The Barriers to Becoming a Successful DJ

Overcome These Hurdles & Succeed as a DJ

In order to become a successful DJ you need to jump over many hurdles, smash through barriers in the learning process, and learn about the DJ industry. There are many obstacles in your path and we're here to help you overcome them!

Barrier One - The Biggest Barrier of Them All!

By far the biggest barrier to overcome is self-doubt. You might be thinking about becoming a DJ but are worried you won't make it. But think about it, DJing is fun, it's one of the most enjoyable and social hobbies and can turn into a lucrative career where you can travel the world and live the dream! If you did fail, the worst that happens is you had a great journey and loads of fun in the process, it's a no-brainer! Take action now, get off the couch and start living the dream!

Most people who want to learn how to DJ often put it off and miss out big time! Make sure you take action and start the ball in motion! Literally, nobody ever regretted learning how to DJ! Click here to view our full range of DJ courses and get 1-2-1 tuition from the pros either online or in one of our many studios.

Overcome Self-Doubt - Be Amazing!

Barrier Two - Buying DJ Equipment 

Buying DJ equipment can be quite daunting if you’re a beginner because there are so many options. Equipment can range in price from hundreds to thousands of pounds so you want to make sure you start with deciding what budget is right for you. The industry-standard DJ setup that we and most major clubs use includes the Pioneer CDJ2000Nexus2 decks and the Pioneer DJM900Nexus2 mixer, perhaps with turntables. This can add up to more than 6k! Luckily, there is no reason to spend that much as there are many options that give you a similar set of features for much less cash! 

You might not need to buy DJ equipment

Apart from the cost, the downsides to buying DJ equipment can be storage space and disturbing your neighbours! For these reasons many students at DJ Gym opt to practice in our studios while taking their DJ course. Booking in the studio means that you can use a range of equipment and have someone on-hand in case you need help.

But, if you want to buy something consider this!

Those with a little more budget to spend often buy a laptop controller, a stand-alone unit or go full-out and spend big on the industry-standard set-up. Either way, when you buy something for home use you should try and get something that is similar to what you might be using in clubs or bars when you first start DJing. Laptop controllers are cheaper and you get many functions for your money. The downside is they often feel quite different to the club setup, so when you're at a gig you won't feel as used to the set-up you're using. Popular controller options include the Pioneer DDJ range, notably the DDJ-400 (£249) or perhaps the bigger DDJ-1000 (£1089).

Pioneer DDJ-400 DJ Controller - Great for bedroom DJs

All-in-one Units

For those who don’t want to use a laptop, Pioneer has created the XDJ range including the XDJRR, XDJRX2 and XDJXZ which are stand-alone all-in-one units that encompass two players and a mixer in one transportable unit. They don’t need a laptop to operate and instead have screens on the unit itself. The price point and the similarity in the feel of the industry-standard club set-up mean that they are very popular with our students. We think they are a great compromise between cost and functionality, allowing our students to feel confident when they DJ with us in the clubs.

Pioneer XDJ-RR all-in-one DJ unit. Great for beginner DJs who want to play in clubs!

The Industry-Standard DJ Set-up

The world-wide industry standard that all major clubs, bars and festivals use is the top-end of the Pioneer CDJ range. Currently that includes the Pioneer CDJ2000 Nexus 2 decks and the Pioneer DJM900 Nexus 2 mixer. Being the top of the range, means you pay top dollar! If you've got the available cash it's great but if you don't you will do well buying something cheaper for home and then booking a practice in our studio to use the club-standard kit.

The world-wide industry-standard DJ set-up from Pioneer DJ

Other options to consider

There are of course lots of other brands and ways of DJing instead of Pioneer, too many to mention here but other options include Traktor by Native Instruments, Denon and Serato by Rane. You can of course also learn how to DJ the old-school way on turntables and vinyl! Click here to learn more about what DJ equipment to get if you’re a beginner DJ. Don’t forget that we also sell DJ equipment at special prices, cheaper than the online retailers, contact us to find out more.

Barrier Three - Learning How to DJ (The Right Way) 

Learning how to DJ (correctly) is paramount for avoiding embarrassing incidents at gigs that can affect your DJ reputation for life, let alone be super awkward! Pay respect to the art form of DJing and learn to DJ the right way. 

The best way to learn how to DJ is with one-to-one tuition which is why all our DJ courses are taught that way. It means you can learn at your own speed, with your own style of music and choose your own lesson times. If you don't live near our studios check out our partner London Sound Academy for DJ and production courses in London or for online 1-2-1 DJ lessons or production lessons.

Here is a list of the main things you need to learn before you play a gig.

How to set up your DJ equipment
What every single function and button on your equipment does
How to use your DJ software
How to prepare your sets, beat-grid your tracks and organise your tracks harmonically
The theory of how to mix harmonically
How to beat-match with the tempo shown and with them tempo covered up
How to transition using the channel-faders or cross-fader
How to mix and blend your tracks with the EQs and filters
How to mix at the right time using musical phrasing
How to record your mix and edit audio
How to add creativity to your mix using FX
How to use loops
How to use hot-cues
How to use DJ tools like samples and acapella
How to deal with live DJ booths, switching between DJs and using monitors
How to promote yourself as a DJ and get gigs! (We can help get you DJ gigs if you enrol on our DJ course)

In addition, we recommend you also learn how to use vinyl and pitch-shift music by ear. All these skills and more are covered in our Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced DJ Courses. If you want to take things further you can also look into our Elite DJ Course or our customised DJ courses. Contact us for more information. 

Barrier Four - Recording Your First Mix

Recording your first mix is quite a learning curve. It's easier to notice errors you’re making once you record it and listen back. It’s a brilliant way to learn and we recommend that you record yourself as much as possible. Keep a record of the dates and make sure you write down what you need to improve on for the next mix.

Much of the improvements can be achieved using better track selections and experimenting with different timings within the mix. You also should be noticing a steady increase in the accuracy of your beat-matching skills. When you’re really happy with your mix why not upload it to a website like Soundcloud or Mixcloud. You can also try live-streaming DJ sets.

Challenge Yourself to Improve on each Recording

Barrier Five - Creating a DJ Name and Brand

Now you’ve learnt how to DJ you should create a DJ name and brand and then ask promoters for DJ gigs. When creating a name and brand try and think, what makes you unique? Once you have a name you should think about the following steps to set up your brand. 

Have a logo made (Reach out to a local designer or use Fiverr
Have a press photo taken (Click here for info on our photo service)
Print a business card
Create a Facebook page (Click here to get started
Create an Instagram account
Create a Soundcloud or Mixcloud page
Create a Youtube channel
Create a website (Try Vibecast, the handy DJ website specialist!) 

Barrier Six - Getting Your First Gig

You’re primed and ready to go, but now you have to overcome the biggest hurdle of any DJ and that’s getting your first DJ gig. When you contact promoters they want to see what you’ve already done in the past but if you’re new where do you start? 

Apart from our highly rated DJ and production courses many students come to DJ Gym because they know that when they graduate they will join our graduate community. It’s a priceless group for our alumni to socialise, collaborate and source gigs within. We organise DJ gigs for all our graduates so that when they finish the course they can start getting real-world experience at top UK venues including Ministry of Sound and on our annual tour in Ibiza. This launchpad has helped countless DJs kick-start their DJ career. 

If you’re not in the UK and can’t make it one of our studios there are some ways you can reach our for your first gig. The best way to get gigs is to network, you have to go to the gigs, they won’t come to you sitting in your bedroom! Here are some ideas to get you going. 

Reach out to a local bar or club and ask to play the warm-up set or before the normal DJ plays
Make your DJ website appear on google search results for DJs in your local area
Join a local DJ community group online
Hire a venue and start your own night where you are the DJ
Ask a local promoter if you can help in any way at their event 
Go venue to venue and leave a copy of your mix and a business card
Get your first DJ gig when you graduate from our DJ course

Barrier Seven - Balancing Your DJ Life

Now you’re out at night partying, networking and DJing you’ll notice the toll it takes on your daytime life. Late nights and packed schedules can be a lot to handle. Many DJs either can’t take the heat or go way too far. Make sure you prioritise what is healthy and what makes you happy. Find a good life balance that suits you best. Make sure you leave enough time to learn new skills to progress. 

Barrier Eight - Getting Paid Gigs 

Now you’ve got some experience its time to start thinking about how to turn your hobby into a career. In a crowded market where many people want to become DJs and live the DJ lifestyle, you need to stand out. One of the biggest ways for DJs to stand out is to release their own music and popular music at that. This is why at DJ Gym we have a strong focus on music production and many of our DJ course graduates naturally move into the production courses we offer. We recommend that anyone interested in being a full-time DJ invest time in learning this skill! In addition, here are some other ideas to think about. 

Work your way up from warm-up DJ to headline DJ by growing a fan base
Release a popular track and establish yourself as an artist
Run your own club nights where you are the main promoter and DJ
Advertise to get gigs for mobile DJing including corporate events, weddings and parties
Network relentlessly within music-industry circles and become a scene celebrity
Obtain celebrity status in another way, perhaps TV or Youtube fame


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