While DJs sometimes get a bad rep and are wrongly accused of “just pressing play”, a lot of skill, dedication, and talent go into the art of DJing, selecting the right tracks, mixing, and making a party rock. People who tried to learn DJing start appreciating the skill more as they discover how much effort goes into creating a great music mix.
There are multiple ways to learn DJing, and each DJ has their own journey. These eight performing DJs share their stories and one thing they wish they knew when they started exploring the DJ space.
I had tried learning to DJ almost a decade ago with Traktor and my laptop but never took it seriously enough to try to invest in equipment. I have lots of friends that are DJs, but always felt intimidated by the expensive and complicated looking setups, and didn't want to interrupt my friends so that I could try to learn. When I found Tribe XR, it took all the mystery out of the controls and helped me get comfortable with equipment that would normally cost $6,000.
One of the major advantages of learning on Tribe XR instead of traditional equipment has been the community aspect. Since it is integrated with Twitch, playing a set for real people is incredibly simple, and you get instant feedback that is reminiscent of being at a party or show. Being able to read the chat, download requests straight to the deck, and allowing the chat to control the background and emote popups really "gamifies" the experience and helps you learn to interact with your audience in a really engaging way.
I just wish I would have found Tribe sooner!
While I've been DJing for about 10 years now, I initially started playing electro house for house parties, and over the years I've shifted more into drum & bass, started producing, and playing regularly on internet radio station EMP Radio (www.emp.cx) and Twitch. I've long been a fan of a broad range of music and would make mixtapes for friends based around a theme or that told a story. At one point I had started assembling these mixtapes in Ableton Live for seamless transitions when a friend asked me why I didn't just learn to DJ and recommended I try Traktor. I picked up a cheap controller and started mixing in Traktor and I've been DJing ever since.
What I wish I knew when I started DJing and the advice I’d love to give to novice DJs is that you don't need to play the hottest and most popular songs to make a good DJ set. In fact, playing only the biggest hits can get pretty boring. So explore different tracks, level up your mixing skills and get creative. And most importantly, enjoy the journey!
I’ve always loved music: I went to a Musical High School and eventually bought a Launchpad, a Launchpad Pro, and a DDJ-SB. A few years later, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to DJ with him at prom events and that’s where it all started. Last year I bought a DDJ-RX, started having gigs in my local club, and made the Prom Discos around my rural area. When I am on stage, I feel like a completely different person and go all out with the songs.
In the early days, when I started learning to DJ, I simply watched a lot of videos. Putting what I learned to practice for me was an ongoing trial and error. What I’ve noticed is that the more you learn the more you want to learn. In this process, dedication is key. So prepare to face some hurdles on the way and keep going!
I've always been interested in music and I see DJing as one of the ways of expressing it. When I first started learning to DJ, I didn’t realize that DJing would take over my life! My mixing is not always perfect but practice makes it so. So be prepared that you will love it more than you think you might and keep practicing!
I got into music and DJing when I was in the lower school. There was a disco happening and I got the opportunity to have a little mess about on the decks. In the end, even though I didn’t know what I was doing I found it fun and interesting. On my 7th birthday, my dad decided to get me some sort of home mix DJ thing: it was strange and I still have it in storage (unless it got stolen!) but I found it fun to just put a CD on and play two CDs at the same time.
When I brought my first controller and started learning, I had to watch a ton of YouTube videos and record my own sets in order to watch how I was beatmatching keys. My learning curve was steep and I wish I knew that it would be this way. My piece of advice: be prepared that you might not grasp everything immediately - take your time to learn using all the tools available out there, including Tribe’s one-on-one coaching and bootcamps.
When I started DJing and producing music, I was really skeptical that I would actually be able to make something, I found the software so daunting and hard, and I thought I had to be a magician or insane to actually make a good track. Yet, I kept going and practiced every single day! Every track I made for 6 months was absolutely terrible, but my ideas had potential. When I started releasing my own music, I realized that everything I was worried about (such as people not liking my music, etc) wasn't actually there, it was all in my head. I saw that people enjoyed my music and it felt extremely good and made me even more passionate about the thing I loved!
What I wish I knew from the early days is how to market my music and myself as a DJ and producer. It’s very hard nowadays for DJs to market their music and create a brand, especially if they do not produce music.
With Tribe, there is a community of DJs and music fans on Discord and Facebook that you can join, and you can also apply to be on the Tribe Live radio and play tracks back-to-back with other talented DJs. This gives you a platform to showcase your talent and find your community outside your bedroom if you are a “bedroom DJ” or if you live far away and there are no local clubs or venues where you could play.
I've always loved electronic music and when I was about 13, I downloaded a Virtual DJ on my laptop and played around with it. However, with just a keyboard and mouse I was quite limited and didn't do much with it. A few years later I started using it again and built a small music library to play with. I actually managed to DJ ok with a mouse and keyboard. At this point, I had my eyes on an entry-level controller but I never ended up buying it. It wasn't until my last year of high school a few years ago when I finally got a controller.
Once I got my controller, I felt almost like I was starting from scratch again. I learned how to DJ with YouTube tutorials and I was learning quite slowly, although I was too busy to practice often. The benefit was that I didn't need to pay anything to learn, but it took me a long time before some genres "clicked" and I was able to play them. I wish I had something like the Tribe XR bootcamp available at the time.
Reflecting on this experience, one thing that I wish I knew was how important it is to keep a thoroughly organized music library based on genre, subgenre, mood, and energy. You can future-proof your music library by organizing it well. You will have a lot more music in the future. It also helps to cover/hide BPM readouts and waveforms to practice beatmatching by ear, the sync button is a tool to use but you can't always rely on it. And last but not least, if you have or are planning to get a VR setup, start with Tribe. The community and the bootcamp is great for beginners.
I’ve been writing EDM music for the last couple of years, and I figured most artists also DJ their own music. When I bought a controller, I didn't do much with it because I wasn't good. I felt embarrassed because I wasn't all that good. I then found Tribe and started practicing in the VR set up on a more regular basis and it motivated me to get better faster. It still hasn't been a year since I started DJing but I feel confident to play almost anything without at least feeling embarrassed that I sound relatively new.
What I wish I knew from the beginning is that the journey gets easier. I don’t regret not giving up on this, I managed to find my motivation early and I’m happy I did! DJing and performing is where I’m the happiest. Plus you get to make people happy, everything about it is a win-win-win. So don’t give up, it gets easier!