What is DJing: The Art of DJing Explained (Complete Guide)

What is DJing: The Art of DJing Explained (Guide)
What is DJing: The Art of DJing Explained (Guide)

What is DJing?

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be the life of the party, spinning tunes that get people moving and filling a dance floor?

In today’s guide, we are diving into the art of DJing, its history, and the roles DJs play in the music industry. 

We’ll also dive into the more technical aspects, as well as the skills needed for success, and finish off with some top tips for building a thriving career in this ever-evolving field. 

So, we have you covered whether you’re a beginner DJ, a music enthusiast, or just curious about what goes on behind the decks. 

Key Takeaways – What do DJs Do?

  • DJs select, mix, and play music continuously to entertain their audiences, adapting their playlists and style tailored to a specific event or venue.

  • There are different types of DJs that cater to different audiences and events, including club DJs, radio DJs, mobile DJs, and turntablists.

  • DJing is a diverse and evolving art form that has played a significant role in shaping popular culture and the global music scene.

  • Mastering technical skills, such as beatmatching, transitioning, and EQing is essential for aspiring DJs.

What is DJing?

DJing, in its most basic form, is the art of selecting, mixing, and playing music continuously. DJs will, in most cases, prepare their DJ set ahead of time before their performance.

Over the years, DJing has evolved from simply playing records at parties to a diverse and sophisticated profession, showcasing different styles, techniques, and equipment. 

What is DJing?

With the advancement of technology, as well as how accessible DJing has become, the barrier to becoming a DJ has never been lower. 

It’s important to highlight that a DJ set is not the same as a live set, due to the prerecorded nature of the music. With that said, more hybrid DJs are combining elements from both types of performances to stand out from the crowd.

The Different Types of DJing

So, are all DJs the same? Not quite.

DJing is diverse, with distinct types of DJs catering to different audiences and events. Let’s dive deeper into the 4 most common types of DJing.

Club DJs

Club DJs, probably the most recognizable type of DJ, perform at nightclubs, bars, festivals, and other venues where they aim to create a high-energy, danceable atmosphere. 

The genre these types of DJs play is generally dance music, including EDM, techno, or house, as these are great for maintaining the crowd’s energy throughout the night. 

Club DJs need to be skilled at reading the room, adjusting their music selection to keep the audience on the dancefloor, and seamlessly mixing tracks to ensure a continuous flow of music.

An Example of a Club DJ

Radio DJs

Radio DJs are the voices behind the airwaves, entertaining listeners with music, interviews, and talk shows. They often work for radio stations or online streaming platforms and can specialize in various formats, such as Top 40, classic rock, or urban music. 

Radio DJs need strong communication skills, extensive knowledge of music, and the ability to interact with their listeners. They often connect with the listeners through calls, social media, and contests, making their role more demanding yet dynamic.

An Example of a Radio DJ

Mobile/Event DJs

Mobile DJs provide entertainment at private events like weddings, corporate parties, and birthday celebrations. They need to cater to a wide range of music tastes, making sure that guests of all ages enjoy themselves. 

Mobile DJs have to be adaptable, as well as being skilled at reading diverse crowds, and able to create customized playlists that suit the specific needs of each event. 

In addition to DJing, mobile DJs often act as MCs, making announcements and coordinating with event planners to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for the attendees.

An Example of a Mobile/Event DJ


Finally, we have turntablists, also known as scratch DJs. These are highly skilled performers who focus on manipulating vinyl records to create unique sounds and music. They use techniques like scratching, beat juggling and cutting to transform the turntable into a musical instrument. 

Turntablism is often associated with hip-hop music, but turntablists can be found across various genres. These DJs not only entertain audiences with their impressive skills but also participate in competitions and showcase their creativity through live performances and recorded mixes.

An Example of a Scratch DJ

History of DJing

DJing has a rich history that spans over a century, with its root tracing back for nearly a century. Starting with a rise in the popularity of radio broadcasting, announcers began to play records and introduce songs to listeners. This marked the beginning of DJing as we know it today. 

What is DJing - History of DJing

Vintage DJ (AI Concept)

Throughout the years, the role of the DJ expanded, as mobile DJs emerged in the 1950s and 1960s to provide entertainment at parties and events. Club DJs also gained prominence during this period, playing music at bars and nightclubs.

DJing played a crucial role in the rise of hip hop in the 1970s, with pioneers like DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash revolutionizing the art of mixing and turntablism. 

The 1980s and 1990s saw the emergence of dance music and its various sub-genres, driven by innovative DJs like Carl Cox, who pushed the boundaries of what was possible with technology and sound. 

As DJing continued to evolve, it became an integral part of the global music scene, shaping popular culture and giving rise to new forms of musical expression.

The Responsibilities of a DJ

A DJ’s day-to-day responsibilities include selecting and organizing their music libraries, including finding and downloading new music from different sources. They spend time practicing mixing techniques and experimenting with new sounds to improve their performances. 

A Serious DJ knows that promotion is crucial, and DJs actively network and use social media to increase their visibility and grow their fan base. Additionally, they coordinate with event organizers, venue owners, and sound engineers to ensure seamless performances and exceptional sound quality. 

Skills Needed for DJing

The skills required by the DJ can vary depending on what type of DJ you choose to be, but there are some fundamental skills that every DJ has to have. These skills include beatmatching, which involves aligning the beats of two tracks to create seamless transitions, and transitioning, where DJs mix tracks at complementary points in their structure to maintain the flow and energy of their sets.

On top of these two fundamental skills, DJs must understand EQing, having the ability to adjust frequency levels to create a balanced sound. Another is the proper understanding of gain control, helping them manage volume levels effectively, preventing distortion, and maintaining a consistent output throughout their performances.

The difference between a good DJ and a great DJ is their mastery of only a handful of these technical skills

How Can I Become a DJ?

If you’re a beginner DJ, there is a wide range of skills you’ll need to develop that go beyond just playing music

These skills include a deep understanding of various music genres, alongside the ability to read the crowd to adapt the playlist accordingly. Technical expertise is also essential, as you’ll need to get comfortable with beatmatching, phrasing, and EQing to mix continuously and seamlessly. Other broader skills include time management, communication and branding are crucial to becoming a good DJ. 

Tips for Becoming a DJ

Embarking on a DJing career can be an exciting and rewarding journey, but it will take some time to become a good DJ. To help you get started and make the most of your potential, it’s essential to educate yourself about the different types of DJing and get comfortable with multiple genres. Develop a deep understanding of the music you love and plan to play.

Investing in equipment is crucial, so start with basic DJ equipment like a DJ controller, headphones, and speakers, and consider upgrading to more advanced gear as you progress. Find the best DJ software for your needs. Dedicate time to practicing your skills regularly, honing your techniques, and experimenting with different styles. 

DJ Equipment - DJ Equipment

Traktor S4 DJ Controller

Networking with other DJs, producers, and industry professionals can open doors and lead to valuable opportunities. Don’t forget to promote yourself, both online and offline, by creating a strong brand presence and showcasing your talent. 

Finally, be patient and persistent, as building a successful DJ career takes time, effort, and dedication. Keep learning and growing, absorbing as many DJ tips and techniques as you can along the way.

Wrapping up – What is DJing (Explained)

And there you have it, our comprehensive dive into what is DJing and some tips to get you started. 

DJing is a dynamic profession that mixes creativity with technical skills.  As the art has evolved over time, DJs have taken on different roles and responsibilities, contributing to the cultural impact of how music is performed.

If you’re serious about becoming a DJ, know that to succeed in this industry, you’ll have to develop a unique style, master technical skills, and learn how to effectively promote your brand. 

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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