For Musicians: How to Get Started in the Exciting World of Disc Jockeying

DJ Tiesto

By Conor Hooley
There’s never been a better time to be a disc jockey (“DJ” for short, or perhaps “egomaniac” if you’re not into the whole brevity thing). With ever-improving technology having taken the actual work out of mixing, and the endless reserves of free music on the Internet eliminating financial constraints, pretty much everyone can do it. At least in theory.
So don’t let anyone tell you different – becoming a DJ is extremely easy. Becoming a good DJ is another matter altogether, but that’s for another article. For immediate purposes, if you own a laptop, can put five hundred dollars together and have the good sense not to mash up Radiohead with Lady Gaga, you’re basically overqualified. Get some gear, fill up a few hard drives and mix some songs together. You’re on your way.
But here’s the rub: being a successful DJ isn’t really about musical talent. Confused? You should be. For our immediate purposes, however, just remember that the most successful spinsters are really just non-stop attention whores who happen to play 2-4 hours of music per night 2-3 days per week. It’s a good gig, for sure. But you can fall on your face if you don’t know what you’re doing.
First, cultivate an image. That goes for your name, dress, persona, everything. The appropriate one for you will vary based on your preferred genre/scene, but know that being perceived as just another generic DJ will put you on a fast track to failure. One standard that seems to work for everyone is ironic t-shirts.
Because after all, it’s important for people to know that you’re not just a glorified stereo – you’re a glorified stereo with a sense of humor.
Next, find whatever trend is hot right now and base everything you do, or at least your music selection, around it. It’s not exactly dignified, but remember that you’re a disc jockey – personal integrity will only hurt your cause. If you’d like to see an example of this happening in real time, refer to Deadmau5 now producing really bad dubstep. Actually, come to think of it, just play dubstep. Then prepare to jump off the bandwagon in two years.
You’ll also need to develop your own brand of shameless self-promotion. Again, the standard amount is not set in stone, but rest assured that if you’re not sending out 4,000 different Facebook invites to 90 different shows, you’re doing something wrong.
Speaking of which, you’ll need a personal website of some sort – a Facebook page will usually suffice. Just make sure to have a preposterously worded half page bio on it, one that clearly states that you are, in fact, the greatest/most important/handsomest jock on the planet. Even if that might not actually be true, it’s unbelievably effective. Look at Tiesto.
The final step? Beg for bookings. You might already be a legend in your own mind, but that’s usually not enough to get your foot in the door. Women can usually circumvent this process via breast augmentation. Men, however, cannot.
For info on local venues that hire DJs, where to purchase equipment and more, refer to

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