palette when performing.

    Some techniques you can use are:

    8.8.1. Cuts

    Cuts involve an abrupt switch from one track to another, creating a sudden change in energy. It's a technique commonly used in Hip Hop and other fast-paced genres. With precise timing and a swift fader movement, you can create a sharp and impactful transition that grabs the listener's attention. Experiment with different combinations of cuts to add excitement and surprise to your mixes.

    8.8.2. Double drops

    Double drops are a technique favored by drum and bass DJs. It involves layering two tracks together at the same time, syncing their beats and elements to create a powerful and complex sound. This technique adds intensity and depth to your mixes, allowing you to build anticipation and unleash a burst of energy when both tracks drop simultaneously.

    8.8.3. Spinback

    Spinback is a technique commonly used in genres like jungle and breakbeat. It involves manually rewinding the track on the turntable or controller to create a momentary reversal of the music. By executing a precise spinback at the right moment, you can introduce an element of surprise and create a dynamic effect that captures the audience's attention.

    8.8.4. Seamless blend

    A seamless blend is the art of smoothly transitioning from one track to another, maintaining a continuous flow of music. This technique requires meticulous beatmatching, precise EQ adjustments, and careful volume control. By focusing on matching the tempos, aligning the phrasing, and using techniques like phrase mixing, you can create a cohesive and seamless journey through your set. This technique is especially important to learn when wondering how to be a DJ.

    8.8.5. EQ swap

    EQ swapping involves transitioning between two tracks by gradually swapping the equalization settings. By selectively adjusting the bass, midrange, and treble frequencies of each track, you can smoothly blend their sonic characteristics. This technique allows you to create a subtle and gradual transformation of the sound, adding depth and texture to your mixes.

    8.8.6. Layering

    Layering involves playing multiple tracks together to create a rich and textured sound. By carefully selecting tracks that complement each other, you can combine their elements to build complex and harmonious arrangements. Experiment with layering different tracks, focusing on finding the perfect balance between their rhythms, melodies, and vocals. This is probably one of the harder transition methods to master when learning how to become a DJ.

    Remember, these techniques are just tools in your DJing arsenal. The key is to understand the musical context, read the crowd, and adapt your transitions accordingly. Experiment with different combinations, practice your timing and precision, and develop your unique style. By incorporating these techniques into your DJ sets, you'll elevate your performance and take your mixes to new heights of creativity and excitement.

    8.8.4. Seamless blend

    A seamless blend is the art of smoothly transitioning from one track to another, maintaining a continuous flow of music. This technique requires meticulous beatmatching, precise EQ adjustments, and careful volume control. By focusing on matching the tempos, aligning the phrasing, and using techniques like phrase mixing, you can create a cohesive and seamless journey through your set. There are more transitions that a DJ should know which can add some flare to any live performance.

    Thank you for reading our comprehensive DJ guide! We hope it has been useful in inspiring you! The journey of how to become a DJ for beginners starts with a bold first step and is a lifelong passion. We hope you enjoy every mile along the way. Now use our DJ Name Generator and drop some beats.