Starting out as a DJ is always hard! We recently had the great pleasure of sitting down with the brilliant DJ Rama for a chat about his career, the state of the current music industry and many more topics in a 3-hour chat. Dj Rama has always been the type of to push boundaries and to very much do what he wants to d, and has earned a reputation as a something of a music rebel as a result. Something which we really focused on during our chat was what younger DJs should be doing if they want to forge a career in this profession and really go on to find some solid success.
DJ Rama didn’t always have it easy and he puts his success down to a combination of factors, mainly down to the skills which he possessed as a DJ, gifts that took a long time for him to master. Rama very much believes that there is a certain skill set which every DJ has to have if they have dreams of being successful and launching a career in this profession, and these are the core skills which he thinks that you will need to have in order to find that success which you are looking for.
Nobody is ‘born to be a DJ’ and every successful DJ from Deadmau5 to Mark Ronson has got to where they have through a great deal of hard work. This means that you should be spending hours and hours in your bedroom getting your craft right, learning all that you need to, becasue of the volume of work that you are prepared to put in. If you are DJing for an hour a night then you will get to a decent standard, but you will be far off the required standard that you will need in order to launch a career doing this. You should be wholly dedicated to the craft and to learning as much as humanly possible.
Hearing the Music
What sets DJs apart from the rest is their ability to truly hear music, no just listen. What we mean by this is the ability to listen to the entire composition of music, and not just the voice or the guitar riff. Being a great DJ is about learning to combine music and lead from one song into another, in order to do that you have to be able to recognize the beat, but also dig beneath that and listen out for additional melodies and instruments which are brought into the song, in order to understand the sound of the song rather than just the top layer.
As a DJ you must always play the music that is important you, not the type of music which you think that people want to hear, this is a really critical lesson for all young DJs to learn. With this being said, within that genre, you can still play a number of tracks that feel certain a certain way or which creates a certain mood. This is why you have to be able to read people and judge the crowds, in order to be able to get your set list just right. A music set should take people through a range of emotions and it should get people on their feet. As a DJ it is important that you have the ability to read people’s musical styles, in order to tap into that as best as you can.
The one skill that you have to work on more than any other is your ability to match the beat, this is absolutely critical to you being able to mix songs together and learning this should take up hundreds of hours of your time. Start off slow when learning this skill, something with very few BPMs, once you have cracked it you can start moving up to faster songs and more complicated rhythms and beats, in order to get to the advanced level that you need to be at. Make no mistake about it, this is the skill which separates people who play music, and people who are fully fledged DJs.
In order to make it as a successful DJ you have to have confidence in what you are doing. Much of this will come with the learning of new skills and as your ability increases so too will your confidence, but a lot of it should be there already. When you are pitching to club owners or in the middle of a set, you need to be as confident as possible becasue it does come across in your performance.
If you do have dreams of becoming a successful DJ one day then these are the core skills which you will need to have.