How Long Does it Take to Become a Good DJ?

How Long Does it Take to Become a Good DJ?
How Long Does it Take to Become a Good DJ?

How Long Does it Take to Be Good at DJing?

If you are a beginner DJ who is just starting their journey, you may ask yourself how long does it take to become a good DJ?

Whilst there’s no one size fits all answer, there is certainly a rough timeline you can expect to follow to achieve certain levels of spin craft mastery.

Today we’re diving deep into the journey to becoming a good DJ, looking at the skills needed and some of the factors that can both positively and negatively impact your journey. 

The Importance of Practice for Beginner DJs

Just like any skill or craft, practice is crucial for all beginner DJs

Developing any ability takes time, and the earlier you understand that, the better. One of the main factors that can impact how long it takes to become a DJ is the amount of practice that a DJ has done.

Set aside dedicated practice time each day or week and maintain a consistent schedule to see steady improvement. You are responsible for your own progress, and that takes motivation and discipline. 

Make no mistake, there are going to be times when DJing is the last thing you want to practice. When you feel a lack of motivation, you need the ability to power through it and practice if you are serious about becoming a professional DJ. 

The Benefits of Becoming a Good DJ

There are a variety of benefits to reaching a good level of DJing ability, some are obvious and some are more subtle. A handful of benefits that come with being a good DJ are:

Creative Outlet: DJing is just as much creative as it is technical. It’s important that we all have a way to creatively express ourselves. DJing allows us to do that through music. 

Build a Network: Good DJs get the chance to meet with other artists, producers, and music industry professionals which can subsequently open doors for them. This could be in the form of a collaboration, a gig, or something else.

Get Paid to DJ: DJs who are at the top of their game get paid for their time DJing. This means you can turn your passion into a full-time career that can sustain you. This will also depend on what type of DJ you are, as club DJs may find it harder to get work than Event DJs (such as weddings).

Higher Social Status at Parties: As a DJ, you control the music and energy of any event, making you an essential part of every celebration.

6 Key Attributes All Great DJs Share

How Long Does it Take to Become a Good DJ? - 6 Key Attributes

In our experience, there is a pattern when analyzing successful DJs and how they got to where they are. If you’re asking yourself how long does it take to become a good DJ, you need to understand that all great DJs share the same skills and attributes. If you’re looking to become a good DJ, then you will need to demonstrate the following:

1. Technical Ability

A great DJ possesses great technical ability. You need to master the fundamentals of DJing, and then start building your confidence in more advanced techniques. To begin, make sure you have beatmatching, transitions, and FQ/EX use locked down. 

2. Vast Music Knowledge

Having a solid understanding of various genres, artists, and tracks will allow you to curate a unique and engaging set. Not only can you mix different genres to surprise your audience, but you become suitable for other gigs outside of your main genre.

3. Crowd Reading and Engagement

Great DJs learn how to read the crowd, paying attention to what they engage with and what they don’t. They have the ability to adjust their sets to make sure the dancefloor is still pumping.

4. Adaptability

Being able to think on your feet and pivot when necessary. A good example of where this skill would be needed would be if you had equipment issues or last-minute changes in the event schedule.

5. Professionalism

Often overlooked, but having a professional attitude, being reliable, and possessing good communication skills are all important if you’re serious about building your DJ career. 

6. Strong Branding

A more psychological aspect, but it’s important to remember that your DJ persona is a brand, and like in any business, a solid brand attracts more customers. Building your DJ brand includes aspects like having a unique, memorable DJ name and a unique visual style for your music artwork.

Basic DJ Skills Needed

Before you can become a professional DJ, you need to make sure you have the basic DJ skills locked down. We recommend prioritizing the following skills when you’re starting out: 

Beatmatching: The ability to match the tempo and beat of two tracks so they run in parallel 

Mixing: The ability to mix different elements from two (or more) tracks to create a seamless flow of music.

EQing: The understanding of EQ and frequencies, so you can manipulate the frequency balance of a track to help with mixing.

Song Selection: The knowledge of different genres and styles of music, as well as where to source music for your DJ sets.

Recommended Beginner DJ Equipment Needed

Whilst options for DJ equipment on the market can be overwhelming, beginner DJs should start with the basic, fundamental equipment before splashing out on expensive additions. We recommend starting with:

Laptop and Software

How Long Does it Take to Become a Good DJ? - Laptop and DJ Software

A decent laptop (such as a MacBook) with good battery life, and your chosen DJ software. We recommend picking from Serato, Traktor, or Rekordbox.

DJ Controller

How Long Does it Take to Become a Good DJ? - DJ Controller

Image courtesy of Native Instruments

A beginner DJ controller that has all the necessary built-in features will work perfectly to begin your DJing journey. Even entry-level controllers have multiple FX capabilities nowadays.

DJ Headphones

How Long Does it Take to Become a Good DJ? - DJ Headphones

A good pair of DJ headphones will give you an immediate advantage over normal headphones. DJ headphones are different from consumer headphones, and there is a reason why DJs wear DJ headphones.

Building your Music Library

How to become a good DJ? Music Library

Image courtesy of Serato Pro

The great DJs have already spent months if not years building an extensive and diverse library of music. To begin building your library, here are some steps and best practices:

Discover New Music: Top-tier DJs are always sourcing new and exclusive music for their DJ sets. Firstly, understand where DJs get their music, then make sure to regularly explore new songs. As a bonus tip, consider joining a DJ record pool to access exclusive music.

Organize your Library: The earlier you can get into the habit, the better. Keep your music library organized by genre, mood, or energy. This will make it much easier to select tracks when you are planning your DJ set. You can also organize your music by key signature, which will set you up for harmonic mixing.

High-quality Track Files: Make sure to only include high-fidelity files in your song library. Focus on finding and downloading either WAV or 320kps MP3 files. These two file formats will give you the best song quality and make sure there are no unwanted sounds when you play them on PA systems. 

Practicing your DJ Skills

Once you have your DJ equipment, started building your music library, and a grasp of the fundamental skills, it’s time to practice. 

Practicing isn’t the sexiest way to spend your time, but it is critical to becoming a good DJ. Here are some of our recommendations to make practicing easier.

Set small objectives: Establish a specific objective for your practice session, such as mastering a specific technique (like transitions).

Dedicate time each day to practice: Consistent practice is essential for improvement. Schedule regular practice sessions and stick to your routine, even when you have little motivation.

Record your sets and review them: Recording your practice sessions allows you to analyze your performance and identify areas for improvement. To take it one step further, record yourself performing and analyze your own body language. 

Experiment with different genres and styles: Broaden your skills by mixing various music styles and challenging yourself with new techniques.

What Makes a Good DJ?

How to become a good DJ? What makes a good DJ?

Whilst the definition of a good DJ may vary depending on who you ask, we have tried to summarize our thoughts on what makes a good DJ as best as possible:

  • A Good DJ creates a seamless and enjoyable mix: Their transitions are smooth and effortless, and they are able to maintain the energy and flow of their set.

  • A Good DJ selects the right tracks for the audience: They know both the venue and their audience. They prepare their DJ set and tailor their track selection to specifically suit the listeners. 

  • A Good DJ engages and entertains the crowd: They visibly connect with their audience and create a better, more enjoyable experience for them. This leaves a lasting impression on the listener. 

  • A Good DJ adapts to different situations: Flexibility and problem-solving skills are essential when dealing with unexpected challenges during a gig.

  • A Good DJ shows a level of professionalism: They’re punctual, prepared, and easy to work with, building a strong reputation in the industry.

Start Learning Advanced DJing Skills

Advanced DJ Tips - Harmonic Mixing

Advanced DJs use the Camelot Wheel for Harmonic Mixing

For DJs that start to feel confident that they have mastered the basic skills such as beatmatching, mixing, and basic FX usage, the next step is to implement more advanced DJ tips and tricks to progress. These particular skills may include:

Scratching: A classic turntablism technique that adds flair and creativity to your sets.

Looping: Creating loops within tracks to extend or manipulate specific sections for added anticipation and energy.

Layering: Combining elements from multiple tracks at the same time to create a different overall sound.

Advanced FX: Using effects such as delays, filters, or reverbs to add depth and variety to certain parts of the mix.

Harmonic Mixing: Adding an element of musicality to the set by mixing tracks with compatible keys to complement one another.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Good DJ?

The answer is, it depends. The time it takes to become a good DJ varies for each individual. It largely depends on factors like:

  • Dedication to practice: Those who are consistent and focused on practice will have accelerated progress.

  • Resources: Those who have access to high-quality training materials (such as DJ courses) that can speed up the learning process.

The Average Timeline for Becoming a Good DJ

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, we have outlined what we think is a realistic timeline for someone who wants to become a great DJ. Here’s what a 2-year journey as a DJ might look like for you:

Months 1-6

Getting your first pieces of DJ equipment, building a basic music library, and soaking in as much information as you can about DJing. 

Months 6-12

Mastered the basics and now finding elements that reflect your unique technique and flavor. Moving onto more advanced mixing techniques. 

Year 1-2

Developed your unique style and have a solid level of confidence in your DJing ability. You have started playing in front of people at different gigs. 

2 Years+

You have started to focus on building a reputation and brand, expanding your network, and working towards a professional DJ career.

Keep in mind that this timeline is a rough estimate. Your DJing journey may be shorter or longer than this, depending on the factors mentioned previously.  

Summary – How Long Does it Take to Become a DJ?

The time it takes to become a DJ depends on several factors, such as your previous experience, dedication to practice, and natural talent. 

On average, it is likely to take anywhere from 1 to 2 years to become a good DJ that is confident in their ability. Remember that practice and patience are key to becoming a good DJ. Follow all the steps in the guide, and you will be well on your way to becoming a great DJ. 

Looking for more in-depth DJ guides? Check out the Ultimate Beginner DJ Guide and 15 Powerful DJ Tips & Tricks

FAQs on Becoming a Better DJ 

How to become a good DJ? FAQs

Can I learn to DJ online?

Yes, there are a variety of online DJ courses, as well as tutorials, articles, and forum posts that you can learn from. We recommend learning as much as possible in the first few months, soaking in all the relevant information. 

Is it expensive to start DJing?

Whilst the initial cost of DJ equipment can be quite expensive, there are budget-friendly options that you can consider. You could also pick up some used DJ equipment to save money on your initial cost outlay. 

Can I become a professional DJ?

There is no reason why you can’t become a professional DJ if you are hard-working, dedicated, and have a passion for music. It is an extremely cutthroat industry, but that does not mean it is not possible to make it happen. 

Do I need to know how to produce music to be a DJ?

It’s not necessary to know how to produce music to DJ, but many DJs do find that making their own music can help them stand out in a crowded market. Having their music can also help them build a global fanbase easier. 

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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