o t e d i u g J s r D e e n l i n i b g o A be ing a m m o c be
A Beginners Guide for DJ’s
When it comes to becoming a DJ, there is a lot to know. ‘The DJ’s Friend’ is a Facebook page (click to view) that gives information on becoming a Mobile DJ. The information is my view only. I run a Mobile DJ company called St. Albans DJ and have been in the industry for 11 years now. This e-zine is based on articles on the page. Ok, when deciding on becoming a DJ, what is needed? This is a question many ask me but, to be honest, I’m a relatively new DJ but experienced. There are many seasoned DJ’s, but many ‘old school long timers’ will not share! This is where I hope this page will help. I will share what I know - if it helps, great!
2) One genre is one type of sound such as reggae etc. but doing this means less jobs unless you know loads of reggae lovers. You can get this as ‘Top 100.......’ CD’s again, but other suggestions may come forward after this post.
3) Club DJ is a big step as you need to get learning mixing, pitch riding, chopping, blending and beat matching, to name a few skills. You also need to be able to work with Pioneer, as most clubs have Of course, the obvious is music! You need to decide what type of these decks. DJ you want to be. I’d say the third option has to come once you have done a year at least as a mobile DJ, as there is so much to learn and the skills of 1) I want to do all genres a club DJ take ages to master - again, this is only an opinion.
What do you need to become a DJ?
2) I want to concentrate on one genre 3) I want to be a club DJ Let’s tackle each one:
1) You want to do all genres. This is gonna be hard, but I would suggest you start buying the cd sets like ‘Top 100.....’ but, to be frank, it’s gonna be a long process and deep pockets each month.
Ok, that’s the real grass roots. Other suggestions may come, but on a daily post I will tackle how I set up my business before I forget! Practice and enjoy.
Deciding on the right media to use: We discussed music last time and the fact you must decide Digital - this tends to be the DJ's choice. If you are going with on either one genre or doing all genres (I do all, as I do digital, there are a number of things you need to do. weddings). The point is, with music, you have to build your * You need a laptop and one that is relatively fast (about library up and that can take years (unless you are rich!). 2GB+ RAM speed) The next question I have had from new wannabe DJs is what * The hard drive should be about 1TB (don’t do what I did and get a slow pc, it filled up so fast) is best: * You need to convert all CD’s in iTunes * You need a DJ software - my choice is 'Traktor Pro' 1) Vinyl * You need a controller. I use CDJ 850’s, but I also use 2) CD’s Numarks 800’s - the Numarks are cheapeer than the 3) Digital Pioneers, but are also very robust in my opinion. Let’s start with vinyl - this is possibly the ultimate to any DJ, but carrying a thousand 12" records is a mammoth task (not Digital is good, as you can carry 20,000 tracks and it is fast to mention the cost of it, which is massive). The stylus to search (especially for requests). My issue is loss of quality (needle) can cost £20 and above. I think any DJ would love you can somtimes get, unless you are buying from a major to be working on vinyl, but most nowadays do digital or CD’s. player such as iTunes. CD's - I personally carry 500 CD’s (2 pouches of 250) to all gigs, as well as a digital library. I like CD’s, as I find the quality can be heard - if you play an MP3 first and a CD after, the sound is often better. Also playing CD’s means no ProDub licence is required (more on licences on Sunday).
Why do I have both? I am not ready to trust digital fully yet and I can go CD or digital at the touch of a button. Remember though, digital also means you need 'ProDub' (more on that later).
Right, no more posts tonight as I have to think in great detail The downside is the weight of the things and getting them in about these posts. Remember, I am not a pro, I’m only trying and out of the pouches means they do scratch sometimes. to help on what I see. Practice and enjoy!
In article three, I cover what is needed to be a Mobile DJ with regard to licenses and documentation (Please remember, this e-zine will change as info is added to the Facebook page by other users, once confirmed)
It's Sunday and, as promised, I’m gonna input some more info for you. Before I do, I had a night out last night with a DJ of 25 years - he asked me “Why do you keep saying you’re not a pro DJ? You’ve been in this game for 11 years and done it full time for 18 months. That makes you a pro!” Personally, I see it as I am a semi pro, if any sort of pro, but I don’t want others thinking I think I know it all (as I don't!). Again, this page is to help beginner DJ’s and to get the pros adding to what I am saying, especially if I miss stuff out. So, let’s look at licenses and documentation needed today. I’m sorry if you did not realise you needed these, but you do or you could end up in a lot of hot water. What licenses and documentation do you need? * PAT test certificates yearly * Public liability insurance * Equipment insurance (optional) * PPL * ProDub PAT test certificate: PAT test certificate: Thanks to Sam for info the law states anyone who is working with electrical should get ALL gear pat tested.. After the 12 months, you will need this as many hotels will request it. This is like the MOT for DJ equipment. I really don't know how things pass and fail, so maybe someone else can explain this. Public liability: I am not 100% on this one, but I will impart what I think I know.
This is vital for all DJ’s as it covers fire, public accidents, the building you work in and your guests. I am with National Association of DJs and this is added on to my membership. AMP also offers this, as do a number of other companies. Again, hotels and many venues will insist on this, so do get it once set up. PPL stands for ‘Public Performance License’. When gigging at events where tickets are sold and the venue does not already have it, you will need to tell the client to get PPL (or if you are a nice rich DJ, you could buy it!). I believe PPL costs £195 a year, but most venues do have this so you should be covered. Clubs and any paid event are not covered - again, perhaps others can jump in to advise further. Equipment insurance: This is optional. if you can get it, I would say do, but it has to be by choice. For cover of £5000, you will pay about £350 a year. Pro Dub: This is one many digital DJ’s are unsure of, to be honest. What I understand from DJ friends is if you copy all your 2000 cd’s to laptop, USB or even on to CD, this is format shifting (copying) so you need a ProDub. Many DJs are split on whether they need this or not and the pond is very cloudy on this matter. I knew this would be a large topic. Let’s hope other DJ’s can clear up or correct anything I missed or got wrong. Practice and enjoy!
Getting Started Today, we need to deal with what we need next to become a Mobile DJ (we have discussed a lot already!). This is the big conversation and I am sure our community members will add to it, so the article and e-zine will improve. Remember, this is only how I set up, so it is an opinion from a DJ. We will deal with only the following in this article, as having the gear will not make you a Mobile DJ. I am assuming you have XLR cables to hook your mixer to the speaker and power leads (IEC leads) · · · · · ·
Media Decks Mixer Laptop (if digital) Speakers Learning to play correctly
As already discussed, if you are doing vinyl, you need the record decks to play on (many DJs are in awe of vinyl DJs, as they are really skilled). If you are going to do what many DJs do, buy CDJ player and this could indicate you are going with CD’s, but have the option to do digital as well. : What CDJ’s should you buy? That is a massive question, as there are so many on the market - if you are mega rich and aspire to go into clubs, you could buy Pioneer CDJ 1000’s (which are reasonably priced) or Nexus 2000 (which are the top end). If you only want to be a Mobile DJ, have no intention of going into clubs and are on a budget, I would suggest Numark NDX800’s or 900s - I have used these for two years on my main rig (now they are my practice and back up set) and, in my opinion, they are very robust. If you can go for Pioneer, do so as they offer real quality. If you are jumping straight to Digital and do not want the CDJ or CD back up option, go for a controller like Traktor S4, Pioneer or, for the cheaper option, a Numark controller. (Note, some DJ’s cannot get on with Numark but, for budget, I feel they are robust as a beginner set up). If you don’t go for an all in one controller, you will need a mixer for the signal to be passed to the speakers and for you to be able to mix tracks in (but I guess to start off with, you will just blend mu-
sic over). I use a four channel mixer, assigning my CDJ 850’s to two of the channels and I usually put my mobile phone as a back up with a track ready on channel three. (Note, put the phone into airplane mode, or it may ring during the song!). You can get a two channel mixer but, for me, I use a four channel mixer on my set ups so I can add back up decks if needed. I’m sure some are going to add on this one. Most DJ’s use Macbooks, but there are many alternative laptops you can use. I have a HP Powerbook which is 1TB hard drive, 4 GB ram along with Traktor Pro 2 (I’ve had no issues yet). The CDJ’s will plug into the laptop USB ports and control the software, so you don’t have to touch the laptop during your show. You can enhance Traktor Pro 2 in the settings to make sure the laptop will not crash. Check out YouTube on settings. A lot of DJ’s use Serato and other programs – that is your choice and you must decide what is best for you to work with. This will get a reaction! For me, speakers MUST be active (Why? Well, if a tweeter or bass cone goes, you can still continue the party with active or passive) but if your amp goes on passive you are out, however some actives have only one amp on two speakers. When setting up initially, you would not go wrong getting some Alto 15” speakers but, be warned, I have blown two cones due to allowing them to clip for too long. If you are rich, you could get some Yamaha DXR 15”, but you are gonna pay for them! A lot of DJ’s don’t like active speakers (and, to be honest, wooden speakers and external amps do sound great but, for me, it’s a bit more of a risk if you don’t carry a spare amp). I should imagine if you are setting up, you will only do gigs for 50 to 75 people (anything over, I would get some quality bass bins if you can fit them in your car / van, that is). If you are doing more than 80 (and don’t forget some halls and marquees are massive), you will tend to need bass bins.
Many DJ’s buy the gear and start gigging immediately. As an opinion, I recommend you set up your rig in your bedroom and learn to use your tools (decks), as there is more to just having the set up and playing. Many beginners (me included) made the mistake of blowing their speakers from DC burn. What I have learnt now is when you are set up (i.e. speakers connected and decks ready to play), do the following to ensure you get the settings right – again, this is only my opinion. · Turn your mixer channels down to ‘0’ · Play the track and watch your LED’s (flashing lights on mixer that are indicators) · The top button is called ‘Gain’ - play with this until it is on the last green LED · The next button is ‘Top’ - in general, have this at 12 o’clock · The next button is ‘Mid’ - in general, have this at 12 o’clock · The next button is ‘Bottom - Bass’ - in general, have this at 12 o’clock To be honest, I often have the top, mid and bottom buttons either just before 12 o’clock, or just after it, depending on venue. Now you need to play and practice. Tip - I would set up your library on your laptop into folders in iTunes and then make folders of all ‘populars’. On my system, I have ‘populars’ 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80s etc. You can do research online to find the real bangers (floorfillers). You need to practice and learn about genres and BPM (Beats Per Minute). There is a massive difference between mixing and blending. Mixing is playing two tracks at the same time, in time and one has the bass out while the other track plays over it. Blending is making sure you can keep the tracks together by beat matching the last 30 seconds (again, other users may want to add to this). Practice and enjoy!
When you are confident you can hold a floor of guests with the music you have chosen to work with and your chosen system has been mastered by you (i.e. transitions are easy), you are ready to get out and try your first gig. For this, you will need · · · · · ·
Bass bins (if you are doing parties for 80+ guests) Speaker stands DJ Booth (stand) Cables Star cloth Overhead lights
: If you are going with the bass bins, you may choose to use poles to mount on top of each other as many DJ’s do. The other option is to have the bin or bins either side of your speakers. If you are using speaker stands, get some good quality ones and make sure they are set so the bass cone (the big one on the speaker) is level with the guest ears. Well, that is what I was always told, but I am sure others can assist here. Personally, I have an ‘all in one’ (with an overhead bar). In December 2013, I also invested in the Equinox Booth. You can get a cheap booth for around £140 (this is optional, as some use tables and a light stand instead of what I do, but it is your choice). : These can be purchased for anything from £50 to £100 on Ebay they have a mini controller attached to them and make the booth I use look slick! There are many views on this one - I will let you know what I have got, but many DJ’s will definitely have different ideas. I use the Revo 4 as a centre stage light and, depending on the ceiling (i.e. if it is white) I point it up or point it down for dark halls. I also have two Chavro swarm lights and two Acme scan 25’s (note, this is my option of lighting). Moving heads are epic, but will depend on the budget you have. I have a cheap lazer mounted on the top bar. I will amend this as others add their input on the Facebook page, as they may have better ideas or suggestions more suited for a beginner.
The Final Steps P2 So far, we have covered everything and the e-zine will be complete after today (which means I can get back to my life!). The next job is now you have a full set up and are ready to go is getting gigs.
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Business cards Facebook page Twitter page Adwords campaign Website
and mingle, but they can still hear the music being played in the background. If I start at 7.30pm, I normally wait until about 8.30pm before I start cranking up the tunes and adding more power to the room. The way I work I only make my dance floor loud - this way, most guests will hear their favourite track and come to the floor. The sound level should be at a level where they get good bass and a nice clear sound. Do try and contact other DJs and let them know you are available to help. Don’t try and screw them, as this is NOT the done thing. If you take on a job for them, do NOT try and poach other work - working with them means you can pass jobs you cannot do to them and they will do the same for you.
I would go to www.vistaprint.com and get some business cards. Once you have these, take them to all local pubs, clubs and hotels and inform them of your company. Create a Facebook page dedicated to your new business - add images of your gigs and let all your friends and family know you are now set up to do mobile discos.
Again, I am sure others will advise and try to help others, as the end goal is to help beginners learn the real grass roots.
Set one of these up and, again, tweet your gigs and updates. Many DJs will say ‘NO, DON’T DO IT!’, but I have built a business up on Adwords. I would get a company to do it as a trial to start out. Get a website built and make sure it is called something that brands you. My website is called www.stalbansdj.co.uk, so it does get listed well on Google. Before the phone rings, set up a booking form so when clients call, you know what to ask. How you do this is your choice and what info you have on it is up to you. Once the phone has rung and you have your first booking, make sure you prepare your set. On the initial call, you have asked the client what music they would like played. From here, you can ascertain what type of crowd will be attending. So, you are now at the venue and your rig is set up (and I am hoping you are dressed smart and presentable!). Make sure you do a sound and mic check and check the gains etc. Go to the dance floor and listen. When your guest arrive, make sure the music is on a low level so they can chat
OK, we are finished! Good luck with your new career as a DJ and remember you will need to pay tax on your earnings. You can keep this low if you invest into your business and make sure you keep your insurance and PAT test up to date. In time you will get better hopefully - don’t try and copy others ways of DJ’ing, as you MUST be unique. Please try and understand that what I have given is a view only. Given as I had no help and I have learnt from 11 years of doing my best, this can only be an opinion but it worked for me. Keep an eye on the Facebook page, as others on there will drop pointers that will help you learn. In my book, a good DJ is always learning and never knows it all. Practice makes perfect, especially in the DJ field. Practice and enjoy!
Published by St. Albans Mobile Disco 14 Collyer Road, London Colney St. Albans, AL2 1PD 01727 827624 firstname.lastname@example.org www.stalbansdj.co.uk
This is an indepth beginners guide to becoming a mobile DJ. This e-zine will take you from the grass roots up. Enjoy!