How to Become a DJ: Tribe XR Beginners Guide

Welcome to the beginning of your journey as a DJ! Use this guide to map out your journey and reference along the way. It’s a resource meant to help to give you the instructional foundation to go out and reach your desired goals.

DJing is so much more than just putting two tracks together and making it sound good. It’s your own musical expression to a receptive audience. It’s a human connection through music and it’s something that we at Tribe are passionate about.

I’ll tell you this right now, it’s not going to be easy or an overnight process. This journey will take work, time and dedication. This is your start but you aren’t alone. The Tribe XR team is here to support you the entire way.

Establish Your Goals

Ask yourself, why am I doing this? This isn’t an exercise of self-doubt but one of clarification. If you know the motivation behind your DJ aspirations, your journey will be streamlined to reach those goals. Not every DJ has the same path and you should choose the one that falls in line with your motivations. Here are a few different goals to choose from.

Bedroom DJ

The Bedroom DJ enjoys doing sets from home. They may just enjoy mixing music as a hobby or even prefer building their online brand by posting their recorded sets to Youtube, Mixcloud, Soundcloud or another platform. They even have the option of streaming their performances to a live online audience.

With Tribe XR, most of our DJs start out in the bedroom. They practice and refine their craft from their VR Rig at home. They may showcase their sets live on Twitch or another streaming platform or post previous performances to our Discord channel for feedback. Our application grants access to a pro level CDJ deck from home which gives them the convenience of having these tools from the bedroom so to speak.

Mobile DJ

Mobile DJs are picking up gigs at weddings, corporate parties or other miscellaneous events. This type of DJ life requires a lot of flexibility and ingenuity. Often times, the hiring party wants you to be responsible for bringing your own hardware, setting it all up, MC’ing the party and playing the appropriate music based on the situation. The money can be good but there’s work required to build up a constant stream of hire opportunities.

With TribeXR, we give mobile DJs the ability to practice their set before a particular event without having to set up all the equipment. They can go over their tracklist structure and work out transitions. They can ask the Tribe community for track recommendations or feedback on their practice performance.

Club/Festival DJ

Club DJs are making their way up the club circuit in a scene near them. They usually have to start at smaller bars and perform opener sets. Club DJs also need to be aware of the type of scene before they perform at a certain establishment. Some venue crowds may be in attendance for certain genres and knowing what the audience wants before finding out the hard way is a good rule of thumb. As your brand in the local area grows, you’ll start to be known for a certain style/genre so try and play a style you love the most.

With Tribe XR, club DJs can practice their sets on pro-style CDJs before their upcoming event. CDJ’s are an expensive piece of equipment and there’s a good chance you won’t want to pay thousands of dollars for your own kit at home. With Tribe’s application, they have access to the most common club utilized equipment for only $15.

Our club DJs also post their gigs on our Discord channel so the community has the chance to go out and support them. Having a music network is critical for getting on the circuit and filling in slots for various venues.

The DJ Superstar

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The aspiring DJ Superstar has dreams of touring the world in front of sold-out crowds. They want to play the biggest festivals and at the most well-renowned clubs in the world. A normal requirement here is to produce their own music as well. This pathway requires the most dedication and sacrifice. You must live and breathe music and perfect your craft while relentlessly building up your personal brand.

With TribeXR, we can’t guarantee stardom, but we can help you out in your path. You can practice as long as you want inside our app and we love to promote our DJs however we can. You can have a feature DJ profile on our webpage, request to have your music featured in our app and get your start on our live radio show.

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No goal here is better than the other. Not everyone wants to become a superstar and you should realize what matters to you. It’s okay to want to DJ based solely on the fact you love music. Understand what matters to you and we’ll help you reach it.

Learning the Basics

Before you can reach your established goals you can’t surpass the fact that you need a basic foundation of skills first. Technology is making the learning gap smaller but it’s essential that you build a foundation of proper DJ skills when you start your journey. Here are some skills to master in the beginning:

Beatmatching/counting

Beatmatching is the ability to get tracks on the same tempo (speed) and phase (lined up in time with each other).

Tempo: You can do this by using the pitch fader to increase or decrease the temp or a track to align it with the other.

Phase: You can use the jog-wheel, pitch-end button or even manually adjusting the record to line up the phases in a track.

Sync: Our deck comes with sync functionality which does the legwork for beatmatching for you. In theory, you could properly do it without learning but that comes with a lack of preparation. I’d recommend taking the time to manually beatmatch your songs and use the sync function at your convenience afterward.

Phrasing:

Phrasing basically means to make sure you’re mixing your tracks at the same time. The most common breakdown for song phrasing comes in 4’s.

4 Downbeats = 1 bar. 4, 8 or 16 bars = 1 phrase.   (Not all songs are in this format so know your tracks)

Spend some time to count your songs and notice how they change from phrase to phrase.

1234 - 2234 - 3234 - 4234     1234 - 2234 - 3234 - 4234

(Phrase 1) -> (Phrase 2)

5234 - 6234 - 7234 - 8234    5234 - 6234 - 7234 - 8234


With practice, this will become a natural instinct and your ears will be trained to notice changes.

Tribe XR’s deck has visual wavelengths of the song on each controller which allows you to visually confirm downbeats and see upcoming changes. Use this to assist you in getting your ears and eyes tuned to track phrasing.

Tip: Avoid transitions when both songs are using vocals. Wait for at least one song to be in an instrumental portion.

Equalizing (EQing)

EQing is the act of adjusting frequencies to help songs blend nicely. You have your lows, mids, and highs aka your bass, midrange, and treble. EQs won’t magically save a mix but they can be the difference between a good and great blend.

Tip: Dance music is usually consumed with lower frequencies. Avoid overlapping heavy bass from both songs. Adjusting the bass on the EQs for a smooth transition can be a huge benefit.

Effects

Using beat effects can also be an optimal way of transitioning your tracks. The filter effect is a common one to engage before also adjusting the EQ’s on a track. Try it on a few transitions until you get this one right.

CDJ Basics

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CDJs are currently the most used DJ rig for clubs and festivals. This is because of their flexibility and wide range of abilities. The problem is, CDJs are expensive and the average DJ may not have access to one. Tribe XR features a CDJ for this very reason. It’s good to know the basics of this DJ Rig when you start out.


All In One

CDJs are essentially a mix of all DJ tools old and new. They are controllers combined with vinyl and don’t require a laptop attached with DJ software. You have everything you need on one piece of hardware. You can plug in your USB full of music files (or in Tribe’s case, upload them to your PC music folder) and be off to the races.

Prepping your Playlist

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Know your audience. Before you start to put together your playlist, know whom you’re playing the set for. If it’s for yourself, go crazy! If you’re prepping this set for a specific event, make sure you know the music that will appeal to them. This doesn’t mean you need to always play the top 40 but not appealing to the crowd won’t get you an invite back.


Set Structure

Playlist structure is a big thing. There are various strategies and approaches to this and no way is best. It’s important to know how you’re planning out your structure. Here are some common playlist structures:

The Ramp - Each song is building a little bit more from the previous one. Your set is slowly building up to a grand finale of pure insanity. Nobody will have anything left once you’re done and the roof will come down.

The Mountain - Like the ramp, it’s a constant build up to the big moment. You hit the brink of music insanity but instead of dropping the mic, you keep playing and start to bring it back down. This is a great way to ease your audience to the end and provide an atmosphere of serenity.

The Wave - Up and down, up and down. You’re wavering the atmosphere and tempo and providing multiple climatic moments filled with sweet lulls. It’s walking the tightrope but done right, it’s an amazing set that leaves the crowd spent.


Testing your tracks

You should never go into a performance unprepared. Make sure you’re testing every single track you plan on utilizing in your set. With digital music, things happen like file corruption or incompatibilities. You don’t want to find this out the hard way in the middle of a performance.

Tribe XR supported file types: mp3, m4a, aac, wav files. (mp3 is safest best)


Type of transitions

For EDM and dance music, you’ll want to be beatmatching the transitions for your entire set. If you’re using other genres or a mix of them, you’ll want to know when fading and cutting may be the best approach for your set.


BPMs

The best rule of thumb is the keep your entire set as close as possible in BPM’s. The possibility of a smooth transition with drastically different beats per minute is much smaller. Platforms like Beatport tell you the BPM for each track that your purchasing and TribeXR lists the BPM of the tracks uploaded to your music folder. Be wary of the BPM and beginners are recommended to use tracks within a close range for their sets.


Timing

You could have put together the best track line up ever made, but if it’s too short or too long it won’t translate to a good set. Nothing is worse than being cut off before your set hits the peak or having the replay songs because you ran out of tracks. Know how long your set is going to be by practicing it beforehand. Eventually, a seasoned DJ can have an accurate estimate of how many tracks will reach a certain timeframe but it’s better to be safe.


Practice/Learn

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Practice

Practice, practice, and practice! You can’t expect to reach your goals if you don’t put in the time. Set aside time every week to hone your craft and stay involved. Get lost in VR and immerse yourself in the music. Set a goal to do a live stream performance at least once a week. Invite friends and members of the Tribe community into your session and showcase your work.

Tutorials

Utilize the free video tutorials we provide to hone your DJ foundations. We acquired tutorials from the best Youtube DJ mentor in the business...DJ Ellaskins. These tutorials can be accessed in-app so you never have to leave the DJ deck.


1-on-1 Lessons

People hire anything from voice coaches, personal trainers and life coaches to help them out in certain aspects of their lives. Tribe XR has partnered with Pyramind Music School to offer 1-on-1 mentorship with professional DJ instructors through the Tribe XR app. Professional mentorship can be a huge difference maker on the journey to reach your goals.



Recording Your Mix

There’s plenty of reasons to record your mix. You can analyze it afterward and note improvements you can make. You can upload the mix to your social channels and show off your skills to your network. You can also host your music on various platforms so others can discover your work.

OBS

In Tribe XR, we’ve found that one of the most efficient ways to record your in-app sets is with the free software OBS. This software has the dual ability to record video files and also stream your set to various platforms. It’s been a highly efficient tool for our community at no extra cost. For information on how to use it, click here.

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Hosting

Be wary of where you decide to host your recorded mixes. Every platform has different copyright rules and regulations which can be a pain for DJ’s to showcase their music. Some platforms will remove your set completely while others will mute recognized portions of your audio. Unless you’re using your own music, you’ll need to tiptoe around the difficulties of copyright laws.

Utilize the Community

Tribe XR Discord

With over 100 members already in our Discord community, it has become an active community of music enthusiasts. Members are encouraged to submit app suggestions, promote their streams and stay involved while we work daily to refine and build new features to make the entire experience better.

Embrace a Style

Genre

You aren’t stuck to one genre or another but it helps to build a consistent brand of style. You’ll start to build a fan base around your sound and master a certain style. With that said, traverse as many genres as you want. It’s all about you having the best experience and you aren’t handcuffed to anything.

DJ Type

Some DJs are heads down magicians. They are focused purely on the music and you won’t head much of a peep. Some are more on the side of MCs. The music ends up being a compliment as they interact with the audience and address the crowds. Maybe you’re aggressive by nature and direct your audience towards certain actions or aid back and keep it cool like your nature. The point is to realize that your personality sets you apart from other DJs and you should own it.

Performing

One thing is certain, you can’t replicate the feeling of performing with just practice. Everything in this guide builds up to putting your skills on the line. Having a live audience, rolling with your mistakes and getting the validation that comes with a good performance is what it’s all about.

This is the main reason why we encourage our users to live stream their sets. Live performance is a beautiful thing and it’s a powerful learning tool on the road to becoming a DJ, whether that be in the bedroom, at a wedding, or a big festival.

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Twitch

Tribe XR has added a few more features for our Twitch Streamers because we understand that audience interaction is something our community wants. Connect your Twitch and you can see the chat window inside the Tribe XR app so you can interact with your viewers.

Take a look at our tips and tricks page more possible integrations like Emotes, Gifs and songs sent by your audience.

Putting it all Together

You’ve practiced, you’ve trained, and now you’re ready.

It’s time to perform on the Tribe XR Radio Show. Reach out to a Tribe Team member via Discord and request a time slot on our channel. You can submit an event yourself or ask that it be added to our Events page.

This way, we can promote your show and help you build initial traction on your DJ journey.