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How to be a DJ – The beginning is the key

The beginning

I can believe that most DJ’s start off with the love of music first. Most of us sit around and listen to music all the time. I found myself always gravitating to where the music was being played. Whether it was changing the records for my father while he danced or pausing and playing cassette tapes for family parties. Then I had the fever so bad I bought a basic mixer for 20$ from the pawn shop then began mixing with 6 CD player on one side and a DVD  player on the other. The mixing was terrible but the fever was growing LOL. But because the mixing was terrible and parties still rocked I learned a few things later on. Oh the funniest thing is when I finally decided to use the laptop to DJ I didn’t know anything about DJ software. I hooked the laptop to the mixer and on the other channel was the CD player lol.

I know terrible right but the love was still there and the parties was always live. Of course the parties at that time may be more nostalgic then anything. If I had recordings of the mixes I’m sure I would cringed and you would too lol. My point in all this is in order to be a DJ you don’t have to run out and automatically buy all the expensive equipment you can get your hands on. The first thing you can do is invest in a good attitude towards it. Majority of the time we all start off as mobile DJs which is just another way of saying you’re not DJing in a set club yet or ever it depends on your interest. I actually enjoy the Mobile scene a lot.

When you are on the mobile scene you are DJing for all ages.

Weddings that will be from age 20 and up. Family reunions and also high school reunions, House parties and cookouts etc. So let’s take a look at this. We have love for music right. We have good music and a lot of it that we want to share with the world right. Now go back and look at the Mobile scene and see how your music would fit with some of those crowds. This is one of the biggest reasons New DJ’s give up. They usually see the love they have and never take the time to understand that they will be of service to people. No need to spend a lot of money on DJ equipment to be in service to yourself unless that’s what you want to do. If you want to be in service of others take some time to think about it first. You may have to think about this mobile scene to see where you fit and then adjust your music from there.

Something to express

The first Grandmaster and mobile DJ – Grand master flowers

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How be a DJ part 2. Crowd participant

man spying

Crowd participant

 

I believe one of the greatest things you can do before you go out and purchase the expensive equipment u will need is to be a conscious crowd participant. What I mean is to go out and have fun but instead of losing yourself in the moment, you will be observant of the crowd’s reactions to the DJ. Now don’t get caught up in who the DJ is or be over critical of them either. It’s just and honest observation. Listen to what if anything that the crowds says about them. This is the best way to get an honest impression of what people enjoy and why.  So your homework will to just go out to the club then go out to parties outside the club. See how club djs play different than a mobile dj.

See how people expect different music from the two. I remember I went to a birthday party and the DJ was a club DJ. He had been spinning for a while and was great technically.  He was given the wrong information about what to play at the party. The agent who booked him didn’t tell him who all was going to be there so his playlist was the same from the club he DJ’d at.  Needless to say he ended up bombing bad so much so the music was stopped and the party became a social gathering. I will get deeper about what happened to him in a different article but for now.

This is what the crowd around me was saying.

“A DJ is supposed to have everything people want to hear” “he not even mixing right”. I sat there and watched and listened all night. I noticed the bombing body language of the people and hoped that never happened to me. As a conscious crowd participant I got little insights on what people wanted. I also learned crowd reading responses. All the little things that you will never see as the DJ is always available to you as a crowd participant. The best thing that comes out of just being in the crowd enjoying yourself is you can hear what the DJ is doing right and maybe where they missed it a few times. This will go beautiful in planning your strategy for how you want to DJ.

 

Something to express.

LET IT BE KNOWN

 

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How to be a DJ part 3- Social vs Party music

Chair dance or party music

It’s time to take a good hard look at the music you have. We usually turn to djing because we love music. We love listening to music and playing music and collecting music. We’ve got cds stored , vinyl collections and 100,000 mp3’s. One thing though, What kind of music do you have? I remember having 10,000 mp3 songs and 9,900 of them were what I call social songs. Social songs are the songs that sound good but you are just head nodding and chair dancing to them.

They go great in social settings like get together’s, and some cookouts and things like that. Nobody told me this first though. I started spinning at parties with social songs.  So guess what they head nodded and toe tapped and chair danced. The problem with social music was once they started to dance I still had head nodding music hahahahahaha. It’s nothing like getting the party started and the only thing you have left to play is a Hardcore gangsta rap song from the 90’s. Drop it in with your eyes close praying and only to open them and the girls are looking at you like this. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahha

WTF face

My point in this is just to get you to really take a hard look at the music you have and see if it really is party music or sit down get a drink and head nod music. I could never let you guys get your first gig and realize you have too much head nodd and no party.

 

Now party music on the other hand we all know it and we’ve all danced to it at times.  It’s the music that gets you up out your seat and hit the dancefloor with your best moves. Depending on the crowd party and social music and interchange but we will get into that later. For now check your millions of music and realize what you actually have and what you may need depending on the kind of Mobile spots your want to DJ at.

 

 

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How to DJ part 4: The Love

A lot DJs will tell you that learning the foundation and the roots is the key to being a successful DJ. They will tell you that you have to master the basics and practice hard to succeed. Although I do find that all those things are important, I find that it is the love for DJing that is hands down the most important thing for a beginning DJ to succeed.  So that is my question to you. Are you interested in becoming a DJ because this is what you love to do? If there were no accolades to gain, No crowd to rock, and no exposure is this something you would continue to do when nobody is around? If you do have the love continue on if not you may want to rethink this thing before you go out and buy equipment. If you take trip to any local pawn shop you will see they are full of DJ equipment for whatever reason. If you have this love it will guide you the challenges and the successes of being a DJ. The love of what you are doing will grant you the patience to practice your craft and grow your business. Understand this , you will not just show up to a gig and play your finest playlist so every will shower praises of the greatest DJ of all time your way. There is some tidiest task involved in your preparation for any gig including free ones.  If you are looking to convert cds into mp3’s that will take a lot of patience to do. If its your first time and you want to get DJ software well that will take time to learn as well.  Because I will not sugar coat anything about being a DJ on this blog, you will need this love to sustain you while reading it. There are many small mistakes that you can potentially make while getting started. So these post are post to prevent some and may at times sound a bit negative and may discourage you. The love you have will sustain you through it to get to the meat of the post.  You ever hear sports figures talk about the love they have for the sport. What comes to my mind is Michael Jordan, Kobe and Lebron talk about the love for basketball they have. Well that love is what got them up in the morning at 5:30 am to shoot 500 to 1000 shots everyday. It is this kind of love that will make practice not seem like work. The kind of love that you hear when artist talk about forgetting how much time they spent in the studio recording and walking out to the sun shining after spending a whole night recording. I may have gone a little overboard talking about this but my point is when the pitfalls and challenges come with DJing it will be this love that sustains you through it. It will be fun and it will be a whole lot of fun. The preparation will be no more than a necessary step to get to the fun.  Nothing more fulfilling then after all the work you put in seeing all the smiles and enjoyment of a party you performed at. Every now and again hearing someone “maaan you rocked”

That’s the love !!!!!!! You need more proof check my man Henry out. Sums up what the basis of spinning music for people is all about on the ground level.

 

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How to DJ part 5 – the set up

turntable set up

Up top there you have a basic time coded turntable set up. It allows you the feel of vinyl and still have your music stored on a laptop or external hard drive . So you will have 2 turntables , time coded vinyl a mixer, interface and a microphone. You will more than likely need a microphone to start with. Most mobile gigs will have announcements of some sorts. Notice I haven’t talked about speakers that much. That’s because speakers will have their own section. Trust me they need it.

CDJ set up

As you can see the cd set up is identical to the turntable set up. The best thing about these set up is you can scrap the laptop if you need to and go analog. Hey Laptops can crash and external hard drives can freeze. Nothing wrong with having back up storage for your music and a b plan to the laptop.

controller set up

This is the basic controller set up. Because you will have different connectors to connect everything I’ve added a connector diagram as well . the connectors

Make sure to check the back of everything you get to see how its hooked up and what cables you will need.

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How to be a DJ – the equipment speaker part 3

Buying the Equipment

Decide if you want to go analog of digital. If you want to go analog then go with whatever your music is currently store on. So if vinyl go with turntable or if Cds get some good CDjs and a mixer. For those who want to go digital your budget will have to include the laptop if you don’t already have one. A controller or time coded turntables. You will need an external hard drive to store your music on. Speakers to play the music with.

If the speakers are passive you will need to include an amp. If powered speakers no external amp required. Now lets take a few to think about the speakers for a minute. You can build up to some good speakers they are not needed in the beginning. The reason being you may just blow some speakers in the beginning. Nothing like spending a lot of money on speakers and start feeling the mix a little bit too much and blow some expensive speakers because the drinks was flowing.

active speaker

The Big Speaker. 

 

A lot of us want the biggest speakers , the best highs and that deep base. We also think budget is the determining factor when buying speakers I say to that no that’s bs. Although budget is important but People you will have to carry those speakers. So before you ever buy speakers please take a look at the weight of the speakers. Also what about the car you drive? Nothing like getting big speakers and have to load them in a small car.  Yes all before you have made these mistakes.

If you have a regular size car you don’t want to try stuffing a 18″sub woofer in your backseat. A decent pair of 12’s will do.  You will not blow the place down but they will hear you. Your back will also thank you for it. Oh yeah get a hand truck as well. You want to include in your equipment the connectors. You will need official speaker cables. If you get power speakers the amps are in the speaker itself. Its great for quick setups but it does make the speakers heavier. Passive speakers you will need to find a amp to power them. These speakers are lighter as well.

The amp to speaker ratio I found this on the net , you will want to do separate research before buying speakers and amps

This means a speaker with a “nominal impedance” of 8 ohms and a program power rating of 350 watts will require an amplifier that can produce 700 watts into an 8-ohm load. For a stereo pair of speakers, the amplifier should be rated at 700 watts per channel into 8 ohms

The connectors are the most forgotten part about budgeting. Connecting to the amp if you go that route and speaker cables. You will need a microphone it doesn’t have to be a great one to start with but something that your guest can make announcements with. This is it you basic set up everything else is an enhancement to this set up .

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How to be a DJ part 5 – practice speakers

How to be a DJ part 5 – Practice speakers

 

To save you from the heartache that even the biggest name DJ has  get some inexpensive speakers to practice with.  There is a good chance that you will blow speakers. That chance raises higher if you are a drinker. The scenario is the same you have your setup in the basement or bedroom.

You are getting better at mixing and the music is sounding good to you and boom speaker static. Didn’t know you were in the red the whole time because all you want to do is turn it up. Turn down for what right? Hell no turn it down or get some practice speakers. The speakers are your money. Matter of fact all of your equipment is your money. I look at it as an investment. Trust me many DJ’s have a basement of blown speakers. To get around this just get a pair of practice speakers from somewhere. Play on your real speakers when you have a gig.

Showing DJ blown speakers

Your DJ pro speakers will be shoved in the your trunk and depending on the car your back seat. Try an get a mat or something so your speakers don’t move around. DJ pro speakers can and will fly around in your car or truck and depending on where the knobs are located  you can mess them up or short them out. If I load them in the backseat believe me they will be strapped in a seat belt like newborn babies.

Well newborns would be in a car seat but I’m sure you get my point.

You can ask many DJ’s around they will tell you about the sick feeling you will have after blowing your good speakers or messing them up during transport . Bungee cords are good to have as well. I believe I have some in the store but if not you can pick them any where.  You definitely will want to strap your dolly down to because that thing will fly around everywhere and knock up against all of your equipment.  I never put the laptop or controller in the back with the heavy stuff that usually rides up front with me. I will also hide the smaller speakers behind the sub woofers as the subs are heavy and tend not to move anywhere.

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How to be a DJ part 6 – knowing your music

Know your music. 

Knowing your music is simple but needs some extra steps to complete. Take some time out to sit and listen to what you intend to mix. You will want to categorize songs by energy level and feel to them.

If you hear a hit song ask yourself “why is that a hit”?. You will want to break the song down to feel and energy level. At the time of writing this Bruno Mars 24 karat magic has been sweeping the nation.

As an example of what I am talking about I will go over this song. 

To gain some insight of why its a major hit and see some of its power.

Ok so right from the intro I can tell this is meant to be a party song. Now as a DJ its my job to see if it lives up to what the composers are trying to do. Hey we all know its a hit so here I go.

The intro comes in and raises the energy quickly then drops into the song. The song hits hard from the start with “Put your pink rings to the MOON” right as the beat comes in.

The song has a light and airy feeling to it.  Feels like you can just flow freely while listening. The lyrics are just enough for the playas & hustlers to be ok with it.  The delivery is  so good that you can just forget the lyrics and just move with it.

music power quote

My conclusion for this song 

Conclusion is it will be around for awhile on the older crowd circuit. Its nice and airy with no real feelings except fun. A nice tempo and good delivery for parties. The beat gets you moving as soon as it drops.

I do feel that the energy that I feel drops a little towards the middle of the song. I would keep that in mind if I played this for people. Songs like this are replaced constantly. Even if this song is not a hit it still has the power to give good feelings.

This song’s core power. 

A great ability to move people with its tempo. Great at giving good feelings and lifting moods.

Know your music by its energy. The reason why we will get into later or you may just stumble on it before I get to write the next post. Any rate take the time to study all of your music.

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How to be a DJ:Planning the day of the gig

How to be a DJ. 

Oh so you have your first gig scored. The night before the gig you have set up all of your equipment. Tested your system to make sure everything is working properly and get in some last minute practice.

The great thing about setting up the night before is when you take it down you can pack it up right then.  The best thing about that is everything you need is right there in one place.  You will have the confidence in knowing you have done everything before leaving the house. Well unlike leaving the iron on or something.

From experience I can tell you when you get to a gig,empty your bag and boom

DJ planning day gig

You have forgotten a connector, a cable, the microphone or the headphones.  If this do happen get on the phone quick and call somebody.

Image result for i need help

Please help !!!!!!!!!!!!

Packing the car or truck. 

If you have sub woofers please pack those last so that they will be in the front when you unpack.  The laptop, controller, turntables never rides with the heavy equipment.  Keep them up close and personal with you and a nice seat belt arrangement for them. Packing the car will take around 30 mins to 1 hour depending on how much equipment you have. I like to pack before my shower just to stay fresh as possible. A dolly will be your best friend when unpacking at the gig.

On the way. 

Some of my mobile gigs are on the weekday and scheduled around rush hour. You will want to arrive as early as possible to your gig in case of an emergency. “you forgot something” . So you will need a GPS navigation services. Whether it’s waze , google maps or telenav pick the one you like. It makes a difference when navigating somewhere you have never been. They are priceless for avoiding rush hour traffic and making it to your gig on time.

3 ways THE ORGANIZERS CAN GO

Either they will be there when you arrive to let you in. Will meet you there when you arrive or will be late letting you in and starting the party. Either way you will be paid and you were on time. No sweat off your back. Hopefully you get there atleast 30mins before the schedule start if you have minimal equipment. An hour if you have the whole complete mobile setup. Oh the most important thing about time is that you will be in a different place and will have to adjust the way you setup from home. Factor that into the time then you are ready

djplanning first gig

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