15 DJ Tips & Tricks: Instantly Improve Your DJing Skills

DJ Tips and Tricks to Improve - How to Get Better at Djing
DJ Tips and Tricks to Improve - How to Get Better at Djing

15 DJ Tips & Tricks to be a Better DJ

Mastering the art of DJing is no easy feat and requires time and dedication.

Serious DJs commit to learning new DJ tips and tricks, constantly challenging themselves to improve their performance.

Regardless of experience, all DJs should be developing new skills. Even the most seasoned disc jockeys keep learning, striving to refine their craft and innovate new techniques that will elevate their sets to the next level.

If you’re just starting out your DJ journey, we recommend reading our 10 Powerful Steps to Learn How to Start Djing before diving deep in this guide.

But if you’re past your green days and if you’re asking yourself, “how can I be a better DJ?”, you have come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll be discussing 15 effective DJ tips and tricks that will help you become a better DJ as well as some bonus tips at the end. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, we have packed a lot of valuable tips on djing in this comprehensive guide.

1. Plan your DJ Set

A well-planned DJ set can make all the difference between a good performance and a great one.

Before your performance, make sure to carefully plan your setlist to ensure that your music flows seamlessly from one track to another. 

Consider the energy levels, genres, and tempo of each song to create a dynamic and engaging performance. Familiarize yourself with the crowd’s expectations as well as your designated time slot. 

Organize your tracks into easily accessible folders, and consider creating a custom playlist for the event. Additionally, have an alternate playlist on standby to pivot quickly if necessary. Assembling a backup collection of tracks to mitigate any uncertainty during your performance is a must.

15 DJ Tips & Tricks: Instantly Improve Your DJing Skills

2. Master your DJ Equipment

One of our most important DJ tips is knowing your equipment inside and out, which is critical to becoming a better DJ.

Take the time to learn about the different functions and capabilities of your DJ hardware and software. This will enable you to create unique sounds, manipulate tracks, and experiment with various effects.

It’s far too easy to get caught up in the excitement of unboxing your brand-new, gleaming DJ equipment and immediately starting to tinker with all the knobs, dials, and faders at once.

You’ll never truly grasp how to use your mixer or decks unless you take the time to discover what each little tool can accomplish. Slow down and select a track that you can constantly loop. Pick one or two controls and experiment with them to see what they do.

Explore the extent of your creativity with just those controls in play. Once you feel you’ve gained mastery over how to use them, move on to another set.

Bear in mind that no piece of DJ hardware is flawless. Learn about the shortcomings of your system, or figure out the areas in which you struggle when attempting to use it.

This is particularly crucial with modern mixers and controllers since the features have only increased over the years. Be sure that you understand your hardware in and out before you begin playing in front of a live audience, including the smaller items such as DJ headphones.

DJ Tips - Master DJ Equipment

3. Learn Beat Matching Without Sync

Beatmatching is the foundation of DJing. It involves matching the beats of two tracks, enabling you to create a seamless transition between songs.

Whilst modern day hardware comes equipped with a sync feature, it’s important to learn how to beatmatch manually. 

While sync features can be useful, they should not be relied upon entirely. The sync feature on some hardware may not always get it right. You may also find yourself DJing on a different (or older) system where manual matching becomes a must.

Mastering the skill of manual beat matching will allow you to mix more accurately and creatively, making your performances more exciting as well as giving you more confidence in your mixing abilities. 

15 DJ Tips and Tricks to become a better DJ

4. Learn Harmonic Mixing 

Harmonic mixing is a technique that involves mixing tracks that are in the same or related keys.

This creates a smoother and more harmonious transition between songs, making your performance sound more professional. By learning this technique, you can much more unique and memorable DJ sets.

DJ Tips - Harmonic Mixing

Mixed in Key is an exceptional tool that helps DJs identify each track’s key and tags them accordingly inside your music library. In most cases, top tier DJ mixing softwares (such as Serato and Traktor) also include a key analyzing feature.

However, do not rely solely on software to match tracks based on their key signatures. It is important to have a full understanding of your music library to ensure that tracks blend harmoniously. Having two tracks with matching key signatures does not necessarily mean they will sound good when mixed together.

Mastering the art of harmonic mixing by ear is an invaluable skill and one of our more advanced dj tips. This is particularly important in certain genres such as EDM where melodic elements such as synths dominate.

Knowing how to identify harmonious chords and harmonies will allow for seamless track transitions and elevate the overall quality of the mix. Being able to mix two tracks seamlessly without the crowd noticing is an indicator that you have nailed this skill.

Here’s a video showing the Mixed in Key software.

5. Learn to Mix Other Genres

As a DJ, it’s essential to be able to mix different genres of music. Limiting yourself to a single genre of music could slow your progress and impede your growth as a DJ.

While most DJs prefer mixing a particular genre, exploring different genres presents an opportunity to broaden your DJ horizons and improve your creativity.

For instance, if you specialize in Techno and have never mixed any other genre, it’s highly unlikely that you would successfully spin up a hip-hop set at a club on a Saturday night.

By diversifying the genres of music you mix, you can improve your skills and aptitude as a DJ. It will allow you to cater to a wider audience and create a more dynamic performance, making it more likely to receive more gig offers. 

For the bold DJ who has mastered mixing a variety of genres, they can then experiment with mixing different genres and find creative ways to blend them together, making edits and interesting transitions that will fill a dance floor with energy.

DJ Tips Tricks - Different Genres

6. Study Other DJ Sets

Expanding your knowledge as a DJ requires you to delve into other sets and explore different techniques and skills.

You can do this by listening to various sets and taking notes on the song selection, transitions, and overall performance flow. These valuable notes can enhance your own DJ sets and ultimately help you grow as an performer.

To dig deeper into the details of a DJ set, you can utilize a range of Tracklist websites to uncover information on the individual tracks and compositions.

Our favorite platform for this is 1001 Tracklists. Browsing through MixCloud and Soundcloud is great for inspirations also.

Despite the public perception of DJing being all about grandiosity and celebrity, it’s a warm and collaborative community. We see it as vital to establish connections with other DJs, exchange knowledge, and seek answers to your questions. Of course, if you know the answer to someone’s questions, help them out.

Networking and establishing your personal brand is a key part of making your way in the music industry. Therefore, it’s important to give back to other DJs by sharing tips, guidance, and offering support where possible.

DJ Tips - Study DJ Sets

7. Master FX and EQing

The use of FX and EQing in your live sets can introduce depth and diversity to your performance.

By experimenting with various effects to create distinct sounds and smooth transitions, you can add a touch of individuality to your mixes. However, the use of these FX requires practice to perfect. 

You should incorporate them selectively and avoid overdoing it, as it will compromise the energy and impact of your set. Many DJs make the mistake of overusing the flanger, delay, reverb, and other effects throughout their set, which can have a negative impact on the crowd.

Some DJs use effects as a disguise for poor beatmatching, while others rely on them to transition between every mix.

Although FX can be a helpful tool to cover up problems within the mix, do not depend on them. It is better to first perfect your beatmatching and transitions before adding any supplementary FX to your sets.

DJ Tips Tricks - FX

8. Record your DJ Set 

Recording your DJ set is a sure fire way to improve your skills.

By listening back and analyzing your set, you can identify areas where you can improve, such as transitions, FX usage and even track selection. 

To take it one step further, set up a camera and film yourself performing. By reviewing the footage, you will gain a better understanding of how you appear to others while performing.

It will allow you to identify any areas you could improve, such as body language, the flow of your set, and your use of visual cues. 

Filming yourself will also help you become more comfortable performing in front of a camera, which can be helpful for creating promotional content or streaming online. You use the recording to share your sets with others and build your network and brand, using social media or on a platform like Mixcloud.

9. Master your Transitions

Achieving a smooth and harmonious set requires you to master your transitions.

While beat matching and sample looping are fantastic creative tools for mixing your music, timing is crucial, and choosing the wrong moment to transition between tracks can undermine your mix.

If two vocals clash or when different melodies compete for prominence, it can really hurt the flow of your set.

To avoid these pitfalls, it’s crucial to learn when the ideal moments in each track are for you to mix in the next track and mix out the master. Experiment and practice to discover the perfect moments for each track.

Most DJ software provides visual indicators, such as track markers or cue points, that can help you remember.

By mastering your transitions, you will be able to create a seamless experience for your listeners, leaving a lasting impression on them. The right timing can take your set from good to great, and keep your listeners engaged and dancing throughout your set. 

DJ Tips and Tricks

10. Control Excess Fader Usage

This one is more of a beginners DJ tip, but overplaying with the faders and excessively cutting to the next track can show that the DJ lacks experience.

Such practices could easily ruin the mix and instantly drain the energy of the performance.

Using faders sparingly and purposefully can also help to create more impact and dynamics in your mix. You can use a gradual fade-out to build tension and anticipation before a drop, or use a sharp cut to create a sudden change in energy.

The true purpose of faders are to create seamless transitions between tracks, not to draw attention to them. Focus on mastering your transitions using a combination of faders, EQs, and FXs, enhancing the overall flow of your mix.

Finally, when using faders, make sure to pay attention to the levels of the tracks you’re mixing. Sudden changes in volume can be jarring and distracting for the audience. Aim to keep the levels consistent and balanced throughout your mix, and use faders to make gradual changes in volume as needed.

15 DJ Tips and Tricks for Aspiring DJs

11. Introduce Acapellas and Instrumental Tracks

Using acapellas and instrumental tracks can be a great way to create unique and interesting mixes.

By layering acapellas over instrumentals or using them to create mashups with other tracks, you can add a new dimension to your DJ sets.

When choosing acapellas and instrumentals, it’s important to make sure they work well with the tracks you’re mixing. Look for acapellas that have a similar tempo and key to your tracks, and that complement the mood and vibe of your set.

Many of the leading DJ record pools offer access to individual elements of a track, sometimes called stems. Use these pools to source, preview and download these sounds.

Experiment with different ways to use these acapellas and instrumentals, such as creating loops or using them as transitions between tracks. Just be sure to use them in a way that enhances the overall flow and energy of your mix, rather than detracting from it.

DJ Tips Tricks - Stems

12. Master Tricks 1 by 1

When trying to master your djing skills, it can be overwhelming to try and learn everything at once.

Instead, focus on one technique at a time, you can hone your focus and perfect each individual skill before moving on to the next.

Taking this approach will save you much more time in the long run, as well as make sure you can creatively use these techniques in your performances. Once you have mastered one technique, you can then start introducing more, resulting in even more intricate and interesting performances.

Like many things in life, it is also much easier to tackle a few tips and tricks first, having them mastered rather than attempting to undertake too much all at once, which may lead to a poor set and an unhappy crowd. 

DJ Tips Tricks - Master

13. DJ in Front of a Crowd

Performing in front of a live audience is an integral part of one’s journey in becoming a top DJ.

It may be nerve-wracking, but it is the most effective way to enhance your skills and garner feedback from an audience. You should begin by showcasing your skills at intimate events or parties, gradually advancing to larger events.

As you progress, you must view your audience as a single entity, with you being the conductor of the musical journey. Your audience desires to be carried away, from one sound to the next.

Embark your listeners on a musical voyage, gradually intensifying your musical narrative, starting with deep and soulful sounds, progressing to uplifting anthems and concluding with thunderous drops.

Make sure you have prepared and consider the order of your tracks, ensuring that each track blends smoothly with the next to create a seamless musical experience and leave the crowd wanting more.

15 DJ Tips and Tricks for Aspiring DJs

14. Learn How to Read a Crowd

One aspect that is frequently overlooked by DJs is the skill of reading the crowd.

This is one of the more crucial DJ tips for serious players. Making sure the crowd is energized and understanding how to interpret the body language of the audience is a must to stepping up your game. 

It’s crucial not to overlook this essential DJ skill. It is just as important as mixing, and if you become proficient at it, you will be more memorable, potentially meaning more gigs and opportunities. 

Adapting your sets to the crowd on the go takes time to master, and in practice this means changing the tempo, genre, and track selection to keep the crowd engaged and on the dance floor.

DJ TIPS TRICKS - Read the Crowd

15. Be Consistent with DJing

Consistency is just as valuable as any other point on this list, and can make or break a career as a DJ.

Your audience will begin to expect a certain style and energy from you, and it’s important to deliver consistently. However, it doesn’t mean that you cannot experiment or evolve with time.

The key is to maintain a distinct sound and image that your fans can recognize and connect with.

For an aspiring DJ, it’s crucial to maintain a steady social media presence. This involves regularly posting updates, engaging with your fans, and sharing your latest tracks and mixes. Social media can be a powerful tool for developing a following and connecting with your audience. 

Consistency also builds a DJ’s brand. This involves creating a unique persona that distinguishes you from other DJs and helps you stand out in a somewhat oversaturated market.

Your brand can encompass everything from your musical style to your image and social media presence. By being focused and consistent, you can establish a potent brand that resonates with your audience and assists you in constructing a thriving career as a DJ.

How to Become a Better DJ: Tips and Tricks for Aspiring DJs

[BONUS] Additional DJ Tips, Tricks and Recommendations

We have done our best to compile 15 of the most actionable and vital DJ tips to boost your DJ skills and career.

As an additional token of gratitude to our readers, we have listed some other relevant insights that may be helpful:

  • Access a wider range of music and stay up-to-date with the latest releases by joining a DJ record pool.
  • Explore a diverse range of sources to get music can enable you to curate unique sets and build an intriguing music collection.
  • Establish a personal brand, for instance, by creating a logo and formulating a consistent visual identity, can differentiate you from other DJs and generate a lasting impression on potential fans.
  • Learn music production can enable you to make your own loops and edits, providing you with more authority over your music and the ability to produce exclusive sets.
  • Keep sober when performing as a DJ can help you keep your concentration and make sound decisions, guaranteeing the delivery of your best performances.
  • Be confident and exuding energy in your sets can aid in forming a connection with the audience and cultivate a better energy on the dancefloor.
  • Carry backup DJ equipment to your gigs, such as an additional laptop or controller, can help avert technical glitches and guarantee preparedness for any issues.

How to Become a Better DJ: Tips and Tricks for Aspiring DJs (FAQs)

As a DJ, your ultimate goal is to create an atmosphere in your sets that fills the dance floor and keeps your crowd dancing throughout the night.

However, given the cutthroat competition in the music industry, it can be overwhelming to figure out how to improve and where to start.

We hope that this article packed full of actionable DJ tips and techniques has guided you well,  but for the time struck reader, we’ve curated a list of frequently asked questions on surrounding djing tips and tricks.

How can I become a better DJ?

Before becoming a better DJ, you must have a clear understanding of your goals. It will help to establish measurable and realistic goals that align with your long-term career objectives. For example, you might set a goal to perform at a particular festival or club, or aim to create a mix that gets downloaded a thousand times.

Once you’re confident with a particular genre and/or style, it’s also crucial to experiment with other genres. This will help you build your expertise and expand your creative perspective.

For inspiration, get out into the world and attend various types of events, listen to a diverse range of music, find new ways to source music, and go back the decks try integrating them into your sets. You may uncover a new style that appeals to you or find an innovative approach to blending different genres.

As with anything, perfection takes dedication and many hours of practice. Whether it’s refining your beatmatching, song selection, or transitions, ensure that you are always building on your skills. Use a metronome to maintain your timing, record your mixes, and listen to them later to recognize areas that require improvement. Remember, consistent practice leads to mastery.

Networking is also a vital aspect of any profession, and DJing is no exception. Connect with other DJs, and share your mixes online. Collaborating with other DJs will not only help you gain exposure but also enable you to learn new techniques and form relationships that may lead to future gigs.

Where can I learn DJing?

If you’re serious about becoming a DJ, the first step is to learn the fundamentals. Although this guide full of DJ tips and tricks is aimed at all experience levels, there are many other resources that can give you beginner DJ tips. Depending on your timeframe and budget, you’ll need to figure out which route to learning is best for you. 

Many new DJs simply get their hands on some entry level equipment and follow free material on websites such as Youtube and dig into forums. For the more dedicated beginner, there are a variety of online courses that can save time and give a solid foundation to the craft.  

If this route appeals to you, check out the best DJ courses available and make a decision based on your time commitment and budget. Many of these courses are instructed by veteran DJs with years of experience in the music industry. They will impart their knowledge to you, teaching everything from beatmatching to scratching, enabling you to acquire the indispensable skills to start your journey as a DJ.

How hard is DJing?

There’s a big difference between a bedroom DJ and a DJ that has mastered their craft. Becoming a skilled DJ requires time and dedication, although it’s certainly worth it in our eyes. It’s important to highlight that DJing is a skill, a skill that can be learned and improved. It’s not something that comes naturally to everyone, and it shouldn’t be thought of this way. Following the DJ tips listed above is a place to start.

Great djing is about balancing and blending technical ability with creativity, which takes years of practice to master. Note that progress is not always linear, there will be times where you’ll feel you have hit a wall. This is all part of the process, and you will be able to overcome this with persistence. 

Outside of actually Djing, one of the difficulties of DJing is that the industry is constantly adapting, and it can be a struggle to keep up with new trends and tech. This means you’ll need to be flexible and have a willingness to learn new skills throughout your career.

We also want to emphasize the importance of building your knowledge of music in general, including basic theory, different genres, and the history (and evolution) of DJing. 

What DJ equipment do I need?

When it comes to DJ equipment, there are a ton of options available on the market, and it can be a daunting task to determine what to buy. At a bare minimum, there are three fundamental components of equipment that are necessary to begin: a laptop, some DJ software, and a DJ controller.

The cornerstone of any digital DJ setup is your laptop, the foundation for your software and expansive music library. When choosing your laptop, it is important to take into account features such as processing power, storage amount, and ease of transportation. 

DJ software is the next vital piece of the puzzle, where the magic will happen. There are a wide range of different options on the market, catering for different budgets. Some industry leading options for DJ software include Serato DJ, Traktor Pro, and Virtual DJ.

Finally, a DJ controller is the physical element in your setup and will be your primary weapon for your musical performance. Controllers can vary from basic units with a few knobs and buttons to more intricate units with additional features like jog wheels, faders, and pads.

When selecting a controller, it is important to consider factors such as compatibility with your chosen DJ software, the number of channels, and the type and quality of the jog wheels and faders.

Do I need to produce music to DJ?

Whilst making music can compliment your DJing, it’s certainly not a requirement. Many DJs concentrate solely on producing distinctive mixes using existing material in their library. After all, the primary goal of DJing is to take their audience on a journey, seamlessly blending music (and sounds) to keep their listeners engaged. 

Many DJs who solely concentrate on DJing have accomplished great success and have gained high regard in the industry. DJing demands a distinct skill set, such as beatmatching, blending, and interpreting the crowd, and numerous DJs prefer to sharpen these abilities instead of producing their own music.

With that said, making music to a high standard can certainly enhance your DJ career. If you aspire to create your music, it could give you a leg up in your DJ career by providing you with a unique sound and style.

Developing your music can also unlock fresh opportunities in the form of collaborations and live performances. Nevertheless, it is crucial to recognize that producing music is a distinctive skill set from DJing and requires its own separate journey to mastery.

Picture of Thomas Smith
Thomas Smith
As Visionary and Chief Editor of 122BPM, Thomas is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of music pioneers. With a degree in Music and 10 years industry experience, Thomas is now shaping 122BPM as the central hub for music and audio education.
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