How To Become A DJ: A Step-By-Step Guide For 2024

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Published By:

DJ Fierce

January 3, 2024

How To Become A DJ

Learning how to become a DJ is an ongoing process that begins with basic DJing skills and continues as you gain experience performing in front of an audience.

There’s a lot to consider, from what DJ software and hardware to invest in, to how to build playlists of great music to use in your DJ mixes.

In this guide, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about becoming a DJ to help you get the best setup to turn your hobby into a career.


What Is A DJ?

A disc jockey, commonly abbreviated to DJ, plays pre-recorded music for other music lovers using mixing software and hardware.

While some traditional DJs mix using vinyl records, many contemporary DJ setups combine a DJ controller with software with digital audio files.

There are several different types of DJs, ranging from the club DJ who plays guest sets at venues or works as a resident DJ with regular slots.

Other DJs include wedding and mobile DJs, who work at corporate or public events, and radio DJs, who typically DJ online and work with music radio stations.

The DJing process typically involves live beat mixing, introducing one track as the previous track plays out using a variety of transitions.

Some professional modern DJs use more complex DJ setups, for example, using a three-deck mixing setup to blend multiple audio tracks and genres together.

Additional equipment required to become a DJ includes headphones and speakers, with optional extras such as microphones and effects units.


Things To Consider Before Becoming A DJ

Before diving into how to become a DJ, it’s worth considering some of the ways it may affect your lifestyle and other expectations to bear in mind.

While becoming a DJ can be a lot of fun, there are several challenges to be mindful of, from the time-consuming process of learning skills to networking for gigs.

Expecting to launch a fully-fledged DJ career in a few weeks is unreasonable, and you’ll likely face stiff competition from other DJs in your area.

Likewise, accumulating a rich and varied archive of music to DJ with can take time, particularly if you’re exploring new music genres to play.

Here’s an overview of some of the key things to consider if you’re thinking of becoming a DJ:

  • Available budget. If you don’t have any DJ gear, you should factor in your disposable income and see if it’s enough to cover the basic equipment.
  • Source of income. Building a record collection and DJ setup can be expensive, so you’ll need another job to help fund your DJing when you first start out.
  • Marketing and branding. Beginner DJs hoping to go professional down the line should also be mindful of the time and effort required to set up a website and press kit.
  • Changing technologies. Another aspect of DJing worth considering is the increasing role of artificial intelligence, with tools like Spotify’s new AI DJ changing the landscape.
  • Plenty of time and patience. Mastering DJing isn’t something you can accomplish overnight, so be prepared to put in the grind learning how to do it.

In addition to the above considerations, you’ll need an outgoing personality and a knack for dealing with people to network with venues and arrange events.

If this sounds like it’s something you’re suited for, let’s get the ball rolling and begin our step-by-step guide to becoming a successful DJ.


How To Become A DJ In 2024: Step-By-Step

Whether you’re looking into becoming a radio DJ or hoping to break into your local club DJ scene, there are many important factors to consider.

We’ve ensured this guide covers the important information for all aspiring DJs to help them get the best equipment they need to master the art of DJing.

So, if you’re ready to launch your career as a DJ, here’s everything you need to know:


Step 1: Understand All Types Of DJs

Before spending money on DJ equipment and collecting music to perform, you’ll need to decide what type of DJ you’re thinking of becoming.

While the core elements of DJing are similar across all types, there’s nuance in what DJ gear works best and other optimal resources.

Some DJs perform for purely commercial reasons and often don’t play their own favorite music, while other DJs enjoy playing at house parties.

Here’s a brief overview of the different types of DJs and what separates them from each other in their style of play and approach to performance.


Mobile DJs

A mobile DJ is a DJ who uses a self-contained and portable DJ gear setup and performs for a range of target audiences at private venues.

This includes DJing at corporate functions and other private events, often supplying their own lighting rig and other visual video systems.

As such, a mobile DJ setup is typically more expensive but offers the chance of more consistent work if you do decide to turn professional.


Wedding DJs

A wedding DJ works similarly to a mobile DJ, bringing their own equipment, lighting, and accessories to the event and acting as a compere.

While mobile DJs have some leeway in the music they play in their sets, wedding DJs work with mainstream music and take requests.

If this business model interests you, you should take the time to research the various wedding DJ services and invest in the appropriate gear.


Radio DJs

If you’d prefer to maintain anonymity or like DJing from the comfort of your home, becoming a radio DJ might be your best option.

Radio DJs typically play in a given schedule slot and focus on a particular music genre or subculture when broadcasting their DJ sets.

There are plenty of great resources you can use to learn how to become a radio DJ, and it’s a popular way for bedroom DJs to expand their reach.


Club DJs

Many beginners hope to become club DJs where they can express themselves in front of a live audience.

Club DJs will be familiar with the high-end DJ controllers used in the venues and clearly understand how to read the crowd.

You can learn how to DJ in clubs from home and use this knowledge to build a strong library of recorded mixes by listening to experienced DJs.


Step 2: Invest In The Right Hardware

Whether you’re hoping to play electronic dance music in clubs or become a mobile DJ with corporate gigs, you must invest in the appropriate hardware.

There’s lots of great DJ equipment for beginners you can buy for a reasonable price to help you hone basic DJing skills.

Here’s an overview of the core hardware every DJ needs to perform a live DJ set, from the best DJ controllers to the essential peripherals.


DJ Controllers

The most important DJ hardware you’ll need to begin your DJing lifestyle is a DJ controller, which is used to play music and seamlessly mix songs.

Depending on your style of DJing and budget, you should consider how many channels you need, as well as native effects and other DJ tools.

Many of the best DJ controllers are used in established venues, but there are plenty of great options for budget-friendly controllers to get started.



If you’re a hip-hop fan and want to learn how to DJ with vinyl or want to open up your options for hunting down rare tracks, turntables are essential.

While turntables are less commonly used by professional DJs, mixing with vinyl records will help you stand out when playing sets.

Models such as the Technics SL-1210 turntables were fixtures in clubs for decades, delivering outstanding quality and a tactile approach to performance.

If you’re considering using turntables exclusively, be aware that you’ll need to get a DJ mixer to replace the core functions of a modern DJ controller.


Essential Peripherals

Once you’ve set up your DJ controller, you’ll need to invest money in the peripherals to perform, from the best DJ headphones to essential cables.

With so many DJs experiencing issues during their sets, picking up spare cables can also save you unnecessary embarrassment should things go wrong.

Many club DJs will also take a spare pair of headphones, while wedding and mobile DJs require a microphone to interact and make announcements.

It would be best if you also learned how to clean your DJ gear to remove dust and dirt following each set, as this will minimize wear and tear and save money over time.


Step 3: Learn How To Use DJ Software

While DJ hardware delivers the main tools you’ll need to mix songs, it requires DJ software to channel music through your sound system.

Failing to understand how to use your DJ software’s tools and integrate it with the hardware is a common DJ pain point to be mindful of.

Let’s explore some of your main options when choosing your DJ software and how these can be effectively used to improve your DJ skills.


Professional DJ Software

There are three primary brands known for software that any professional DJ can use in conjunction with their hardware to deliver exceptional DJ sets.

Traktor by Native Instruments, Serato DJ Pro, and Pioneer’s Rekordbox are the most common, with more affordable alternatives including Virtual DJ.

Most DJ software functions similarly, allowing users to access their music library and queue them into the system so it can be mixed into their DJ sets.

Understanding the differences between software such as Rekordbox vs. Serato and other alternatives is important to choosing the best DJ software.

For example, some DJ controllers are only compatible with specific software, so you should be mindful of these limitations when creating a DJ setup.

Likewise, if you’re considering integrating a digital vinyl system into your performances, you’ll need to choose compatible software that allows you to do so.


DJing Apps

If you’re after a more casual system to mix music while on the move or to complement your home DJ setup, there are many great DJ apps to consider.

The best DJ apps incorporate the tools for beatmatching and transitions found in their software counterparts, albeit in a pared-down format.

You can use these DJ apps to work on basic DJing skills while commuting or traveling and familiarize yourself with the processes involved.

These DJ apps are also handy tools for playing with the track order of your sets in a rough context before adding filters and effects back home.

As many of these apps are free or offer a free trial, they’re a great way to check out how new music will work in a DJ set before performing your sets.


Step 4: Build A Music Library

A great DJ is only as good as their music collection, so building a library of impressive tracks is a fundamental point for beginner DJs to consider.

With the music industry suffering from the issue of piracy, it’s important to ensure your music is legitimately sourced so you don’t break copyright laws.

Fortunately, there are lots of resources that you can turn to and start collecting music for your sets, which we’ll explore in detail now.


Online Record Stores

With most DJs using digital music files for their DJ sets, there are plenty of great online record stores where you can purchase music downloads.

Covering a broad range of music genres, online record stores such as Boomkat and Bleep sell individual tracks and complete EPs and albums.

There are many excellent stores to choose from, so it pays to check out the best music discovery websites for a comprehensive selection of tracks.


DJ Record Pools

If you don’t want to pay for individual files and would prefer to handle a monthly subscription to access new music, record pools are the way to go.t

Once you’ve subscribed, you can download any music from the platform, including exclusive access to remixes, edits, and other available mashups.

You can also use DJ pools for promotion, as well as delivering feedback on the music you’ve checked out and networking with DJs on their forums.

A popular way to build a playlist, DJ record pools are widely used by radio DJs who want peace of mind regarding copyright.


Streaming Services

There are several popular online streaming services that are commonly used by DJs to learn about the latest releases and hit songs to use in their sets.

While learning how to DJ with Spotify has its limitations, as a backup resource for house parties and other personal events, it offers plenty of choice.

Streaming services give DJs a clear insight into trends in music genres and what tracks are guaranteed to get a positive response and help aspiring DJs develop.


Physical Media Stores

One of the best tips when looking into how to get unreleased music is to take a step back from digital files and consider physical media.

Vinyl records, compact discs, and even cassettes can be picked up incredibly cheaply from thrift stores and yard sales, with the potential for rare discoveries.

Second-hand stores for vinyl records are also rich resources for discovering releases that haven’t yet made it to the online world you can use in your sets.

You can also purchase physical media from online stores, with websites like Discog hosting thousands of sellers with credible quality ratings.


Step 5: Practice Mixing Music

Once you’ve picked up a great DJ controller and have an impressive collection of your favorite music to work with, it’s time to practice the art of DJing.

There are lots of resources available that will teach you how to make a DJ mix, so it pays to research the basics before you get started.

Breaking the process down into its core elements will help you structure your practice sessions, so let’s dive into these steps in more detail.


Learn To Beatmatch

Whatever style of music it is you’re planning on DJing, learning how to beatmatch provides the foundation from which your set will be built.

Beatmatching is identifying the beats per minute of two tracks so that when the second is introduced in the mix, it keeps the same time as the first.

This is accomplished by increasing or decreasing the tempo/beats per minute of the incoming track until it matches the one currently playing.

Once the new track has been correctly beatmatched, the DJ can begin introducing it into the mix using one of many different DJ transitions.


Master Easy DJ Transitions

Once your tracks match tempo, they can be brought into the mix with a transition that blends or cuts the second track into the first track.

There are several easy DJ transitions you can begin with, such as lowering the volume on the outgoing track as you raise the volume on the incoming track.

This technique is one of the first transitions you’ll master when learning how to DJ house music, but it is versatile enough to apply to nearly all genres.

If you’re diving into drum and bass or hip-hop DJing, a basic quick cut on the crossfader between channels is another easy transition to begin with.


Introduce DJ Effects

Bringing in your next track using the crossfader and EQ controls can be enhanced by using the DJ effects featured on your controller or mixer.

There are several core DJ sound effects that are commonly used by professional DJs, with reverb and delay effects great for adding atmosphere.

Flangers and other effects can also add texture and interest to the mix, although these should be used sparingly to avoid overly distorting your music.

DJs often use low, medium, and high pass filters to aid with their transitions, fading in and out percussion or basslines depending on the filters used.


Step 6: Send Recorded Mixes To Venues

Once your level of proficiency has improved to where you can deliver DJ sets without mistakes, you’re ready to start approaching venues.

Whether you’re hoping to launch a successful DJ career or are happy picking up DJ gigs casually, your recorded mixes are essential for promotion.

An integral aspect of your DJ brand and marketing strategy, DJ mixes can be hosted on various online platforms to allow for wider sharing with your fans.


Build A DJ Brand

A great DJ understands that the road to success is about more than playing incredible sets and that how you present yourself is crucial for gaining attention.

As such, building a DJ brand should be a component of any beginner DJ’s journey if they’re hoping to pick up regular gigs and nurture a potential career.

This begins with creating a persona for your DJing, with a striking, iconic logo and other visual branding elements to use on promotional materials.

If you don’t have the art and design skills to do this yourself, see if any talented friends or family members can help you bring your vision to life.


Create A DJ Press Kit

A DJ press kit is another important tool in the arsenal of a beginner DJ looking to pick up a gig and should contain a complete overview of your style.

When putting together a DJ press kit, include a selection of high-quality photographs from your previous performances and any relevant videos.

Full contact details should also be included, as well as links to all of your social media pages and a detailed biography of what inspires your DJing.

You can send your press kit to booking agencies along with your best sets or directly to clubs and bars where you’re interested in securing a DJ set.


Develop A DJ Marketing Strategy

Once you’ve created your marketing brand assets, you should write up a clear strategy outlining how to get DJ gigs and build a following of fans.

Begin with a list of local DJs and venues you’re already familiar with to maximize your existing network, then reach out and see if they have available slots.

Make sure you have several of your best DJ mixes available to listen to on platforms such as SoundCloud, as well as your up-to-date contact details.

Picking up your first gig may take some time, so don’t be disheartened if your emails go unanswered, and take the opportunity to continue learning.

Many successful DJs took years of effort before they broke into the music industry, and the more you hone your skills, the greater your chances will become.


Step 7: Build A Following

As you start out on your DJing journey, you’ll need to build up an online following to share your mixes on social media platforms and other websites.

At the same time, making the most of the real-world interactions you have is just as important when it comes to building a loyal following of fans.

Here’s how to build a consistent following that combines real-world interactions with online communities to improve your audience reach.


Using Social Media

An important aspect of promotion to reach an audience and find DJ gigs is using social media platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.

Many DJs use these websites to promote upcoming events while connecting with fans and establishing interest through word-of-mouth marketing.

Like the best DJ forums and online communities, social media channels are also great places to learn about the process by communicating with experienced DJs.

Perhaps most importantly, your social media pages should be the first port of call online for music lovers who have expressed interest in your style.


Real-World Interactions

If you’ve already played at a gig, add any people who enjoyed your set to your contacts and keep them in the loop about your next event.

You should also engage frequently with your core fans online, fostering relationships and gaining insights into new music they’re enthusiastic about.

Your fans serve as free advertising, promoting your DJ sets through word of mouth, generating online buzz, and increasing your overall success.


DJ On Streaming Platforms

With many music fans who like to get their fix of the latest mixes online, DJing on one of the popular streaming platforms is a great way to get heard.

You can stream your DJ sets on Twitch, where the audience can interact with comments and requests to help you gather actionable feedback.

Alternatively, you can look into how to add music to TikTok and share it with your friends and followers to help your audience grow through short-form media.

Use social media such as Facebook to keep your fans in the loop about upcoming streaming events and increase your followers in the online world.


Step 8: Network In Your Local Scene

While there are many great opportunities to build a network of like-minded music fans and DJs, you should also consider networking in your local scene.

By engaging with DJs in your area and strengthening your network, you can pick up plenty of DJ performance tips and connect with venue owners.

Here are some tips you can follow to build up a real-world network of DJs, event planners, and music fans that successful DJs have used.


Attend Local DJ Gigs

Whether you’re hoping to become a club DJ lighting up the dance floor or would prefer more casual work in bars, you’ll need industry contacts.

Fortunately, this is easy to accomplish, and you can begin by writing up a shortlist of local venues that you’re interested in performing at.

Once you’ve noted down any upcoming events at these venues, head down to the night and take the time to network with the event organizers and DJs.

If they’re considering taking on more DJs for their events, you can then pass on your information, such as a link to your digital press kit or website.

In-person networking is a fundamental aspect of promoting your music, so don’t be afraid to approach the relevant people when attending local gigs.


Join Local Social Media Groups

There are thousands of thriving social media groups online that cater to both music fans and aspiring DJs discussing new releases and upcoming events.

Facebook, in particular, is a great resource for such groups, and you can find them easily by searching for groups that are dedicated to the DJ community.

These groups will cover everything from the basics of what DJs do to tips on breaking into the music industry and the best local venues to visit.

The more you interact with other DJs and group members, the stronger your contacts list will become when you’re ready to perform your first gig.


DJ At House Parties

Another popular tried-and-trusted way to develop your skills when you’re starting out becoming a DJ is to offer to play music at local house parties.

If you have any friends with upcoming birthday parties, you can come to terms with mixing in front of an audience without undue pressure.

While you won’t earn money from these gigs, it’s a great opportunity to try out your DJ set track order and see what gets the best response from the crowd.

You can also use house parties and similar events to get feedback on your performance and iron out any kinks in your DJing style to improve it for next time.


Step 9: Learn Advanced Mixing Techniques

Once you’ve mastered the core principles of DJing, such as beatmatching and various transitions, you can move on to advanced mixing techniques.

Whether you’re hoping to join the ranks of the best techno DJs of all time or break into hip-hop DJing, these advanced techniques will help improve your skills.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the advanced techniques you can work on mastering and how to learn how to scratch DJ like a professional.


Harmonic Mixing & Key Matching

Understanding how to mix music based on BPM is the first essential step if you want to become a DJ, but harmonic mixing will take you to the next level.

It’s one of the first advanced DJ techniques you’ll come across, and it’s particularly useful if you’re DJing music with lots of singing and melodies.

Also known as key matching, harmonic mixing requires determining the musical keys of each track so that when they’re mixed together, they complement one another.

You can use a Camelot Wheel as a handy guide to check which keys work together and help you pick the best music for harmonic mixing.

If you’re using a DJ record pool to build up your music library, these often include information on keys to help you choose multiple audio tracks for your sets.


Multi-Genre Mixing

When you start learning how to DJ, it’s advisable to stick to one or two music genres so you’re not overwhelmed trying to mix conflicting styles.

Once your skill level begins to increase, however, it can be fun to introduce new music genres and mix tracks that reflect more diverse influences.

While many club DJs play a particular genre, such as house music, a great DJ can effortlessly up various styles throughout a set.

You can test the water with tracks from related genres, such as adding techno to a house music set, before experimenting with more daring choices.

If you’re considering becoming a radio DJ or wedding DJ, multi-genre mixing is a must, although you can get away with much simpler transitions.


Learn How To Scratch DJ

Hip-hop and drum and bass DJs who want to bring some real flair to their performances inevitably turn to scratching to showcase their DJing skills.

There are many great resources you can use to learn how to scratch, with video tutorials clearly demonstrating the basic techniques to begin with.

Once you’ve mastered these basics, you can work on combining them together for a more adventurous set that brings additional flourishes to the mix.

You can scratch using your own music or introduce samples via your DJ controller, beginning with the baby scratch as you learn the ropes.

While scratch DJs have traditionally used turntables and vinyl records, you don’t necessarily need to invest in this equipment to try this yourself.

Many DJs use a digital vinyl system for scratching, and you can also use the jog wheel on DJ controllers to achieve the same results.


Step 10: Experiment With Remixing & Production

The history of DJing is deeply intertwined with music production, with many DJs producing their own music that can be incorporated into their live DJ sets.

Before creating completely unique tracks, you can experiment with the process by creating simple mashups and remixes of your favorite songs.

Once you’ve perfected basic production skills, you’ll be ready to move onto fully-fledged tracks and impress the dance floor with your own music.


Make Mashups

Before you dedicate the time and patience to writing your own music, you can dip your toes in the production process by making mashups.

A mashup is when a DJ takes specific elements of a track, then edits and rearranges them to create something new with these core elements.

Such elements include vocal snippets such as acapella, instrumental sections, and drum or percussion loops, each of which is isolated and ready to edit.

Learning how to make mashups doesn’t take long and can be performed using basic music production or DJ software’s audio editing tools.

You’ll need to select two tracks to begin with, match their beats per minute, and use key matching to ensure they don’t clash harmonically.

Once you’ve trimmed each track to the relevant section, you’ll then line them up and balance the EQ before adding any effects you want to include.

Making mashups is a great way to learn the basics of production and segue into the more complex art of producing complete remixes of songs.


Learn How To Remix Songs

If you’ve experimented with making mashups and want to take production to the next level, learning how to remix songs is the next step.

The basic process of mashups is a solid foundation for remixing since you’ll be isolating and separating different elements from the track.

At the same time, remixes require you to create your own unique sounds to add to these elements and transform them into something more distinct.

This can range from adding your own drum loops and other percussive elements to composing melodies and other arrangements on a synthesizer.

To do this, you’ll need to pick up a digital audio workstation to process new sounds and manipulate samples and other MIDI files.

While paid software such as Ableton Live is used by professional music producers, there are plenty of free-to-use alternatives you can start with.

FL Studio is a good example of a comprehensive digital audio workstation that has a great free version to try before dedicating money to the full version.

Check out other remixes from established producers and compare them to the original version to see how other DJ producers approach the task.


Dive Into Music Production

With a remix under your belt and familiarity with various production processes, you’ll be ready to become a DJ producer and work on your own music.

The first thing you’ll need to do is take stock of all your music assets, such as samples, as well as the soft synths and plugins to add to the production.

If you’ve spent time learning how to use samples to enhance your DJ mixes, this knowledge will also provide you with a starting point for production.

If you’re struggling to master some of the finer points of production, you can sign up for a DJ school to get help from a professional music producer.

Different producers take their own approach to music production, with some beginning with a beat and others tackling the melodies from the outset.

The more you experiment with the process, the clearer an idea of what approach works best for you when writing your own tracks.

If you include singing or live instrumentation in your track, you’ll need to schedule a recording session so you have these assets ready to use.

Once everything is sequenced in your digital audio workstation, it’s time to mix and master all the channels to ensure they don’t overwhelm one another.



Learning how to become a DJ requires a willingness to learn continually, and we hope this guide has provided you with a foundation to begin.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot to get started, and as your skills and experience develop, you can reinvest into the hobby and turn it into a profession.

By following the advice outlined above, you can avoid many of the pitfalls other beginner DJs have learned from and make the most of your time and money.


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