5 Tips to DJ a Party
Everyone wants to learn how to DJ, but getting good is easier said than done. While it's true that anyone can press the play button and add a few effects, learning how to be a good DJ who can control the dancefloor and keep everyone having fun is no easy feat. You must be able to read a crowd and master all the intricacies that keep the audience engaged and on their feet. So to help you improve your skills, here are five tips to help you learn how to DJ.
1. Prepare Your Playlist
Proper preparation is key to mastering any craft, and DJing is no exception. While you can also practice your on-stage dance moves or scratching techniques, developing your playlist is one of the most crucial aspects of learning how to DJ. In the same way, an experienced artist will determine their tracklist before a performance, a professional DJ will have a playlist set before they take the stage.
While you may choose to omit certain songs or make substitutions in the moment to fit the crowd's energy, you'll want to have your songs prepared before you get up in front of an audience. If you wait until the last minute, you may experience technical difficulties or miss a step that will kill the vibe. So choosing the right playlist is crucial if you want to learn how to DJ.
2. Invest in the Right Equipment
You must invest in the proper equipment if you want to learn how to DJ. While there is far more to being a good DJ than just buying expensive equipment, it's also tough to learn the necessary skills without the right tools. The amount you'll need to invest and the type of equipment you plan on purchasing entirely depends on your style, experience level, and personal preference.
Some DJs are most comfortable with a simple 2-channel mixer, while others want to be able to put on intricate light shows and perform complex scratching techniques. You can learn how to be a good DJ with just the basics, but investing in higher-level equipment will give you more options and controls. So, determine what you need and do your research to find the best equipment available.
3. Know Your Crowd
If you want to learn how to DJ in many different environments, it's essential to learn how to study a crowd. First, you should learn what type of music works best in what environment. Festivals have a different vibe than clubs which have a different atmosphere than house parties. So you may want to tweak your setlist to accommodate these distinctions.
Also, determine if there’s a particular genre that the audience is most likely to respond to or if you're better off playing a mix of everything. Some crowds may only want to hear EDM, while others will be keener on hip hop. Some audiences may like more underground records, while others will only want to hear the hits. While you can do your best to study the vibe of the venue where you're performing, in some cases, you may have to pay attention to the audience's reaction and adjust accordingly.
4. Keep an Eye on the Levels
Low-quality audio can be a huge mood killer, so pay attention to the levels as much as possible. It helps to understand the basics of audio mixing if you want to learn how to DJ. If you see your mixer going into the red, it means that the sound is clipping - which will cause unwanted distortion and make the sound harsh on the ears. A speaker system can only handle so much audio energy at one time. So if you push the levels beyond what it can handle, it will inevitably impact the quality of the sound.
Keeping the proper levels is crucial for learning how to be a good DJ. Amateurs will ignore this step and push the sound as loud as it can go. But you may not realize that it's negatively impacting the audience, who may leave the dancefloor because the sound is too harsh and overbearing. So if you notice the levels going into the red, try reducing the gain/volumes or using the mixer to EQ the sound until it's back in the green, then turn up the levels on the speaker system.
5. Have Fun
Finally, if you want to learn how to DJ, you need to have fun. You won't bring the passion and energy to the performance that's needed to get a positive reaction from the crowd if you only see it as a job. Don't be afraid to let loose and show how much you enjoy the music. If you're just standing there looking stiff and robotic, the audience will likely do the same. But the energy will be palpable if you're getting physical and showing how much fun you're having.
Ultimately, there's no exact rulebook on how to be a good DJ. It takes practice, patience, and plenty of trial and error to learn how to choose the right songs and master the moves that make a great DJ set. But as long as you keep an open mind and enjoy yourself, the time you put into mastering your craft will never feel like work.