March 23, 2018

Become a DJ

There are of course costs to any hobby/profession especially when first starting out but how much to become a DJ? In order to become a DJ, some costs are more or less one offs. Other costs are more frequent and in one case continuous. Don’t let that put you off as there are options for all budgets. The most important thing is not how much will it cost but do you really want to do it.

So how much to become a DJ?

One off costs/fixed costs

Something you should only have to buy once is the equipment you will need in order to be able to practice at home. At the very minimum you will need some decks/turntables, a mixer, comfortable headphones and depending on if you are going down the vinyl DJ route cartridges and stylus. Not sure if you should chose vinyl or CD/MP3 decks? Read Should I use Vinyl or CD/MP3’s first.

The best way to purchase is through a DJ package which most places offer. The packages will include everything you need to setup and start to practice at home. Usually you get two turntables and a mixer with the cables that you need to hook them all up. Some packages throw in extra products either at a reduced price or for free. Extra products are usually dust covers for your turntables but can also be a pair of headphones. Occasionally, in the case of vinyl turntables a stylus can be included so you can get going straight away.

You will also need somewhere to set up your DJ equipment as getting it out and setting it up every time you want to practice can become very tedious. DJ furniture is yet another cost but the right setup can save you from at the very least backache making it well worth the money.

Updates

I say that equipment is a one off/fixed cost but just like people upgrade phones when the latest model comes out, we also like to have the latest tech on our desks. Vinyl turntables are upgraded the least because it is mostly hardware. Unless they break or get damaged or you want the latest features this is going to be a one off. I have had my turntables for 15 years and have moved with me several times but they still work.

CD/MP3 decks and a few of the latest mixers are a bit different because most of the cool effects are programmed into the devices. Programming means software and software means updates which can actually add new features and options to existing older hardware.

Continuous costs

If there is one thing that you will need to keep up to date with it’s music. Tracks are released daily and remixes probably even more often. What is hot one week can be forgotten the next making even the fashion industry look slow in comparison. Not only that but new genres are being created every month to push music in new and exciting directions.

Music is going to be a recurring cost throughout your career as a DJ. Not buying the music that you use to essentially pay your own bills would at least be unethical and would also obviously be illegal. The good news is that if you go down the digital DJ route using MP3’s and FLAC files you get to pay a fraction of what is costs to buy vinyl or even CD singles.

Training

An expensive option is in person courses which are probably the best and fastest way to learn and to improve your skills. The cost will be much higher than an online course but nothing can beat the learning experience of face to face coaching. If you want to improve really quickly then you need to find a mentor.

A mentor can explain concepts and ideas to you. Having more than one mentor can also help increase the speed of your learning. You will pick up different concepts explained in different ways by different people. Sometimes two people can explain the same concept slightly differently which allows the student to understand it better.

I was lucky and had several friends who were also DJ’s so we would all get together and mix at each others houses. One track each taking turns to mix, beat match the next track and pass it on. I also worked at the student union setting up the sound and lighting equipment for student events so had a lot of access to equipment and people.

There are plenty of online courses for learning to DJ. Some are obviously going to be better than others but it is a good intermediary option which isn’t excessively expensive as it is learning at a distance. You also get to replay the tutorials over and over again so you can go over concepts as often as you need to.

Time

A better question than how much to become a DJ is how much TIME to become a DJ? The biggest commitment without doubt is going to be the amount of time you commit to practice. It does take a lot of dedicated practice to learn the skills needed to become a professional DJ. Every time you think you have one skill down you will discover many others for you to learn. On top of the technical tricks to be mastered you will need to learn about different types of turntable. Which features are available on which models and so on. Why would you need to know this?

There is nothing worse than getting to a gig and finding out that some of the things you like to use are not available on that model of turntable or mixer. If for example you are used to having a sync button to assist you in beat matching two tracks you may feel a little bit of fear when you can’t find that button.

Fortune favours the prepared mind so have a plan in place to overcome any of those issues. No sync button, make sure your beat matching is spot on. Not sure how to use a Denon setup? Then download the manuals which are usually available for free so you can see what features are available and how they work.

Conclusion

For every problem there is a solution but it will take time to figure them all out. No matter how prepared you are something else will most likely go wrong. USB sticks containing all of your music may not work so have two or three from different manufacturers that you can use in the broken ones place. There are more costs than just the financial. I would put the time cost at the top of the list. Not being committed can cost you a lot more than a few pounds. If you have made the decision to learn then stick to it. If you remember why you want to learn, as problems arise, a good mental attitude will help you continue.

About the author 

Charles Duance

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